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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

‘Then Came Each Actor’ world premiere tribute to legendary actors

 

Kud

Centenary Stage Company presents the world premiere of Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso starring in “Then Came Each Actor,” a celebration of and tribute to the legendary actors and actresses of the great classical stage tradition -- Sarah Siddons, Henry Irving, Julia Marlowe, Edwin Booth, Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse, Paul Robeson, Morris Carnovsky and Phoebe Brand -- whose body of work and lives on and off the stage have inspired Kim and Occhiogrosso for over four decades. The 2-character rogram combines performance of signature scenes with recollections and memoirs of these famous actors along with other memorable tales from their lives.  The production will also feature over 100 pieces of memorabilia from these legendary performances and lives which Kim and Occhiogrosso have collected.  Kim notes: “To remember and revere actors such as these is to reflect upon our own standards of dedication and serves to inspire our work.” 

The production has been designed by award-winning stage designer Bob Phillips.  Performances begin Friday April 10 through Sunday April 26 in the Edith Kutz Theater at the David and Carol Lackland Center at Centenary College.

For over 40 years, Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso have devoted their lives to the classical theatre through acting, directing teaching, commissioning new translations of classical works and developing a singular approach to classical text interpretation which combines, research, training and production. This life-long dedication to classical theatre led to their founding, in 1979, along with founding partner Charles J. Bright, now deceased, of American Players Theatre, Spring Green, WI, the only professional, outdoor classical rotating repertory theatre company in America at that time. 

In order to give their Midwest audiences a taste of what they could expect, Kim and Occhiogrosso devised a solo show for Kim, “What Should Such Fellows as I Do?” which Occhiogrosso directed.  The 1979 production featured the theatre memorabilia collection which they had begun amassing in the mid-1970’s.  Their memorabilia collection includes production photos, programs, letters and personal treasures which have provided the inspiration for their own work in the theater ever since.

Occhiogrosso notes: “It is so rewarding to see the faces of young actors light up when then see these photos, letters, books and programs. They seem to wonder who these actors were and what it must have been like to witness them perform. And in that very moment they understand that they are part of a very rich and important theatrical heritage.  Their tales of individual triumphs and heartaches bring to light that what we feel today is really no different than what they felt. The stories are sometimes funny and sometimes sad but always a glimpse into the very special lives these actors lived.”   

As creators of the Centenary Stage Company series “Great Authors Out Loud,” Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso have offered readings from authors Edgar Alan Poe, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and James Thurber and classical theatre playwrights William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Moliere, Chekhov and Ibsen which has drawn a loyal and enthusiastic following since 2012.  In addition to the readings, they have taught a Shakespeare Intensive Course at Centenary College in which students study one play over a thirteen week period. The last three semesters focused on Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice and King Lear.

Winner of the OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence, Kim began his early career with the legendary Joe Papp and the New York Public Theatre’s Shakespeare Festival and performed leading classical roles at some of America’s finest regional theatres including Hamlet, Shylock, King Lear, Falstaff and Oedipus Rex, among many others.  He has been seen on Broadway in Flower Drum Song, Golden Child and The King and I but perhaps is most universally recognized as “The Keymaker” in the film Matrix Reloaded and the voice of “Oogway” in the DreamWorks’ animated film Kung Fu Panda. Mr. Kim’s TV and film work includes the BBC Special Prisoner in Time, Anna and the King, Memoirs of a Geisha, Dragonball Ninja Assassin, Elementary and John Wick.

Director Anne Occhiogrosso received national attention for her body of work at American Players Theatre where she was co-artistic director.  An acclaimed director, dramaturg, acting coach and actress, her focus has always been classical theatre with a special emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare. At the American Players Theatre, she directed 16 Shakespearean plays along with works of by Moliere, Ibsen, Plautus, and Chekhov. She also performed the roles of The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Gertrude in Hamlet, Natalya in The Proposal, Madame Arkadina in The Seagull, Jocasta in Oedipus Rex and Anna Petrovna in Ivanov, a production which was co-directed by Morris Carnovsky and Phoebe Brand who have served as career mentors to both Kim and Occhiogrosso. She has also taught at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and the New York Shakespeare Festival.  Professional partners onstage for over four decades, Occhiogrosso and Kim are married in real life.

1007LacklandBldg - Copy Tickets for Then Came Each Actor are $25 for adults on Matinees and Fridays with discounts for seniors, students and children under 12. Saturday evening performances are $27.50 for adults with discounts for seniors, students and children under 12.  Thursday evening performances are $25 for all tickets with a special Family Night 2 for 1 rush ticket discount when purchased at the door 2 hours prior to performance time.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit centenarystageco.org or call the box office at (908) 979-0900. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 5 pm and is located in the David Carol Lackland Center at 715 Grand Ave. Hackettstown, NJ.

The 2014-15 season of performing arts events at the Centenary Stage Company is made possible through the generous support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Shubert Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and CSC sponsors, including Premier Sponsor Heath Village Retirement Community, Silver Sponsors Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, The Holiday Inn in Budd Lake, and Fulton Bank of New Jersey, and Centenary Stage Company members and supporters.

Photo by Bob Eberle

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