Monday, March 31, 2008

King Lear presented by Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre

For immediate release:

Contact: Melissa Hill Grande

Director of Marketing

(412) 561-6000 x203

Family betrayal, sibling rivalry take center stage in PICT‘s King Lear

starring Dakin Matthews

Pittsburgh, PA – March 24, 2008. Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre kicks off the 2008 season, Family Affairs, with the grandfather of all Shakespearean tragedies, King Lear, in a bold, visceral new production directed by James J. Christy and generously sponsored by BNY Mellon. Previews begin April 9th, with an opening on April 12th and performances through April 26th at The Charity Randall Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland.

The aging king divides his kingdom among his three daughters, basing each one’s share upon a public declaration of love to her father. Goneril and Regan make eloquent and hypocritical speeches, but the youngest daughter, Cordelia, refuses to participate and is disinherited. Meanwhile, the Earl of Gloucester is falsely persuaded by his bastard son, Edmund, that his other son, Edgar, is conspiring against him. It is only after these stubbornly misguided fathers have endured terrible physical and mental suffering that they realize it is the offspring they have so bitterly renounced, not those to whose flattery they have succumbed, who truly love them.

King Lear is directed by James J. Christy, with scenery by David P. Gordon, lighting by Andrew David Ostrowski, costumes by Pei-Chi Su, and sound design by Nicholas Crano. The production stars Dakin Matthews, Simon Bradbury, Larry John Meyers, and David Whalen; with Helena Ruoti, Robin Walsh, and Karen Baum as the three sisters.

Philadelphia-area director James J. Christy makes his PICT debut with King Lear. Local audiences may remember Christy from his work with the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival in the 1990’s, where he directed As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors. He has directed over twenty Shakespeare productions at theatres like the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, the Virginia Shakespeare Festival and at Villanova University where he taught theatre for thirty-nine years. He has garnered seven nominations for directing by the Philadelphia Theatre Alliance Barrymore Awards, winning two Barrymore Awards for directing and a special Barrymore for Lifetime Achievement.

Lear is played by Dakin Matthews, a renowned actor, dramaturg, and writer. Matthews is an Associate Artist of the Old Globe Theatre, a founding member of the Acting Company, and the former Artistic Director of California Actors Theatre, Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, and the Antaeus Company. As an actor for such companies as ACT in San Francisco, the Old Globe, The Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory Theatre, and numerous summer Festivals, he has specialized in Shakespearean roles, including Falstaff, Julius Caesar, Capulet, Brutus, MacBeth, Shylock, and many others. On Broadway, he appeared in his own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV (directed by Jack O’Brien), winning the Bayfield Award for acting and a Drama Desk Award for adaptation. No stranger to contemporary plays, his many recent roles include Dick Cheney in Stuff Happens and Hector in The History Boys at the Mark Taper and Alfred Hitchcock in Hitchcock Blonde at South Coast Rep. His 20 films include Thirteen Days, Nuts, and Clean and Sober. He has also appeared in over 200 television shows, including, most recently, recurring roles on Desperate Housewives, The King of Queens, and Gilmore Girls.

Simon Bradbury returns to PICT to play Lear’s Fool. Recent credits in Vancouver include Charlie Chaplin Goes to War, Oliver and the upcoming Stargate movie. Bradbury spent sixteen years as a company member at the Shaw Festival, and was PICT's 2006 actor-in-residence, performing in The Pillowman (Ariel), Endgame (Clov), and The Shaughraun (Conn).

The Earl of Gloucester is played by Pittsburgh-based actor Larry John Meyers. Meyers has performed in more than a dozen PICT shows over the past seven seasons, including the acclaimed 2006 production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame (Hamm), and last season’s Julius Caesar (Caesar) and Stuff Happens (Dick Cheney).

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2007 Performer of the Year David Whalen returns to play Edgar. Last season, Whalen was seen as George W. Bush in Stuff Happens, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, Padraic Osbourne in The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. A Pittsburgh native, Whalen is a graduate of Point Park University and the North Carolina School for the Arts. He played Joe Pitt in the American regional premiere of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America at Houston’s Alley Theatre and toured Europe with the production. He also appeared in the Arden/City Theatre co-production of Michael Hollinger’s Opus.

