Press Room

THE YELLOW LEAF PRESS RELEASE

December 30, 2008
Contact: Heather Nowlin
(801) 581-7222
heather.nowlin@ptc.utah.edu

PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS

The Yellow Leaf

By Charles Morey

Pioneer Theatre Company presents the world premiere of The Yellow Leaf, by Pioneer Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Charles Morey, January 9 through January 24, 2009.

Hopelessly entangled love affairs, savage wit and jousting egos combine to create a fascinating, funny, and haunting evening of theatre in this World Premiere that is based upon historical fact. In the fateful summer of 1816, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley and their companions flee England escaping scandal. Shuttered in Byron’s villa on the shores of Lake Geneva, they turn to the supernatural as Byron challenges them to each write a ghost story – a competition that will not only spawn Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but that also shapes the destinies of these extraordinary individuals whose lives defined an age.

The all-Equity cast includes Bjorn Thorstad in the role of George Gordon, Lord Byron. In New York City, Thorstad has appeared in Autophagy with The Drama League, in Dan Fogler’s Elephant in the Room! at the New York Fringe Festival, in Clean at Urban Stages, and as Bobby Gould in David Mamet’s Bobby Gould in Hell. He also appeared as Shaggy in the National Tour of Scooby Doo in Stagefright.  He returns to PTC after last season’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; he has also appeared here in Ten Little Indians and Pride and Prejudice.

Portraying the role of Percy Bysshe Shelley is Christopher Kelly. In New York, Kelly most recently appeared in Macbeth at the New Victory Theatre, in Henry V with the Culture Project, and in the Drama Desk Award-nominated Moby Dick with the Ohio Theatre. He has appeared at theatres across the country, including Denver Center Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Theatre, Intiman Theatre, and the Fulton Opera House. He returns to PTC after appearing in The Foreigner last season.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Shelley) is played by Ellen Adair. Making her PTC debut, Adair has previously appeared in Henry IV, Part I at the Folger Theatre, and in The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V,and A Christmas Carol with American Shakespeare Center. She received an IRNE nomination for her performance in Arcadia with Boston’s Publick Theatre. She has appeared on television on Showtime’s Brotherhood, and in numerous films for PBS.

Mary Godwin’s half-sister Claire Clairmont is played by Lena Hurt. Most recently, Hurt appeared on Theatre Row in New York City as Mrs. Bassett in Summer and Smoke, and at The Sage Theater in a new work, In The Ebb. Her other New York City theatre credits include Ah, Wilderness, Isaac and Ishmael, Much Ado About Nothing, Sarah Plain and Tall, Bash, and The Duchess of Malfi. She recently graduated from the University of Tennessee Graduate Acting Program. This is her PTC debut.

The character of John William Polidori, the aspiring writer and friend of Lord Byron, is played by Giorgio Litt. Litt recently played Theophilus off-Broadway in the Keen Company’s production of Theophilius North, under the direction of Carl Forsman. He also premiered Smoke on the Mountain: the Homecoming with Alan Bailey at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He received his M.F.A. in acting at University of Missouri-Kansas City under the stewardship of Dale A.J. Rose. This is his PTC debut.

Guest Director Geoffrey Sherman returns to PTC to direct the piece. Currently the Producing Artistic Director for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Sherman has been responsible for the world and national premieres of scores of plays, from David Hare’s Knuckle to Alice Childress’ Moms. He has been Artistic Director of off-Broadway’s Hudson Guild Theatre, Oregon’s Portland Repertory Theatre and Michigan’s Meadow Brook and BoarsHead theatres. In New York City, his work as producer and director garnered two Obies, as well as Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Audelco nominations. He has received Best Production and Best Director Awards for plays ranging from Angels in America and Arcadia to The Old Settler and The Rocky Horror Show. He lasted directed Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde at PTC.

Playwright Charles Morey has been the artistic director of the Pioneer Theatre Company since 1984, during which time he has directed over seventy productions for PTC, including The Producers, The Vertical Hour, and Les Misérables. In addition to having directed for dozens of theatres nationally, Morey is the author of nine plays, including stage adaptations of The Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula, and The Three Musketeers, a translation/adaptation from Feydeau entitled The Ladies Man, and original plays Laughing Stock and Dumas’ Camille. His plays have been produced at regional theatres across the U.S.  Upcoming productions of his work include The Three Musketeers at Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and The Ladies Man for Indiana Repertory Theatre and the Geva Theatre Center. The Yellow Leaf was written during a MacDowell Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, the nation’s leading artist colony.

