Thursday, April 27, 2017

Constellation Theatre Company Wraps Up Season with The Arabian Nights, May 4 - June 4

From our friends at Constellation Theatre Company...

Constellation Theatre Company Concludes Its 10th Anniversary Season with The Arabian Nights, Playing May 4 - June 4 at Source!

Bringing its 10th Anniversary Season to an epic conclusion, Constellation Theatre Company will present The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman, directed by Allison Arkell Stockman from May 4 - June 4 at Source, 1835 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Tickets are $20-$45 and can be purchased online at or over the phone by calling (202) 204-7741.

In mythical Baghdad, a cruel king with a broken heart, Shahryar, marries a new woman each night and kills her at dawn. When Scheherazade learns that she will be the king’s next bride, she decides to take her fate into her own hands. For 1,001 nights, Scheherazade captivates Shahryar with tales of love, lust, sorrow, and revenge, each culminating in a cliffhanger so compelling that the king keeps her alive to hear its end. Comic stories like “The Jester’s Wife” alternate with mysterious dreams, moral fables, and moving tales of love and sacrifice, all supported by an ensemble of eleven actors portraying over forty characters. Brimming with poetry, wisdom, and humor, this collection of Middle Eastern myths is a testament to how the magic of storytelling can transform people, illuminate their minds, and redeem their souls.

The Arabian Nights originally premiered in 1992 at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, where writer-director Mary Zimmerman is an ensemble member. Of the play, Zimmerman states, “If it’s about anything - it’s about the absolute, lifesaving necessity of storytelling, in a very literal way. The only thing keeping Scheherazade alive is that her stories are interesting enough to prevent the king from killing her. But in another, deeper way, she is saving his life... By telling these stories, she’s taking someone who’s in a state of trauma and depression and gently, gently reintroducing him into the real world from which he has withdrawn.”

As Constellation Theatre celebrates its tenth year, the company proudly returns to the story that first brought widespread attention to the young organization. In 2007, The Arabian Nights was the second production in Constellation’s history. In his glowing review, Washington Post critic Nelson Pressley called The Arabian Nights “a brave, smart beginning” to the company’s career. This production also marked the first collaboration between Constellation Theatre and Tom Teasley, a world-renowned composer, instrumentalist, and teacher. Teasley included his creations from The Arabian Nights on his CD All the World’s a Stage. Now, at least one production every season at Constellation features Teasley’s amazing musical talents. While the upcoming Arabian Nights will revive two pieces from the original production, Teasley is otherwise composing entirely new music.

The Arabian Nights showcases all of the core elements in Constellation’s mission to tell stories from around the world that include visual spectacle, original music, dynamic movement, and ensemble acting. A stellar creative team and entirely new cast enliven this classic tale with a unique perspective that blends ancient and contemporary elements. Founding Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman and Managing Director & Scenic Designer A.J. Guban are thrilled to re-imagine The Arabian Nights in the intimate 100-seat Source theatre. They are joined by an incredible team of creative collaborators, including Jason Arnold as Lighting Designer; Costume Designer Erik Teague, who brought to life the luminous horses from last season’s Equus; Casey Kaleba as Fight Choreographer; and Veronique Tran, who brings her extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern dance to her role as Choreographer.

Leading the ensemble is Veronica del Cerro as the famed storyteller Scheherezade. del Cerro, who starred in El Paso Blue at GALA Hispanic Theatre last June, brings her own wealth of storytelling experience to the table, having performed internationally in Mexico City, Greece, and Denmark. Opposite del Cerro, frequent Synetic Theater performer Ryan Sellers portrays the cruel and ruthless ruler Shahryar. In addition to his work at Synetic (The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, The Man in the Iron Mask), Sellers has been featured in productions at Signature Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Folger Theatre. Both del Cerro and Sellers are making their Constellation debuts in The Arabian Nights.

Constellation favorite Matthew Aldwin McGee, last seen onstage in Urinetown, performs double-duty as a member of the ensemble (playing Jester and others) as well as the show’s Properties Designer. Lilian Oben joins Constellation for another Zimmerman adventure as Sympathy the Learned after appearing as the bodhisattva Guanyin in last season’s Journey to the West. Constellation newcomers Shravan Amin and Jeremy Keith Hunter, recently seen together in When January Feels Like Summer at Mosaic Theater Company, are featured as the Madman and Pastrycook, respectively. They join these actors also making their Constellation debuts: Surasree Das, Thomas Howley, Yesenia Iglesias, Dallas Milholland, and Kevin Sockwell; and understudies Linda Bard, Justin Jarod Bell, Thomas Ellis, and Melissa Reed.