(BOSTON) — David Wilson Barnes(Becky Shaw at Second Stage Theatre and London’s Almeida Theatre) plays Charlie Duff, a burnt-out local newscaster who transforms first his community and then himself when he begins praying on-air in the Huntington Theatre Company’s new production of Stephen Belber’s moving new drama The Power of Duff. Amy Pietz (“The Office,” “Caroline in the City”) plays Duff’s ex-wife Lisa, and Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein, Friends with Kids) plays Sue, Charlie’s co-anchor, in the production helmed by Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. Performances begin on October 11 at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA.
American Theatre magazine says, “Stephen Belber confronts messy reality with wit, humanity, and richly drawn characters.” In The Power of Duff, Rochester news anchor Charlie Duff (Barnes) shocks his co-anchor (Westfeldt), boss (Ben Cole), and colleague (Brendan Griffin) as he concludes the newscast with a spontaneous prayer rather than his usual send-off the night after his father dies. Yearning for connection, Charlie continues his nightly prayers despite management’s initial protestations, rapidly becoming a popular and controversial figure to an ever expanding audience. Yet in spite of the strengthening bond Charlie feels with his the subjects of his prayers and his viewers, he struggles to connect with his ex-wife (Amy Pietz) and estranged teenage son (Noah Galvin).
“Uniquely comic and unabashedly theatrical, The Power of Duff also pulses with incredible emotional clarity,” says DuBois, who reunites with Belber after staging the premiere of the play last summer at Vassar’s Powerhouse Theatre. “In the tradition of films like About a Boy and As Good as it Gets, this poignant new play tells the transformative story of one man waking up to life, just as it seemed he was too lost and it was too late.” Hear more from DuBois about the production at huntingtontheatre.org/peter-duff.
“It struck me as potentially interesting to write a play about a person who was fundamentally ambivalent about religion, even about spirituality — who underwent a transformation of sorts, which led to him finding himself in a position where he was suddenly a sort of looked-to spiritual ‘leader’ – even as that ambivalence continued,” says Belber. “I liked the question of what one should or can do when put in that position, and what one might do when faced with an almost undeniable spiritual reality taking place all around (and maybe even inside) him.”
About the Artists
- David Wilson Barnes (Becky Shaw at Second Stage Theatre and London’s Almeida Theatre) as Channel 10 news anchor Charles Duff;
- Ben Cole (One Slight Hitch at Williamstown Theatre Festival) as news director Scott Zoellner;
- Noah Galvin (Burnt Part Boys at Playwrights Horizons) as Ricky, Charlie’s estranged teenage son;
- Brendan Griffin (Clybourne Park on Broadway) as John Ebbs, the station’s jovial sportscaster;
- Russell G. Jones (Obie Award winner for Ruined at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Power of Duff at Powerhouse Theatre) as Joseph Andango, a man for whom Charlie prays;
- Joe Paulik (Twelfth Night at Hartford Stage) as field reporter Ron Kirkpatrick and others;
- Amy Pietz (“The Office,” “Caroline in the City”) as Charlie’s ex-wife Lisa; and
- Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein, Friends with Kids) as news anchor Sue Raspell.
Stephen Belber has been produced on Broadway and in over 25 countries. The Huntington previously produced his play Carol Mulroney. Other works include Match (Tony Award nomination for Frank Langella); Don't Go Gentle (MCC); Dusk Rings a Bell (Atlantic Theater Company); Tape (Naked Angels NY/LA/London); McReele (Roundabout Theater Company); A Small, Melodramatic Story (Labyrinth Theater Company); Geometry of Fire, (NYSAF/Rattlestick); Fault Lines (NYSAF/Naked Angels); and One Million Butterflies (Primary Stages). He was an associate writer on The Laramie Project (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominations) and a co-writer on The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. His films include Tape (dir. Richard Linklater), The Laramie Project (associate writer/Emmy Award nomination for screenwriting), Drifting Elegant, and Management, which he also directed, starring Jennifer Aniston, Woody Harrelson, and Steve Zahn. Television credits include "Rescue Me" and "Law and Order SVU."
Peter DuBois is in his ninth season as Artistic Director at the Huntington where his directing credits include Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and A Little Night Music, the world premieres of Gina Gionfriddo’s Can You Forgive Her?, Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, Evan M. Wiener’s Captors, Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet (2012 Pulitzer finalist), Bob Glaudini’s Vengeance is the Lord’s, and David Grimm’s The Miracle at Naples; the regional premieres of Stephen Belber’s The Power of Duff , Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw and Rapture, Blister, Burn, A. Rey Pamatmat’s after all the terrible things I do, and Craig Lucas’ Prelude to a Kiss. His New York credits include The Power of Duff with Greg Kinnear (New York Stage and Film); the premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn (Playwrights Horizons, 2013 Pulitzer finalist); Sons of the Prophet (Roundabout Theatre Company); Modern Terrorism, Becky Shaw (2009 Pulitzer finalist), Trust with Sutton Foster and Zach Braff, and All New People (Second Stage Theatre); Measure for Pleasure, Richard III with Peter Dinklage, Biro, and Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles? (The Public Theater/ NYSF); and Jack Goes Boating with Philip Seymour Hoffman and The View From 151st Street (LAByrinth Theater Company/The Public Theater). Regional US, UK, and West End credits include productions at Hampstead Theatre, Duke of York’s Theatre, Almeida Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Trinity Repertory Company, Humana Festival of New Plays, Manchester Opera House, and Kings Theater Glasgow. He served for five years as associate producer and resident director at The Public Theater, preceded by five years as artistic director of the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. Mr. DuBois lived and worked in the Czech Republic where he co-founded Asylum, a multi-national squat theatre in Prague. His productions have been on the annual top ten lists of The New York Times, Time Out, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsday, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Evening Standard, The Boston Globe, and The Improper Bostonian.
(As of October 2016)
Scenic design by David Rockwell (Tony Award nominee for Kinky Boots and Lucky Guy); costume design by Bobby Frederick Tilley II (Sons of the Prophet at the Huntington and Roundabout Theatre Company); lighting design by Rui Rita (The Miracle at Naples); sound design by M.L. Dogg (Rapture, Blister, Burn and Sons of the Prophet at the Huntington); and projection design by Aaron Rhyne (Water by the Spoonful at Second Stage Theatre, The Power of Duff at Powerhouse Theatre). Production stage manager is Lori Ann Zepp. Stage manager is Candice D. Mongellow.
- Grand Patron: Boston University
- Season Sponsors: J. David Wimberly, Carol G. Deane
- Production Partners: Senovva Inc. and High Output
ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON
Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 by Boston Magazine, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premiere cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.
PRODUCTION CALENDAR AND RELATED EVENTS
Post-Show Audience Conversations
Led by members of the Huntington staff. After most Tuesday — Friday, Saturday matinee, and Sunday matinee performances throughout the season. Free with a ticket to the performance.
35 Below Pre-Show Meetup
- Friday, October 18 at 6:30pm
Mingle with Huntington staff and other 35 Below theatregoers at a special pre-show event hosted by Five Napkin Boston, featuring free food and cash bar.