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New Rep Announces Kate Warner’s Boston Directing Premiere ‘Mister Roberts’


New Repertory Theatre, in residence at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, is pleased to announce its new Artistic Director’s, Kate Warner’s, Boston Premiere, Mister Roberts, a timeless classic by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan. Mister Roberts opens for the press on Monday, September 14, 2009 at 7:30pm and plays through Saturday, October 3, 2009 at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in the Charles Mosesian Theater.

“I am thrilled to open the season with a classic like Mister Roberts,” states Kate Warner, Artistic Director, New Rep. “For my inaugural season, I focused on stories that elevated the heroes around us and showcased how everyday people have the ability to find touching and surprising ways to motivate and lead individuals. No play I have ever read tells this story better than Mister Roberts. I am struck by how current and relevant the themes addressed in Mister Roberts are today. I think, now more than ever, we need to be reminded that inspiration can be found where we least expect it.”

Ms. Warner adds, “I am also excited to introduce New Rep’s Tell Us Your Story Campaign, where we are asking Veterans and Service Members to share their personal stories with us and how they, like Mister Roberts, displayed bravery, honor, and grace in challenging times; character traits that are as timeless and inspiring as the play.” Mister Roberts features New Rep favorite, Paul D. Farwell, who was last seen on New Rep’s Mainstage in Picasso at the Lapin Agile as the Captain; Jonathan Popp, who is making his New Rep debut, as Ensign Pulver; and Thomas Piper, who has worked with Ms. Warner for over 10 years will also be making his New Rep debut, as Lt. J.G. Doug Roberts.

In this 1948 Tony Award-winning classic, a restless crew aboard a cargo vessel idling in the South Pacific is desperately craving some onshore action. When the comedic ensemble clashes with their tyrannical captain, it is Mister Roberts who must bail them out. Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan’s moving, yet humorous story of an officer, who sacrifices his personal quest for the morale of his crew, has us reflecting on one man’s search for purpose during a time of war.

Tell Us Your Story Campaign
New Rep is calling all active Service Members and Veterans to Tell Us Your Story and share how they, or someone they know, showed bravery, honor, and grace in challenging times. All stories will be displayed on Backstage @ New Rep, New Rep’s blog. To submit a story and photos, please e-mail marketing@newrep.org or mail them to New Repertory Theatre, Tell Us Your Story Campaign, 200 Dexter Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472. Stories and photos that are mailed will not be returned. Get Dressed for the Theatre Campaign: Veterans or service members that wear their Uniform to a performance of Mister Roberts receive 2 tickets for the price of one as our thanks to them. For more information or to reserve your seats, call the Box Office at 617-923-8487.

About the Cast and Artists
Paul D. Farwell (The Captain) Credits include Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Gaston), Cabaret (Herr Schulz), A Streetcar Named Desire (Steve), Ragtime (Willie Conklin), Into the Woods (Narrator), Permanent Collection (Morris), Threepenny Opera ( Peachum), and Sweeney Todd (Judge Turpin) for New Rep; Kiss Me Kate (Ralph) and Romeo & Juliet (Capulet) for North Shore Music Theater; Taming of the Shrew (Baptista) and Much Ado About Nothing (Leonato) for Commonwealth Shakespeare; The Gig (Georgie), The Caretaker (Mick), and The Big Knife (Buddy) for Lyric Stage; To Kill a Mockingbird (Heck Tate) for Wheelock; and King of the Jews (Rabbi Verble) for Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. He’s currently directing the Metro Stage production of Sweeney Todd. In December, Paul will return for the fifth season as Scrooge in New Rep’s Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. He lives in Watertown with his wife Joanne and 6-year-old twins PJ and David.

Thomas Piper (Lieutenant (JG) Roberts) In New York, Thomas has appeared in numerous plays Off and Off-Off Broadway including Richard in Andrei Serban’s Richard 3 (La MAMA ETC), C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce (Theatre 315), As I Lay Dying (Ohio Theatre), We Killed Kurt Cobain (Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Trojan Women (American Studio Theatre); and Hamlet (Hamlet), Macbeth (Macbeth), Othello (Iago), Much Ado About Nothing (Benedick and Dogberry), and Taming of the Shrew (Petruchio) with Piper Theatre Productions (oddly enough, no relation). Regionally, Thomas most recently played Father Flynn in Doubt at the Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre. He has also been seen at American Repertory Theater, Dad’s Garage Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Theatre in the Square, Theatrical Outfit, and Stonington Opera House. TV: Law and Order: SVU, As the Word Turns, Dennis Leary’s Merry F#%$in’ Christmas, the ‘reality’ pilot You’re Not Getting A Dime, and, currently in post-production, the pilot episode of Life Lines. Film: Vodka Rocks, Zeitgeist, The Con Artist, Doomer Chicks, Open Book, and Death by New York. Thomas is a graduate of Duke University and holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia School of the Arts. He is a founding member of Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant and Magis Theatre Company.

