Commissioned by SCR, the comedy imagines "a meeting during the declining years of the Roman Empire between Scribonius [played by John Vickery], a put-upon playwright, and Emperor Nero [played by Danny Scheie], the all-powerful, narcissistic arbiter of art."
Directed by Sharon Ott, You, Nero officially opens Jan. 9 and runs to Jan. 25 at SCR's Julianne Argyros Stage.
Rounding out the cast are Richard Doyle (Seneca/Zippo), Caralyn Kozlowski (Poppaea), Hal Landon Jr. (Burrus/Batheticus), Lori Larsen (Agrippina) and Kasey Mahaffy (Fabiolo/Young Nero/Others) with Christopher Crawford, Angelle Buffett and Marissa Hampton.
According to SCR production notes, "Nero, the Emperor of Rome, has an epic public relations problem. He summons Scribonius, last of the great tragedians, to write a play that will turn public opinion in his favor when it is presented at the Neronia Festival of the Arts. Although Scribonius is terrified of displeasing the Emperor, who has the habit of torturing and/or killing anyone who makes that mistake, he recognizes the opportunity to use the power of art to turn Nero's life around. As the two men work through each draft, Nero continually misinterprets Scribonius' meanings, finding justifications for even more tyranny and murder. Scribonius' last effort, having Nero portray himself in the play, backfires completely. Intoxicated by his own creativity, Nero decides he doesn't need a playwright at all — he's going to go onstage, unscripted, at the Neronia Festival himself. And the Colosseum will never be the same." You, Nero is Freed's fourth commission from South Coast Repertory. The previous three are Freedomland (Pulitzer Prize finalist), The Beard of Avon and Safe in Hell. Her other plays include The Psychic Life of Savages and, most recently, Restoration Comedy.
Scheie created the role of Nero at the 2008 Pacific Playwrights Festival staged reading at SCR. His theatre credits include Restoration Comedy at both The Old Globe and California Shakespeare Theater, where he played Feste, Mercutio and Harlequin among many other roles over five seasons; Cloud Nine at Trinity Repertory Company and Berkeley Repertory Theatre (where he also appeared in the world premiere of Charles Mee's Fetes de La Nuit); Star Quality at Pasadena Playhouse; The Comedy of Errors at A Noise Within; The Last Hairdresser at Zephyr Theater and Theater Rhinoceros; Tartuffe at LATC; Yale Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, TheaterWorks, San Jose Repertory Theatre and 13 seasons at Shakespeare Santa Cruz (artistic director 1992-95).
Vickery has appeared at SCR in the NewSCRipts reading of New York is Bleeding; the Pacific Playwrights Festival readings of Singing Forest and Amy Freed's Safe in Hell; and in the productions of Nothing Sacred, Princess Marjorie, The Cherry Orchard, The Misanthrope and Heartbreak House. On Broadway he appeared in The Lion King, The Sisters Rosensweig, The Real Thing, Eminent Domain, Ned and Jack and Macbeth. Off-Broadway appearances include The Vampires, The Death of Von Richthofen, Henry IV, Part I, American Days and Looking Glass. Regional theatre credits include The Lion King at the Pantages Theatre; The Black Rider at Ahmanson Theatre; Singing Forest at Long Wharf Theatre; Arcadia, Richard II, Aristocrats, Made in Bangkok and Stuff Happens at Mark Taper Forum; The Royal Family at McCarter Theatre Center; Richard II at Yale Repertory Theatre; I Hate Hamlet at the Royal George Theatre; Tartuffe and Don Juan at Huntington Theatre Company; Romeo & Juliet, The Seagull and Macbeth at La Jolla Playhouse; The Caretaker at Los Angeles Theatre Center; and Julius Caesar at The Old Globe.
The creative team includes Erik Flatmo (set design), Paloma H. Young (costume design), Peter Maradudin (lighting design), Stephen LeGrand (music composition/sound design), Eric Drew Feldman (music composition/sound design), John Glore (dramaturg) and Julie Haber (stage manager).
Tickets to You, Nero may be purchased online at www.scr.org, by phone at (714) 708-5555 or in person at the SCR box office.