Ashmanskas, DeRosa and More to Bring Guare's Revised Rich and Famous to Life at A.C.T.

News   Ashmanskas, DeRosa and More to Bring Guare's Revised Rich and Famous to Life at A.C.T.
Broadway's Brooks Ashmanskas, Mary Birdsong and Stephen DeRosa, and Bay Area actor Gregory Wallace, will star in the first major revival of John Guare's 1976 play, Rich and Famous, rewritten by the author, to play American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in early 2009.

The comedy will be directed by Tony Award winner John Rando (Broadway's Urinetown, The Wedding Singer). Performances play Jan. 8-Feb. 8, 2009, in San Francisco. Opening is Jan. 14, 2009.

Guare is the author of Six Degrees of Separation, The House of Blue Leaves and the screenplay to "Atlantic City."

First seen in New York City in 1976, Rich and Famous is billed by A.C.T. as a delicious dark comedy that "springs to life with twisted humor, rapid-fire dialogue, and outrageous plot twists." The revival script "includes significant rewrites to the original text, as well as hilarious songs freshly scribed by Guare himself."

In Rich and Famous, "playwright Bing Ringling yearns to savor the sweet taste of celebrity, and he's hoping play number 844 will be his lucky break. But on opening night, he slips into a nightmarish phantasmagoria that shows him just how wrong things can go."

Ashmanskas was nominated for a 2007 Tony Award for Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and has also appeared in the Broadway companies of The Producers and Gypsy, takes on the role of struggling playwright Bing Ringling. Playing "a whirlwind of outlandish characters from the early '70s" will be Birdsong ("Reno 911!" on Comedy Central and Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and Hairspray on Broadway), DeRosa (Hairspray and Into the Woods on Broadway), and A.C.T. core acting company member Wallace ('Tis Pity She's a Whore and The Government Inspector last season at A.C.T.). According to A.C.T., Guare looks "at artistic success and America's obsession with celebrity with a hilariously satiric eye."

"This has always been one of Guare's plays that I've wanted to do," stated Rando, who won a Tony Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for his production of Urinetown, The Musical, which began its national tour at A.C.T. "It's a wickedly funny story of an aspiring young artist at a time when being a hip artist in New York City was the thing to be. I cannot wait to dive into the wacky world of this affectionate look at theatre then and now."

"John Guare's work has the unique ability to simultaneously exist on many different planes of reality that are disparate, fully realized, and by definition dramatic-and Rich and Famous is a perfect example of this," stated Ashmanskas, who'll play Bing Ringling. "It is Guare's fantastic bravery and honesty that keeps me hysterical with laughter. To get a chance to tackle this sincere, sophisticated, and adorably desperate role in a brilliantly revised version of this terrific play directed by the genius John Rando alongside a stellar cast, including my old pals Mary Birdsong and Stephen DeRosa, is almost too good to be true. I would be thrilled to work at A.C.T. under any circumstances, but this is truly exciting and an honor."

Artistic director Carey Perloff added, "One of my longstanding artistic dreams at A.C.T. has been to bring the extraordinary and delightful American master John Guare to San Francisco to work on a play. He is a consummate teller of tales and a writer who is constantly surprising and original."

The play will be set, by designer Scott Bradley, in a run-down, converted theatre space. The team also includes Alexander Nichols (light designer), Gregory Gale (costume designer), Jeremy Lee (sound designer) and Laura Burton as musical director and performance pianist.

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