Count on the classics of American theater to generate excitement and when these classic plays from icons of the theater world expect something special. Everyone who follows theater knows the names of noted playwrights Inge and O’Neill so what could be better to kick off a season that two of their favorite plays?
Kansas City Actors Theatre begins the season with with Picnic and Long Day’s Journey into Night. Picnic opens Aug 10 (previews begin Aug 6) and closes Aug 25. Long Day’s Journey into Night opens Sept 6 (previews Sept 3) and closes Sept 15. Both shows play at the City Stage in the lower level of Kansas City’s famed Union Station.
The summer begins with a celebration of the 100th birthday of our own William Inge. To commemorate this event, KCAT will offer a production of one of his most well-loved plays, and one very appropriate to the season, Picnic.
Picnic is a charming, uplifting and heartbreaking story of one life-changing day in the lives of two households in a small Kansas town in the early 1950s. The play centers around the chemistry between two main characters: Madge Owens, a pretty 18-year-old girl, and Hal Carter, a young vagabond. Madge wonders if there is more to her life than being a pretty girl destined to marry the first acceptable man who asks. Then Hal arrives in town, and his presence has a seismic effect on Madge as well as the other members of the Owens’ extended family. Hal sees in Madge a chance for an emotional attachment more deep and real than any in his shiftless life up to this point.
And then there is Rosemary the school teacher who longs for love and thinks she may have a chance with Howard. As the summer magic unfolds, so does the charm and reality of the play.
The heat is on. All the characters in the play get caught up in the resulting whirlwind of passion and longing, making this a summer picnic like no other.
Mark Robbins a noted local actor and director cast a talented ensemble to re-create life in a small Kansas town in the 1950’s. His cast includes: Hal, Phillip Shinn; Flo, Mindy McCrary; Madge, Emily Peterson; Millie, Alisa Lynn; Rosemary , Jen Mays; Howard, David Fritts; Alan, Chris Roady; Mrs. Potts, Kathleen Warfel; Irma, Kathy Kane; Christine, Mackenzie Goodwin.
Next, is a timeless masterwork from the towering talent of Eugene O’Neill, A Long Day’s Journey into Night. A loving semi-autobiographical homage to O’Neill’s family, Long Day’s Journey is a harrowing, unblinking, booze and dope-fueled descent into the revelation of dark truths and bitter love. It is also a dizzying display of O’Neill’s mastery of powerful dialogue, and an opportunity for virtuoso performances. An unforgettable theatrical experience, courtesy of KCAT.
Director John Rensenhouse selected the following to bring the O’Neill classic to life this summer: James Tyrone, Jim Birdsall; Mary Tyrone, Merle Moores; Jamie Tyrone, Brian Paulette; Edmund Tyrone, Doogin Brown; Cathleen, Jessica Franz.
Two addtional shows Jeffery Hatcher’s Three Viewings, and R.C. Sherriff’s powerful WWI drama, Journey’s End.
KCAT’s summer productions will be staged at Union Station’s H&R Block City Stage beginning Aug. 6 and running through Sept. 15. Season subscriptions go on sale in May at www.kcactors.org or by calling the Central Ticket Office at 816.235.6222.
Kansas City Actors Theatre is celebrating its ninth season of producing classic and modern-classic plays featuring Kansas City theatre artists. The KCAT’s artistic committee makes season selections. Melinda McCrary leads that committee.