Wilma co-artistic director Blanka Zizka will direct Stoppard's work, which is set in England and Czechoslovakia in the late 1960's and spans 22 years of social and political turmoil. Rock 'n' Roll, the season opener for Wilma, begins performances Sept. 17 and continues through Oct. 26. An opening night has been set for Sept. 24.
The cast comprises Barnaby Carpenter (Jan), David Chandler (Max), Kate Eastwood Norris (Eleanor/Esme), Libby Woodbridge (Esme/Alice), Mary McCool (Lenka), Mark Cairns (Milan), Julie Czarnecki (Candida), Ryan Farley (Ferdinand), Victoria Frings (Magda, Gillian, Deirdre), Jered McLenigan (Stephen) and Seth Reichgott (Nigel, Interrogator).
Here's how the Wilma describes Rock 'n' Roll: "In 1968, as the world is ablaze with rebellion, Jan, a young Cambridge graduate student with little but a prized collection of rock albums, returns to his homeland of Czechoslovakia just as Soviet tanks are rolling into Prague. Back in England, Jan's mentor, Max, a professor of Marxist Philosophy, faces his own crisis as the idealism he so strongly held onto smashes against the landscape of political upheaval."
For Wilma co-artistic directors Blanka and Jiri Zizka, Rock 'n' Roll holds unique significance: The duo immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia after their theatre was closed down by the government in 1976, the same year the Plastic People of the Universe were arrested. The notable arrest of the avant-garde Czech band is central to Rock 'n' Roll.
In addition to the work of Plastic People of the Universe, the production features tunes from some of rock 'n' roll's other most influential artists, including John Lennon, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, the Grateful Dead, U2 and the Beach Boys. "With half of the play taking place in former Czechoslovakia, Rock 'n' Roll brings us back to one of the defining moments in our lives when we left the country in 1976," Blanka said in a statement. "The Czech characters in the play encounter events very similar to experiences of our closest friends who remained in Prague. Tom [Stoppard] himself was born in Czechoslovakia, and he has long been impressed by our personal story of immigrants coming to a foreign place, knowing nobody, and creating a theater. It is the perfect play to mark our 30th Anniversary Season."
The design team includes Matt Saunders (set design), Joshua L. Schulman (lighting design), Oana Botez-Ban (costume design) and Andrea Sotzing (sound design).
Previously, the Wilma produced Stoppard's Night and Day, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, Indian Ink and The Invention of Love.
For tickets phone (215) 546-7824 or visit WilmaTheatre.