Robin Phillips Directs World Premiere, Tunney, About Boxer and Bard Expert, Nov. 16 in MA | Playbill

News Robin Phillips Directs World Premiere, Tunney, About Boxer and Bard Expert, Nov. 16 in MA
Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA, unveils the world premiere of Tunney/Shakespeare in Six Rounds by David E. Lane Nov. 16 toward a Nov. 18 opening.

Robin Phillips directs the one-man show, featuring classical actor and "Queer as Folk" veteran Jack Wetherall playing boxer Gene Tunney. The actor, who played the title role on Broadway in The Elephant Man, and recently appeared in Henry V for Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, might be best known for his supporting role as Uncle Vic Grassi in the American version of TV's "Queer as Folk."

Tunney/Shakespeare was originally announced to launch on Nov. 15, but the creative team was given an extra day for the process of bringing the new work to life.


According to the New England Equity company, "Gene Tunney took on many roles in his lifetime: World War I marine, World Heavyweight Champion, successful business man, and college professor. Tunney was known to have read Shakespeare before his fights, and credits these readings for his 1927 defeat of Jack Dempsey for the World Heavyweight Championship title."

In Tunney/Shakespeare in Six Rounds, Lane "reveals a little-known fact: that following his retirement from the ring, Gene Tunney taught a Shakespeare course at Yale." Set in the classroom, Tunney/Shakespeare "transports the audience to a level of intimacy with both a World Heavyweight Champion and the most renowned playwright in history."

Playwright David E. Lane's second play (title to be announced) is about the imagist poet, H.D., in analysis with Freud, and is based on actual events. The play will be workshopped in 2008.

Robin Phillips is the respected international director (and designer) of classic and contemporary plays, whose work has been seen at the Stratford Festival in Canada and on Broadway (Jekyll and Hyde) and beyond.

Performances continue to Dec. 9.

For more information call (978) 654-4MRT (4678) or visit


Merrimack Repertory Theatre is located in historic downtown Lowell at Liberty Hall, the Company's 308-seat theatre, at 50 E. Merrimack Street.

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