Lear’s three daughters are played by Pittsburgh residents Helena Ruoti (Goneril), Robin Walsh (Regan) and Karen Baum (Cordelia). Helena Ruoti was last seen in PICT’s Heartbreak House. Previously for PICT, Walsh played the title role in Hedda Gabler, as well as appearing in The False Servant and Henry. Karen Baum returns to PICT after playing Moya in The Shaughraun and Catherine in Boston Marriage. The King Lear ensemble includes David Cabot, Matt DeCaro (Kent), Jarrod DiGiorgi, Kevin Koch, Randy Kovitz, Christopher Maxwell, Maurice Redwood, Mark Staley, Paul Todaro (Edmund), Evan Walker, and Dereck Walton.

Scenic designer David P. Gordon makes his PICT debut with King Lear. A recipient of three Barrymore Awards and ten nominations for Outstanding Set Design for his work in the Philadelphia area, Gordon currently serves on the faculty of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School for the Arts. The costumes are designed by Pei-Chi Su, whose previous PICT credits include Pride & Prejudice, Private Lives, and BeckettFest. Andrew David Ostrowski (Hedda Gabler, Private Lives) designs lights, and Nicholas Crano (Shakespeare’s Henry IV) sound.

This production runs April 9th through the 26th in the stately Charity Randall Theatre, located in the Stephen Foster Memorial on Forbes Avenue in Oakland. Student matinees are scheduled for school groups on April 9th, 15th and 22nd at 10 a.m. Tickets for public performances are available by calling ProArts Tickets at 412-394-3353, or through the PICT website at To schedule students into a matinee performance, contact PICT Education Director Michele McClendon at 412-561-6000 x208, or email

King Lear Fact Sheet

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Directed by James J. Christy

The Charity Randall Theatre, Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland

Cast: Karen Baum, Simon Bradbury, David Cabot, Matt DeCaro, Jarrod DiGiorgi, Kevin Koch, Randy Kovitz, Dakin Matthews, Christopher Maxwell, Larry John Meyers, Maurice Redwood, Helena Ruoti, Mark Staley, Paul Todaro, Evan Walker, Robin Walsh, Dereck Walton, and David Whalen.

Design Team: Nicholas Crano (Sound), David Gordon (Scenic), Andrew David Ostrowski (Lighting), and Pei-Chi Su (Costumes)

Dates and Times:

First Week: Thursday – Friday, April 10 - 11, Previews, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 12, Opening Night, 8 p.m. (followed by reception)

Sunday, April 13, 2 p.m. (followed by a talk-back with actors)

Second Week: Tuesday, April 15, 7 p.m.

Wednesday – Saturday, April 16 -- 19, 8 p.m.

· Artistically Speaking -- Wednesday, April 16 (sponsored by UPMC)

· Behind the Scenes -- Thursday, April 17 at 7 p.m.

Third Week: Wednesday – Friday, April 23 - 25, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 26, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

· Saturday, April 26, 2 p.m. – Audio descriptive performance

· Saturday, April 26, 8 p.m. – Shakespeare’s (Belated) Birthday Party

(a post-show celebration)

Student Matinees for School Groups: April 9, 15 & 22 – 10 a.m.

To schedule student matinees, call Michele McClendon at 412-561-6000 x208 or email

Ticket Prices:

Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday Nights and Matinees: $41 Adults, $37 Seniors

Friday and Saturday Nights: $45 Adults, $40 Seniors

Opening Night: $47 adults, $42 Seniors

Previews: $33 (all seats, no senior discounts)

Student Tickets: $17 (All Performances)

For Tickets call ProArts at (412) 394-3353 or visit

Visit PICT online at

The Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre was founded in 1996 to diversify the region’s theatrical offerings by providing Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania audiences with high-quality, text-driven, affordable productions of classical theatre and the works of classical and contemporary Irish playwrights and to significantly improve employment opportunities for local talent in all facets of theatrical presentation and production. PICT is a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) affiliated with Actors’ Equity Association, and a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance. PICT is Professional Theatre in Residence at the University of Pittsburgh and PICT productions at the Charity Randall and Henry Heymann Theatres are presented in cooperation with the University of Pittsburgh – Department of Theatre Arts.

Melissa Hill Grande

Marketing Director

Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre

PO Box 23607

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

412-561-6000, x203

Visit our website:!

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