DANCING AT LUGHNASA OPENS AT GLOUCESTER STAGE

Robert Walsh, Artistic Director   Jeff Zinn, Managing Director

TONY AWARD WINNER

DANCING AT LUGHNASA

OPENS AT GLOUCESTER STAGE

Featuring Academy Award Nominee Lindsay Crouse

Gloucester Stage Company continues its 39th season of professional theater with Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa from June 8 through July 8at Gloucester Stage Company, 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. Dancing at Lughnasa received the Tony Award for Best Play in 1992. Set in County Donegal in 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival, Dancing at Lughnasa, chronicles the five Mundy sisters and their brother Jack, who has returned home from the missions after 25 years away. Brian Friel’s award winning Irish masterpiece reunites veteran director Benny Sato Ambush with Academy Award nominee and Gloucester resident actress Lindsay Crouse. The pair collaborated on Gloucester Stage’s critically acclaimed productions of Driving Miss Daisy in 2014 and Lettice and Lovage in 2016. The five Mundy sisters are Lindsay Crouse as Kate; Jennie Israel as Maggie, Bryn Austin as Agnes, Cassie Gilling as Chris, and Samantha Richert as Rose. The reminder of the cast includes Paddy Swanson as Father Jack, Ed Hoopman as Michael, and Chris Kandra as Gerry.

Often nicknamed the “Irish Chekov,” playwright Brian Friel had 24 plays published in a career spanning half a century. In addition to Dancing at Lughnasa his works include Philadelphia, Here I Come! and Faith Healer. In 1980 he co-founded the Field Day Theatre Company with actor Stephen Rea, which helped to unify opposing factions in Northern Ireland through performance. In 1989 BBC Radio launched the Brian Friel Season, a series launched in devotion to his work. Following his death in 2015 the National Library of Ireland valued his remaining notebooks and manuscripts at over one million dollars.

Director Benny Sato Ambush made his Gloucester Stage debut directing 2012’s Master Harold and the boys for which he won the IRNE Award for Best Director. He returned to GSC in 2013 to direct Driving Miss Daisy and in 2016 to direct Lettice and Lovage, both productions featured Lindsay Crouse. Mr. Ambush is a professional SDC stage director, former Producer/Artistic Director of professional theaters, educator, consultant and published commentator. As a director he has worked at the Old Globe Theater; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; South Coast Rep; Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Merrimack Repertory Theater, Arizona Theater Company; Magic Theater; Geva Theater; Playwrights Horizon; Ford’s Theater; American Repertory Theater Institute; Philadelphia Festival Theater for New Plays; Lincoln Center Theater Institute; Heart of America Shakespeare Festival; Indiana’s New Harmony Project; Alaska Theater of Youth; International Theater Festival of Chicago; Sacramento Theater Company; National Black Theater Festival; Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater; Lyric Stage Company of Boston; and North Carolina Black Repertory Company. He also directed in the Boston Theater Marathon and on NPR Radio as well as directing all five of the San Francisco Bay Area McDonalds Gospel Fests. In 2005 Mr. Ambush directed the 68th annual edition of America’s oldest and longest running outdoor dramaThe Lost Colony in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. His artistic leadership experience includes: Producing Director: Oakland (CA) Ensemble Theater; Associate Artistic Director: San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater; Acting Artistic Director: Providence, RI’s Rites and Reason Theater Company; Co-Artistic Director: San Francisco Bay Area Playwrights Festival; and Producing Artistic Director – Richmond, VA’s LORT C TheaterVirginia (one of only 13 people-of-color to have ever been Artistic Director of a LORT Theater).Mr. Ambush was Associate Artistic Director of Anna Deavere Smith’s Institute on the Arts & Civic Dialogue at Harvard University in the summer of 2000 and Director of the Institute for Teledramatic Arts and Technology at California State University, Monterey Bay. For the past nine years he has served as the  Senior Distinguished Producing Director-In-Residence of Emerson Stage, the producing wing of the Department of Performing Arts (PA) at Emerson College. He has taught on the Acting/Directing Faculty in the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College, Boston MA as well as a Visiting Arts Professor for the NYU Graduate Acting Program; and Artist in Residence, Tisch School of the Arts, NYC. Mr. Ambush has served on numerous regional and national boards including Theater Communications Group (TCG), has been a panelist and site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts. He received an  MFA from University of California, San Diego and a BA from Brown University.

