The Long Wharf Theatre was supposed to kick off its 2001-2002 season with a Cherry Orchard starring Kathleen Chalfant. Unfortunately, the exodus of their artistic director Douglas Hughes put a stop to that, leaving the New Haven company without a season starter.
The company turned to George Bernard Shaw for the solution, picking his popular early success, Arms and the Man for their first production of 2001-02. Directed by acting artistic director Greg Leaming and featuring On the Town's Sarah Knowlton and Picasso at the Lapin Agile's Mark Nelson, the peace-promoting comedy about a soldier who prefers chocolates to bullets plays Sept. 19-Oct. 21 on the C. Newton Schenck Mainstage. Opening night is set for Sept. 28.
Knowlton is Raina, a young and spoilt Bulgarian girl startled one night when Bluntschli, a Serbian soldier (Nelson) takes up hiding in her bedroom one night. Bulgaria and Serbia are at war and the fact that Raina sheltered and may have carried on an affair with the enemy angers her fiance, Bulgarian war hero Sergius (Patrick Page). Shaw's other classic works include Pygmalion, Man and Superman, Major Barbara and Misalliance.
Since playing Claire in the Public Theatre's revival of On the Town, Knowlton has appeared in Off-Broadway's Trudy Blue, La Terresse and Bill C. Davis' Avow. A Drama Dept. member, Nelson played Einstein in Lapin Agile, garnering an Obie and a Drama Desk nomination, as well as roles in the Roundabout's recent Three Sisters and Broadway's A Few Good Men.
Also in the cast are Elaine Bromka as Catherine, Philip LeStrange (True West, Death of a Salesman) as Petkoff, Daniel Pearce as Nicola and the Russian Officer and Dana Slamp as Louka. Designing Arms and the Man are Judy Gailen (sets), Angelina Avallone (costumes), Jane Cox (lights) and Robert Murphy (sound). Kevin E. Thompson is the stage manager.
Tickets are $45-$15. For reservations, call (203) 787-4282. The Long Wharf Theatre is on the web at http://www.longwharf.org.
— By Christine Ehren