CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK’S MARX THEATRE SEASON CONCLUDES WITH CHRISTOPHER DURANG’S HIT VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, APRIL 25 – MAY 23, 2015
(CINCINNATI) – The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s 2014-15 Robert S. Marx Theatre season comes to a riotous close with VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE, Christopher Durang’s madcap comedy about melancholy people. A smash hit on Broadway, VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE earned numerous critical accolades, including the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony awards for best play. It runs April 25 through May 23 in the Marx Theatre.
The story centers around three extremely eccentric siblings. Vanya and his adopted sister Sonia live uneventful lives in the Pennsylvania farmhouse of their youth. Having spent the better part of their adulthood caring for their ailing parents, both Vanya and Sonia are filled with the bitterness and regret of missed opportunities and a longing for what their lives might have been.
But misery turns to mayhem when their oft-divorced sister Masha abruptly returns home. Masha escaped the caregiving responsibilities shouldered by her siblings. Instead, her contribution to their livelihood has come in the form of paying all of the bills they’ve accumulated with her earnings as a glamorous (if B-ranked) movie star. When she breezes back into town with her latest boy toy, a much younger actor named Spike, the resulting reunion turns into a weekend of outrageous rivalries and sidesplitting raucousness that USA Today called “hugely entertaining” and The New York Times hailed as “deliriously funny.”
“I love the way this play is extremely funny, but it’s also very real. It can turn on a dime to some very tender and beautiful and honest moments that are very moving,” says Playhouse Associate Artist Michael Evan Haney, who is directing VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. “It’s a play about siblings who are estranged (and rather weirdly stunted in their psychological growth) but who, over the course of the story, remember and rediscover what they really love about each other.”
The show’s potentially serious themes are melded with the twisted comedy of Durang, known for his full-length plays The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, as well as his short plays For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls and Desire, Desire — parodies of The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, respectively.
While the siblings have names taken from playwright Anton Chekhov’s characters and the play contains Chekhovian allusions, no one should expect a Chekhov lesson at VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. “I have written parodies, but this is not one,” Durang said prior to the McCarter Theatre Center premiere of the play in 2012. “It takes Chekhov themes and characters and mixes them all up, as if I’ve put them into a comic blender.” Audience members who know Chekhov will find humor in the references Durang makes to these classics; others will find the play easily stands on its own as a send-up of the absurdities, and sometimes unnecessary complexities, of modern life.
The VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE cast features John Feltch (The Three Musketeers, Pride and Prejudice and Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club) as Vanya, Suzanne Grodner (Much Ado About Nothing, The Smell of the Kill and Emma) as Sonia, Elizabeth Hess as Masha, Shinnerrie Jackson as Cassandra, Jefferson McDonald as Spike and Gracyn Mix (Pride and Prejudice) as Nina. The creative team, in addition to Haney, includes set designer Paul Shortt, costume designer Anne Kennedy, lighting designer James Sale and sound designer/composer Rusty Wandall. Jenifer Morrow is the production stage manager, and Andrea L. Shell is the second stage manager.
VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE is sponsored by Leading Ladies. JRA is the design sponsor. David C. Herriman is the lead artists sponsor, and Joseph-Beth Booksellers is the script sponsor.
Ticket prices for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE start at $30. Prices are subject to change, and patrons are encouraged to buy early for the best seats at the best prices. The show is recommended for adult and older teenage audiences.
New for the 2014-15 season is Sunday College Night, with tickets to all 7 p.m. Sunday performances priced at just $10 with a valid student ID. Student tickets are just $15 on the day of the show for all other performances. In advance, student tickets are $30.
Previews for VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE are at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 25; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 28; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29. The official opening night is Thursday, April 30, at 8 p.m. Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sundays.
The Playhouse will inaugurate an annual Pride Night at the Friday, May 15, performance of VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE. Two levels of tickets are available, both of which will partially benefit Caracole, a Cincinnati organization that provides safe, affordable housing and supportive services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. Patron Pride Level tickets, $100, include a pre-show cocktail reception with dinner-by-the-bite and the opportunity to meet Playhouse Artistic Director Blake Robison, the performance of VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE and a post-show reception (including appetizers and cash bar) with the opportunity to meet members of the cast. Single Pride Tickets, ranging from $35 to $80, include the performance and the post-show reception, appetizers and cash bar with the opportunity to meet members of the cast. Playhouse Pride tickets are available through the Box Office with the promotion code Pride. Playhouse Pride is sponsored by David C. Herriman with additional support from Jeff Thomas Catering.
Free Meet the Artists programs that allow audiences to interact with the cast and others associated with the production will be held after the following performances: 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 17; and 8 p.m. Thursday, May 21.
The Playhouse is fully accessible. Audio enhancement receivers, large print programs and complete wheelchair access are available.
Tickets to VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE are on sale now. For more information, call the Playhouse Box Office at 513-421-3888 (toll-free in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana at 800-582-3208) or visit www.cincyplay.com. Call 513-345-2248 for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf accessibility.
The 2014-15 Robert S. Marx Theatre Series is presented by The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation, and Macy’s is the Marx Theatre season design sponsor. The season sponsor of new work is The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation.
The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of the community contributors to the ArtsWave campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.