Foote's Sprawling Family Work The Orphans' Home Cycle Premieres in Hartford

News   Foote's Sprawling Family Work The Orphans' Home Cycle Premieres in Hartford
The world premiere of late Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award-winning playwright Horton Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle begins performances at Hartford Stage Sept. 3.
(clockwise from bottom left: Georgi James, Bill Heck, Dylan Riley Snyder and Maggie Lacey
(clockwise from bottom left: Georgi James, Bill Heck, Dylan Riley Snyder and Maggie Lacey Photo by T. Charles Erickson

The epic nine-play cycle traces the lives of three Texas families over the course of three decades. Hartford Stage artistic director and longtime Foote collaborator Michael Wilson stages the production that runs through Oct. 24. Orphans' Home Cycle will later arrive Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre Company Nov. 5, 2009-March 6, 2010.

Foote's daughter, Tony nominated actress Hallie Foote (Dividing the Estate) portrays Mary Vaughn in a cast that also features Bill Heck ("The Closer," Medium") in the central role of Horace Robedaux, with Dividing the Estate actress Maggie Lacey as his wife, Elizabeth Vaughn Robedaux, and James DeMarse (Dividing the Estate, The Trip to Bountiful) as Henry Vaughn.

Completing the cast are Devon Abner, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Justin Fuller, Jasmine Harrison, Henry Hodges, Georgi James, Annalee Jefferies, Virginia Kull, Matt Mulhern, Gilbert Owour, Jenny Dare Paulin, Pamela Payton-Wright, Bryce Pinkham, Stephen Plunkett, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Dylan Riley Snyder and Charles Turner.

According to press notes, The Orphans' Home Cycle "begins with a father's death in a small-Texas town at the turn of the century, a loss that sends his son, Horace Robedaux, on an odyssey through the darkest corners of the heart as he learns to become a husband, father, and patriarch. Set in Foote's fictitious town of Harrison, Texas and based partly on the childhood of Foote's father and the courtship and marriage of his parents, the cycle is a wide-ranging, intricate work."

Part I (The Story of a Childhood) consists of the plays Roots in a Parched Ground, Convicts and Lily Dale; Part II (The Story of a Marriage) includes The Widow Claire, Courtship and Valentine's Day; and Part III (The Story of a Family) concludes with 1918, Cousins and The Death of Papa. The Orphans' Home Cycle has set design by Jeff Cowie and David Barber, costume design by David Woolard, lighting design by Rui Rita, original music and sound design by John Gromada and choreography by Peter Pucci. Dialect coach is Ralph Zito. Fight director is Mark Olson.

"I am incredibly excited to be collaborating with Signature Theatre Company and working with this talented and dedicated cast on Horton's masterwork, The Orphans' Home Cycle," said director Michael Wilson in a statement. "These 22 remarkable actors will all be playing 71 characters as we take audiences in Hartford and New York through the early part of the 20th century in the world of the Robedaux, Thornton, and Vaughn families. It is a wonderful commitment of their time and talents to spend the next nine months exploring this world with such consummate artistry. Both Hartford Stage and Signature are incredibly grateful to our supporting sponsors on this project, which promises to be one of the most moving and exciting theatrical experiences of the upcoming season."

A Pulitzer Prize winner for The Young Man from Atlanta, Foote's plays also include Dividing the Estate (2009 Tony nomination for Best Play), The Carpetbagger's Children, The Trip to Bountiful, The Traveling Lady, The Chase, The Last of the Thorntons and Talking Pictures, among others. He is an Academy Award winner for the screenplays "Tender Mercies" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." The 92-year-old Foote had been in Hartford, CT, where he was putting the finishing touches on Orphans' Home Cycle, when he died last March.

The plays are presented in repertory, as well as in one-day marathons. For tickets and more information, phone (860) 527-5151 or visit

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