Auberjonois Is Imaginary Invalid in DC June 10-July 27; Baxter Directs

By Kenneth Jones
May 27, 2008

Tony Award-winning actor René Auberjonois will play hypochondriac Argan in The Shakespeare Theatre Company's new production of Molière's The Imaginary Invalid, adapted by Alan Drury and directed by Keith Baxter, June 10-July 27.

Performances play the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, DC. The production concludes the 2007-08 season, a busy year for the resident company. Last fall, its new, expanded home opened, making it a two-venue operation. The Imaginary Invalid opens June 16, after previews.

Auberjonois won his Tony for Coco and was nominated for his work in The Good Doctor, City of Angels and Big River. He's also remembered for work on TV's "Boston Legal," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Benson." Playing Argan in the classic French comedy, he is making his STC debut.

According to STC, "Molière’s final play, The Imaginary Invalid targets the medical quacks of 17th-century France. The eccentric and wealthy hypochondriac Argan decides to marry his strong-willed daughter Angélique off to a doctor, so that he’ll always have a physician around. But Angélique loves another man, and her attempts to persuade her father to let her marry him lead to outrageous tricks and disguises. Molière's keen wit and hilarious characters take center stage in this knockabout farce."

Director Baxter said in production notes, "The Imaginary Invalid is arguably Molière's most famous play. It is also unique among his other works in that it begins with an homage to Louis XIV and features three commedia dell'arte interludes. Producers and directors often remove these elements, but we have tried to capture the spirit of the original production by recreating the environment in which the play was first seen."

Baxter and his designers "have recreated a 17th-century French theatre setting for The Imaginary Invalid…by utilizing scenery technologies that were popular during the play's first productions."

The company also includes Helen Hayes Award winner Nancy Robinette as Toinette, Gia Mora as Angélique, Kaitlin O'Neal as Beline and Tony Roach as Cléante with Drew Eshelman, Vince Eisenson, Levi Ben-Israel, Peter Land, David Manis, Ian Pedersen, Kara Quick, Todd Scofield, Anne Stone, John Robert Tillotson, Emily Whitworth, and ensemble members Leslie Sarah Cohen, Danielle Davy, Chris Dinolfo, Marissa Molnar and Keith Scott McDonald.

Baxter last directed STC's 2005 production of Lady Windermere's Fan.

The creative team includes set designer Simon Higlett, costume designer Robert Perdziola, sound designer Martin Desjardins, music director/composer Barbara Irvine, Gillian Lynne (musical staging) and lighting designer Peter West. Text coaching is by Ellen O'Brien.

Lansburgh Theatre is located at 450 7th Street NW, between D and E Streets, just off Pennsylvania Avenue, between the Capitol and the White House.

For tickets and information call (202) 547-1122 or visit www.ShakespeareTheatre.org.