Friday, January 31, 2014

Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn to Host Patti LuPone, Phylicia Rashad & Richard Thomas

Patti LuPone appears at Sidney Harman Hall February 17th

From our friends at the Shakespeare Theatre Company...

The Shakespeare Theatre Company is pleased to announce that three renowned actors will join STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn for separate installments of the Classic Conversations series. Tony Award®-winning actresses Patti LuPone and Phylicia Rashad as well as Emmy Award®-winning actor Richard Thomas will sit down with Kahn to discuss all aspects of classical theatre, from its influence on their past to its role in the present.

The events will take place as follows:

Patti LuPone - Monday, February 17 at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street NW)
Phylicia Rashad - Sunday, March 9 at the Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street NW)
Richard Thomas - Monday, March 31 at the Lansburgh Theatre (450 7th Street NW)

Previous Classic Conversations have been held with Stacy Keach (currently in rehearsals for STC’s repertory productions of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2) as well as Kevin Kline, Christopher Plummer and Patrick Stewart. “The Shakespeare Theatre Company is honored to host such esteemed actors and to hear their thoughts on their role in classical theatre and how it has helped them shape their craft. It is a tremendous opportunity for our patrons and I have a great time as well,” says Kahn.

Classic Conversations with Michael Kahn is a series of discussions with esteemed classical actors who share highlights of their careers including anecdotes of their lives on the stage and behind the scenes. During Patrick Stewart’s Conversation he included a story about his audition for the role of Captain Picard on Star Trek while “wearing a toupee and speaking in a French accent."

“Patti LuPone is one of the great figures in today’s theatre,” says Kahn, “performing not only in musicals from Evita to Gypsy, but as a stalwart in dramatic roles including Mamet’s The Anarchist.” Kahn shares about Phylicia Rashad that “while many people were introduced to Phylicia through her long-running role as mother and wife on The Cosby Show, she has distinguished herself in recent years by superb performances in Shakespeare and in some of the most iconic roles in modern American theatre, including Violet in August, Osage County.” And finally, Kahn welcomes Richard Thomas back to STC; “Richard’s performance in Richard II was a high mark in STC’s history. I am looking forward to talking to him about his experience performing in a myriad of classical roles, which have included Timon of Athens at New York’s Public Theater.”

Audiences are invited to join Kahn in this season’s Classic Conversations Series for an evening of in-depth discussions on classical theatre. Kahn, known not only for his rigorous and ingenious presentation of classical works but also for his expansive knowledge of the theatrical canon and his signature charm and wit, welcomes these distinguished actors to STC for a chance to analyze and discuss the importance of classical theatre in today’s society.

Tickets for this event start at $35. To reserve tickets or for more information, patrons can call the box office at 202.547.1122, or visit

Michael Kahn is currently directing Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 for the 2013-2014 Season as STC’s Artistic Director. Kahn has directed a wide variety of Shakespearean and classical works for STC, including Wallenstein, The Government Inspector, Strange Interlude, The Heir Apparent, Old Times, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Liar, Richard II, The Alchemist, Design for Living and The Way of the World. Having brought international works like The National Theatre of Scotland’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart and Théâtre de l’Atelier’s Les Liaisons Dangereuse to the theatre, Kahn continues to demonstrate the versatility and relevance of STC’s theatre programming with this season’s productions. In 1991, he created the Free For All, which brings an STC production to audiences completely free of charge every year. The Free For All has reached more than 642,000 people to date.  In addition to leading STC, he is also the founder of the Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University and the former Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division at Juilliard. Since the 1960s, Kahn’s work has been seen by audiences across the country and the world: in New York City, both on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as at both the American Shakespeare Theatre and the McCarter Theatre where he served as Artistic Director concurrently. In 2003, STC performed his production of The Oedipus Plays at the Athens Festival in Greece, where it received standing ovations and critical acclaim. In the summer of 2006, the Company took Kahn’s production of Love’s Labor’s Lost to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Complete Works Festival” in Stratford-upon-Avon. Recently, Kahn was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and was recognized as an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Patti LuPone author of the New York Times bestseller, Patti LuPone A Memoir, will be featured this fall as Joan Ramsey on this season’s installment of the FX series American Horror Story: Coven. LuPone will also return to Carnegie Hall in November to perform her fourth solo concert and next year will be seen in the new season of the HBO series Girls. LuPone’s most recent Broadway appearances include David Mamet’s The Anarchist and the new musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for which she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards.  Other recent New York stage appearances include her debut with the New York City Ballet as guest soloist in their new production of The Seven Deadly Sins and her performance as Joanne in the New York Philharmonic’s production of Company.  Winner of the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Performance of the Season for her performance as Madame Rose in the most recent Broadway production of Gypsy, her other stage credits include her debut with the Los Angeles Opera in Weill-Brecht’s Mahagonny, the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera To Hell and Back with San Francisco’s Baroque Philharmonia Orchestra, Mrs. Lovett in John Doyle’s production of Sweeney Todd (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; Drama League Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theatre), the title role in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, a musical version of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes at the Kennedy Center, Fosca in a concert version of Passion, which was also broadcast on PBS’ Live From Lincoln Center,  a multi-city tour of her theatrical concert Matters of the Heart, the City Center Encores! production of Can-Can , the New York Philharmonic’s productions of Candide and Sweeney Todd (New York Philharmonic debut) and performances on Broadway in Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, David Mamet’s The Old Neighborhood, Terrence McNally's Master Class and in her own concert Patti LuPone On Broadway. A graduate of the first class of the Drama Division of New York’s Juilliard School and a founding member of John Houseman's The Acting Company in which she toured the country for four years, her subsequent New York credits include Dario Fo's Accidental Death of An Anarchist, David Mamet's The Water Engine, Edmond and The Woods and Israel Horovitz' Stage Directions and performances in the musicals Pal Joey for City Center Encores!, Anything Goes (Tony Award nomination, Drama Desk Award), The Cradle Will Rock, Oliver!, Evita (Tony and Drama Desk Awards- Best Actress in a Musical), Working and The Robber Bridegroom. In London, she won the Olivier Award for her performances as Fantine in the original production of Les Miserables and in the Acting Company production of The Cradle Will Rock.