Lindsay Crouse is an award-winning veteran of stage and screen.  In the New York theater she spent seven years with the Circle Repertory Company, winning critics’ praise for her portrayal of Ophelia in Hamlet and Viola in Twelfth Night, and garnering an Obie Award for David Mamet’s Reunion.  On Broadway she won a Theater World Award for her performance as Ruth in Pinter’s The Homecoming. For the last decade Ms. Crouse has played a wide range of characters at Gloucester Stage. She joined the cast of the riotous trilogy, The Norman Conquests, by Alan Ayckbourn, sharing with them Boston’s IRNE award for Best Ensemble, and she received an IRNE nomination for her performance as Lettice in Peter Schaffer’s madcap comedy, Lettice and Lovage.  On the dramatic side she played the doctor in the searing duet, Going to St. Ives, received raves for her portrayal of Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, and won the IRNE Award for Best Actress for her performance as Daisy in Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy directed by Benny Sato Ambush. Featured on numerous television dramas, Ms. Crouse has guest starred over the years on shows such as Hill Street Blues, Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Touched by an Angel, LA Law, NYPD Blue, ER, Frasier, Alias, CSI, and Law and Order SVU. She played three different characters on Law & Order, and spent a season on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the infamous Maggie Walsh. She was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Performer in the Children’s Special,Mother and Daughter, and for a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, “The Complete Shakespeare Sonnets. Some of Lindsay’s best known feature films include All The President’s Men, House of Games, The Verdict, The Insider, Mr. Brooks, Slapshot, Prince of the City, Daniel, andPlaces in the Heart, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. A longtime Gloucester resident, Ms. Crouse began spending her summers in Gloucester as a child and is now a Gloucester resident. Her parents began summering in Gloucester in the late 1940’s as an escape from New York City. Lindsay’s father playwright Russel Crouse found inspiration on Cape Ann. He often worked here with his longtime partner and collaborator Howard Lindsay. Their partnership of over 28 years is one of the longest in theater history and responsible for such hits as The Sound of Music, Anything Goes, Life With Father and the Pulitzer Prize winning The State of the Union among others.

Jennie Israel returns to Gloucester Stage to play Maggie after appearing in Table Manners and Living Together, the first two plays in Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy, The Norman Conquests with her Dancing at Lughnasa cast mate Lindsay Crouse. Ms. Israel is a founding member of The Actors’ Shakespeare Project where roles include Margaret and 8 other roles in Richard III, Queen Isabella in Edward II, Emilia in Othello, Queen Margaret in Henry VI, part ii, Jacques in As You Like it, the title role in Medea, The Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi, Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Constance in King John, Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well, Goneril in King Lear, Calpurnia/Trebonius/Pindarus inJulius Caesar, Elizabeth in Richard III. Her other local credits include Boston Marriage, Tartuffe, and Dollhouse at New Repertory Theater; Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Huntington Theatre; Living in Exile, Comedy of Errors, and The Heidi Chronicles at the Vineyard Playhouse; Molly Maguire at the Sugan Theatre; Lady Macbeth in Macbeth and Phoebe in As You Like It for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company; Undine’s Valediction, Summer, The Scarlet Letter, and Macbeth with Shakespeare & Company. Regional acting credits include Yale Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Lincoln Center Theatre, Theatre Building Chicago, The Greenwich Street Theatre, Ohio Theatre Soho, Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival, and Chautauqua Theatre Festival. Her film and television credits include Rudy for TriStar Pictures, Guiding Light, andComing to Litchfield. Ms. Israel’s directing credits include Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company;Measure for Measure and Romeo and Juliet at Harvard College; Dancing at Lughnasa and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at UMass Lowell;Chicago, Macbeth, The Beaux Stratagem, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Volta for The Concord Academy Performing Arts Department. In 1992 Ms. Israel founded Chicago’s Eclipse Theatre which is still in existence today. She is currently on the faculty of The Boston Conservatory at Berklee and has taught Shakespearean text, voice, and acting at Bowdoin College, Boston College, SUNY/Purchase, UMass Lowell, Concord Academy, Ecole International de Boston, and Emerson College. Jennie holds an MFA in Acting from the Yale School of Drama.

The remaining Mundy sisters are all making their GSC debut: Bryn Austin as Agnes, Cassie Gilling as Chris, and Samantha Richert as Rose. Bryn Austin’s favorite role in New England  include Hermia in Dead Man’s Cell Phone at The Lyric Stage Company of Boston; Dotty in Noises Off  at The Palace Theater in New Hampshire and Isabella Bird/Nell in Top Girls with Apron Theater in Vermont.  She has served as a dialect coach with the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Zeitgeist Stage Company, New England Youth Theater, and area colleges and schools.  Ms. Austin lives in southern Vermont, and teaches at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Massachusetts native Cassie Gilling is a New York City-based actress. Her recent credits include: LG with The PIT; Grim at Dixon Place; Peloponnesus with Cut Out Theatre; and Family Dinner with Brunch Theatre. She holds a BFA in Acting from Boston University’s School of Theatre. Samantha Richert is a Boston-based actor, educator and fight director.  She most recently appeared in Ripe Frenzy with New Rep as part of their National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, Hold These Truthswith Lyric Stage Company directed by Benny Sato Ambush, and Elemeno Pea at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. Ms. Richert has also acted with Huntington Theatre Company, Central Square Theater, Actor’s Shakespeare Project, Greater Boston Stage Company, and Berkshire Theatre Group. She teaches part-time for the Northeastern University Theatre Department, and provides fight direction for various schools and theaters in and around Boston.

