HEARTFELT & HUMOROUS

FOUR PLACES RECEIVES EAST COAST PREMIERE AT MERRIMACK REP

October 14 – November 7, 2010
PRESS NIGHT: OCTOBER 17, 7PM

Lowell, MA – The powerful new family drama Four Places by Joel Drake Johnson receives its East Coast Premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, October 14 – November 7, 2010, stage direction by Charles Towers.

Two middle-aged siblings take their mother out to lunch where the conversation turns from routine banter to life-changing revelation. The indelible characters are both marvelously funny and devastatingly human as they lead one another to a place where forgiveness and understanding are tested, but love is still possible. Subscriptions and individual tickets are available online at
www.MerrimackRep.org or by calling 978.654.4MRT.

“Funny and heart-wrenching” — Backstage (Critic’s Pick)

The all-Equity cast of Four Places features

Carole Monferdini

Kate Udall

John Wojda

and

Laura Latreille

Kate Udall and John Wojda return to Merrimack Rep after previously appearing in

A Moon of the Misbegotten and The Pursuit of Happiness, respectively. Carole Monferdini, who has appeared on Broadway in The Misanthrope and Waltz of the Toreadors, and Elliot Norton Award-winner Laura Letreille, who has recently appeared at Huntington Theatre and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, make their MRT debuts.

“I love Joel Drake Johnson’s Four Places” says Merrimack Rep Artistic Director Charles Towers. “Like many great American plays, it is about family; about the unbreakable bonds that sometimes break. It is also about love. I find his writing to be utterly honest and true, shot through with a great sense of humor that rises not out of jokes, but out of our real recognition of family relationships. So many of us fall into one of the two categories so profoundly rendered here by Johnson: adult children with aging parents, or older parents with adult children. Many of us are navigating these relationships from one side of the fence or the other. Plus, any play that addresses the role denial plays in family life is a play that also has its eye toward the larger role denial plays in American politics and the shaping of the American character. Four Places is at once funny, shocking and heartbreaking in the best theatrical way.”

Joel Drake Johnson is one of the newest members of Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble. The critically acclaimed, Jeff Award-nominatedFour Places was produced by Victory Gardens in the spring of 2008. His earlier works at Victory Gardens Theater, Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour, were also Jeff-nominated for Best New Play and all three plays were directed by Sandy Shinner, Victory Gardens’ Associate Artistic Director. Four Places was subsequently produced in Los Angeles by The Rogue Machine Theatre where, under the direction of Robin Larsen, it garnered more critical acclaim.
Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A Blue Moon, which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists and also Jeff-nominated for best new work. He got his start as a writer at Chicago’s critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater, which (under the leadership of Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia) produced such plays as Beautiful Dreamer. His other plays include As the Beaver, first produced by Zebra Crossing, and The Fall to Earth (Rick Snyder, dir.) which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award-winner Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep, directed by Joe Brancato and featuring Tony Award-winner, Michelle Pawk. Steppenwolf later produced A Blameless Life (Anna Shapiro, dir.) and Tranquility Woods (Sandy Shinner, dir.) as part of their 2005 and 2007 First Look Repertory.
He has taught playwriting at Northwestern University, DePaul University and Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. He lives in Chicago and New Buffalo, Michigan where he is working on three new plays: The First Grade which was produced by the Aurora Theatre Company in the winter of 2010; A Guide for the Perplexed which was produced by Victory Gardens in the summer of 2010 and starred Kevin Anderson and Fran Guinan; and The Boys Room, a part of Northlight Theatre’s Interplay and Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look reading series and now a part of Victory Gardens’ 2010-11 season. Johnson is a member of PEN AMERICA and the Dramatists Guild.

The production staff for

Four Places features Charles Towers (director), Bill Clarke (scenic design), Deb Newhall (costume design) and Jeff Adelberg (lighting design). IRNE-winner Bill Clarke’s scenic design work has previously been seen on the Liberty Hall stage in A Delicate Balance, The Seafarer, The Homecoming and many more. Deb Newhall has previously designed for Black Pearl Sings!, Fabuloso and The Seafarer. Lighting Designer Jeff Adelberg makes his MRT debut. This production of Four Places is sponsored by Lowell General Hospital, with additional support by WBUR. Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 season is sponsored by Lowell Cooperative Bank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

CAST BIOS

CAROLE MONFERDINI (Peggy) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut Broadway: The Misanthrope, National Theatre of G. Britain; Waltz of the Toreadors, National Tour. Off-Broadway: Full Gallop, Westside Arts Theater; The Club, Circle in the Square; Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Provincetown Playhouse. New England: The Nibroc Trilogy, Chester Theatre Company. Regional: Pride and Prejudice, Geva Theatre Center; Medea, The Subject Was Roses, Pittsburgh Public Theater; The Retreat from Moscow, Delaware Theatre Company; A Christmas Story, Cleveland Play House, All’s Well That Ends Well, Lettice and Lovage, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Film: Next Stop, Greenwich Village, The Bell Jar, The Brass Ring.

