Ford's Theatre's 75th-Anniversary Staging of Our Town, With Portia as Stage Manager, Begins Jan. 25
By Kenneth Jones
A nontraditional cast takes on the timeless Thornton Wilder play Our Town, featuring actress Portia as The Stage Manager, in a new 75th-anniversary production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic by Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. Performances start Jan. 25.
In conjunction with this run, on Monday, Feb. 4, the anniversary of the 1939 Broadway opening night, The Thornton Wilder Society, The Wilder Family and Ford's Theatre Society present what's billed as "The Official 75th Anniversary Celebration of Our Town." The special evening at Ford's Theatre, at 511 Tenth Street NW, does not include a performance of the play, but will feature selections from Thornton Wilder’s works and letters read by leading Washington, DC-area actors, the premiere of a short film about the play's enduring power (it's called "In Our Living and Our Dying") and the presentation of the Thornton Wilder Prize to former National Endowment of the Arts chairman Rocco Landesman.
Stephen Rayne (Ford's Theatre's The Heavens Are Hung in Black, Sabrina Fair and Parade) "directs a diverse cast, creating an Our Town for our time," according to the not-for-profit company. Performances play to Feb. 24.
The play "presents a timeless commentary on the transience of human existence," according to Ford's Theatre. "Teenagers George and Emily meet, fall in love, marry — and suffer the slings and arrows of everyday life. Wilder transforms their ordinary story into a poignant and captivating exploration of mortality and the interconnectivity of human beings."
"Our Town is a play which transcends differences in culture, class and race, and speaks to the great themes common to all great art: love, death and marriage," Rayne said in a statement. "From its first production in 1938, the play struck a powerful chord with the American psyche, and it is as fresh and relevant today as it was then. I am hoping to bring a fresh perspective to this great classic and present a production that Ford's and Mr. Wilder will be proud of."
In addition to Portia (Broadway's Ride Down Mt. Morgan and Off-Broadway's McReele), the cast members are Michael Bunce, Erin Driscoll, Alyssa Gagarin, Kellee Knighten Hough, Joey Ibanez, James Konicek, John Lescault, Susan Lynskey, Kevin McAllister, Tony Nam, Jon Hudson Odom, Tom Story, Kimberly Schraf, Frederick Strother, Brynn Tucker, Nickolas Vaughan, Jenn Walker, Craig Wallace and Christopher Wilson.
Expect "a simplistic color scheme and set design" for Our Town "in order to showcase the story's universal themes of love and loss."
The production team includes scenic designer Tony Cisek, costume designer Kate Turner-Walker, lighting designer Pat Collins, original music and sound designers David Budries and Nathan A. Roberts, wig and makeup designer Anne Nesmith, movement and mime director Mark Jaster, production stage manager Brandon Prendergast and assistant stage manager Kate Kilbane.
For more information, visit Fords.org.
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