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by BWW News Desk
Long Wharf Theatre, under the leadership of Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein and Managing Director Joshua Borenstein, present The Killing of Sister George, by Frank Marcus and adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by and starring Kathleen Turner.
The show will open the newly renovated Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre, running from November 28 through December 23, 2012. Tickets are $40-$70 and can be purchased by visiting www.longwharf.org or calling 203-787-4282. The press opening is Wednesday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m.
By day June Buckridge (Turner) plays Sister George tending to the sick and poor on the radio hit “Applehurst.” By night, she chews on cigars, swills gin and lets nothing and no one stand in her way, including her long suffering “secretary” Childie. When “Applehurst”’s ratings plummet, Sister George is shuffled meekly off to the Great Beyond. June refuses to go quietly from her starring perch, however, in this bawdy and witty comedy.
Turner said that the play has been given a considerable rewrite by Hatcher, with the cooperation of Frank Marcus’ estate. The shock factor of the piece has been diminished in order to emphasize character relationships. “The characters are so vivid,” Turner said. “It caught my imagination, how to build and create these characters. Of course, the plot is also quite delicious. I am so drawn to comedy. In fact, if it isn’t there, I will create it. But, thankfully, it’s already there in this piece.”
Clea Alsip will play the role of Childie, Betsy Aidem will play Mercy Croft, and Olga Merediz will play Madame Xenia. In addition to playing June Buckridge, Turner will direct. Alsip, Aidem and Merediz are making their Long Wharf Theatre debuts.
The creative team is comprised of Allen Moyer (sets), Jane Greenwood (costumes), John Lasiter (lights), John Gromada (sound design/composer), Paul Huntley (wigs), Deborah Hecht (dialect coach), and Pat McCorkle, McCorkle Casting, Ltd. (casting.) Bryce McDonald is the stage manager.
The Killing of Sister George debuted on the West End in 1964. It made its New York debut on October 5, 1966, playing for over 200 performances at the Belasco Theatre. Beryl Reid won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as June Buckridge. Eileen Adkins and the play itself also received Tony Award-nominations. The play was adapted into a film in 1968, a work that has become a time capsule of London in the swinging 60s. The film also received an X rating due to racy content that does not appear in the play, a decision director Robert Aldrich tried to fight, to no avail.
“This play was highly influential and controversial in England in the 1960s. Kathleen taking this role at Long Wharf Theatre is an extraordinary gift to our audience and the icing on the cake of what promises to be a remarkable season,” Edelstein said.
Marcus (1928-1996), fled Germany with his Jewish family in 1939. Settling in England, Marcus began his career as an actor in London’s fringe theatres in the early 1960s before turning to playwriting. Hitting his peak in the 1960s with The Killing of Sister George and other works that explored all aspects of the female character, Marcus fell out of favor when the theatrical taste in England moved towards social realism. Marcus, whose health began to fail with Parkinson’s Disease, spent a decade as a theatre critic for The Sunday Telegraph, moving away from playwriting as his major form. “Frank Marcus was an actress’s dream: a playwright who wrote rewarding parts for women,” wrote Adam Benedick in the The Independent of London in 1996. “Not since the heyday of Rattigan, Coward, and Maugham, had there been an author who could be relied on to treat in the theatre the supposedly weaker sex with such sympathetic strength.”
Turner is best known for a series of starring film roles in the 1980s, including Body Heat (Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year), The Man With Two Brains, Crimes of Passion, Romancing the Stone (Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy), The Jewel of the Nile, The War of the Roses (Golden Globe nomination), Prizzi’s Honor (Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy), Peggy Sue Got Married (Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination), Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Serial Mom, and The Virgin Suicides, among many others. “As well as being an internationally renowned movie star, Kathleen Turner is an electric stage actress,” said Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein. “Her performances in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway will live vividly in the minds of those lucky enough to have seen them.”
Aidem, a 2007 Obie winner for Sustained Excellence of Performance, has appeared in numerous productions Off-Broadway, including Dreams of Flying, Dreams of Falling; Celebration, and Sea of Tranquility at Atlantic; The Metal Children and Mary Rose at The Vineyard; Crooked, Women’s Project, Stone Cold Dead Serious, Edge Theater at Chashama; The Triple Happiness, Second Stage; Good Thing, The New Group; The Butterfly Collection, Playwright’s Horizons; Luminescence Dating, EST; Pera Palas, McGinn Cazalle; Steel Magnolias, Lortel; A Lie of the Mind, Promenade; Escape from Happiness, Naked Angels; Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, MCC; Road, Lincoln Center Theater; Balm in Gilead, Circle Rep and Minetta Lane. Regionally, she has appeared at Dorset Theatre Festival, George Street Playhouse, The Huntington Theatre, Williamstown, and Hartford Stage, among many others. Her television and film credits include “The Big C,” “Smash,” multiple“ Law and Orders, “The West Wing”, “Sex and the City,” “The High Life,” “The Good Wife,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Rescue Me.” Film: Margaret, The Bleeding House, Arbitrage, The Oranges, You Can Count on Me, Motherhood, Music of the Heart, and Winter Passing.
Alsip recently appeared in Brace Yourself (BTF, dir. James Naughton), Lewis Black's One Slight Hitch (George Street and Williamstown), Six Degrees of Separation (Williamstown), and the regional premiere of The Motherf****r with the Hat (TheaterWorks Hartford). Her New York credits include L(y)re (Ars Nova), boom!, Emperor Antony, Orpheus Descending, and the world premiere of Tony Kushner’s Henry Box Brown (NYU Grad Acting). Her film and television appearances include the upcoming season of “Boardwalk Empire,” The Little Tin Man, Bumbloods, Strangers, and Crystal Sessions.
Olga Merediz is best known for originating the role of “Abuela Claudia” in the Broadway musical In The Heights, a performance for which she received a Tony award nomination. Additional Broadway credits include Reckless at MTC, Mamma Mia, Man of La Mancha (Original Revival cast), Les Miserables, and The Human Comedy. Her most recent films include The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, The Place Beyond the Pines, alongside Ryan Gosling, Remember Me, and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Other film credits include Changing Lanes, Music of the Heart, Evita, Centerstage, K- Pax, City of Hope, Isn’t She Great among others. She has also appeared in TV shows including “Royal Pains,” “Blue Bloods,” “Law and Order: SVU,” and “Pan Am.”
For more information about the show, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.