Under the direction of Neil Munro, Simon Bradbury, the British actor known for work at Canada's Shaw and Stratford Festivals, plays the silent film legend. Bradbury also wrote the play. The piece is billed as a "one-man multi-media exploration of the late actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin."
Performances continue to March 12 at the Henry Heymann Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial, Pittsburgh, PA.
Originally developed and produced by the Shaw Festival in 2002, Chaplin makes its U.S. premiere as the opening production of PICT's 2005 season, which is themed "Duality: Clowns and Villains."
In the play, it's 1938 and Charles Chaplin begins work on his most controversial film, "The Great Dictator," an attempt to warn the West about the rise of Hitler. Chaplin himself will portray its two central characters, the evil dictator Hynkel and the "Little Tramp," a Jewish barber.
"But the project angers Hollywood backers and threatens to alienate mainstream audiences," according to PICT. "The film, overtly political by its very nature, will finish with a stunning coup de theatre, the tramp character's impassioned plea for tolerance in a world on the verge of war. Increasingly isolated, the director faces a painful dilemma: should his tramp speak? Through the use of newly shot video mirroring Chaplin’s classic footage, Bradbury's tramp interacts with his megalomaniacal screen alter ego." Bradbury has been a member of the renowned Shaw Festival company in Canada for 16 seasons, where he has played a variety of diverse roles in Three Men on a Horse, Pygmalion, Arms and the Man, Charley’s Aunt, Misalliance and The Plough & the Stars, among others. He has also acted at the Stratford Festival, where he has performed in Shakespeare's Richard II, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Measure for Measure.
Director Neil Munro's Shaw Festival directing credits include last year's acclaimed production of Shaw's Man and Superman, Chaplin, Detective Story, His Majesty and many more. Munro has worked for such venues as the Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis), Citadel Theatre, Canadian Stage Company, National Arts Centre, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Theatre Plus, Factory Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, Arbour Theatre, and Stratford Festival.
The production team includes scenic and costume designer David Boechler, lighting designer Kevin Lamotte, sound designer Trevor, video designer Simon D. Clemo and composer Paul Sportelli (who is the Shaw Festival's resident music director).
Movement coach and consultant Dan Kamin is also part of the team. He made his Shaw Festival debut with Chaplin. An internationally renowned mime and performance artist, his many devised works include Comedy in Motion, Confessions of an Illusionist and The Corpozoid Man.
For information, call (412) 394-3353 or visit PICT online at picttheatre.org.
Bradbury's Chaplin isn't to be confused with a number of Chaplin-inspired musicals, including Chaplin by librettist Ernest Kinoy, composer Roger Anderson and lyricist Lee Goldsmith, who won the Carbonell Award in South Florida in 1994. Visit www.chaplinthemusical.com.
The Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre was founded in 1996 "to diversify the region's theatrical offerings by providing Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania audiences with high-quality, text-driven, affordable productions of classical theatre and the works of classical and contemporary Irish playwrights and to significantly improve employment opportunities for local talent…"