Phylicia Rashad appears March 9th at the Lansburgh Theatre

Phylicia Rashad graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University. A versatile performer, Rashad became a household name when she portrayed Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show. She teamed up with Bill Cosby in later years on television as Ruth Lucas on Cosby. Currently, she portrays the role of Dr. Vanessa Young in the NBC series Do No Harm. While television was a catalyst  in the rise of Rashad's career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and Off-Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as Jelly's Last Jam, Into The Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz. As a dramatic actress, Rashad has performed on Broadway as Violet Weston in August Osage County, Big Mama in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role that she reprised on the London Stage), Aunt Ester in August Wilson’s Gem Of The Ocean (Tony Award nomination) and Queen Britannia in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at Lincoln Center.  Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play  for her riveting performance as Lena Younger in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun. She appeared in Tyler Perry's Good Deeds and starred in Perry's highly acclaimed film version of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. Behind the scenes, Phylicia made her directorial debut at the Seattle Repertory Theater with August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean. Respected in the academic world, Rashad is the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. Rashad also holds Honorary Doctorates from Fordham University, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Providence College, Morris Brown College, Clark Atlanta University, Barber Scotia College, St. Augustine College, Spelman College and Brown University. Among the awards that decorate her walls and shelves are the Texas Medal of Arts, the National Council of Negro Women's Dorothy L. Height Dreammaker Award, AFTRA’s AMEE Award for Excellence in Entertainment, the Board of Directors of New York Women In Film and Television's Muse Award for Outstanding Vision and Achievement, Dallas Women In Film Topaz Award, Peoples’ Choice Awards, several NAACP Image Awards and the Pan African Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award. Rashad serves on the Advisory Board of the PRASAD Project and the Board of Directors of True Colors Theatre, the Broadway Inspirational Voices, The Actors Center, the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University and the ADEPT Center which is steering the restoration of the historic Brainerd Institute.

Richard Thomas visits March 31st

Richard Thomas appeared in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of Richard II directed by Michael Kahn in 1993. Thomas entered the public’s heart starring in the award-winning series The Walton’s, for which he won an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a dramatic series. He has continued to star in series, films, plays and over 50 movies for television. Thomas first entered Stephen King territory with his lead role in the miniseries Stephen King’s IT. He revisited this world in the 2006 miniseries Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King. His other television movie and miniseries credits include All Quiet on the Western Front, The Silence The Red Badge of Courage, The Master of Ballantrae, Johnny Belinda, Berlin Tunnel 21, Living Proof: The Hank Williams Story, Hobson’s Choice, Roots: The Next Generation, Go Toward the Light, In the Name of the People, The Christmas Secret, The Miracle of the Cards, Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anna’s Dream, Annie’s Point and Wild Hearts. On the big screen, Thomas has appeared in such movies as The Wonder Boys, Battle Beyond the Stars, The Todd Killings, Last Summer, Winning, Red Sky at Morning  and Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock. Thomas has been a guest star on such series as Rizzoli & Isles, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and The Practice. As a producer, Thomas has worked on such television projects as What Love Sees and For All Time. Most recently, he was seen in the Hallmark Channel’s film Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. His other starring performances as a series regular were on Just Cause, It's a Miracle, and the British series, Swiss Family Robinson. On stage, Thomas has been called “one of the leading classical actors of his generation.” (Newsday) His Broadway career began at age 7 with 1958’s Sunrise at Campobello, and has continued with such shows as Fifth of July, The Seagull, The Front Page, Tiny Alice, Peer Gynt, Richard II, Richard III, Hamlet and The Stendhal Syndrome. Other stage credits include Broadway’s Democracy and A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, the National tour of the acclaimed Broadway revival of 12 Angry Men and Unusual Acts of Devotion by Terrence McNally. Recent productions include the Broadway production of David Mamet's Race, the Public Theatre’s production of Timon of Athens (in the title role) and Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays for the Minetta Lane Theatre. Most recently Thomas starred on Broadway in the Manhattan Theater Club production of An Enemy of the People at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater.