Palm Beach Dramaworks
Launches Sixteenth Season with
William Inge’s
Picnic
 
2015-2016 Season opens on October 9
Picnic, the 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by William Inge about sexual repression, longing and disillusionment, and the narrow-minded limitations of life in a small Midwestern town, launches Palm Beach Dramaworks’ 2015-2016 season on Friday, October 9 (8pm) at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre.
Performances continue through November 8, with specially priced previews on October 7 and 8.
Sensual, funny, and provocative, Picnic is a masterpiece of mid-twentieth century American realism, and Inge’s seminal work. Countless successful revivals have proved the timeless nature of this simple, yet emotionally resonant drama that unfolds on Labor Day in the early 1950s. Set in a small Kansas community similar to Independence, where Inge was born and raised, Picnic takes place in the shared yard of neighbors Flo Owens and Helen Potts. Flo lives with her teenage daughters, Madge and Millie, and rents a room to Rosemary Sidney, a schoolteacher. Mrs. Potts cares for her invalid (unseen) mother, and has invited Hal, a drifter, to do some work around her house. The presence of the young, handsome, rough-hewn, sexy Hal stirs something in each of the women, awakening their dormant dreams and desires. When Hal is forced out of town, the beautiful Madge, on the cusp of adulthood, must decide whether their fleeting encounter is worth changing the course of her life.
Inge once said of the inspiration for the play, “When I was a boy in Kansas, my mother had a boarding house. There were three women schoolteachers living in the house. I was four years old and they were nice to me; I liked them. I saw their attempts and, even as a child, I sensed every woman’s failure. I began to sense the sorrow and the emptiness in their lives and it touched me.”
Director William Hayes plans to take a fresh, contemporary approach to the play, delving beneath the surface of the characters to illuminate their inner lives. “Our production is not merely about how this drifter has an impact on these women, but how all the characters, including the men, are changed by the end,” he says. “This is a play about hope and loss, about people trying to hold on, people grasping for something better. It’s a play about the dreams and desires of youth, and what happens to those longings as we age. It’s about people trying to figure out how to live a better life.”
Picnic features Kelly Gibson as Madge; Patti Gardner as Flo;  Maren Searle, making her PBD debut, as Millie; Merlin Huff, in his PBD debut, as Hal; Taylor Miller, also making his PBD debut, as Madge’s boyfriend, Alan Seymour; Elizabeth Dimon as Helen Potts; Margery Lowe as Rosemary; and Michael McKeever as Rosemary’s boyfriend, Howard Bevans. Rounding out the cast are Julie Rowe, Natalia Coego, and newcomer Riley Anthony. Picnic is directed by William Hayes, with Paula Bennett as assistant director, and Michelle Petrucci as choreographer. Scenic design is by Michael Amico, costume design is by Brian O’Keefe, lighting design is by Donald Edmund Thomas, music and sound design are by Steve Brush, and wig design is by Omayra Diaz Rodriguez.
Picnic, which is most widely known from the 1955 film,opened on Broadway on February 19, 1953, and ran for 477 performances. The original production featured Ralph Meeker as Hal, Janice Rule as Madge, Kim Stanley as Millie, Eileen Heckart as Rosemary, and a newcomer named Paul Newman as Alan. Newman had longed to play Hal, and wound up understudying the part. When he ultimately went on in the role, director Joshua Logan told him, “You don’t carry any sexual threat at all.” Newman later said that at that particular point in his life, Logan was probably right. Nonetheless, he eventually took over the role.
William Inge (1913-1973), who was known as the Playwright of the Midwest, graduated from the University of Kansas in 1935, then went on to George Peabody College for Teachers, where he received his MA. In 1943, after teaching for a few years, he became the drama critic for the St. Louis Star-Times, a position he held for three years. He had his first Broadway success in 1950 with Come Back, Little Sheba. That was followed by Picnic, Bus Stop, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. All four plays were written in the 1950s, and all later became films. Although he would go on to write more plays, he never had another hit. He also wrote the script for the film Splendor in the Grass.
Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
The performance schedule is as follows: Evening performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8PM, and select Sundays at 7PM. Matinee performances are on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. Wednesday matinees and Sunday evenings include a post-performance discussion. Individual tickets are $64, with specially priced preview tickets at $44 and Opening Night tickets at $79. Student tickets are available for $10; tickets for educators are half price with proper ID (other restrictions apply). Group rates for 20 or more and discounted season subscriptions are also available.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.
 
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POSTER ART BY
FRANK “FRAVER” VERLIZZO
 
Kelly Gibson
Kelly Gibson
 
Patti Gardner
Patti Gardner
 
Maren Searle
Maren Searle
 
Merlin Huff
Merlin Huff
 
Taylor Miller
Taylor Miller
 
Elizabeth Dimon
Elizabeth Dimon
 
Margery Lowe
Margery Lowe
 
Michael McKeever
Michael McKeever

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Related Links:

palmbeachdramaworks.org

Palm Beach Dramaworks – 201 Clematis Street West Palm Beach FL 33401 – 561.514.4042

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