Escanaba, Third Michigan Play in a Trilogy by Jeff Daniels, Premieres Sept. 17

News   Escanaba, Third Michigan Play in a Trilogy by Jeff Daniels, Premieres Sept. 17
Julian Gant, Wayne David Parker and Tom Whalen are featured in the world premiere of Jeff Daniels' trilogy-capping comedy, Escanaba, for The Purple Rose Theatre Company, the Michigan Equity troupe founded by Tony Award-nominated actor Daniels. Performances begin Sept. 17 toward an opening of Sept. 25.
Jeff Daniels
Jeff Daniels

Artistic director Guy Sanville directs the three-character play, which is set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and draws on characters and situations from Daniels' earlier Purple Rose hits, Escanaba in da Moonlight and Escanaba in Love. This is the final chapter. It will play 14 weeks, to Dec. 19.

Daniels, recently on hiatus from Broadway's hit God of Carnage, was able to work with his cast members in rehearsal at the theatre in his hometown of Chelsea, MI, 60 miles west of Detroit.


Escanaba, also set in the U.P. town of the title, "begins in 1922 with Alphonse Soady putting the finishing touches on his newly-constructed deer camp. A wild-eyed James Negamanee bursts through his door fleeing a black bear. This origin story reveals the role this strange trespasser plays in time-honored Soady Deer Camp traditions, including the saga of the Soady Ridge Buck."

Daniels said in a statement, "The opportunity to write any play, let alone a trilogy, is a privilege afforded few playwrights. It helps to have your own theatre company, sure, but if people hadn't come to see what happened inside the 'the world famous Soady Deer Camp,' it's safe to say the Soadys would not have come to be. As a playwright it has been a wonderful journey. I am grateful there is an audience for these stories, and I hope they have come to know and love these characters as much as I do." Design for this production includes set by Dennis G. Crawley, properties by Danna Segrest, costumes by Sally L. Converse-Doucette, lighting by Dana White and sound by Quintessa Gallinat. Stephanie Buck stage manages with Gregory Butka as assistant stage manager.

Actor Gant makes his PRTC debut in Escanaba. His recent theatre credits include Fences at Performance Network and understudying for The Second City's Kwame a River.

Parker, a resident PRTC artist, last appeared on the PRTC stage in When the Lights Come On. He has played a Negamanee in the world premiere of all three plays in the Escanaba trilogy. This is his 23rd production with the PRTC and his sixth by Daniels. He recently appeared at Meadow Brook Theatre in The Trip to Bountiful and in Kong's Night Out.

Whalen was last seen at the PRTC in Panhandle Slim & The Oklahoma Kid. He also appeared in The Glass Menagerie, The Good Doctor, Let It Be, Guys On Ice and Orphan Train.

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Founded in 1991 by acclaimed actor and Chelsea-native Jeff Daniels, The Purple Rose Theatre Company is a leading American theatre dedicated to producing the new American play and creating opportunities for Midwest theatre professionals.

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