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Odyssey Theatre revives hit production of ‘Awake and Sing!’
starring Marilyn Fox, directed by Elina de Santos
LOS ANGELES (Aug. 18, 2015) — Gritty, passionate, funny and heartbreaking, Awake and Sing! by Clifford Odets continues to resonate 80 years after its 1935 premiere by the Group Theatre. Director Elina de Santos and lead actress Marilyn Fox return to the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble with a 20th anniversary revival of the smash Odyssey production that ran for nine months in 1994-95. Also returning from that production are Richard Fancy and Dennis Madden; the three will be joined onstage by David Agranov, Robert Lesser, Allan Miller, James Morosini, Melissa Paladino and Gary Patent. Awake and Sing! opens at the Odyssey Theatre on Sept. 26.
In Awake and Sing!, Odets masterfully captures the hopes and struggles of a lower-middle-class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Great Depression. “Here, without a dollar you don’t look the world in the eye. Talk from now to next year – this is life in America,” says family matriarch Bessie Berger (Fox).
“[Odyssey Theatre associate artistic director] Beth Hogan and I feel so strongly about this play and what it has to say for today, that we wanted to bring it back,” says de Santos. “So many people in 2015 are in the same position as this family, struggling daily with social and economic pressures just to be able to get by. Everything is still skewed to the one percent. Odets talks about the ‘system’ in this play. It’s the same conversation we are having today. In what ways do we need to be responsible to society and to our community?”
Awake and Sing! was Odets’ first full-length play, catapulting him to the forefront of the world stage and establishing him as a champion of the underprivileged. It premiered on Broadway at the Belasco Theater, where it was directed by Harold Clurman and starred Stella Adler as Bessie Berger, Sanford Meisner as Sam Feinschreiber, and Morris Carnovsky as Jacob. Veteran theater critic Clive Barnes included Awake and Sing! in his book, “50 Best Plays of the American Theatre.” Actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Ralph in a production when he was a teenager, recalled in an interview, “The story paralleled that of my own family. I was so inspired with its illumination of the human condition that I decided to be an actor.”
Born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1906, Odets dropped out of school at 17 to become an actor and was one of the original members of the New York City-based, avant-garde, left-wing ensemble Group Theatre. Founded by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and method-acting guru Lee Strasberg to dramatize the social and political life of their times, the Group Theatre was a response to what they saw as the old-fashioned light entertainment that dominated the theater of the late 1920s. Their vision was of a new theater that would mount original American plays to mirror — and possibly change — life in their troubled times. Over the course of ten years and 20 productions, they altered the course of American theater forever. Turning his attention from acting to playwriting, Odets’ first work for the Group, Waiting for Lefty (1935), was a Marxian drama about the awakening and insurgency of the impoverished working classes that aroused immediate international attention. It was followed by Awake and Sing! (1935), his first full-length play. Other plays include Till the Day I Die (1935), Paradise Lost (1935), Golden Boy (1937) and Clash by Night (1942). Odets spent many years in Hollywood writing film scripts including The Big Knife (1949), The Country Girl (1950) and The Flowering Peach (1954).
Set design for Awake and Sing! is by Pete Hickok, lighting design is by Leigh Allen, sound design is by Christopher Moscatiello, costume design is by Kim DeShazo and props are by Katherine S. Hunt. The assistant directors are Tovya Jacobs and Tracey Silver, and Ron Sossi and Beth Hogan produce for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.
Performances of Awake and Sing! take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Sept. 26 through Nov. 29. (On Sunday, Sept. 27 only, the performance will be at 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee.) Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Oct. 14 and Nov. 4, and on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Oct. 8, Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 12 and Nov. 19. Three post-performance discussions will take place on Oct. 10, Oct. 24 and Nov. 4 and are included in the ticket price. Tickets are $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; $30 on Fridays; and $25 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with $20 tickets available for seniors and $15 tickets for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA. There will be three “Tix for $10” performances on Friday, Oct. 2; Wednesday, Oct. 14; and Wednesday, Nov. 4. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
“Awake and Sing!”
Awake and Sing! — Clifford Odets’ gritty, passionate, funny and heartbreaking masterpiece about the hopes and struggles of a lower-middle-class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Great Depression continues to resonate 80 years after its 1935 premiere. Director Elina de Santos and lead actress Marilyn Fox return with a 20th anniversary revival of the smash Odyssey Theatre production that ran for nine months in 1994-95.
