T H E W I L L G E E R
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2009
Contact (for media only): Lucy Pollak
Moliere's comic tale of greed, lust... and "American values":
we're still laughing at ourselves, 300 years later.
TOPANGA, CA - A comic tale of greed, lust... and 'American values,' Moliere's The Miser opens on the outdoor stage at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum on Saturday, July 25, rounding out Theatricum's five-play 2009 Summer Repertory Season.
Alan Blumenfeld, a member of Theatricum's repertory company for over 25 years, stars as Harpagon, the churlish skinflint who wants to marry off his children for financial gain. His fanatical hoarding and penny pinching ways set his entire family scheming to steal his fortune.
Can love triumph over greed? Can the children outwit their selfish father? Will everyone get what they deserve - and can their antics remain relevant over three hundred years after The Miser was written?
"Moliere's scathing satire of society's preoccupation with money rings as true in today's America as it did in 1668 France," asserts Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer, who directs the production. "We see ourselves and laugh, just as audiences did so long ago."
If the French have an equivalent of William Shakespeare, it would be Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Moliere. Playwright, producer, director and actor, Moliere reigned supreme in French comedy from 1659 to 1673, when he collapsed after performing as Argan in Le Malade Imaginaire and died the same day from a severe hemorrhage.
Drawing from the new tragedies as well as from the traditions of commedia dell'arte and farce, Moliere created a whole new genre. He liked to find the most difficult situations and make them funny. Moliere understood the comedy of tragedy - that delicate balance between humor and the darker sides of our humanity that makes us laugh.
At the time Moliere wrote The Miser, he was in desperate straits. Although he was a favorite of the court and Parisians, Moliere's satires attracted criticism from moralists and the Church. His Don Juan had been censored. Tartuffe was suspended shortly after its first public performance. His theater company was near financial ruin. And, on top of everything, gossip had it that his much-younger wife was the daughter of a former lover. Moliere's personal and occupational difficulties may help explain the even darker-than-usual undertones in The Miser.
The Theatricum production is set during the French Renaissance and features original songs composed by Ellen Geer with lyrics by Ellen Geer and Peter Alsop.
Alan Blumenfeld's credits at the Theatricum span 25 years, including Falstaff in Merry Wives Of Windsor (LA Drama Critics Circle Award ); Autolycus in A Winters Tale; Mr. Antrobus in The Skin Of Our Teeth; The President in Lysistrata; Kent in King Lear; Shylock in Merchant Of Venice; Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream; Gremio in Taming Of The Shrew; Touchstone in As You Like It; Trinculo and Stephano in The Tempest,; Shmarev in The Seagull; The President in Madwoman Of Chaillot; Matt Friedman in Talley's Folly (along with his wife Katherine James) ; and Friar Laurence in Romeo And Juliet, among many others. At A Noise within: McCleavy in Loot; Sancho in Man Of La Mancha; Pere Ubu in UBU ROI; Bottom in A Midsummer Nights Dream. South Coast Rep: Felix/Beaupertuis in An Italian Straw Hat; David in A Feminine Ending; Eddie Brock in Born Yesterday. Odyssey Theater: Mr. Peachum in Three Penny Opera; Jean in Rhinoceros (Drama-Logue and Garland Awards). Broadway/First National Tour: Neil Simon's Laughter On The 23rd Floor. Other Regional Theater: A.C.T. in San Francisco; Renaissance Rep in Chicago; PCPA in Santa Maria; and San Francisco Opera. TV: more than 200 guest star roles including: Heroes (recurring as the Nightmare Man), Madmen, Grey's Anatomy, CSI, Without A Trace, Gilmore Girls, ER and Uncle Willy in Brooklyn Bridge, Film: Righteous Kill, In Her Shoes, The Ring, Heartbreakers, Bob Buss in 2gether, MTV, Tin Men, The Elder Son, The TV Set and Callback.
Also in the Theatricum cast are Ted Barton, Bill Durham, Samara Frame, Willow Geer, Nina Kurtz, Mark Lewis, Melora Marshall, Mike Peebler and Chad Jason Scheppner.