Jonathan Popp (Ensign Pulver) is thrilled to be making his New Rep debut. Recent credits include Strangers on a Train (Guy Haines) and The Grapes of Wrath (Tom Joad) with Stoneham Theatre; The Rainmaker (Jim Curry) with Foothills Theatre; Assassins (Oswald) with Company One; The History Boys (Rudge – IRNE Best Ensemble) with SpeakEasy; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Miles) with Boston Theatre Works; This is Our Youth (Dennis – IRNE nomination) and Dog Sees God (Matt) with Gurnet Theatre Project; and Distant Music (Dev Heart) with Image Theatre. Jonathan is an Actor in Residence with the Boston Playwrights’ Platform, has studied with the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, and is a graduate of Boston College with a BA in Theater Arts and a BS in Computer Science.

Thomas Heggen (playwright) was born on December 23, 1919 and grew up in Fort Dodge, Iowa. From the start, he dreamed of being a writer, and pursued a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. After college, Heggen moved to New York to work as an editor for Reader’s Digest, but jumped to join the U.S. Navy in the wake of Pearl Harbor. In 1942, he was commissioned as a lieutenant and served on attack transport ships such as the USS Virgo. During his fourteen months on the Virgo, Heggen penned several short stories, the start of what would become his novel, Mister Roberts. After the war, three of these stories were published in The Atlantic and one in the Reader’s Digest. When the full book came out in 1946, it sold over a million copies. Together with playwright Joshua Logan, Heggen quickly adapted the novel for theater. In 1948 Mister Roberts hit Broadway, earning Heggen and Logan Tony Awards for Best Author and Best Play and running for 1,157 performances. In the aftermath of this astonishing success, Heggen began struggling with writer’s block and started taking sleeping pills. In 1949, at age 29, Heggen drowned in the bathtub following an overdose.

Joshua Logan (playwright) was born on October 5, 1908 in Texarkana, Texas. He began working in theater while attending Princeton University, but left Princeton upon winning a scholarship to study acting with Stanislavsky in Moscow. Returning to the States, Logan made his Broadway debut acting in Carry Nation in 1932 and went on to direct hits such as On Borrowed Time, By Jupiter, and I Married and Angel, where he first met Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein. During World War II, Logan worked as an intelligence officer, then returned to Broadway to marry actress Nedda Harrigan and to direct Annie Get Your Gun in 1946. After falling in love with the novel Mister Roberts, Logan jumped on board, writing the script with author Thomas Heggen and then directing the Broadway production, leading to Tony Awards for Best Author, Best Play, and Best Director. After Mister Roberts, Logan went on to co-write and direct South Pacific in 1949, picking up another Tony for Best Director and a Pulitzer Prize. In his time, Logan was known not only for his successes, but also for his candor regarding struggling with manic depression. He would go on to direct many other popular plays and films, such as Fanny, Picnic, Sayonara, and Camelot, before dying of supranuclear palsy in 1988.

Kate Warner (director, New Rep’s artistic director) Before coming to New Rep, Kate Warner was Artistic Director of Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Her body of directorial work includes, for Dad’s Garage: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Skin, and Mojo; for Actor’s Express: The Last Five Years, Pulp, and Octopus; for Theatrical Outfit: Waiting for Godot and The Island; for American Stage: Proof; and for Magic Theatre: Octopus. She has championed new work from playwrights such as Lisa Kron, Alice Tuan, Chris Craddock, Kyle Jarrow, Suzan-Lori Parks, Megan Gogerty, David J (Bauhaus), Caridad Svich, Ross Maxwell, Rolin Jones, David Holstein, John Pierson, Steve Yockey, Heather Woodbury, Chay Yew, and Greg Kotis. Kate serves as a board member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for non-profit theatres. She is also a member and facilitator of the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors’ Lab in New York, a member and panelist of the Directors Lab West in Los Angeles, and a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. In summer 2004, Kate completed the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders in the Arts at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the New Artistic Leadership Institute with TCG/Dance USA at the McCarter Theatre. Recognition for Kate’s recent local and national directing work includes a Suzi Bass Award Nomination for Best Director and Best Musical 2008, Sunday Paper Top 10 Director 2007 and 2008, Suzi Bass Award for Best Director and Best Play 2006, and Best Director Readers’ Pick in Creative Loafing’s Best of Atlanta 2007 and 2006. She is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI with degrees in Theatre and Anthropology.

Compiled from the press release courtesy of New Repertory Theatre (website | profile | tag archive).

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