(BOSTON) — Real-life mother and son Tony and Emmy Award nominee Kate Burton (The Corn is Green, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler at the Huntington) and Morgan Ritchie (The Corn Is Green) will play mother and son onstage together for the first time when they return to the Huntington Theatre Company for a lush new production of Anton Chekhov's passionate classic The Seagull. Huntington favorite Maria Aitken (The Cocktail Hour, Betrayal) will direct the Paul Schmidt translation of the classic of world drama about love, missed connections, and what it means to be an artist. Performances of The Seagull begin at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre on March 7, 2014.
"I'm thrilled to reunite with Morgan Ritchie, my leading man from The Corn Is Green, at one of my favorite theatre companies, the Huntington," says Burton.
Burton's performance of the title role in the Huntington's 2001 production of Hedda Gabler garnered her a Tony Award nomination upon its transfer to Broadway, and The Boston Globe said of her previous Chekhov performance at the Huntington in 2007, "The Cherry Orchard gains wonderful luminescence from the star power of Kate Burton."
The versatile actress, currently featured as Vice President Sally Langston on the hit TV show "Scandal," steps into the iconic role of celebrated actress Irina Arkadina. In the play, her visit to her aspiring playwright son Konstantin (Richie) with Trigorin, her successful novelist lover, in tow kindles unrequited passions and petty jealousies. Broadway actor Ted Koch (The Pillowman, Death of a Salesman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) will appear as Trigorin, and recent Juilliard graduate Auden Thornton (Years of Sky at 59E59) will play Nina, the aspiring actress and object of Konstantin's affections, to complete the quarter of characters at the center of Chekhov's ensemble.
The cast of thirteen also features local favorites Nancy E. Carroll (Rapture, Blister, Burn and Good People) as wife of the estate manager, Paulina Andreyevna; Thomas Derrah (The Jungle Book, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) as Irina's brother Sorin; and Nael Nacer (Our Town) as Medevenko the teacher, as well as Meredith Holzman (After the Revolution at Playwrights Horizons) as Masha the daughter of the estate manager who loves Konstantin; Don Lee Sparks (Take Me Out on Broadway) as Shamarayev, the manager of the estate; Marc Vietor (She Loves Me at the Huntington) as the physician Dorn; June Baboian as the cook; Kyle Cherry as Yakob the workman; Melissa Jesser as the maid; and Jeff Marcus as a servant.
"Director Maria Aitken is such a gifted interpreter of the classics, and she will undoubtedly coax humor and pathos out of Chekhov's masterpiece in this production anchored by the incomparable Kate Burton," says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "I love the fragility of what is happening emotionally in Chekhov's play. As a viewer, you feel the tectonic plates of his world shifting. What you're getting in the play is just the surface, but you sense that what is happening underneaht is volcanic."
About the Artists
Anton Chekhov (1860 — 1904) practiced medicine throughout his adult life, but many consider him to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. The Huntington has previously produced his plays The Cherry Orchard (2007) and Uncle Vanya (1985). His other classic play is Three Sisters. Born in Taganrog, Russia in 1860, Chekhov began his literary career as a freelance journalist, publishing humorous sketches of contemporary life. In 1887 he won the prestigious Pushkin Prize for At Dusk a collection of short stories. Success as a playwright eluded him, however, and the 1897 premiere of the The Seagull flopped. It was remounted in 1898 at the innovative Moscow Art Theatre, where director Konstantin Stanislavsky's attention to the psychological realism of Chekhov's text made the play a critical and popular success.
Paul Schmidt (1934-1999) was one of the most influential critics, translators, and playwrights of his time. His translations, including plays by Chekhov, Gogol, Genet, Brecht, and Marivaux, have been staged such directors as Robert Wilson, JoAnne Akalaitis, and Peter Sellars and have won awards in France, Italy, and the United States. His plays have been performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, and Institute for Contemporary Art in London. Dr. Schmidt held a Ph.D. in Slavic Literature from Harvard University and was a Professor of Russian Literature at the University of Texas and at Wellesley College. He also taught at Harvard, Cornell University, and Yale University, and lectured widely in the US and abroad. His critical essays appeared in The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and Delos. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Dr. Schmidt was the author of Meyerhold at Work and editor of The Complete Works of Arthur Rimbaud and The Collected Works of Velimir Khlebnikov. His collected translations of Chekhov's plays were published in 1997 by Harper Collins.
Maria Aitken has credits that include the Olivier and Tony Award-winning production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps which she directed at the Huntington Theatre Company as its American premiere before its Broadway run. Ms. Aitken also directed The Seagull, The Cocktail Hour, Betrayal, Private Lives, and Educating Ritaat the Huntington. Her other credits include Sherlock's Last Case (UK), The Gift (Geffen Playhouse), the Tony Award-nominated Man and Boy (West End and Broadway), The Gift (Melbourne Theatre, Australia), As You Like It (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Quartermaine’s Terms (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Japes (Bay Street Theatre), Noël Coward’s Easy Virtue (Chichester Festival Theatre), Lady Bracknell’s Confinement (Vineyard Theatre), School for Scandal (Clwyd Theatre), As You Like It (Regent’s Park), and many others. As an actress in London at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, and in the West End, her leading roles have included Hay Fever, Blithe Spirit, Bedroom Farce, Travesties, Waste, Private Lives, and The Vortex, among others. Her film credits include A Fish Called Wanda and others. Ms. Aitken is a visiting teacher at the British American Drama Academy, The Juilliard School, Yale School of Drama, New York University, The Actors Center in New York, and the Academy for Classical Acting. She is the author of two books, A Girdle Round the Earth and Style: Acting in High Comedy. In 2012 she became a trustee of the Noël Coward Foundation.
(As of April 6, 2014)
The Huntington's production of The Seagull will feature scenic design by Ralph Funicello (Third, The Cherry Orchard, and Mary Stuart at the Huntington; Julius Caesar on Broadway); costume design by Robert Morgan (The Corn is Green, Third, The Cherry Orchard, and others at the Huntington; Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on Broadway); lighting design by James F. Ingalls (The Big Knife and Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway); sound design by Brew Levy (Present Laughter at the Huntington and on Broadway; Chaplin and The Importance of Being Earnest on Broadway), and original music by Mark Bennett (The Rose Tattoo at the Huntington; Macbeth and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on Broadway). Production stage manager is Emily F. McMullen. Assistant stage manager is Jeremiah Mullane.
- Grand Patron: Boston University
- Season Sponsors: J. David Wimberly, Carol G. Deane
- Production Co-Sponsors: Betsy and David Epstein
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.