In addition to The Miser; Theatricum's 2009 Summer Repertory Season includes Shakespeare's exuberant romance Cymbeline ("Critic's Choice" - Los Angeles Times, "GO" - LA Weekly) and his gripping political thriller, Julius Caesar ("This 'Caesar' offers tangible pleasures" - Los Angeles Times), both currently running and continuing through the end of September; a freely adapted update of The Cherry Orchard that resets Anton Chekhov's poignant comedy in Virginia just after the Civil Rights movement (opening June 27); and Theatricum's signature production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (eight performances only, July 4 through September 7).
Unlike most theaters in the Los Angeles area that stage continuous runs of a single play, the Theatricum performs the five plays on a rotating basis. In August, when all five plays are up and running, it will be possible to see a performance of each in a single weekend.
The beginnings of the Theatricum Botanicum can be traced to the early 1950s when Will Geer, a victim of the Hollywood blacklist (before he became known as the beloved Grandpa on TV's The Waltons), opened a theater for blacklisted actors and folk singers on his property in Topanga. Since 1973, the Theatricum has presented Shakespeare and the classics in repertory in its scenic, outdoor amphitheater in rustic Topanga Canyon. The Theatricum Botanicum is a recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle's highest honor, the prestigious Margaret Harford Award for "Sustained Excellence in Theater," and Artistic Director Ellen Geer was presented with the LA Weekly Career Achievement Award in 1999.
Performances of The Miser take place on Fridays at 8 pm on July 31; August 7, 14, 21; and September 18 and 25; Saturdays at 4 pm on August 8 and 22; Saturdays at 8pm on July 25 (Opening Night); August 1, 15, 29; and September 5, 12 and 19; and Sundays at 7:30 pm on September 13 and 27. Tickets are $30.00 (lower tier) and $20.00 (upper tier); seniors, students, Iraq War Veterans and members of Equity pay only $20.00 and $15.00; children ages 5-12 are $10.00; children under 5 are free. Audiences at the Saturday, August 22 performance are invited to participate in a pre-show "Prologue" discussion beginning at 3:00 pm. A free "Roundtable" discussion for The Miser takes place on Sunday, August 9 from 2 pm - 3:15 pm.
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For tickets and information, call (310) 455-3723 or visit online at www.theatricum.com.
DETAILS FOR CALENDAR LISTINGS
The Miser - Moliere's comic tale with a tragic heart about a man whose love for his money is greater than his love for his children. When an old widower decides to marry off his children against their will, he sets the entire family scheming to steal his fortune. With forbidden romance in the air and the family treasure buried in the backyard, it's a race to see who will come out on top.
Written by Moliere
Original Songs Composed by Ellen Geer
Lyrics by Ellen Geer and Peter Alsop
Directed by Ellen Geer
With Ted Barton, Alan Blumenfeld, Bill Durham, Samara Frame, Willow Geer, Nina Kurtz, Mark Lewis, Raymond Lynch, Melora Marshall, Mike Peebler and Chad Jason Scheppner.
Performances July 25 through September 27:
Saturday, July 25 at 8 pm
Friday, July 31 at 8 pm
Saturday, August 1 at 8 pm
Friday, August 7 at 8 pm
Saturday, August 8 at 4 pm
Friday, August 14 at 8 pm
Saturday, August 15 at 8 pm
Friday, August 21 at 8 pm
Saturday, August 22 at 4 pm* *Prologue (pre-show discussion) today at 3:00 pm (included in ticket price)
Saturday, August 29 at 8 pm
Saturday, September 5 at 8 pm
Saturday, September 12 at 8 pm
Sunday, September 13 at 7:30 pm
Friday, September 18 at 8 pm
Saturday, September 19 at 8 pm
Friday, September 25 at 8 pm
Sunday, September 27 at 7:30 pm
*Roundtable Discussion: Sunday, August 9 from 2 pm- 3:15 pm (free)
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Topanga CA 90290
(midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura Freeway)
(310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com
Adults: $30 (lower tier); $20 (Upper tier)
Seniors, Students, Equity: $20/$15
Children (5-11): $10
Children under 5: free
The outdoor amphitheater at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is terraced into the hillside of the rustic canyon. Audience members are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. Snacks are available at the Hamlet Hut, and picnickers are welcome before and after the performance.