The WVU Division of Theatres 2003-2004 season opens Sept. 12 withFather Uxbridge Wants to Marry,a controversial off-Broadway play written and directed by WVU Benedum Professor of Theatre Frank Gagliano.
The seasons first production also features an all-faculty cast, faculty designers and guest artist Roger Jerome of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, BBC and Londons West End, who performs the plays demanding lead.
Father Uxbridge Wants to Marryopens in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre at the Creative Arts Center Friday, Sept. 12, and runs Sept. 13, 14, 17, 18, 19 and 20. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly and there will be two matinee performances at 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 and 20.
A controversial and underground favorite since it was first produced off Broadway,Father Uxbridge Wants to Marry(published by Dramatists Play Service), now revised, features Gaglianos signature mix of intense and compressed drama, sex, cinematic dissolves, quirky humor and soaring and vivid stage language.
The play was first developed in the 1960s at the ONeill Theatre Center in Connecticut and produced at New Yorks American Place Theatre starring Olympia Dukakis. It was later televised on New Yorks WNET -TV starring Roy Scheider.
When the play begins, Morden, an elevator operator, is told he is being replaced by an Otis automatic elevator. Mordens fragmented mind takes him on a cinematic journey through the landscape of a crumbling institution-a church that no longer serves his needs, Bach arias, hammer-and-nail poundings at the crucifixion, and past and present confrontations with hisvegetable width=100%mother, former wife, present mistress, and conservative and hip priests-all the while seeking a salvation and transcendence that will allow him to smash his elevatorright on through the roof!According to John Lahrs introduction to the Grove Press edition of the play,Gaglianos vision of the clergy is hilarious. His ability to make language memorable (Morden speaks of his aged mother whininglike a car idling) is part of this craftsmanship. Uxbridge has a dark humor; the names of his characters are all taken from stops on the London Underground-suggesting a subterranean world, as well as a joke.
Gaglianos vision is a complex one-even galling at times-but at every point in the play, we are conscious of a craftsman testing his talent in a society which is not interested in long, hard looks at serious questions.
Gagliano, whose plays have been produced off Broadway, in Europe, and in regional and university theaters in the United States, was the co-founder and artistic director of Carnegie MellonsShowcase of New Playsand recently founded the Festival of New Works in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Roger Jerome, who plays the demanding, tour-de-force role of Morden, has appeared at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, where he was Capulet inRomeo and Juliet.For Pittsburghs Irish and Classical Theatre (PICT), he played Teddy in Rian FrielsFaith Healer,as well as Tartuffe inTartuffeand Hardcastle inShe Stoops to Conquer.Also in Pittsburgh, he was Ben Weatherstaff inThe Secret Garden.Jerome is a member of American and British Equity and frequently does voice-overs, industrials and commercials. He toured Ireland during October 2003 inFaith Healer,playing 13 venues.
Jerome is a graduate of the famous Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where he studied under the legendary Clifford Turner and was a prizewinner for fencing and dialects. Going straight into provincial repertory from RADA , he played a wide variety of characters during a five-year period, including Stanley inThe Birthday Party,Estragon inWaiting for Godot,Fancourt-Babberly inCharleys Aunt,Rochefort inThe Three Musketeersand Feste inTwelfth Night.
A stint at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon saw him working with such luminaries as John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Plummer, Ian Bannen and Peggy Ashcroft. Jerome toured every major British city withBeyond the Fringe,appeared as the Beggar inThe Beggars Operain Aldeburgh, Edinburgh and Paris, and was featured inSaints Dayat the St. Martins Theatre in London.
WVU theatre faculty members also in the cast ofFather Uxbridge Wants to Marryinclude: Assistant Professor Kate Udall, as Bethanal Green, Mother, Stepney and Debden; Assistant Professor Jay Malarcher, as Father Uxbridge; Assistant Professor Phil Beck as Father Ongar; and Adjunct Instructor Alison Cox as Angel.
Designers include: Assistant Professor Troy Snyder, stage and costume design; Assistant Professor Joshua Williamson, lighting; and theatre student Jaimie Woolery, sound.
Technical director is Gray Daniel and stage manager is Robbie Griffith. Assistant Professor Jessica Morgan serves as combat and movement coach.
Father Uxbridge Wants to Marryhas a running time of 90 minutes and is performed without an intermission. The Sept. 20 performance will be interpreted for the hearing impaired.
AnUpfront&Backstagepre-show presentation will take place prior to the Sept. 14 matinee. This presentation, which begins at 12:30 p.m., will allow the audience to meet the people behind the scenes, tour backstage, and visit the shops where scenery, props, and costumes are built. The presentation will begin in the lobby of the Gladys Davis Theatre.
In addition, there will be a Post-Show Panel Discussion following the Sept. 18 performance. During this discussion with the director, designers and company, the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions, make comments, and discuss the process of bringing the play to life.
Tickets forFather Uxbridge Wants to Marryare $11 for the general public and $9 for WVU faculty and staff, senior citizens, students and children.
For tickets or more information, call the Mountainlair Box Office at (304) 293-SHOW. Schools interested in attending matinee productions should contact the Division of Theatre and Dance at (304) 293-4841 ext. 3120. Special ticket prices are available for groups of 10 or more.