The cast of “The Dining Room,” left to right, top row: Jennifer Van Dyck, Chris Henry Coffey, Keira Naughton;
front row: Charles Socarides, Heidi Armbruster, Jake Robards
Photo by Kat Gloor
Westport Country Playhouse’s five-play 2013 season will open with A.R. Gurney’s “The Dining Room,” a witty and heartfelt story of the American family and its vanishing traditions, directed by Mark Lamos, April 30 – May 18. This year the historic Connecticut theater celebrates its 83rd season.
“’The Dining Room’ is one of my favorite plays by one of my favorite writers,” said Lamos. “Its sweetly observed, occasionally tart observations of life among a dying breed known as White Anglo-Saxon Protestants has entertained smart audiences for 30 years.”
Gurney’s “The Dining Room” is set in the dining room of a typical well-to-do household, the place where the family assembles daily for breakfast and dinner and for any and all special occasions. The action is comprised of a mosaic of interrelated scenes—some funny, some touching, some rueful. The actors change roles, personalities, and ages as they portray a wide variety of characters, from little boys to stern grandfathers, and from giggling teenage girls to Irish housemaids. Each vignette introduces a new set of people and events. Dovetailing swiftly and smoothly, the varied scenes coalesce into a unique theatrical experience.
“It's one of Gurney's finest plays and one of his most challenging for actors and director because three men and three women play scores of characters, young and old,” Lamos noted. “We've assembled a terrific cast who will bring the patriarchs, maids, brothers, sisters, wives and husbands (some cheating) and children (who either follow or break time-honored rules about manners and mores) to vivid, all-too-recognizable life.”
The cast includes Heidi Armbruster (Broadway’s “Time Stands Still”; Drama League Award nomination for “Tea and Sympathy”); Chris Henry Coffey (Westport Country Playhouse’s “Lips Together, Teeth Apart,” Long Wharf Theatre’s “The Front Page,” Second Stage Theatre’s “Water by the Spoonful”); Keira Naughton (Westport Country Playhouse’s “Morphic Resonance,” Playhouse Script in Hand playreadings of “Chapter Two” and “The Philadelphia Story,” and Broadway’s “The Rivals,” “Dance of Death,” and “Three Sisters”); Jake Robards (Westport Country Playhouse’s “Our Town,” which transferred to Broadway, and Playhouse Script in Hand playreadings of “Golden Boy,” “Dial ‘M’ for Murder,” and “The Philadelphia Story”); Charles Socarides (Broadway’s “Awake and Sing!,” Off-Broadway’s “Indian Blood,” and Yale Repertory Theatre’s “Lulu”); and Jennifer Van Dyck (Westport Country Playhouse’s “A Cheever Evening,” Broadway’s “Hedda Gabler” and “Dancing at Lughnasa”).
Director Mark Lamos has directed many plays at Westport Country Playhouse since 2008. His extensive New York credits include “Our Country's Good,” for which he received a Tony Award nomination. A former artistic director at Hartford Stage, he received the 1989 Tony Award for the theater's body of work. He was awarded the Connecticut Medal for the Arts as well as honorary doctorates from Connecticut College, University of Hartford, and Trinity College.
Playwright A. R. (“Pete”) Gurney has been writing plays for over fifty years. Among them are “The Cocktail Hour,” “Love Letters,” “Sylvia,” “Far East,” “Mrs. Farnsworth,” “Indian Blood,” and “Buffalo Gal.” Last year he won a Drama Desk Award for the body of his work. Gurney is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has honorary degrees from Williams College and Buffalo State University, and taught literature at M.I.T. for many years.
The design and production team includes Michael Yeargan (Westport Country Playhouse’s “Of Mice and Men,” “The Breath of Life”; Tony Awards for revival of “South Pacific,” and “The Light in the Piazza), scenic design; Jane Greenwood (Westport Country Playhouse’s “Children,” “Of Mice and Men,” “Thurgood”; 14 Tony Award nominations), costume design; Stephen Strawbridge (Westport Country Playhouse’s “How the Other Half Loves”; Broadway, Off-Broadway), lighting design; John Gromada (Westport Country Playhouse’s “Harbor,” “Beyond Therapy,” “Of Mice and Men”; Broadway’s “The Columnist,” “Clybourne Park,” “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man”), sound design; Tara Rubin Casting; Faye Armon-Troncoso, props and set dressing; Matthew Melchiorre, resident stage manager; and Christine D’Amore, assistant stage manager.
