The North Carolina Theatre‘s April 29-May 1 and May 3-8 production of Atlanta, GA playwright and teacher Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Wit, will star New York actress Kate Goehring as cancer patient Vivian Bearing, Ph.D., and 1991 Tony Award® winner Daisy Eagan as her primary nurse, Susie Monahan, RN, BSN. Goehring, who earned rave reviews for her powerful performance as Dr. Bearing from Sept. 30 to Oct. 17, 2015 at Triad Stage in Greensboro, is a last-minute replacement for Broadway actress Judy McLane, who bowed out for “personal reasons,” according to NCT.
In announcing the 11th-hour cast switch, the critically acclaimed Raleigh, NC-based regional theater wrote: “North Carolina audiences have previously enjoyed Kate Goehring’s performances in shows including Wit …, Radiunt Abundunt, Underneath the Lintel, The Glass Menagerie, The Blonde, The Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead, [and] The Little Foxes [at Triad Stage]. She was seen on the National Tour of Angels in America (LA Pride, Miami Carbonell Awards), and appeared in [a number of] Off-Broadway and regional [theater productions] …. [Kate Goehring] has been featured in film and TV roles on BBC, Comedy Central, PBS (Chicago Emmy nomination), and in ER, Gossip Girl, and all three Law & Orders.”
North Carolina Theatre President and CEO Lisa Grele Barrie added, “We’re excited to showcase the talents of Kate Goehring in this unforgettable theater experience!”
In her Winston-Salem Journal review of Triad Stage’s 2015 presentation of Wit, Susan Gilmor wrote: “The strong cast is led by the remarkable Kate Goehring as … a John Donne scholar who has spent her career studying poetry and terrifying her students. When she learns that she has stage IV ovarian cancer, she embarks on a course of experimental chemotherapy at a teaching hospital….”
Gilmor added, “Goehring embodies the role fully, conveying Vivian’s pride at the outset and later her increasing vulnerability. She makes us see the pain that is searing Vivian’s body. It’s heartbreaking to watch, and that is entirely due to Goehring’s skill as an actress. She almost seems to physically shrink as Vivian’s cancer progresses.”
Susan Gilmor also wrote, “Goehring is also adept with a quip, delivering Vivian’s clever remarks with the comic timing needed to give the audience momentary relief from the horrors of her disease. The play, as painful as it is at times, is also very funny.”
The North Carolina Theatre‘s current production of Wit, guest-directed by Philadelphia, PA director Kate Galvin, also stars Daisy Eagan as Susie Monahan. NCT writes, “At 11 years old, Daisy Eagan became (and remains today) the youngest actress ever to win the Tony Award for the Best Featured Actress in a Musical, when she dazzled New York audiences as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. Over 20 years later, her career has brought her back to Broadway again and again, and has also sent her across the country in a national tour, three self-penned one-woman shows, world premieres at South Coast Rep and La Jolla Playhouse, numerous television appearances, starring roles in film, leads on Los Angeles’ most prestigious stages, and much, much more. Most recently, she was seen as Martha in the highly acclaimed 20th anniversary concert performance of The Secret Garden at the David Geffen Hall.”
On her website, NCT guest director Kate Galvin writes, “I am excited to be working at the North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh for the first time this spring. Wit is a beautiful play about an extraordinary woman battling cancer.” And, in its news release, NCT adds, “[Playwright Margaret] Edson used her work experience in a hospital as part of the inspiration for her play. Wit is the compelling story of a brilliant professor who becomes a student of life as she undergoes experimental treatment for cancer.”
Call it Beginner’s Luck if you wish, but Atlanta, GA elementary school teacher-turned-playwright Margaret Edson hit a homerun with Wit, which was first produced in 1995 by South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA. The show opened Off-Broadway in 1998, and finally made its Broadway debut in 2012.
This powerful 90-minute, one-act play for mature audiences fearlessly chronicles Vivian Bearing’s heroic struggle against terminal ovarian cancer. The Off-Broadway production of Wit not only won the 1999 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the 1999 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, and the 1999 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play; but it also won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for its first-time playwright.
Legendary stage and screen director Mike Nichols directed the 2001 TV movie of Wit, which starred British actress Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the teleplay with Margaret Edson. Wit won the 2001 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Made for Television Movie; Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Nichols); and Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (John Bloom).
Besides Kate Goehring as Vivian Bearing and Daisy Eagan as Susan Monahan, the NCT cast for Wit includes Jo Ann Cunningham as Dr. Bearing’s 80-year-old former English literature professor, E.M. Ashford, D.Phil.; NCT favorite Dirk Lumbard as both University Hospital chief of medical oncology Harvey Kelekian, MD, and Dr. Bearing’s father, Mr. Bearing; and Logan James Hall as Dr. Bearing’s former student, medical oncology branch clinical fellow Jason Posner, MD. The Raleigh cast also includes Jess Barbour, Matthew Hager, Christopher J. Helton, and Maggie Lea.
In addition to director Kate Galvin, the North Carolina Theatre creative team for Wit includes NCT producer Carolee Baxter and artistic director Casey Hushion, plus technical director Bill Yates, Jr., scenic designer Chris Bernier, lighting designer Charlie Morrison, costume designer Kimberly Genna Bryant, properties mistress Aline Johnson, and sound designer Eric Collins.
In the NCT news release, Casey Hushion said, “We are proud to be producing the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Wit, and proud to be doing it with this remarkable company of artists. We look forward to sharing this brutally honest, funny and life-affirming play with our audiences and to taking them on this challenging and enlightening journey.”
SECOND OPINION: April 29th New York, NY Playbill.com preview by the Olivia Clement: http://www.playbill.com/article/judy-mclane-withdraws-from-nc-theatres-wit; April 29th Raleigh, NC WNCN interview with NCT President and CEO Lisa Grele Barrie, conducted by Valonda Calloway for “My Carolina Talk”: http://wncn.com/2016/04/29/nc-theatres-wit/; April 28th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh preview by the BWW News Desk: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Judy-McLane-Departs-North-Carolina-Theatres-WIT-Kate-Goehring-to-Step-In-Opposite-Daisy-Eagan-20160428 and April 25th BWW TV interview with Daisy Eagan, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Daisy-Eagan-of-North-Carolina-Theatres-WIT-20160425; and April 27th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/wit/Event?oid=5004761.
The North Carolina Theatre presents WIT, starring Kate Goehring as Vivian Bearing, PhD, and Daisy Eagan as Susie Monahan, RN, BSN, at 7:30 p.m. April 29, 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 30 and May 1, 7:30 p.m. May 3-6, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 7 and 8 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/804543.
SHOW: http://nctheatre.com/shows/wit, https://www.facebook.com/events/1668095986744353/, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/wit-5468.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
2015-16 SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201516-season.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7th, performance.
Wit (1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winning 1998 Off-Broadway and 2012 Broadway play): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=2834 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/842 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.ibdb.com/Show/View/490593 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wit_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).
Wit (2001 TV movie): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0243664/ (Internet Movie Database) and http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/454565/Wit/ (Turner Classic Movies).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://faculty.smu.edu/tmayo/witguide.htm (Madison Repertory Theatre of Dallas, TX).
Margaret Edson (Atlanta, GA playwright and teacher, born 1961): http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/margaret-edson-b-1961 (New Georgia Encyclopedia), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/3125 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/111635 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0249682/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Edson (Wikipedia).
Kate Galvin (Philadelphia, PA director): http://www.kategalvin.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/kate.galvin.3 (Facebook page).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)