Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's 1980s-Set Dorian Gray Finds a Canvas in MD

News   Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's 1980s-Set Dorian Gray Finds a Canvas in MD
Roderick Hill, the Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional actor seen in Butley and Lestat, plays the corrupt Dorian Gray in the world premiere of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's The Picture of Dorian Gray, starting Sept. 9 in Maryland.

Roderick Hill
Roderick Hill Photo by Clinton Brandhagen

The play, based on the novel by Oscar Wilde, but set in London in 1988, opens the 2009-10 season of Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD. It's billed as putting "a provocative contemporary spin on Wilde's scandalous thriller" about "a handsome young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty."

Producing artistic director Blake Robison directs.

The Picture of Dorian Gray will run through Oct. 4 at Round House Theatre Bethesda, 4545 East-West Highway.


The Dorian Gray company also includes Sean Dugan (recently of Off-Broadway's Next Fall) as Harry Wotten; Clinton Brandhagen as Basil Hallwood; Julia Proctor as Sibyl, Christina, Karen; Joel Reuben Ganz as James, Alan; Kaytie Morris as Victoria, Jillian; and Timothy Andrés Pabon as Detective Burman, Inspector Morse, German Man, Senator, Scott, Theodore Ruxpin, Brett. According to Round House, "The story begins in London in 1988, where a struggling artist paints a portrait of a handsome young friend. Upon seeing it, Dorian Gray strikes a Faustian bargain that allows his outward appearance to remain forever unchanged while the portrait reflects his true age and immorality. Plunging into a life of narcissism and depravity, he leaves those who love or befriend him broken or dead before realizing that he has also destroyed himself."

The playwright said in a statement, "I've had a long history with The Picture of Dorian Gray, from the first time I read it — I was about twelve, I think. I didn’t understand it that first go-around, of course, but I knew I liked it, though I didn't exactly know why. When I first talked about this adaptation, I realized I hadn't read it in 20 years or so. And the book in my head was very different than the one I was re-reading. The book in my head was a thrilling, suspenseful, gory horror story. Like 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' mixed with an episode of 'Tales from the Crypt,' with some witty lines tossed in to cut the dread every now and then. The book in my hands was, essentially, a philosophical comedy of manners, with (to my mind) violence and horror more suggested than shown. I set out to write an adaptation of this story that bridged the gap between what I remembered and what I'd just read and [it has] come out the richer for all the pushing and pulling and prodding we’ve done."

Aguirre-Sacasa's plays include King of Shadows (Working Theater), The Muckle Man (City Theatre in Pittsburgh), Dark Matters (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), Based on a Totally True Story (Manhattan Theatre Club), The Mystery Plays (Yale Rep/Second Stage Theatre), The Velvet Sky (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), Rough Magic (Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York) and The Weird (an evening of short pulpy plays at Dad's Garage Theatre in Atlanta). His early comedies Golden Age and Say You Love Satan were both nominated for GLAAD Media Awards and have been performed around the country. Later this season, his play King of Shadows will be seen in New York. For Marvel Comics, he is the Harvey Award-winning author of such titles as "Angel: Revelations" and "The Dead of Night: Man-Thing." Most recently, he joined the writing staff of HBO's acclaimed series "Big Love" and developed a television series about werewolves, "Howl," for the FOX Network.

The creative team includes scenic designer James Kronzer, costume designer Helen Q. Huang, lighting designer Daniel MacLean Wagner, props designer Michelle Elwyn, dialect coach Terry Weber and fight choreographer Casey Kaleba.

For tickets and more information, call (240) 644-1100 or visit

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