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News : Entertainment Published: Apr 25, 2008 - 6:37:52 AM

Westport Country Playhouse presents comedy/drama by Emmy-nominated writer/producer of “Lost” and “Six Feet Under”

By Westport Country Playhouse

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Westport Country Playhouse presents comedy/drama by Emmy-nominated writer/producer of “Lost” and “Six Feet Under”
From left, Michael Milligan as The Narrator, with Tracy Middendorf of Westport and Michael Laurence as Kari and Peter, high school sweethearts who re-connect at their 20th reunion, in "The Pavilion" at Westport Country Playhouse
Westport Country Playhouse (Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe, artistic directors, Jodi Schoenbrun Carter, managing director) will stage a masterful blend of comedy and drama, “The Pavilion,” by Craig Wright, award-winning playwright and Emmy-nominated writer/producer of television’s “Lost,” “Six Feet Under” and “Dirty Sexy Money.” Directed by Chad Rabinovitz, Playhouse artistic associate, the production will run from May 13 through May 31.

“The Pavilion,” a 2005-2006 Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Play, is a funny and touching look into human relationships on a cosmic scale. Peter and Kari, who were the Class of 1988’s Cutest Senior Couple. In high school, it seemed like everything in the universe worked to make their happiness possible. But at the end of senior year, Kari got pregnant and Peter ran off. Two decades later, the two have not seen each other since the day Peter left…and now he’s come to their 20th high school reunion to get her back.

Tracy Middendorf of Westport will portray Kari. Her stage performances include “Ah, Wilderness” at Lincoln Center Theater, and “Summer and Smoke” and “After the Fall” at The Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, both of which earned her Ovation and Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress. Her television credits include “Lost,” “24,” “House,” “Alias,” “The Practice” and “Six Feet Under,” and her most recent film, “Just Add Water” with Danny DeVito, will be released this spring.

Michael Laurence will play the role of Peter. He appeared on Broadway in “Talk Radio,” and as Starbuck in “The Rainmaker” at Arena Stage, among other regional theatre credits. His films include “The Operator” and “Particles of Truth,” and television work includes “Third Watch,” “FX: The Series,” “Ghost Stories,” “As the World Turns” and Showtime’s “What’s Not to Love?”

Michael Milligan will play The Narrator. In New York, he played Thom in “Thom Pain” and Isaac in “The Golem” for Manhattan Ensemble Theater. In the UK, he appeared with the Edinburgh Fringe and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Milligan attended Juilliard where he received the John Houseman Prize.

Craig Wright, playwright, has written “Recent Tragic Events;” “Melissa Arctic,” winner of a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play; “Grace,” recipient of a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding New Play and LA Drama Critics Award for Best Play; and “Lady,” recipient of a 2007 Jefferson Award nomination for Best New Play, among others. He is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He holds a M.Div. degree from United Theological Seminary. He has written for numerous television shows including “Six Feet Under” (Emmy nomination) and is the creator of the ABC series “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Chad Rabinovitz, director, has been the artistic associate at Westport Country Playhouse for the past three years. He has directed and assistant directed over 50 productions in theaters across the country, including “How I Learned to Drive,” “WASP,” “FEAR,” “Mr. Marmalade” and “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.” His next production will be “Noises Off!” at the Weathervane Playhouse. For Westport Country Playhouse, he directed the staged reading of “A Strange and Separate People,” three original youth productions and assistant directed “All My Sons,” “The Old Settler,” “A Christmas Carol,” “On the Verge,” “Hay Fever” and “David Copperfield.”

The design team for “The Pavilion” is Hugh Landwehr, scenic design; Laurie Churba Kohn, costume design; Clifton Taylor, lighting design; Ryan Rumery, sound design; Matthew Melchoirre, production stage manager; and Telsey and Company, casting.

