Director Kyle Donnelly's Nixon-era production of Moliere's The School For Wives won raves at Washington DC's Arena Stage last season, so now she returns with the playwright's The Miser, this one set in the money-hungry 1980's.
DC dramatist John Strand is adapting the piece, which envisions the protagonist as "a man so greedy, he makes Michael Milken look like Mother Teresa."
Bringing Moliere into the modern era isn't much of a stretch, Donnelly said. "Consider his topics: greed, lust, self-absorption; which of these isn't alive and well and taking over Congress at this very moment?"
A 1996 Helen Hayes Award recipient, Henry Strozier, plays Harpagon, who wires his home with a costly, closed-circuit TV system just to protect his money from his own children. Harpagon's personal consultant, Frosine, is portrayed by Franchelle Stewart Dorn. Other cast members are Tana Hicken, Richard Bauer, Sarah Marshall, J. Fred Shiffman, Marty Lodge, Holly Twyford, Matthew Rauch, Henry Martin Leyva and Jennifer Abigail Lopez.
John Strand's recent satirical comedies include The Cockburn Rituals, Otabenga and Three Nights In Tehran. He's also the author of "the appropriately titled," Burying Moliere. Together, Donnelly and John Strand have already worked on Tehran - a farcical look at the Iran Contra scandal -- for PlayQuest, Arena's new play development series. That show will get a fully-staged mounting later this year at Signature Theatre.
Earlier this season, New York theatregoers got their dose of modern-day Moliere when John Glover starred as a televangelical Tartuffe at Circle In The Square's Tartuffe - Born Again.
The Miser began previews Oct. 4, opens Oct. 9 and runs through Nov. 10. For tickets and information on The Miser, call (202) 488-3300.
-- By David Lefkowitz