Press Room

PTC PRESENTS WORLD PREMIERE OF ALABAMA STORY

December 19, 2014

For: IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kirsten Park

801-581-6270

kirsten.park@ptc.utah.edu

January 9 through January 24, 2015

PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS the WORLD PREMIERE OF

Alabama Story By Kenneth Jones

Salt Lake City – Pioneer Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones, January 9 – 24, 2015.

The play was workshopped in Pioneer Theatre Company’s new play reading series, Play-by-Play, last season. The play-a finalist in the 2014 National Playwrights Conference-coincides with the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

A gentle children’s book with an apparent hidden message stirs the passions of a segregationist senator and a no-nonsense state librarian in 1959 Montgomery, just as the civil rights movement is flowering. Inspired by true events, Alabama Story puts political foes, star-crossed childhood friends, and one feisty children’s author on the same page to conjure a Deep South of the Imagination.

Emily Reed, the person upon whom the main character in Alabama Story is based, was a charter member of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Foundation, which celebrates its 45th Anniversary in 2015. The Utah Library Association is hosting a special talk-back and reception with the actors, the director, and playwright after the matinee performance on January 17th from 5-7pm.

Playwright KENNETH JONES is also a librettist, lyricist and journalist. His works for the stage include the musicals Naughty/Nice (with composer Gerald Stockstill) and the O. Henry-inspired musical Voice of the City (with composer Elaine Chelton). He is a member of the Advanced BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. His work as a journalist includes stints with The Detroit News, Playbill.com and many other publications.

Jones said, “Following my weeklong residency here in April as part of PTC’s inaugural Play-By-Play workshop, I’m thrilled to be back in Salt Lake now working on the fully realized world-premiere production being shaped by artistic director Karen Azenberg, who has shepherded the play from its first draft. Her passion for new works is one of the extraordinary things about Pioneer Theatre, a great American resident theatre.”

GRETA LAMBERT plays the courageous librarian Emily Wheelock Reed, returning to PTC after playing the role of Sister Aloysius in the 2007 production of Doubt. Lambert has been a company member of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival since 1986 playing roles such as Ivy Rowe in Fair and Tender Ladies, Dottie in Noises Off, Truvy in Steel Magnolias, Linda in Death of a Salesman, Blanche DuBois, Hedda Gabler, and more. She has also appeared on television in Picket Fences and Young Riders. She currently serves as ASF Director of Education and Outreach.

WILLIAM PARRY plays the segregationist senator Higgins. He has created roles in ten original Broadway productions, including James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and Passion (both filmed for PBS), as well as Into the Light, The Leaf People, Agamemnon (Lincoln Center), and the original Jesus Christ Superstar. Also on Broadway, he performed as understudy to Richard Burton and Richard Harris in Camelot and in Gypsy with Bernadette Peters (directed by Sam Mendes). His film, television and radio credits include In & Out, Domestic Disturbance, The Pretender, Law & Order, and Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. This is his PTC debut.

SAMUEL RAY GATES and KATE MIDDLETON play Joshua and Lily, a white woman and an African American man who were childhood friends, now reuniting in the Civil Rights Era.

GATES is making his Pioneer Theatre Company debut. He has appeared off-Broadway in The Muscles in Our Toes (The Labyrinth); Aunt Dan and Lemon (The New Group); Three Seconds in the Key (New Georges); Electra (the Classical Theatre of Harlem); Nelson (Partial Comfort Productions); A Wives’ Tale (Summer Play Festival). Television and film credits include Mozart in the Jungle, VEEP, Person of Interest, The Blacklist, House of Cards, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Kings, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Rescue Me.

MIDDLETON returns to PTC after appearing as Lt. Cmdr. Jo Galloway in last year’s A Few Good Men. Her Off-Broadway appearances include Asymmetric (59E59 Theaters), Pratfalls (The Abingdon, world premiere), The Late Christopher Bean, Separate Tables, The Unearthing (TACT), The Other Place (MTC/MCC), Avow (NYIT Award Best Lead Actress), Bell Book and Candle, Proof, Barefoot in the Park, The Shape of Things, House of Yes, Pump Boys & Dinettes (Ground UP Productions). She is the Artistic Director of NYC’s 9-year-old non-profit theatre company, Ground UP Productions.

SETH ANDREW BRIDGES plays Thomas, Emily’s assistant. His Off-Broadway credits include Harry in The Time of Your Life, Ashley Lancaster in Friend of the Devil (Attic Theatre Company, company member) and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (NY Neo-Classical Ensemble). His regional credits include Orsino in Twelfth Night, and Donalbain and Young Siward in Macbeth (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Hal in Proof, and the octogenarian Alfie in One Man, Two Guvnors (TheatreSquared); and Thurio in The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Lake George Theatre Lab). This is his PTC debut.