• Written by Clifford Odets
• Directed by Elina de Santos
• Starring David Agranov, Richard Fancy, Marilyn Fox, Robert Lesser, Dennis Madden, Allan Miller, James Morosini, Melissa Paladino, Gary Patent
• Produced by Ron Sossi and Beth Hogan
• Presented by Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Ron Sossi, artistic director
Sept. 26-Nov. 29:
• Wednesdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 14 and Nov. 4* ONLY
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 8, 22, 29; Nov. 12, 19 ONLY
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Oct. 2, 9. 16†, 23, 30; Nov. 6, 13, 20†, 27
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 26 (opening); Oct. 3, 10*, 17, 24*, 31; Nov. 7, 14, 21, 28
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25; Nov. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 (no 2 p.m. matinee on Sept. 27)
• Sunday at 5 p.m.: Sept. 27 ONLY
* Post-performance discussion
†The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
• $30–$34 (reserved seating)
• Discounted tickets available for students and members of Equity/Sag for select performances
• Four “Tix for $10” performances: Fri., Oct. 2; Wed., Oct. 14; Wed., Nov. 4.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Elina de Santos (director) is a multiple award-winning director and recipient of the 2012 Los Angeles Drama Critic Circle’s Katselas Career Achievement Award in Directing. She previously directed productions of Awake and Sing! at the Odyssey Theatre (nine-month run in 1994-95), Berkshire Theatre Festival and Pittsburgh Public Theatre. She is co-artistic director of Rogue Machine, where she helmed world premiere productions of Dirty Filthy Love Story by Rob Mersola (LA Times “Critic’s Choice,” LA Weekly nomination for Production of the Year); Nice Things by Vince Melocchi; Razorback by John Pollono; and Yard Sale Signs by Jennie Webb, as well as West Coast premieres of Falling by Deanna Jent; Bhutan by Daisy Foote; and Vivien by Rick Foster (Backstage “Critic’s Pick”). Other directing credits: New Jerusalem by David Ives and Broken Glass by Arthur Miller for the West Coast Jewish Theatre; West Coast premiere of Vincent in Brixton by Nicolas Wright starring Stephanie Zimbalist at the Pasadena Playhouse; Speed the Plow by David Mamet and Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Odyssey; Odets’ Rocket to the Moon (LADCC direction nominee and winner Best Revival), Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending (LADCC Awards for direction, performance and production); and the L.A. premiere of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance at Pacific Resident Theatre; Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (LA Weekly nominations for Direction, Production and Ensemble ) at the Ark Theatre; Orphans by Lyle Kessler (OC Weekly Best Production), at International City Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet: Circus Verona (Ovation nomination) at Deaf West Theatre.
David Agranov (Moe Axelrod) last appeared at the Odyssey as Frank in This Lime Tree Bower. Other roles: Rodolpho in A View from the Bridge (Arena Stage), Ferdinand in Rock and Roll (Studio Theatre), Marchbanks in Candida, Michael in Indiscretions (San Francisco Drama Circle Award), J.J. in Snake in the Vein (Soho Playhouse, Off-Broadway), Solyony in Three Sisters (Moscow Art Theatre), Edmund in King Lear (The Met), Tommy in the critically acclaimed stage play of Trainspotting. Film: SALT, X-MEN: First Class, Crazy, ESL, Flawless, Just Married, Tea with Mussolini, and the lead, Lucas, in the upcoming feature ALLEYCAT. TV: Criminal Minds, recurred as “Jim Ballard” on The Unit, The Agency, West Wing. Training: Ithaca College, Carnegie Mellon University, Moscow Art Theatre. He also created the solo show, The Chet Baker Project, which he’s performed in New York, Beverly Hills, and Rome.
Richard Fancy (Uncle Morty) was previously seen at the Odyssey as Joe Keller in All My Sons and Moe Axelrod in Awake and Sing! Richard is a member of PRT where he played Anton Schill in The Visit, Halvard Solness in The Master Builder, Captain St. Pe in Ardele, Robert in Betrayal, Galileo in Brecht’s Galileo, Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Mr. Prince in Rocket to the Moon and Lou Perrino in Julia, which, after a successful run at PRT, moved Off Broadway in 2011. He’s a charter member of Rogue Machine where he was Fitz in last season’s Penelope. Among scores of recurring roles he’s played on television: Mr. Lippman on Seinfeld, Bruce Logan in The District and the twins Benny and Bernie Abrams in General Hospital. He can currently be seen in Showtime’s Ray Donovan.
Marilyn Fox (Bessie) was last seen as Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard and as Helen Tuvim in Concealing Judy Holliday at Pacific Resident Theatre. Also at PRT, as Lady Torrance in Orpheus Descending (Lead Performance Award, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle/Garland Award), Molnar’s The Swan (Garland Award/LADCC nomination, performance), Anna Petrovna in Ivanov directed by Gar Campbell, and The Quick-Change Room (LADCC/Garland Awards, lead performance), the latter moving Off-Broadway. She has appeared locally at South Coast Repertory, Laguna Playhouse and Westwood Playhouse. Other roles include Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing! at the Odyssey Theatre (Lead Performance LADCC, Garland Award ’94) and also at Pittsburgh Public Theatre and Berkshire Theatre Festival. Marilyn is the artistic director at Pacific Resident Theatre and was honored with the Career Achievement Award by LA Weekly in 2003. On TV, she has been seen on Judging Amy, Partners, Picket Fences, Down the Shore, Star Trek: The Next Generation and more. Ms. Fox is an adjunct professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television and teaches acting classes at PRT.
