Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Constellation Theatre Company Presents Scapin - Opens January 16th

From our friends at the Constellation Theatre Company...

Molière’s classic farce brilliantly updated for today and set to live music

The endlessly crafty servant Scapin and his dim-witted sidekick Sylvestre help their two young masters marry penniless beauties against both fathers’ wishes. Brimming with zany characters and improvisation, this physical comedy is an uproarious romp of hugely theatrical proportions.

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière (1622- 1673) is widely recognized as one of the greatest comic dramatists of all time. To his audience and the court of Louis XIV he was known as “The King of Laughter.” Best-known for Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, School for Wives, and The Imaginary Invalid, Molière enjoyed the support of the King but was controversial among members of the upper class and the church whom he often portrayed as hypocrites. Molière was greatly influenced by the Italian Commedia dell’arte tradition and characters. He also mixed in components of French farce written by contemporaries such as Corneille, as well as elements of classical Roman comedy, like the work of Plautus. He borrowed so liberally that he was at times accused of plagiarism. His simple defense was: “I take what belongs to me wherever I can find it.”

Constellation’s production of Scapin is a new adaptation by Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell. In 1995, the pair adapted the play for a production at Seattle Repertory Theatre, and then reworked it for a New York run at the Roundabout in 1997. “It’s a vicarious lesson in the fine art of comic madness,” declared the New York Times. The same adaptation was done at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater in 2010. As Molière often used to direct and star in the plays he wrote, it feels somehow fitting that the celebrated clown Bill Irwin has taken the same route with this project, directing and starring in the script he has adapted. Bill Irwin’s approach to this script balances his love for physical comedy with a dedication to verbal wit, while he shares Molière’s sense of artistic license. Irwin’s inserted a song and dance bit called “The Schemer’s Boogie” with great confidence saying, “I’m sure Molière would have written it, if he’d thought of it.”

Bill Irwin is unique in that he is the brilliant clown of the Pickle Family Circus and Broadway’s Fool Moon, as well as the riveting performer who won a Tony Award for Best Actor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The difference between a clown and an actor, Irwin says, is difficult to define, but at its heart the clown has some sort of direct engagement with the audience. In addition to the farcical plot about young lovers and servants who want just deserts, Scapin is a parody about theatre. The characters address the audience, they refer to exposition, they reference mistaken identity, they acknowledge how unbelievable the coincidences are, and they embark on a self- declared theatrical chase. Performers are called on to be both actors and clowns at once.

The creative team, Director Kathryn Chase Bryer, A.J. Guban (Scenic and Lighting Design), Kendra Rai (Costume Design) and Travis Charles Ploeger (Composer/Pianist) have embraced this heightened sense of theatricality. Scapin takes place in an unspecified town on the Italian coast. The world combines contemporary high fashion (touched by the commedia silhouette) with a clown fantasy world of bright colors and lights. Travis Ploeger, a long-time improvisational collaborator with Washington Improv Theater’s iMusical, will be playing a baby grand live at each performance.

The stellar cast of Scapin is led by Constellation favorite Michael Glenn, who has been seen in On The Razzle and A Flea In Her Ear. Michael has also been seen at Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth, Round House Theatre, and Signature Theatre, among others. Matthew McGee, Winner of last year’s Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Constellation’s Taking Steps, returns for this show, as does another nominee for that award, Bradley Foster Smith. Constellation favorites Megan Dominy and Ashley Ivey are joined by Nora Achrati, Vanessa Bradchulis, Manu Kumasi, and Carlos Saldaña to form an excellent ensemble.

WHO: Constellation Theatre Company

WHAT: Scapin adapted from Molière by Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell.

WHERE: Source Theatre 1835 14th St. NW

WHEN: January 16 – February 16, 2014. Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm. Sundays at 2:00 pm. (Exception – Performance Sun. Jan. 19 at 7 pm – Press Opening)

Additional Shows: Sat., Feb. 1 at 2:00 pm, Mon., Feb. 3 at 8:00 pm (Industry Night), Sat., Feb. 8 at 2:00 pm, Sun., Feb. 9 at 7:30 pm, Sat., Feb. 15 at 2:00 pm, Sun., Feb. 16 at 7:30 pm

Pay-What-You-Can Previews: January 16 and 17 at 8:30 pm, Jan. 18 at 8:00 pm

Constellation Theatre Company Mission:
Constellation Theatre Company’s mission is to spark the curiosity and imagination of the people of Greater Washington, DC by bringing stories to life from all over the world. Visual spectacle, music and movement unite with an exuberant acting ensemble to create an exhilarating entertainment experience.

For Tickets & Information: 202-204-7741, www.ConstellationTheatre.org

Ticket Prices: $25 - $45 (Student Rate: $15)

Location: Source Theatre at 1835 14th St. NW on the corner of T St. Two blocks from the U St./ Cardozo Metro. On-street parking.

Other: Audiences aged 10 and up. We ask that a parent or guardian accompany any child under 13.