STEPHEN D’AMBROSE plays several roles, including Garth Williams, the author of the children’s book that starts the controversy. D’Ambrose is a 40-year stage veteran, with performances at theaters across the country including the Guthrie, The Old Globe, San Jose Rep., Arizona Theater Co., The Children’s Theatre Co., The Jungle Theater, and The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in DC. National tours include the Guthrie Theater’s Great Expectations and the Broadway tour of Tracy Letts’ acclaimed August: Osage County. His film credits include: Sweet Land, Herman USA, Factotem, The Cure, A Christmas Carol, Trauma, and Vixen Highway.

PTC Artistic Director KAREN AZENBERG directs andchoreographs, after having directed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee earlier this season. Originally from New York, Azenberg’s work there includes Lyrics and Lyricists (92nd St. Y), Blocks (a collaboration with Jonathan Larson), Prom Queens Unchained, and choreography for Richard Greenberg’s The Dazzle (Roundabout). Other credits include National Tours of Carousel and Brigadoon, Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Regional Theatre Premiere at Geva), over fifteen productions of West Side Story, one of which earned her a Dramalogue Award for Outstanding Choreography, and many others.

Scenic design is by guest artist JAMES NOONE. He has designed previously for PTC and has worked for some of NYC’s most prestigious theatre companies including Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company and numerous others. His Broadway productions include Jekyll and Hyde, Class Act, The Persians, Judgment at Nuremberg, Night Must Fall, The Sunshine Boys, The Gin Game, A Bronx Tale and Come Back Little Sheba.

Guest artist BRENDA VAN DER WIEL returns to design costumes for the production. Previous designs for PTC include Emma, Rent, The Foreigner, You Can’t Take It With You and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Brenda also frequently designs for Salt Lake Acting Company.

Lighting design is by guest designer PHIL MONAT. He has designed previous PTC productions of Man Of La Mancha, Annie, White Christmas, Hamlet, Touch(ed), My Fair Lady, Paint Your Wagon, Five Guys Named Moe, Chicago, Copenhagen, Ragtime, Anything Goes, Steel Magnolias and Alexandre Dumas and the Lady of the Camelias. He has designed over 475 productions in regional theatres throughout the country.

Sound design is by JOSHUA C. HIGHT. Hight is an established live sound engineer in both London and Salt Lake City. His other projects of note include working with Sommerset House for the 2012 Olympic Games, Of Monsters and Men, Collective Soul, Fallout Boy, Slash, the Psychedelic Furs, Citizen Cope, the Dropkick Murphys, Gogol Bordello, Kate Nash, Easton Corbin, Sevendust and many more. Hight is a Graduate with Distinction of London’s Alchemea College of Audio Engineering and the Resident Sound Designer for PTC.

Hair and makeup design is by PTC resident designer AMANDA FRENCH. French has worked for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Utah Opera, Egyptian Theatre Company and the University of Texas as Austin. She is a contributing writer in the tenth edition of Stage Makeup by Corson, Glavan and Norcross, and her work can be seen in The Costume Technician’s Handbook by Ingham and Covey, and Wig Making and Styling: A Complete Guide for Theatre and Film by Ruskai and Lowery.

 

CAST: Seth Andrew Bridges*…………………………………………. Thomas Franklin Stephen D’Ambrose*………………………………………….. Garth Williams/other roles Samuel Ray Gates*…………………………………………….. Joshua Moore Greta Lambert*……………………………………………………. Emily Wheelock Reed Kate Middleton*…………………………………………………… Lily Whitfield William Parry*……………………………………………………… Senator E.W. Higgins ARTISTIC TEAM: Director………………………………………………………………… Karen Azenberg Playwright……………………………………………………………. Kenneth Jones Set Designer……………………………………………………….. James Noone Costume Designer……………………………………………… Brenda Van der Wiel Lighting Designer……………………………………………….. Phil Monat Sound Designer………………………………………………….. Joshua C. Hight Hair and Makeup Designer…………………………………. Amanda French

Stage Manager……………………………………………………. John “JP” Pollard*

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association. Pioneer Theatre Company operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah’s only fully professional theatre, performs at Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, located on the University of Utah campus at 300 South and 1400 East in Salt Lake City, easily accessible by TRAX light rail. Free parking is also available and the theatre is equipped with an elevator, handicap parking, hearing assistance devices and other easy-access features.