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1908 romantic comedy ‘Diana of Dobson’s’ gets
rare revival in partner-cast production at Antaeus
GLENDALE, Calif. (REVISED April 8,, 2019) — When poorly paid worker Diana inherits enough money to free her from a lifetime of drudgery, she impulsively decides to spend it all on a madcap, month-long taste of the high-life. But what she learns about love, money and society may surprise us all. Antaeus Theatre Company presents a rare revival of the 1908 romantic comedy Diana of Dobson’s by British suffragist (and friend of George Bernard Shaw) Cicely Hamilton. Casey Stangl directs a partner-cast ensemble for an April 18 and April 19 opening (one opening night for each cast) at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale, where performances continue through June 3. Low-priced previews begin April 11.
An unexpected hit of the 1908 London season, Diana of Dobson’s is a romantic fairy tale that’s both illuminating and thought provoking. Hamilton turns the Cinderella myth on its head with the story of a fiercely intelligent Edwardian shop assistant who briefly escapes her hand-to-mouth existence with a small legacy — but who cannot escape the social and economic strictures that oppress her.
“The time for this play is very ripe,” says Stangl. “London at the turn of the 20th century was an age of industry; you could hear the wheels of capitalism roll and grind. This is a play about the overworked and underpaid workers in the background who maintain the very separate world of privilege that surrounds them.”
According to Antaeus co-artistic directors Bill Brochtrup and Kitty Swink, ““We love finding hidden gems — classic plays that seem unknown but cry out to be seen. Diana is a romantic comedy with a biting humor and a message about the one percent and the inequality of women and the underclass that is absolutely vital for our times.”
Abigail Marks stars in the title role, as Diana Massingberd, opposite John Bobek as the charming (but cash-strapped) aristocrat Captain Bretherton who pursues her — but is he attracted to Diana, or to her supposed wealth? In the Antaeus tradition known as “partner casting,” Tony Amendola and John Apicella alternate as Diana’s other suitor, self-made businessman Sir Jabez Grinley, whose riches were made on the backs of low-wage earners; Rhonda Aldrich and Eve Gordon double as aristocratic Mrs. Cantalupe and nasty Dobson’s overseer Miss Pringle; Erin Barnes and Cindy Nguyen, Kendra Chell and Krystel Roche, Kristen Ariza and Desiree Mee Jung, and Shannon Lee Clair and Jazzlyn K. Luckett share the roles of Diana’s fellow shop assistants at Dobson’s Drapery Emporium: Kitty, Miss Morton, Miss Jay and Miss Smithers; Elyse Mirto and Lynn Milgrim partner as Mrs. Whyte-Fraser and Old Lady; and Ben Atkinson and Paul Stanko play both Police Constable Fellowes and a waiter.
The creative team includes scenic designer Nina Caussa, costume designer A Jeffrey Schoenberg, lighting designer Karyn D. Lawrence, sound designer Jeff Gardner, props designer Katie Iannitello and accent coach Nike Doukas. The production stage manager is Heather Gonzalez.
Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952) wrote several plays tackling social issues — but it was Diana of Dobson’s that caught London’s eye and heart with its light touch and romantic bent in spite of its consideration of “serious issues.’” First performed in London in 1908, the play was “accepted as a true picture of the shop-assistant’s life,” to quote from a 1908 press clipping that, “convinced people that something should be done about it.” Hamilton was a member of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League, a founding member of the Actress’ Franchise League and, was one of the first members of the Scottish Women’s Hospital Committee. During World War I she helped to establish an Auxiliary Hospital in France where she nursed wounded soldiers. She later joined the Women’s Auxiliary Corps and was assigned to a postal unit. Eventually she formed a repertory company that performed plays for Allied soldiers on the Western Front. After the War, Hamilton worked as a freelance journalist and was a regular contributor to feminist journal Time and Tide. Hamilton’s works include two propaganda plays, How the Vote was Won and A Pageant of Great Women, and her influential book Marriage as a Trade. Her autobiography, published in 1935, is entitled “Life Errant.”
Antaeus is an actor-driven theater company that explores and produces timely and timeless works, grounded in our passion for the classics. We illuminate diverse human experiences through performance, training and outreach. We believe in the transformative power of live theater
The Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center complements Glendale’s ongoing commitment to integrate vibrant arts space into the fabric of city life, ensuring the arts remain accessible to all. Located just a few blocks away from The Americana at Brand and the remodeled Glendale Central Library as well as the Alex Theatre, the center promises to build upon Glendale’s growing reputation as an arts and entertainment destination. The center includes an 80-seat theater, a reconfigurable 36-seat performance/classroom space, and a theater classics library.
Performances of Diana of Dobson’s begin on Thursday, April 18, with performances taking place thereafter on Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m., through June 3 (dark Monday, April 22 and Saturday, May 18; there will be one additional Thursday evening performance on May 16 at 8 p.m.). Six preview performances take place April 11 through April 17. Tickets are $35, except preview tickets which are priced at $15.
The Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center is located at 110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205 (between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.). The first 90 minutes of parking is free, then $2 per hour, in Glendale Marketplace garage located at 120 Artsakh Ave. (between Broadway and Harvard). The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible.
For reservations and information, call 818-506-1983 or go to www.antaeus.org.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘Diana of Dobson’s’
Diana of Dobson’s — A rare revival of Cicely Hamilton’s romantic comedy, an unexpected hit of the 1908 London season. When poorly paid worker Diana inherits enough money to free her from a lifetime of drudgery, she impulsively decides to spend it all on a madcap, month-long taste of the high-life. But what she learns about love, money and society is as timely in 2019 as it was at the turn of the 20th century. Antaeus Theatre Company presents a fully partner-cast production, presenting two equally excellent but very different sets of actors at alternating performances.
• Written by Cicely Hamilton
• Directed Casey Stangl
• Starring Rhonda Aldrich, Tony Amendola, John Apicella, Kristen Ariza, Ben Atkinson, Erin Barnes, John Bobek, Kendra Chell, Shannon Lee Clair, Eve Gordon, Desiree Mee Jung, Jazzlyn K. Luckett, Abigail Marks, Lynn Milgrim, Elyse Mirto, Cindy Nguyen, Krystel Roche, Paul Stanko
• Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company
Previews: April 11 – April 17
Performances: April 18 – June 3
• Tuesday at 8 p.m.: April 16 ONLY (preview)
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: April 17 ONLY (preview)
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: April 11 (preview), April 18 (opening) and May 16 ONLY
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: April 12 (preview), April 19, 26; May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: April 13 (preview), April 20, 27; May 4, 11, 25; June 1 (dark May 18)
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: April 14 (preview), April 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19, 26; June 2
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: April 29; May 6, 13, 20, 27; June 3 (dark April 22)
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.)
First 90 minutes free, then $2 per hour in Glendale Marketplace garage located at 120 S. Artsakh Ave. (between Broadway and Harvard)
(818) 506-1983 or www.Antaeus.org
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• All performances (reserved seating): $35
• Previews: $15