Jayne Luke is choreographer for the production.  In addition to being an accomplished actress, Luke has choreographed several productions for PTC. Other PTC choreography credits include The Light in the Piazza, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pride and Prejudice, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Phantom, BigRiver,and Evita.

Scenic design is by James Wolk. Wolk’s New York City designs include The President and Her Mistress and Summer of the Swans at TheatreworksUSA, Pagans at the Abingdon Theatre, Boys’ Life at Lincoln Center and Three Sisters, both directed by William H. Macy.  He has designed for theatres across the country, and around the world. Past PTC credits include The Heiress, Lost in Yonkers, Five Guys Named Moe, The Real Thing, The Mousetrap, Sophisticated Ladies, Present Laughter, A View From the Bridge, Rough Crossing and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Guest designer Pamela Scofield designs the costumes for the production. Her recent off-Broadway credits include Almost Maine, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, A Fine and Private Place, and The Summer of ’42. She designed the National Tour and Madison Square Garden production of Cinderella starring Eartha Kitt. Television work includes several editions of The Grammy Awards. Regional credits include Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Syracuse Stage, Asolo Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, dozens of productions for Geva Theatre and many musicals, new and old, for North Shore Music Theatre and Goodspeed Opera. She last designed The Vertical Hour for PTC.

Lighting design is by Thomas J. Munn. Munn is an internationally recognized lighting designer whose extensive resume includes scenery and/or lighting for Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theater, ballet, industrials, film and television.He was Lighting Director and Designer for San Francisco Opera from 1976-2000, designing over 200 productions. Credits for SFO include the Emmy-nominated televised World Premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire and an Emmy Award for La Gioconda. His past PTC credits include Julius Caesar and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Sound design is by Joe Payne. Payne is in his ninth season as Resident Sound Designer for Pioneer Theatre Company. He has designed sound and/or composed music for more than 100 productions in theatres throughout the country.

Hair and Make-up Designer Amanda French, PTC resident designer, has worked for theatres all over the west. She is a contributing writer in the ninth edition of Stage Makeup by Richard Corson and James Glavan and is a featured artist in The Costume Technician’s Handbook by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey.

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MEDIA PHOTO SHOOT: There will be a media photo shoot on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008. The shoot will be held at 7:30 P.M. at Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 E., SLC. Please RSVP at (801) 581-7222.

PHOTOS AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD: High-resolution color photos of this production will be available for media use on the PTC website beginning Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 after 3:00 p.m. Go directly to www.pioneertheatre.org /season/presspix.html

TV CAMERA FILMING: Filming a short segment of the production during Preview or Opening Night for press use can be arranged. Call (801) 581-6270.

INTERVIEWS: Interviews with the cast and artistic staff are available. Call (801) 581-7222.

PRESS TOURS: Tours of the set for the press are available. Call (801) 581-6270.

WHO:              Pioneer Theatre Company

WHAT:           The Yellow Leaf  By Charles Morey

WHEN:           January 9 – January 24, 2009

TIMES:           Mondays – Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays, 8:00 p.m.
Saturday matinees, 2:00 p.m.

WHERE:         Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre
300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City

PRICE:           $22 – $40; Children K – 12 are half price on Mondays and Tuesdays

MORE:           Box Office (801) 581-6961. The Box Office is open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Monday – Friday, and Saturdays when there are performances

CAST:
Ellen Adair*………………………………………………………. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin
Lena Hurt*………………………………………………………… Claire Clairmont
Christopher Kelly*……………………………………………… Percy Shelley
Giorgio Litt*………………………………………………………. John William Polidori
Bjorn Thorstad*…………………………………………………. Lord Byron

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association.

ARTISTIC TEAM:
Director…………………………………………………………….. Geoffrey Sherman
Choreographer…………………………………………………… Jayne Luke
Set Designer………………………………………………………. James Wolk
Costume Designer………………………………………………. Pamela Scofield
Lighting Designer………………………………………………… Thomas J. Munn
Sound Designer………………………………………………….. Joe Payne
Wig and Make-up Designer………………………………….. Amanda French