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On "Ether Day", Huntington Theatre Company readies new production of provocative medical thriller "Ether Dome" for first performance tomorrow

(BOSTON) – Huntington Theatre Company and Massachusetts General Hospital mark Ether Day today, October 16, in recognition of the 168th anniversary that ether anesthesia was first used during surgery. The groundbreaking medical advancement was achieved by dentist William T. G. Morton during a procedure performed by Dr. John C. Warren at Boston’s own MGH. MGH celebrates Ether Day annually, honoring its employees for their years of service.

Huntington Theatre Company begins performances tomorrow of Elizabeth Egloff’s Ether Dome, which depicts Morton’s experiment, the events surrounding it, and the resulting revolutionary impact on the medical profession. Called “an essential story” (Hartford Courant), the provocative medical thriller’s sprawling tale is set primarily at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and nearby Hartford, Connecticut. Under the direction of Michael Wilson (Now or Later), the co-production with Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Hartford Stage will perform at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA through November 23, 2014.

Hartford Courant says, “If you like to go to the theatre to laugh at yourself a little, get shocked, feel strange sensations in your brain and emerge strangely calmed, Ether Dome is a gas!” San Diego City Beat calls Ether Dome, “a mesmerizing tale,” and Examiner.com says, “Historical theatre at its best! In Wilson’s visually delicious staging, one can definitively see how Dr. Horace Wells became the model of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In Ether Dome, Horace Wells, a Hartford dentist experiments with a surprising new treatment to end pain. His student and sometimes-partner introduces the technique to the surgeons at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital where epic battles for credit and between altruism and ambition ignite. As the doctors discover the transformative benefits of their new tool, they simultaneously descend into despair, and even insanity – the story of the dentist is reputedly the inspiration behind Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This fascinating new play explores the ecstasy of pain, the sweetness of relief, and the hysteria that erupts when healthcare becomes big business.

The ensemble cast of sixteen includes Michael Bakkensen (Broadway’s Noises Off) as Horace Wells, Greg Balla (of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at The Lyric Stage Company) as Dr. Bigelow, Ken Cheeseman (Prelude to a Kiss at the Huntington) as Dr. Gould, Richmond Hoxie (I’m Not Rappaport on Broadway) as Dr. Warren, Bill Kux (The Best Man on Broadway) as Dr. Hayward, Karen MacDonald (Good People at the Huntington) as Mrs. Wadsworth, Tom Patterson (Streamers at 440 Studios in New York) as William Morton, Amelia Pedlow (The Heir Apparent at Classic Stage Company) as Elizabeth Wells, Lee Sellars (A Time to Kill on Broadway) as Dr. Colton, Liba Vaynberg (The Golem of Havana at La MaMa) as Lizzie Morton, and William Youmans (The Farnsworth Invention on Broadway) as Dr. Jackson, as well as Matthew Barrett, Veronica Barron, Nile Hawver, Nash Hightower, and Malcolm Young.

The Huntington’s production of Ether Dome will feature scenic design by James Youmans (The Shaughraun at the Huntington, West Side Story on Broadway); costume design by David C. Woolard (Now or Later at the Huntington, Bronx Bombers on Broadway); lighting design by David Lander (A Long and Winding Road at the Huntington and The Heiress on Broadway); and composition and sound design by John Gromada (The Cocktail Hour at the Huntington, Next Fall on Broadway, and sound design by Alex Neumann (Bus Stop at the Huntington, A Raisin in the Sun assistant on Broadway). Production stage manager is Lori Lundquist. Stage manager is Kathryn Most.

Ether Dome is supported by Huntington Season Sponsors Carol G. Dean and J. David Wimberly, Production Sponsor Dr. Paul S. Russell, and production Co-Sponsors Sharon & Brad Malt, and funded in part by The Ensemble Studio Theatre / Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Project.

 

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY

Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 and 2014 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.

 

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