KATE UDALL

(Ellen) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: A Moon for the Misbegotten (2008). Off-Broadway: Blue Heron Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, MHStages. Regional: Williamstown Theatre Festival, George Street Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Wittenburg (world premiere), Arden Theatre. International: She has played at the Edinburgh Fringe, in Bamberg, Germany and Italy. She is a founding member of Vox, an international ensemble that was featured in the documentary Giving Voice: The Actor’s Journey. In 2006, Vox was invited to present Metamorphoses at the International Theatre Festival in Lisbon. Film: Choke. Television: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, SVU and Kidnapped. Other: Ms. Udall is a designated teacher of Linklater Voice Technique and she spent six years as an Associate Professor of Voice/Acting at West Virginia University. She is a proud member of Actors Equity.

JOHN WOJDA

(Warren) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Pursuit of Happiness. Broadway: Spring Awakening (1st National Tour), Present Laughter, Merchant of Venice, Two Shakespearean Actors, Macbeth, Holiday. Off-Broadway: New Group (Ecstasy, Mourning Becomes Electra), NYSF/Public Theater, Theatre For A New Audience, Primary Stages, WPA Theatre, Women’s Project, Classic Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, SoHo Playhouse, WestBank Downstairs. Regional: Dozens of leading roles including four seasons at Canada’s Stratford Festival. Television: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: SVU, Third Watch, The High Life, all NY-based soap operas. Film: Amir Naderi’s Manhattan by Numbers, Seven Servants with Anthony Quinn, and most recently in Visiting Friends.

LAURA LATREILLE

(Barb) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut Regional: In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Hunter Gatherers, Fuddy Meers, Killer Joe, Ruby Tuesday, The Art Room, Public Exposure, Psychopathia, Sexualis, Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre; Mauritius, Huntington Theatre; Fat Pig, The Shape of Things (Elliot Norton Outstanding Actress Award), Speakeasy Stage Company; Shel’s Shorts & Signs of Trouble, Market Theatre; Sin, Bash, Why We Have a Body, Coyote Theatre; The Glider, Boston Playwrights Theatre; The Blowin’ of Baile Gall, Vineyard Playhouse. Education: Brandeis, MFA

SPECIAL EVENTS FOR

FOUR PLACES:

Pay What You Can Night – October 14 at 7:30PM. Patrons may purchase tickets in cash at the Box Office between 4:30PM-7:30PM and name their ticket price. Following the performance, there will also be a Director’s Dialogue, where the director and designers field audience questions and describe how the play was staged.
Lowell Night – October 16 at 8PM. Lowell residents may purchase tickets for $10 at the box office from 5PM-8PM. Proper ID required.

Opening Night – October 17 at 7PM. Audience members are invited to join Merrimack Rep’s staff and cast after the show in raising a glass of champagne to celebrate the opening of the production.

Cookie Matinee – October 20 at 2PM. Patrons enjoy complimentary cookies and coffee in the lobby before the show, courtesy of Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus. Post Show Forums – October 21, 28 and November 4 at 7:30PM. Audiences can stay after the performance to learn the inside scoop and chat with the actors.

TICKETS: Individual tickets for the 2010-2011 Season are on sale now. Tickets begin at $25. Discounts are available for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchase online at www.MerrimackRep.org or by calling the Box Office at 978.654.4MRT (4678).

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Don’t miss a single show! On sale now, MRT offers subscription packages to fit every lifestyle and budget. With season subscription packages ranging from $46-$273, all subscriptions offer deep discounts off the single ticket prices as well as exclusive subscriber-only benefits, including free parking, restaurant and theatre discounts, lost ticket insurance and free, unlimited ticket exchanges. For season or subscription information, call 978.654.4MRT (4678), or visit www.MerrimackRep.org.

For more information, bios, interviews, or photos, please contact Dan Berube at 978.654.7595 or

berube@merrimackrep.org.

For MRT show times, tickets, season information, directions, or to request a brochure, please visit www.merrimackrep.org or call the Box Office at 978.654.4MRT (4678).

The nationally-acclaimed and award-winning Merrimack Repertory Theatre is located in beautiful historic downtown Lowell at Liberty Hall, the Company’s 308-seat theatre, 50 E. Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852 (adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium). Each season, Merrimack Rep presents an eclectic mix of contemporary productions, engaging the country’s best available actors, designers and directors. Founded in 1979, MRT’s mission is “To advance the cause of human understanding by creating theatrical productions at the highest level of artistic excellence and making them affordable to the broadest possible community.” Its unique artistic vision is shaped by a passion for excellence and a profound commitment to its community. MRT strives to enhance the community’s quality of life while contributing to its economic strength, measuring success by the depth of the Company’s artistic and social contribution to the region.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 Season
Reduced Shakespeare Company® in The Complete World of Sports (abridged) by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, September 9 – October 3, 2010; Four Places by Joel Drake Johnson, October 14 – November 7, 2010; Beasley’s Christmas Party adapted by C.W. Munger, from the story by Booth Tarkington, November 26 – December 19, 2010; Tryst by Karoline Leach, January 6 – January 30, 2011; The Exceptionals by Bob Clyman, February 10 – March 6, 2011; Two Jews Walk Into A War… by Seth Rozin, March 17 – April 10, 2011; A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher, April 21 – May 15, 2011.