A Gloucester Stage veteran, Paddy Swanson’s most recent performance at GSC was in 2011’s Fighting over Beverley, a play which he previously directed for the theater in 1991. His other GSC directing credits include Shirley Valentine, Happy Days, The Caretaker, and Talking Heads. Mr. Swanson began his career in London as an actor at the Arts Theatre in the West End. In 1969 following a European tour of Woyzeckwith the Plexus Troupe he moved to New York and received his world theater education as a resident actor at La MaMa E.T.C. His numerous directing projects include opera, ensemble, music -theater and circus.  His directing credits include Tristan and Iseult with the Boston Camerata at the Spoleto USA festival and Shakespeare’s King Lear featuring Alvin Epstein with Actor’s Shakespeare Project which was nominated for three 2006 Elliot Norton awards and then transferred off-Broadway. For A.S.P. Mr. Swanson also directed The Tempest and The Coveted Crown (Henry IV Parts One and Two). He served as artistic director of the Castle Hill Festival  in Ipswich, Massachusetts, directing and co-producing opera and theater works, including the premiere of Julie Taymor’s Liberty’s Taken and Peter Sellars’ production of Cosi fan Tutte.Mr. Swanson was a founding stage director of Circus Flora and is currently Artistic Director of Revels. For Revels, Mr. Swanson has directed The Mysteries by Tony Harrison, co-produced by Revels and Shakespeare & Company, and Britten’s opera Noye’s Fludde. He writes and directs all Cambridge Revels scripts and serves as consultant to the nine other Revels production companies performing in the U.S.A. Mr. Swanson taught acting and improvisation at the London Academy of Dramatic Art (L.A.M.D.A.), the London Drama Centre, and New York University.

Chris Kandra and Ed Hoopman make their GSC debut as Gerry and Michael. Ed Hoopman has recently been seen locally in Old Money for Commonwealth Shakespeare, Ideation at New Rep Theatre, and as King Arthur in Camelot at Lyric Stage. Mr. Hoopman’s regional credits include Finish Line with Boston Theater Co./Boch Center; King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and  Taming of the Shrew with Commonwealth Shakespeare; Peter and the Starcatcher, City of Angels, Dear Elizabeth, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers at Lyric Stage; Mister Roberts and Indulgences at New Rep; A Civil War Christmas with Huntington Theatre Company; Dog Paddle with Bridge Rep; and Shear Madness at Charles Playhouse. Mr. Hoopman is also an accomplished voiceover actor whose work can be heard both locally and nationally. Chris Kandra is a recent graduate of Salem State University with a BFA in Theatre Arts. His recent credits include touring with Speak about It, an organization/show dedicated to educating against and eliminating sexual assault and a tour with Classic Repertory Company, New Repertory Theatre’s flagship educational outreach tour of To Kill A Mockingbird as Atticus Finch and Othello as Cassio.

Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa runs from June 8 through July 8 at Gloucester Stage. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 pm. Following the 2 pm performances on Sunday, June 17; Sunday, June 24 and Sunday, July 1, audiences are invited to free post-show discussions with the artists from Dancing at Lughnasa. There is no performance on Wednesday, July 4. Single ticket prices are $35 to $45 with discounts available for Preview Performances, Cape Ann Residents, Senior Citizens and Patrons 18 years old and under. In addition to regular reserved tickets, Pay What You Wish tickets are available for the Saturday, June 9 matinee at 2 pm. Pay What You Wish tickets can only be purchased day of show at the door. All performances are held at 267 East Main Street, Gloucester, MA. For more information about Gloucester Stage, or to purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.com

Dancing at Lughnasa 

Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

Photos  1-6 by Gary Ng

Photo 1: L to R: Jennie Israel and Lindsay Crouse as sisters, Maggie and Kate

Photo 2: Foreground L to R:  Rose: Samantha Richert and Agnes: Bryn Austin; Background L to R: Maggie: Jennie Israel,  Kate: Lindsay Crouse; Chris: Cassie Gilling

Photo 3: Foreground L to R:  Kate: Lindsay Crouse and Agnes: Bryn Austin; Background L to R:   Chris: Cassie Gilling and Maggie: Jennie Israel, Rose: Samantha Richert

Photo 4: Foreground : Michael:  Ed Hoopman;  Background:  Seated L to R: Maggie: Jennie Israel,  Kate: Lindsay Crouse, Agnes: Bryn Austin; Standing L to R: Chris: Cassie Gilling,  Rose: Samantha Richert

Photo 5: Foreground:  Seated L to R: Maggie: Jennie Israel,  Kate: Lindsay Crouse, Agnes: Bryn Austin; Standing L to R: Chris: Cassie Gilling,  Rose: Samantha Richert;  Background : Michael:  Ed Hoopman

Photo 6: Foreground L to R:  Kate: Lindsay Crouse and Agnes: Bryn Austin; Background L to R:   Chris: Cassie Gilling and Maggie: Jennie Israel, Rose: Samantha Richert

Photo 7: Director  Benny Sato Ambush / Courtesy Photo

 

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