Robert Lesser (Myron) Robert’s theater credits include: the Broadway production of The Soft Touch directed by Alan Arkin, Rubbers and Yanks 3, Detroit 0, Top of the Seventh (American Place Theatre), also directed by Alan Arkin. NY Shakespeare Festival’s Richard the Third. NY premiere of Sam Shepard’s Geography of a Horse Dreamer at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In Los Angeles, Steven Berkoff’s Kvetch and God’s Country, both at the Odyssey Theatre. Bob’s busy theater life includes a dozen plays at the Ensemble Theater in Santa Barbara, most recently, Amadeus; My Antonia at the Rubicon Theatre; and PRT, where he played Alfieri in A View from the Bridge, winning the SAGE Award for Outstanding Performance. Films include: Hester Street, The Big Easy, 2010, Ernest Saves Christmas, The Last Innocent Man, Shoot to Kill, Die Hard, Oscar, The Relic, Godzilla, End of Days and the Takashi Koizumi war epic, Best Wishes for Tomorrow.
Dennis Madden (Schlosser) appeared in the Odyssey’s nine-month run of Awake and Sing! in 1994, but his first Odyssey appearance was in Sean Waldron’s Shout! in 1978. Dennis played Falstaff and King of France in Pacific Resident Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of Henry V. Other PRT appearances include Cherry Orchard, Sweet Thursday, Harold and Maude, Our Town, Macbeth, Time of Your Life, Arrivals/Departures, Relative Madness, Scarecrow, In the Boom Boom Room, Workroom, Tonight at 8:30, Lulu, Divorçons, Candida, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Golden Boy, and Playboy of the Western World. He was also in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Salty Shakespeare on Venice Beach. With The Company of Friends, Dennis appeared in Front Page and Woman On Trial. He was a founding member of Scorpio Rising Theatre in 1970. Films include Dillinger In Paradise, Beverly Hills Cop and Hot Tomorrows.
Allan Miller (Jacob) has acted in over 200 films, television productions and plays, including Broadway Bound (at both the Odyssey Theatre and La Mirada), Three Views of the Same Object (Rogue Machine Theatre), Brooklyn Boy (Manhattan Theatre Club), Death of a Salesman (South Coast Rep) and Substance of Fire (Seattle Rep). He created the role of Abe Burrows in Are You Now… at Yale Rep. His latest film was Bad Words. For ten years he was artistic director of the Back Alley Theatre in LA. He has directed over forty plays, including his own award-winning play The Fox in LA and at the Roundabout Theatre in NY. He has taught at the Yale School of Drama, NYU, and currently is teaching at the Actors Studio. He is the author of the book A Passion for Acting, also available in digital version on Amazon, and the DVD Auditioning.
James Morosino (Ralph) began his acting career as an apprentice and then on stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Earlier this year, he was a lead in the Tim Robbins-produced Comedy Central pilot Ultimate Ultimate. Most recently, he guest-starred on David Spade’s show Fameless. James is an avid content creator and improviser. He is a graduate of USC’s School of Dramatic Arts.
Melissa Paladino (Hennie) is a founding member of the esteemed Rogue Machine Theatre Company. STAGE: The Sexual Lives of Savages (Skylight Theatre Company), Lone-Anon (Rogue Machine Theatre/named by L.A. Weekly as one of the top ten plays of 2013), Daddyo Dies Well (Padua Playwrights), Bingo with the Indians, Razorback (Rogue Machine Theatre), Sailor’s Song (LAByrinth Theater Company at The Public/John Patrick Shanley), Fight Girl Battle World, Men of Steel, Living Dead in Denmark, The Vampire Cowboy Trilogy (VCT Productions), A Woman From the Past (German Theater Festival). FILM: Loners, Fort Doom, 25 to Life, The Horribly Slow Murderer with an Extremely Inefficient Weapon (Special Jury Prize Austin Fantastic Fest, Best Short Film Award Fantasia Film Festival, Citizen’s Choice Award/Grand Prize for Short Film Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, Best Short Film Rue Morgue Magazine).
Gary Patent (Sam Feinschreiber) is a Los Angeles-based actor and writer. Selected theatrical credits include: Tateh in Ragtime (3-D Theatricals), Our Class (Son of Semele – LA Drama Critics Circle and LA Weekly Awards, Best Production and Ensemble), The Immigrant (Pico Playhouse – Ovation Award Nomination, Best Lead Actor), Car Plays: The Audience (La Jolla Playhouse, Moving Arts), The Fisherman’s Wife (EST-LA), Mlle. God (EST-LA), Chinese Massacre: Annotated (Circle X), Soul Doctor (Safra Hall, Off-Broadway), I Do, I Do (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Peace Man (Lincoln Center). Selected film/TV credits include: Burning Dog, Undercovers, Best Week Ever, The Girl Next Door, Ira Whipple on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Gary is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and a graduate of NYU Tisch and Upright Citizens Brigade.