Next up at TheatreFest 2012: A Knockout Season of Dueling Duos is Lettice and Lovage, a 1987 comedy by Peter Shaffer (Equus and Amadeus), on May 31-June 1 and June 3, 6, 8-10, 13, and 16-17 in Kennedy-McIlwee Studio Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall on the NCSU campus. University Theatre at N.C. State will perform Lettice and Lovage in rotating repertory with Sir Noël Peirce Coward’s 1925 romantic comedy Fallen Angels on May 30 and June 2-3, 7, and 10 and Neil Simon’s 1972 backstage comedy The Sunshine Boyson June 14-15, 17, and 20-24, both in the Titmus Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall.
“This is an exciting return to the world of Lettice for me,” says Lettice and Lovage director John C. McIlwee. “I have worked on two other productions as a designer, actor and as a director. Both were such fun that I am happy to revisit with a new cast and design team.
“Never one to copy what I have done before,” says McIlwee, “I have gone out of my way to find new characteristics in Lettice Douffet and Lotte Schoen that I can play upon with such talented and individualistic actresses as JoAnne Dickinson and Lynda Clark. They are both unique performers and bring new notes to this marvelous script.”
With the part of Lettice Douffet written expressly for Dame Maggie Smith, Lettice and Lovage debuted in 1987 in London in London at the Gielgud Theatre, where it ran for 768 performances. The show made its Broadway debut on March 25, 1990 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, where it ran for 286 performances before closing on Dec. 23, 1990.
Nominated for the 1990 Tony Awards® for Best Play and Best Direction of a Play (Michael Blakemore), Lettice and Lovage won the Tonys for Best Actress in a Play (Maggie Smith as Lettice Douffet) and Best Featured Actress in a Play (Margaret Tyzack as Lotte Schoen).
Act I is set in the grand hall at Fustian House in Wiltshire, England; Act II is set in Lotte Schoen’s office at the Preservation Trust at Architrave Place in London; and Act III is set in Lettice Douffet’s basement flat in Earls Court in London.
When the curtain rises on the TheatreFest presentation of Lettice and Lovage, says director John McIlwee, “Lettice (JoAnne Dickinson) lives in a world of extremes and exaggerations, and brings her elaborate storytelling techniques to her job as a guide in the ‘most boring house’ in the British National Trust. Lotte (Lynda Clark) heads up the department that makes sure all guides stick to the facts. They first clash, and then find common ground as the play plays fast and furious with the way the British bashed their heritage by tearing down the old and beautiful in London and replaced much of it with the new and sterile!”
Besides JoAnne Dickinson as Lettice and Lynda Clark as Lotte, the TheatreFest cast for Lettice and Lovage includes Sandi Sullivan as Miss Framer, Kevin Ferguson as Mr. Bardolph, Christian O’Neal as A Surly Man and the Head Male Tourist, and Rhonda Lemon as the Head Female Tourist. McIlwee also notes that “[T]here will be guests every night acting as tourists in the opening scenes.”
“After working with many of Shaffer’s other works at other times,” John McIlwee explains, “I must say I have the same love for his beautiful plots and dialogue as I had when I first worked on The Royal Hunt of the Sun  and revisited it as a director and designer. I just seem to respond to his messages and his characters’ rhythms and struggles…. I never stop finding a new direction that challenges me creatively.”
He adds, “We are presenting this production in the Kennedy-McIlwee Theatre; and it is an intimate space that allows the actors and the audiences to really mesh with the great scenic, costume, projection, and lighting design elements in a way that is sometimes not possible on our other stages. I chose the play for this space, because I love Shaffer’s words; and being there makes those words the most important aspect of the show.
“But audiences will undoubtedly enjoy the new technology we are using for the first time with amazing Pandora Projection techniques,” says John McIlwee, who doubles as hair and makeup designer for Lettice and Lovage. “What fun it has been to watch the talented staff at University Theatre create Lettice’s world with this fresh approach.”
He adds, “Laura Parker is the costume designer who created Lettice’s eccentric ensembles and the contemporary clothes of the rest of the characters. David Jensen serves as scenic and projection designer, Joshua Reaves as sound designer, Andrew Korhonen as lighting designer, and Mette C.J. Schladweiler as stage manager.”
University Theatre at N.C. State presents LETTICE AND LOVAGE at 7:30 p.m. May 31 and June 1; 2 p.m. June 3; 7:30 p.m. June 6, 8-10, 13, and 16; and 2 p.m. June 17 in the Kennedy-McIlwee Studio Theatre in Frank Thompson Hall, 2241 E. Dunn Ave., Raleigh North Carolina 27607, on the NCSU campus.
TICKETS: $15 ($5 NCSU students and $13 other students and seniors).
BOX OFFICE: 919-515-1100 or http://purchase.tickets.com/.
The Play (background): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lettice_and_Lovage (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://ferndale-rep.org/study-guides/Lettice_and_Lovage.pdf (Ferndale Repertory Theatre).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Shaffer (Wikipedia).
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