U.S. Bow of Ion Adaptation Plays DC, With Chappelle, Harrow and More

News   U.S. Bow of Ion Adaptation Plays DC, With Chappelle, Harrow and More Keith Eric Chappelle plays the title character in a new Shakespeare Theatre Company's current production of Euripides' less-known ancient Greek play, Ion, about the "legendary ancestor of all Athenians."
Ion star Colleen Delaney
Ion star Colleen Delaney Photo by Carol Rosegg

This production marks the American premiere of David Lan's adaptation, "which captures the rich beauty and emotional complexity of this neglected masterpiece," according to STC.

On Broadway, Chappelle recently played Poet/Cadet in Cyrano de Bergerac. He makes his STC debut with Ion, circa 415 B.C., directed by Ethan McSweeny (The Persians) at STC's Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, DC. Performances began March 10 toward a March 16 opening. The run plays to April 12.

The cast includes Lisa Harrow as Creusa and Sam Tsoutsouvas as Xuthus, among others.

The 2,500-year-old play is billed as a tragedy with a happy ending focusing on "a "young man struggling to find his true identity and origins." Euripides is known for his tragedies Medea, Electra, Trojan Women, Orestes and more.

According to STC, Ion "deals with the remarkably modern themes of familial jealousy and abandonment, and includes plots twists and turns, moments of laugh-out-loud humor and a touching reunion scene. Abandoned by his parents, Ion grows up as an orphan at Apollo's temple. But when his mother appears in search of a prophecy, Ion must confront both his painful past and his unexpected destiny." McSweeny said in production notes, "I'm treating Ion from my own modernity, not as some distant story from another time. It's about letting the play be as contemporary for this audience as it was for Euripides' [audience]."

Harrow, who makes her STC debut in the role of Creusa, began her stage career at the Royal Shakespeare Company. At the RSC, she starred as Desdemona and Olivia in John Barton's productions of Othello and Twelfth Night (the latter opposite Judi Dench), and as Portia in Terry Hands' The Merchant of Venice opposite Patrick Stewart. Her New York credits include Vivian Bearing in the Pulitzer prize-winning play Wit.

Tsoutsouvas returns to STC to play Xuthus after having performed the title role in STC's production of Titus Andronicus. His Broadway credits include Sir Watkyn Basset in By Jeeves, Renfield in Dracula and Sideway/Collins in Our Country's Good. His many other New York credits include The Mysteries, Shooting in Madrid, Gus and Al, The Puppet Master of Lodz, The Bald Soprano, Snowing at Delphi, Phaedra and, for New York Shakespeare Festival, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra and The Taming of the Shrew.

Ion also features Aubrey Deeker as Hermes, Colleen Delany as Athene, Tana Hicken as the Pythia, and Floyd King as Old Servant, with Rebecca Baxter, Lise Bruneau, Kate Debelack, Anthony Jackson, Leigh Jameson, Caleb Jones, Matthew B. Luceno, Laiona Michelle, Patricia Santomasso, Jeffrey Scott and Amanda Tudor.

The Ion design team includes costume designer Rachel Myers, set designer Rachel Hauck, original music/soundscape by Michael Roth, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau, choreographer Peter Pucci, puppet designer Aaron Cromie and text coach Ellen O'Brien.

For more information, visit ShakespeareTheatre.org or call (202) 547-1122.

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Production sponsors are Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) and the National Hellenic Society, with additional support is provided by The Doric Column and The National Endowment for the Arts and others. These sponsors and donors "make it possible for STC to fulfill its mission to become the nation's leading force in the presentation and preservation of classical theatre."

The cast of Shakespeare Theatre Company's <i>Ion</i>
The cast of Shakespeare Theatre Company's Ion Photo by Carol Rosegg