Playing from April 30 through May 18, the performance schedule for “The Dining Room” is Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Special series feature Taste of Tuesday, Previews, LGBT Night OUT, Opening Night, Sunday Symposium, Literary Salon, Thursday TalkBack, Together at the Table Family Dinner, Playhouse Young Professionals, and Backstage Pass. In addition, the Playhouse will offer an open-captioned performance on May 12, 3 p.m., for the hearing impaired.
Single ticket prices, starting at $30, are subject to change based on availability. Buy early for the best prices. Educators and students are eligible for 50% discounts. On the day of a performance, senior rush tickets are available at 50%.
“The Dining Room” Production Sponsors are Howard J. Aibel; Kate & Bob Devlin, The Devlin Foundation; and Jill & Alex Dimitrief. Corporate Production Sponsor is Bank of America.
Westport Country Playhouse’s 2013 Season will continue with “The Show-Off” by George Kelly, a funny, surprising, and moving story of a family in upheaval when their youngest daughter becomes engaged to a brash loudmouth, directed by Nicholas Martin, June 11 – 29. Casting to date for “The Show-Off” includes Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Fisher. Houdyshell earned a 2006 Tony Award nomination as Ann Kron in Broadway’s “Well” by Lisa Kron. She won 2004 Theater World and Obie awards for the Off-Broadway production of “Well.” In the role of Hattie in the 2011 revival of “Follies,” she received a Tony Award nomination.
“Loot” is a wickedly funny send-up of larcenous, lascivious behavior among the English middle classes by the master of British farce Joe Orton, directed by David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, July 16 – August 3. Liv Rooth will play the role of Fay. Rooth appeared at Westport Country Playhouse in “Suddenly Last Summer,” and a Script in Hand reading of “Dial ‘M’ for Murder.” On Broadway, she was in “Born Yesterday,” “Is He Dead?,” and last season’s smash hit, “Venus in Fur.” She is in the current revival of “All in the Timing” at Primary Stages.
The second world premiere in as many seasons, “Oblivion,” is a touching and funny—and very modern—tale of parents, children, and the gulf that sometimes exists between them, written by Carly Mensch, a writer for three seasons on Showtime's "Weeds," and directed by Mark Brokaw, August 20 – September 7. The play was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons and developed by Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
“Room Service” is a madcap American farce about a producer and his ragtag bunch of actors who try to raise money for a Broadway show as they scramble to evade their hotel bill, written by John Murray and Allen Boretz, directed by Mark Lamos, October 8 – 26.
Traditional subscriptions continue on sale offering savings, best available seating, restaurant discounts, and patron flexibility, including a choice of five-play or seasonal four-play subscriptions. Flex Passes are also on sale, offering date flexibility and many subscriber-only benefits.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org, or by using the new Playhouse App or mobile website. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider’s peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.theplayhouseblog.org).
About Westport Country Playhouse
Westport Country Playhouse is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit, professional theater under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos and management leadership of Michael Ross. The Playhouse creates five live theater experiences, produced at the highest level, from April through November. Its vital mix of works---dramatic, comedic, occasionally exploratory and unusual---expands the audience’s sense of what theater can be. The depth and scope of its productions display the foremost theatrical literature from the past---recent as well as distant---in addition to musicals and premieres of new plays. During the summer, the Playhouse is home to the Woodward Internship Program, renowned for the training of aspiring theater professionals. Winter at the Playhouse, from November through March, offers events outside of the main season---Family Festivities presentations and Script in Hand play readings. In addition, businesses and organizations are encouraged to rent the handsome facility for their meetings, receptions and fundraisers.
As an historic venue, Westport Country Playhouse has had many different lives leading up to the present. Originally built in 1835 as a tannery manufacturing hatters’ leathers, it became a steam-powered cider mill in 1880, later to be abandoned in the 1920s. Splendidly transformed into a theater in 1931, it initially served as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the New England straw hat circuit of summer stock theaters through the end of the 20th century. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse became a state-of-the-art producing theater, preserving its original charm and character.
Today, the not-for-profit Westport Country Playhouse serves as a cultural nexus for patrons, artists and students and is a treasured resource for the State of Connecticut. There are no boundaries to the creative thinking for future seasons or the kinds of audiences and excitement for theater that Westport Country Playhouse can build.
For more information or tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Tickets are available online 24/7 at www.westportplayhouse.org. Stay connected to the Playhouse on Facebook (Westport Country Playhouse), follow on Twitter (@WCPlayhouse), view Playhouse videos on YouTube (WestportPlayhouse) or get an insider’s peek on The Playhouse Blog (www.theplayhouseblog.org).