Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Victorian Comedy Hobson's Choice at Stephen Foster

Media Contact: Melissa Hill Grande

Associate Artistic Director and Director of Marketing
412.561.6000 x203


PICT presents “Comic King Lear” for the holidays

Canadian legend Michael Ball makes his PICT debut alongside former Shaw Festival colleague Simon Bradbury, Derdriu Ring and first-rate ensemble in hilarious Victorian comedy Hobson’s Choice

Pittsburgh, PA – November 1, 2010. Henry Horatio Hobson’s three bossy daughters are driving him to drink, and the end result is comedy in the PICT production of Harold Brighouse’s 1914 classic, Hobson’s Choice. The production runs December 2nd through the 18th in the Charity Randall Theatre at the Stephen Foster Memorial in Oakland, and is sponsored by The Charity Randall Foundation and WDUQ-FM. First Niagara is the Opening Night Sponsor.

Under the direction of PICT Artistic Director Andrew Paul, Hobson’s Choice features Michael Ball, Simon Bradbury and Derdriu Ring, with scenic design by Gianni Downs, lighting design by Christopher Popowich and costume design by Joan Markert. Erik T. Lawson designs sound.

Set in 1880, the comedy is set in the industrial town of Salford, in the North of England. Hobson (Michael Ball) is a widowed boot-shop proprietor who is at his wit’s end raising three girls and keeping his business going. When he makes the mistake of telling his eldest daughter Maggie (Derdriu Ring) that she’s past marrying age, Maggie promptly retaliates by marrying Willie Mossop (Simon Bradbury), Hobson’s best boot-maker. A powerhouse of a woman, Maggie turns the shy, illiterate Mossop into a substantial business rival to Hobson and brokers marriages for her two younger sisters in the bargain. Hobson disowns the entire gaggle, but finds that living without them may be harder than living with them.

Harold Brighouse was a Salford native, born in 1882 to a manager of a cotton-spinning firm and a headmistress. He was a successful playwright and novelist, and wrote Hobson’s Choice in his spare time during World War I, as he served in the Royal Air Force’s Air Ministry Intelligence Staff. Although his other plays are relatively unknown, Brighouse was a leading member of the Manchester School, a literary movement of social realism that put the working class of Northern England on stage in central roles.

A film version of Hobson’s Choice directed by David Lean and starring Charles Laughton was released in 1954, and a 1983 made-for-television adaptation featured Richard Thomas, Jack Warden, Sharon Gless and (in her final role) the legendary Lillian Gish.

A long-time company member at the Shaw Festival, Michael Ball makes his PICT debut in Hobson’s Choice. Jamie Portman of CanWest News Service declared Ball “A national treasure,” and he has been hailed as one of the most experienced Shavian actors of the English-speaking theatre. His credits include more than forty productions for the Shaw Festival since 1976, including playing the role of Hobson alongside Bradbury in Shaw’s 1996 and 1997 productions of Hobson’s Choice. Other credits include productions at Canadian Stage Company, Tarragon Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse, and Manitoba Theatre Centre.

Simon Bradbury returns to PICT to reprise the role of Willie Mossop. Bradbury won Canada’s Stage Door Award for Best Actor in a Comedy for his portrayal of Mossop in the Shaw’s 1996 production of Hobson’s Choice. His previous PICT credits include Chaplin (also playwright), multiple productions in BeckettFest including Endgame, The Shaughraun, King Lear, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. He directed last season’s smash-hit production of What the Butler Saw. He was a long-standing member of the Shaw Festival Ensemble and spent four seasons at Stratford.

Returning to PICT for her seventh season is Derdriu Ring. Her previous PICT credits include The Cripple of Inishmaan, Major Barbara, Portia Coughlan, Boston Marriage, James Joyce’s The Dead, Playboy of the Western World and other plays in the Synge Cycle. She is a graduate of Joe Dowling’s Gaiety School of Acting, Dublin and University College Cork.

Also featured in Hobson’s Choice are Kiley Caughey, Joe Domencic, Jon Farris (Synge Cycle), Kathleen Huber (An Ideal Husband), Roger Jerome (Faith Healer, The School for Scandal), Mary Liz Meyer, Laurel Schroeder (Jane Eyre), David Tabish, and John Wascavage (The History Boys).

Scenery is designed by Gianni Downs (Othello, Crime & Punishment, The History Boys, and Boston Marriage, among others.), lighting by Christopher Popowich (BeckettFest, Julius Caesar, among others), and costumes by Joan Markert (The School for Scandal, An Ideal Husband, Othello). Sound designer Erik T. Lawson makes his PICT debut.

Hobson’s Choice is sponsored by the Charity Randall Foundation, with additional sponsorship by WDUQ 90.5 FM and First Niagara. The production plays December 2nd through the 18th in the Charity Randall Theatre, located at the Stephen Foster Memorial, 4301 Forbes Avenue on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland. Tickets are $20 to $50 and are available by calling ProArtsTickets at 412.394.3353 or online at www.proartstickets.org.

Special student matinee performances are scheduled for December 1st and 7th at 10 a.m. Teachers who are interested in bringing student groups can call Michelle Belan at 412.561.6000 x208 or email mbelan@picttheatre.org.

Free preshow discussions are scheduled for Wednesday December 8th and Thursday December 9th at 7 p.m., and a post-show talk-back with the company is scheduled for Sunday, December 5th.

For more information, visit the PICT website at www.picttheatre.org.

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 Council. PICT is the 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.

Hobson’s Choice FACT SHEET

Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse

Directed by Andrew S. Paul

The Charity Randall Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland

4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Cast: Michael Ball, Simon Bradbury, Kiley Caughey, Joe Domencic, Jon Farris, Roger Jerome, Susan McGregor-Laine, Mary Liz Meyer, Derdriu Ring, Laurel Schroeder, David Tabish, and John Wascavage.

Design Team: Gianni Downs (scenic design); Christopher Popowich (lighting design); Joan Markert costume design); Erik T. Lawson (sound design), Cory Goddard(properties)

Performance Dates and Times:

First Week:

Thursday and Friday, December 2 and 3 – 8 p.m. previews

Saturday, December 4 – 8 p.m. opening night, followed by reception

Sunday, December 5 – 2 p.m. matinee, followed by talk-back

Second Week:

Wednesday – Saturday, December 8 - 11 – 8 p.m. performances*

Sunday, December 12 – 2 p.m. matinee

*pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday

Third Week:

Tuesday, December 14 – 7 p.m. Professional Tuesday performance

Wednesday – Friday, December 15 – 17 – 8 p.m. performances

Saturday, December 18 – 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. performances

Student Matinees:

Wednesday, December 1 – 10 a.m.

Tuesday, December 7 – 10 a.m.

Ticket Prices:

Saturday nights: $50, Seniors $47

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday nights: $46, Seniors $43

Professional Tuesdays, Saturday & Sunday matinees: $42, Seniors $40

Preview Thursday and Friday: $34 for all seats

$20 tickets available for youth under 25, with valid ID

Call ProArtsTickets at 412.394.3353 or visit www.picttheatre.org

Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre. Great Stories. Well Told.

Melissa Hill Grande
Associate Artistic Director and Director of Marketing
Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre
PO Box 23607
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
412.561.6000 x203

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