Upcoming productions in Westport Country Playhouse’s 2008 season include a lively song and dance revue, “Hot ‘n Cole: A Cole Porter Celebration!,” directed by Tony Award winner James Naughton, June 10 through June 28. “Hot ‘n Cole” celebrates the life of one of the great songwriting masters in American musical history. The revue is jam-packed with fresh arrangements and contemporary twists on 48 Cole Porter standards, including “You’re the Top,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Night and Day,” ”I Love Paris,” “Anything Goes,” “Just One of Those Things” and “In the Still of the Night.” The revue is devised by David Armstrong, Mark Waldrop and Bruce W. Coyle; musical arrangements by Bruce W. Coyle.

From Westport Country Playhouse’s playwright-in-residence David Wiltse comes a delicious office comedy, “Scramble!,” about the howlingly incompetent staff of a golf magazine. When a rumor spreads that the magazine may be sold to a corporate publisher, the staff suspects a new hire is actually a “hatchetman,” brought in to decide whether or not certain employees are pulling their weight. As everyone fears that their job is on the line, office politics turn into farce with outlandish relationships, mistaken identities and hilarious situations. “Scramble!” will be staged July 8 through July 26. Tracey Brigden, who directed Wiltse’s comedy “A Marriage Minuet” at the Playhouse in 2006, will be at the helm.

A thriller, “Tryst” by Karoline Leach, will play August 5 through August 23. Joe Brancato, who directed the Off-Broadway production, will direct. Set in mysterious Edwardian London, George Love has a habit of marrying simple, well off women who become inexplicably poor and husbandless the day after their honeymoons. He’s come to London to con his next bride into marriage, but meets his match in Adelaide, a milliner’s assistant.

The enduring masterpiece, “Of Mice and Men,” will be directed by Paul Newman. The play is based on John Steinbeck's 1937 tale of two traveling companions, George and Lennie, who wander the country during the Depression, dreaming of a better life for themselves. “Of Mice and Men” will run October 7 through October 25. Due to the caliber of artists attached to this production, the Playhouse has added a fourth week of performances for “Of Mice and Men,” Thursday, Friday and two Saturday performances, October 30 – November 1.

A December holiday production, not part of the subscription series, is to be announced.

The performance schedule for “The Pavilion” will be Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Special series will feature Previews, Opening Nights, TalkBack Thursdays, Prologue, Symposium Sundays, Backstage Pass and Open Captioning.

Celebrating its 78th season, the venerable Westport Country Playhouse (Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe, Artistic Directors; Jodi Schoenbrun Carter, Managing Director) is creating innovative new works and dynamic revivals. The Playhouse has produced more than 700 plays, 36 of which later transferred to Broadway including “Come Back, Little Sheba” with Shirley Booth; “Trip to Bountiful” with Lillian Gish; “Butterflies Are Free” with Keir Dullea and Blythe Danner; “Absurd Person Singular” with Sandy Dennis, Geraldine Page and Tony Roberts; and “Our Town” with Paul Newman. The list of actors, directors, and other theatre artists who have worked and continue to perform on the Playhouse’s legendary stage reads like a "Who's Who" of the American theatre. Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse now produces year-round, welcoming 85,000 audience members annually. In addition to a full season of theatrical productions, the Playhouse presents educational programming and workshops; a children’s theatre series; symposiums; music; films; and readings of short fiction, classical works and new plays. Westport Country Playhouse serves as a treasured home for the theatrical arts, its audiences and its artists. For the State of Connecticut, it is a true cultural landmark. Your experience begins at www.westportplayhouse.org.

“The Pavilion” board of trustees sponsor is Joanne Woodward. The Playhouse is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.

Subscriptions for the remainder of the 2008 season start at $105. Subscription benefits include discounted prices and preferred, renewable seating. Single tickets range from $30 to $55; opening night tickets, including post-performance reception, are $65.

Students and educators are eligible for 50% discounts. Groups of 10 or more save up to 30% off the regular ticket price. For group sales information call (203) 227-5137, x120.

For subscriptions, single tickets or more information, call the box office at (203) 227-4177, or toll-free at 1-888-927-7529, or visit 25 Powers Court, off Route 1, Westport. Information about the Playhouse is also available at www.westportplayhouse.org.

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