Engaging Shaw Opens Aug. 4 in Its West Coast Debut at Old Globe

News   Engaging Shaw Opens Aug. 4 in Its West Coast Debut at Old Globe
 
Rod Brogan is George Bernard Shaw opposite Angela Pierce playing wealthy heiress — and romantic prospect — Charlotte Payne-Townshend in the West Coast premiere of John Morogiello's fact-inspired Engaging Shaw, opening Aug. 4 following previews from July 29 in The Old Globe's Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre.

Angela Pierce and Rod Brogan
Angela Pierce and Rod Brogan Photo by Ed Krieger

Director Henry Wishcamper's production also features Natalie Gold as Beatrice Webb and Michael Warner as Sidney Webb. Performances play to Sept. 4 in San Diego, CA.

According to The Old Globe, "This new comedy follows the battle of wits and the real-life romance between socialite Charlotte Payne-Townshend and playwright George Bernard Shaw. When wealthy heiress Charlotte Payne-Townshend sets her sights on the famed author of Pygmalion, Mrs. Warren's Profession and Major Barbara, the challenge of romancing this confirmed bachelor, philanderer and unromantic man is more complicated than in any of his stories."

Morogiello is a playwright in residence at the Maryland State Arts Council and a member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays include Irish Authors Held Hostage (Greenwich Street Theatre, Warehouse Theatre and Edinburgh's Bedlam Theatre), Men and Parts (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Shadowbox Cabaret), Stonewall's Bust (Mountain Playhouse) and Gianni Schicchi (Rep Stage and Harlequin Productions). Engaging Shaw was produced Off-Broadway by Abingdon Theatre Company. It has also been presented by New Jersey Repertory Company and Oldcastle Theatre Company.

Engaging Shaw will receive its European premiere at Vienna's English Theatre in spring 2012. A new play, Blame It on Beckett, will premiere Off-Broadway at Abingdon Theatre Company this October.

Playwright Morogiello told Playbill.com, "The script is four pages shorter than it was in New York. It really hums now. The biggest adjustment has been doing the show in the round. At first I didn't think the play would work in an arena, but [director] Henry [Wishcamper] and set designer Wilson Chin came up with some incredibly effective ways to physicalize the metaphors within the dialogue. It freed me to cut some sections of the script that, once on Wilson's set, became superfluous." What's the genesis of the play?

"The idea came to me in the late 1990s, while researching Shaw for a study guide that Huntington Theatre Company commissioned me to write," the playwright said. "I found myself laughing aloud at Shaw's letters to Charlotte Payne-Townshend after they had a falling-out and she left him. The story was so hilarious and sweet, I couldn't believe no one had dramatized it before.

"I am true to the history of Shaw and Charlotte's relationship. Where scholars had differences, and supposed one thing or another, I made the choice that best suited the dramatic moment. Throughout the play I weave quotes from Shaw's letters, prefaces, and plays into the dialogue, along with quotes from Beatrice Webb's diary and an essay from Sidney Webb. In writing the play, the key was being able to match their style in my own dialogue to make the weave appear seamless. Luckily, Shaw's ego is comparable to my own."

The creative team includes Wilson Chin (scenic design), Alejo Vietti (costume design), Matthew Richards (lighting design), Paul Peterson (sound design) and Lavinia Henley (stage manager).

Brogan appeared on Broadway in Mauritius and in the national tour of Doubt. He has appeared in The Old Globe productions of Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, The Two Noble Kinsmen, Much Ado About Nothing, Pentecost and The Food Chain.

Pierce is making her debut at The Old Globe. Her Broadway credits include The Norman Conquests directed by Matthew Warchus, Heartbreak House directed by Robin Lefevre and A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Ed Hall. Her Off-Broadway work includes King Lear with Kevin Kline (The Public Theater), Soldier's Wife (Mint Theater Company), Silver Nitrate (Blue Heron Theatre), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Irish Repertory Theatre) and Hedda Gabler (Theatre at St. Clement's).

Tickets can be purchased online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park in San Diego, CA.

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The Tony Award-winning Old Globe produces a year-round season of 15 productions of classic, contemporary and new works on its three Balboa Park stages: the 600-seat Old Globe Theatre and the 250-seat Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, which are both part of The Old Globe's Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, and the 605-seat outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, home of its internationally renowned Shakespeare Festival.

Rod Brogan, Michael Warner, Natalie Gold and Angela Pierce
Rod Brogan, Michael Warner, Natalie Gold and Angela Pierce Photo by Ed Krieger
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