Huntington Theatre Company continues its 2009-2010 season of American stories with Arthur Miller’s Tony Award-winning classic All My Sons. This early masterpiece from the revered dramatist is a powerful story of family relationships, personal responsibility, and the quest for the American Dream.
All My Sons begins performances on January 8 and performs until February 7, 2010 at the Huntington Theatre Company’s main stage, the Boston University Theatre.
The Huntington Theatre Company continues its 28th season – a season of American stories – with the Tony Award-winning classic All My Sons, Arthur Miller’s powerful story of family relationships, personal responsibility, and the quest for the American Dream. David Esbjornson, director of the premieres of Miller’s last two plays (The Ride Down Mt. Morgan and Resurrection Blues), joins the Huntington to direct Miller’s first hit. The production will feature acclaimed Boston actors Will Lyman as family patriarch Joe Keller and Karen MacDonald as his wife Kate.
“David Esbjornson was Arthur Miller’s director of choice late in life, staging the premieres of his last two plays,” says the Huntington’s Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “David’s instincts with Arthur’s language and his characters are extraordinary. He’ll bring a singular perspective to Miller’s earliest masterpiece.”
All My Sons is the story of family man and small business owner Joe Keller in the years following World War II. Keller continues to strive for the American Dream, despite being shaken by both the public shame of his company’s sale of faulty airplane parts to the government and the personal tragedy of his son who went missing-in-action. His wife Kate is trapped by her grief, while their elder son Chris yearns to move forward. When Chris announces his plan to marry his absent brother’s fiancée, Kate must confront her denial of the war’s fatalities, Chris his father’s fallibility and moral compromises, and Joe his true responsibilities to his family and to his country.
“One of the reasons the play succeeds is because all of the characters want something desperately,” Esbjornson says. “All My Sons is really not about whether someone has done something wrong, but about denial. There are no obvious villains here, just people who are afraid, who have made really bad choices and then tried to run away from them. These characters are each in conflict, caught in a self-made purgatory.” Esbjornson adds, “most of the actors in the cast are from the Boston area. It’s really going to be a thrill for me to get to know this pool of actors.”
The themes of the play were extremely important to Miller long after he completed All My Sons. Esbjornson suggests, “I think Arthur understood that there is nothing more insidious or ultimately more destructive than when patriotism and profit become aligned. That was something that followed him right up until the end of his life. He would visit Washington all the time to make speeches about this and continued to write editorials. He was very active in that way in trying to fight these forces and let people know that these issues were still very much alive.”
Arthur Miller’s (Playwright) plays include Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, A Memory of Two Mondays, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, The Price, The Creation of the World and Other Business, The Archbishop’s Ceiling, The American Clock, Playing for Time, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, The Last Yankee, Broken Glass, Mr. Peters’ Connections, Resurrection Blues, and Finishing the Picture. Other works include the novel Focus, the film The Misfits, and the texts for In Russia, In the Country, and Chinese Encounters, created in collaboration with his wife, photographer Inge Morath. Memoirs include Salesman in Beijing and Timebends. Short fiction includes the collection I Don’t Need You Anymore and the novella Homely Girl, A Life And Other Stories. His numerous awards include two New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, two Emmy Awards, four Tony Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement, and the Pulitzer Prize.
David Esbjornson (Director) worked with Arthur Miller on Miller’s final two premiere productions: The Ride Down Mt. Morgan starring Patrick Stewart at The Public Theater and on Broadway, and the world premiere of Resurrection Blues at the Guthrie Theater. He is the former artistic director of Seattle Repertory where he directed premieres of Ariel Dorfman’s Purgatorioi, Kevin Kling’s How? How? Why? Why?, and the first major revival of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque. Other recent works include Hamlet for Theater For A New Audience, the premiere of Peter Parnell’s Trumpery, The Great Gatsby at the Guthrie Theater, the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s production of A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin, and the world premieres of Tuesdays with Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom and In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks at The Public Theater. He has had a long-standing relationship with Edward Albee directing the Tony Award-winning play The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, The Play about the Baby at the Century Theatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
“David is an extraordinary director,” Miller told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2001. “He’s got a strong structural sense and a lovely way with actors – he makes them very confident and gets the best out of them. He also has a strong design sense, which is very important. On the whole, he’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.”
Will Lyman leads the cast as patriarch Joe Keller. He last appeared at the Huntington in Dead End and is familiar to Boston audiences for his work with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (The Oil Thief, King of the Jews, A Girl’s War), Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (Claudius, Prospero, Brutus), SpeakEasy Stage Company (The Wrestling Patient with BPT, The Dying Gaul), Wheelock Family Theatre (To Kill A Mockingbird), and New Repertory Theatre (Exits and Entrances, Clean House, The Ice-Breaker). He has performed regionally with the Denver Center, Hartford Stage, Pennsylvania Center Stage, American Place Theatre, and others.
Karen MacDonald returns to the Huntington as Kate Keller after recently appearing in A Civil War Christmas as Mary Todd Lincoln and others. A founding member of the American Repertory Theater, she appeared in seventy productions there, most recently as Arkadina in The Seagull, Nell in Endgame, and Lottie in Trojan Barbie. She has also acted in and directed productions for Gloucester Stage Company, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, and many others.
Lee Aaron Rosen makes his Huntington debut as the Kellers’ son Chris. New York credits include A Contemporary American’s Guide to a Successful Marriage (FringeNYC), Wet (Summer Play Festival), and Frankenstein (La Mama E.T.C.). He has appeared regionally with CenterStage, Westport Country Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, and Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Diane Davis makes her Huntington debut as Ann. She has appeared on Broadway in Festen and Old Acquaintance and Off Broadway in Regrets Only, Bonnie and Clyde: A Folk Tale, and The Young Left. Regional appearances include Hartford Stage, Center Theater Group, and Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Additional cast members include Stephanie DiMaggio (roles at Williamstown Theatre Festival) as Lydia Lubey, the Kellers’ neighbor; Owen Doyle (Mister Roberts and Picasso at the Lapin Agile at New Repertory Theatre, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Lyric Stage Company) as Frank Lubey; Ken Cheeseman (Abraham Lincoln and others in the Huntington’s A Civil War Christmas, Off Broadway in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Measure for Measure at The Public Theater/NYSF) as Doctor Bayliss; Dee Nelson (The Maiden’s Prayer and two productions of A Christmas Carol at the Huntington, roles at Merrimack Repertory Theatre and North Shore Music Theatre) as Sue Bayliss; and Michael Tisdale (The Secret Agenda of Trees for New York City’s The Wild Project, The Private Lives of Eskimos for The Committee) as Ann’s brother George.
Andrew Cekala (Underground Railway Theater, Reagle Players) and Spencer Evett (Actor’s Shakespeare Project, New Repertory Theatre) each make their Huntington debuts, alternating in the roles of Bert.
The creative team for All My Sons includes scenic designer Scott Bradley (Journey to the West, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Ah! Wilderness! for the Huntington; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – 1988 Drama Desk Award nomination, Seven Guitars – 1996 Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nomination); costume designer Elizabeth Hope Clancy (Passing Strange, Edward Albee’s The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, Bobbi Boland, and The Ride Down Mt. Morgan on Broadway), lighting designer Christopher Akerlind (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for The Light In The Piazza; Tony Award nominations for 110 In The Shade and Awake and Sing!), and sound designer and composer John Gromada (Well, Rabbit Hole, and Carol Mulroney at the Huntington; Dividing the Estate, A Bronx Tale, Prelude to a Kiss, and many more for Broadway). Production stage manager is Carola Morrone; stage manager is Leslie Sears.