Award-winning actress Karen MacDonald stars in the regional premiere of The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead by Robert Hewett at Merrimack Repertory Theatre April 22 – May 16, 2010, directed by OBIE Award-winning director Melia Bensussen. In The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead, a cheating husband, a meddling neighbor and a dropped ice cream cone combine to shatter Rhonda Russell’s quiet, suburban life. Seven very different characters each offer their own perspective of the day Rhonda went berserk – all played by a single gifted performer. It is a captivatingly brilliant and heartfelt tour de force about loss and ultimate redemption. Performances begin Thursday, April 22 at 7:30PM, with Opening Night on Sunday, April 25 at 7:00PM, running through May 16. Tickets are on sale now through the box office at 978.654.4MRT or online at www.MerrimackRep.org.
Regarded as one of Boston’s finest actresses, Karen MacDonald returns to Merrimack Rep for the first time in over a decade, having performed in over 70 productions at American Repertory Theatre. She first appeared on Merrimack Rep’s Liberty Hall stage in 1989 as Elvira in Blithe Spirit, and later in Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune and the 1991 production of A Moon for the Misbegotten. She won an Elliot Norton award for her performance in Merrimack Rep’s 1995 production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Excited to be returning to MRT, Ms. MacDonald states, “I’ve always had great experiences at Merrimack Rep. I’m thrilled to be back and to work on this show with Melia Bensussen and all our design team. The show is a big challenge, seven characters to play, but I’m excited to give it my all. Thanks to Charles Towers for giving us the chance to tell this story to the Merrimack audiences.”
Melia Bensussen, chair of the performing arts faculty at Boston’s Emerson College, returns to Merrimack Rep, previously having directed Something in the Air and Aunt Dan & Lemon. She comments, “I am so happy to be back at Merrimack Rep, and this is a particular pleasure because Karen MacDonald and I have wanted to collaborate on a project for years. This play will showcase her tremendous talent and does so while telling a story of surprising wit and emotional depth.”
The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead is the first of Robert Hewett’s plays to be produced by Merrimack Rep. A native of Australia, and an honors graduate of Flinders University, Mr. Hewett began his career in theatre as an actor. He worked extensively in theatre, film, television and radio before switching to a career as a writer. His first play, Just…One Last Dance, premiered at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre in 1980. The Melbourne Theatre Company produced his second and highly acclaimed play, Gulls, in 1983. Gulls received the Green Room Award for Best Play, and shortlisted in the inaugural Premier’s Literary Awards. Productions followed throughout Australia and Great Britain, playing Bristol’s Old Vic, Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre, Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, Shaw Theatre, London, among others. In South Africa the play toured for three years. Gulls was also produced in New Zealand, Malta, United States, Singapore, Canada and Sri Lanka. The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead opened to much acclaim at The Stables, Sydney, in February 2004 and toured Australia for 4 years. Further productions occurred in Switzerland, Canada’s Stratford Festival for two consecutive sellout seasons, and in New Zealand. The Spanish language production of The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead premiered in Mexico City in April 2009, while the Greek language production recently opened in Athens. The production’s creative staff includes OBIE Award-winner Melia Bensussen (director), Judy Gailen (scenic design), Arthur Oliver (costume design), Dan Kotlowitz (lighting design) and David Remedios (sound design). Judy Gailen returns to MRT for a third time, after having designed Something in the Air and The Drawer Boy. Arthur Oliver’s costume design work was seen at Merrimack Rep earlier this season in The Flying Karamazov Brothers world premiere Fling & Eros. Dan Kotlowitz’s lighting designs have also been seen at Merrimack Rep this season in The Last Days of Mickey & Jean and Black Pearl Sings!, as well as past productions such as The Homecoming and Skylight. Elliot Norton Award-winning sound designer David Remedios makes his Merrimack Rep debut, having previously worked at American Repertory Theatre as a resident sound designer. Karen MacDonald (Rhonda) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Frankie), A Moon for the Misbegotten (Josie), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Martha), Blithe Spirit (Elvira). American Repertory Theatre: Over 70 productions including Endgame (Nell), The Seagull (Arkadina), Copenhagen (Margrethe), Donnie Darko (Kitty Farmer), Oliver Twist (Mrs. Bumble), A Marvelous Party, No Exit (Estelle), The Miser (Frosine), Othello (Emelia), Island of Slaves (Euphrosine), Olly’s Prison (Ellen), Dido, Queen of Carthage (Anna), Highway Ulysses (Circe), Mother Courage and Her Children (Mother Courage). Off-Broadway: Theatre for a New Audience, Roundabout Theatre, Second Stage, Playwrights Horizons. Regional: All My Sons (Kate Keller), A Civil War Christmas (Mary Todd Lincoln), Huntington Theatre Company; boom (Barbara), New Repertory Theatre; Third (Laurie Jameson), Portland Stage; Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Gloucester Stage Company; The Misanthrope, Berkshire Theatre Festival; My Heart and My Flesh, Infestation, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre; Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company; The Beauty Queen of Lenane, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Vineyard Playhouse; Shirley Valentine, Charles Playhouse; As You Like It, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare and Company. National: Hartford Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, GeVa Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Buffalo’s Studio Arena, New Mexico Repertory Theatre, The Alley Theatre, The Wilma Theater, among others. International: Festivals in Asti, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Edinburgh, Avignon Israel, Belgrade; Duke of York’s Theatre, London. Directing: Woman in Black, Gloucester Stage Company; Surly Girl, Dressed Up/Wigged Out!, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. Film: Orphan, What’s the Worst That Can Happen?. Television: Law and Order, The Crucible, PBS Frontline and American Experience. Awards: Elliot Norton Awards for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Olly’s Prison, No Exit; IRNE Awards for Othello, The Miser, The Provok’d Wife, The Birthday Party, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Education: BFA, Acting, Boston University’ School of Fine and Applied Arts. Teaching: Undergraduate Acting at Harvard University, Dramatic Arts at Harvard Extension School and Acting for Singers at New England Conservatory. Other: She is a Founding Company Member of American Repertory Theatre and Co-Founder of The Next Move Theatre.