A young classics professor puts her career — and her love life — in peril, and calls on the gods of ancient Greece to save her. Things don’t go according to plan when the gods who show up are “The Gods of Comedy.”
Thus begins the latest tour-de-force by Ken Ludwig, the two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright who penned “Lend Me a Tenor,” “Moon over Buffalo” and many other tales beloved by theatergoers around the world.
“The Gods of Comedy” is the fourth premiere of Ludwig’s at McCarter following “Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” “A Comedy of Tenors” and his thrilling adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express.”
“The Gods of Comedy” is directed by Amanda Dehnert (“Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery” at McCarter) and runs through March 31 in the Matthews Theatre. Tickets start at $25. The play is produced in association with The Old Globe.
About the play, McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann said, “It has been one of the great joys of my career to produce four world premieres by [Ludwig] in the past five seasons. Each previous work was a joy to create and ‘The Gods of Comedy’ will be no different. It is [Ludwig] at his very best — combining wit, theatricality, delight and scholarship into a piece that at its heart is simply great fun.”
Playwright Ken Ludwig added, “McCarter has become my artistic home and I love coming back to this magical place. To work hand-in-hand with a theatre of this caliber has been one of highlights of my career. And, of course, there is no one else like Emily Mann; it’s a privilege to work with her. ‘The Gods of Comedy’ is a story about making your life an adventure and therefore very near to my heart.”
The cast consists of seven artists making their McCarter debuts, including Jessie Cannizzaro (“Puffsat” New World Stages); Steffanie Leigh (the title role in Broadway’s “Mary Poppins”); Jevon McFerrin (“Hamilton” on Broadway, Smokey Robinson in “Motown” on Broadway); Keira Naughton (Broadway’s “The Rivals,” “Three Sisters”); Brad Oscar (numerous Broadway credits including Tony Award nominations for “Something Rotten!” and “The Producers”); George Psomas (Broadway’s “South Pacific” and “Fiddler on the Roof”); and Shay Vawn (“Soot and Spit” at The New Ohio Theatre).
The design team includes a mix of new and returning McCarter artists, including Drama Desk and Lortel Award nominated scenic designer Jason Sherwood (recently: “Rent” Live on Fox); costume designer Linda Roethke (“Richard III” at The Public); lighting designer Brian Gale (dozens of theater credits, 24 years with The Walt Disney Company); sound designer Darron L. West (McCarter’s “Murder on the Orient Express”); wig designer Carissa Thorlakson (McCarter’s “A Christmas Carol”); illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer (“Into the Woods,” “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway) and choreographer Ellenore Scott (“King Kong: The Musical” on Broadway).
About Playwright Ken Ludwig
Ken Ludwig is a two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright who has written more than 28 plays and musicals, including six shows on Broadway and seven in London’s West End. “Lend Me a Tenor” won two Tony Awards. Additional awards include the Helen Hayes Award, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year, The Samuel French Award for Lifetime Achievement and The Edwin Forrest Award for Contributions to the American Theatre. His Broadway plays have starred Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Tony Shalhoub, Lynn Redgrave and Kristin Bell. His book “How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare” won the Falstaff Award for Best Shakespeare Book of the Year. His best known works include “Crazy for You” (five years on Broadway, Tony and Olivier awards for Best Musical); “Moon Over Buffalo”; “Baskerville”; “A Comedy of Tenors”; “Sherwood”; and a stage version of “Murder on the Orient Express” written expressly at the request of the Agatha Christie Estate. He holds degrees from Harvard, where he studied music with Leonard Bernstein, and Cambridge University. His work has been performed in more than 30 countries in more than 20 languages, and is produced somewhere in the United States every night of the year.
About Director Amanda Dehnert
Recent: “West Side Story”(Carnegie Hall at The Knockdown Center). World premieres: Kate Hamill’s “Pride and Prejudice” (Primary Stages NY, Seattle Rep, Hudson Valley Shakespeare); Ken Ludwig’s “Baskerville” (McCarter/Arena Stage); “Eastland: A New Musical” (also orchestration, Lookingglass Theatre Company); “Cloudlands” (Adam Gwon/Octavio Solis, South Coast Repertory). As director/composer/adaptor: “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” “Timon of Athens” (Oregon Shakespeare Fest.); “The Verona Project” (California Shakespeare Theatre); “Peter Pan” (Lookingglass Theatre Company); “Richard III” (Public Theater Mobile Unit). Other: “Little Shop of Horrors” (Cleveland Playhouse), “The Fantasticks” (Trinity Rep, Long Wharf, Arena Stage, South Coast Rep), “Into the Woods,” “Julius Caesar” (Oregon Shakespeare Fest.), “My Fair Lady” (Oregon Shakespeare Fest., Cleveland Playhouse, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Virginia Stage, Trinity Rep.), “Death of a Salesman” (Dallas Theatre Center), “Cabaret” (Stratford Shakespeare Festival).
About McCarter Theatre Center
Under the leadership of award-winning playwright and Artistic Director Emily Mann, Managing Director Michael S. Rosenberg and Special Programming Director William W. Lockwood, McCarter’s mission is to create world class theater and present the finest artists for the engagement, education, and entertainment of the community. Winner of the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, world premieres include Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (2013 Tony – Best Play); Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brother/Sister Plays”; Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say”; and Danai Gurira’s “The Convert.” McCarter brings artists from around the world to Princeton, including Angelique Kidjo, Esperanza Spalding, David Sedaris and more. Education and outreach efforts serve tens of thousands through student matinees, in-school residencies and adult classes. For more information, visit mccarter.org.
About The Old Globe
The Tony Award-winning Old Globe, now in its 84th year, is San Diego’s flagship arts institution and one of the country’s leading regional theatres. Under Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director Barry Edelstein and Managing Director Timothy J. Shields, The Old Globe produces a year-round season of 16 productions, including its renowned Shakespeare Festival. More than 250,000 people attend Globe productions annually, including the Globe for All Tour, which brings free professional productions to diverse and underserved audiences. World premieres such as “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” “Bright Star,” “Allegiance,” “The Full Monty,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” have been developed at The Old Globe and gone on to successful runs on Broadway and across the country.
For more information, visit mccarter.org.