Westport Country Playhouse will stage Molière's timeless comedy, "Tartuffe," featuring in the title role three-time Tony Award-nominee Marc Kudisch (Broadway's "9 to 5," "The Apple Tree," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Assassins," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Bells Are Ringing," "The Wild Party," "The Scarlet Pimpernel (3.0)," "High Society," "Beauty and the Beast," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," and "A Minister's Wife."). David Kennedy, Playhouse associate artistic director, will helm the production playing July 17 through August 4. The work is translated by Richard Wilbur.
"This is one of the funniest and wisest plays ever written, and it's had audiences in fits of laughter for centuries," said Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. "I've loved Molière all my life, and I've watched his plays enrich the lives of the happy audiences who watch them."
The Playhouse production updates the comedy to the present day. The plot centers on Orgon, who has fallen under the spell of Tartuffe, the most saintly man he's ever known. But Orgon's family believes Tartuffe a fraud, out to steal Orgon's wealth, bed his wife, and wed his daughter. Will Orgon come to his senses before it's too late? The stage is set for a battle of wills in a wickedly funny and farcical take on the outer limits of hypocrisy.
"One of the best things about so-called 'classical theater' is that it makes you realize a continuity with the ages; makes you realize that people are still the way people were then. We haven't changed," added Lamos. "The great plays that have stood the test of time-especially in the case of comedies, which can tend to feel dated shortly after their success-can connect us vibrantly to the past and connect us with immediacy to ourselves in helping us realize that, even in history, we are not alone. In watching these plays, we connect. The exhilaration of feeling ourselves in this continuity is one of the mandates of art."
Mark Nelson (Long Wharf Theatre's "My Name Is Asher Lev," Broadway's "The Invention of Love," "After the Fall," "Three Sisters," and "A Few Good Men") will play Orgon; Nadia Bowers (Broadway's "The Farnsworth Invention," "Doubt," and "Metamorphosis") is cast as Elmire; and Patricia Conolly (Westport Country Playhouse's "Outward Bound," Broadway's "Is He Dead?," "Enchanted April," "Waiting in the Wings," "The Sound of Music," "The Circle," "Judgment at Nuremberg," and "A Small Family Business") will portray Madame Pernelle.
Others in the cast are Justin Adams, Chrissy Albanese, Matthew Amendt, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson, Jeremy Lawrence, William Peden, Jeanine Serralles, and Charise Castro Smith.
Molière (1622 – 1673), playwright, was the leading French comic actor, stage director, and dramatic theoretician of the seventeenth century. His works include "The School for Husbands" (1661), "The School for Wives" (1662), "Tartuffe" (1664), "Don Juan" (1665), "The Misanthrope" (1666), "The Doctor in Spite of Himself" (1666), "Amphitryon" (1668), "The Miser" (1668), "Scapin" (1671), "The Learned Ladies" (1672), and "The Imaginary Invalid" (1673).
Richard Wilbur, translator, has written highly praised verse translations of several of Molière's plays. In 1987 he was named the second Poet Laureate of the United States, succeeding Robert Penn Warren.
David Kennedy, director, helmed Westport Country Playhouse productions of "Suddenly Last Summer," "Beyond Therapy," and "Dinner with Friends." Kennedy joined The Playhouse in March 2009 as associate artistic director. He previously served as associate artistic director at Dallas Theater Center from 2004 to 2007 and as acting artistic director for their 2007-08 season. He was a founding artistic director of The Lunar Society in Toronto and Milkman Theatre Group in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was artistic director of the Summer Cabaret in New Haven. Kennedy is a former Phil Killian Fellow at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a Drama League Directing Fellow, and a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.