WHAT’s Happening

Dance on Film

On select Fridays in November, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is screening films that feature dance: The Red Shoes (1948), An American in Paris (1951), West Side Story (1961), and The Company (2003). The series is curated by Dr. Marc Strauss, Professor Emeritus in the College of Arts & Media from Southeast Missouri State University. Dr. Strauss will provide a brief introduction before each film and then lead a short discussion with audience members afterwards. All films begin at 7 p.m.


The four films in this series are all about dance as the narrative driver, presenting dance as a respected art form in its own right. Spanning over sixty years, these films put dance front and center in the screen story, showcasing a wide range of styles including classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, and theater dance, and contemporary genres that sometimes cannot be easily defined.


November 8, 7 pm: The Red Shoes (1948) is a British drama film written, directed, and produced Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film is about a ballerina who joins an established ballet company and becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called The Red Shoes, itself based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It stars famed Royal Ballet dancers Moira Shearer, Robert Helpmann, Léonide Massine, and Ludmilla Tchérina. (2 hours, 13 minutes)


November 15, 7 pm: An American in Paris (1951) is an American musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, and Oscar Levant, it is set in Paris and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner. The story of the film is interspersed with dance numbers choreographed by Gene Kelly and set to Gershwin’s music. (1 hour, 53 minutes)


November 22, 7 pm: West Side Story (1961) is an American musical and drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. An adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which was in turn inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, it stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris. (2 hours, 32 minutes)


November 29, 7 pm: The Company (2003) is an American drama film directed by Robert Altman and starring Neve Campbell, who co-wrote and co-produced the film, as well as Malcolm McDowell and James Franco. The Company is composed of stories gathered from the dancers, choreographers, and staff of the Joffrey Ballet. (1 hour, 52 minutes)


Marc Strauss, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus from the Department of Theatre and Dance in the Holland College of Arts & Media at Southeast Missouri State University (1995 – 2014), taught all levels of ballet, jazz, and ballroom as well as classes in the history of the musical, dance history and appreciation, dance in world cultures, the creative process, and the aesthetics of movement. Dr. Strauss has studied, performed, taught, and choreographed in a variety of dance styles at the regional, national and international levels since the early 1980s. Dr. Strauss is author of Alfred Hitchcock’s Silent Films (2004; McFarland & Company) and Hitchcock’s Objects as Subjects: The Significance of Things on Screen (2016; McFarland & Company). His new book, Discovering Musicals: A Liberal Arts Guide to Stage and Screen, came out summer 2019.

The Photography of Ernestine Ruben

How can our imaginations take on ‘real life’ qualities? Does light move, can the eye go beyond that which one sees? Do we feel the flow of life? In their entirety, my works offer a continuing reflection on human survival. I seek to make us aware of the sensuous character of body, spirit, nature, space, and material – of the interpenetration of the unnumbered dimensions of our environment and of the intersection of those dimensions in human life.” – Ernestine Ruben


Ernestine Ruben lives and works in New York City and is an internationally known artist, who grew up surrounded by art and artists. She received degrees in the History of Art and Art Education, and has taught art to all ages for many years as well as creating a mentor group and has participated in many critiques.
She has photographed the human body with great emphasis on the human hand and applies her love of life to landscapes and architecture. Of great importance to her is the reference to human life and it’s interaction with our complexity of environments.
She has devoted her career to applying photographic concepts to other art forms with extensive experimentation and variety. After beginning with body images in silver, she expanded to fusing photography with dance performances, sculpture, glass, architectural mobiles, fashion, and papermaking. She also worked in old processes often combining them with new digital technology. Ruben continues to seek new directions and is currently studying the relationships between architectural construction, space, sound, and the visual image.
Her work is in many private and public collections including the University museums of Princeton, Stanford, Michigan, and the University of the Arts. It is also included in the Art Museums of Philadelphia, Houston, and Detroit as well as the Museum of Modern Art, the Maison Europeene de la Photographie and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. She has had recent solo exhibitions and retrospectives in many museums and galleries. Her work has recently been featured at Photofest in Houston and Les Rencontres Internationales in Arles. Other collections include Merrill Lynch, Mercedes Benz, Princeton Medical Center, Johnson & Johnson, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra Archives. She is a recipient of the New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship.
Her work is a subject of eight monographs and can be found in many other publications. The latest book, “In Human Touch”, won the award for the best photography book of 2002 by the International Publishers Association.
James Steward, Director of the Princeton University Museum of Art recently wrote, “Ruben’s images inscribe themselves as amongst the most powerful and possibly the most enduring works of late 20th century photography.”


The Photography of Ernestine Ruben

On Exhibit in the Upper Lobby through October 2019
Opening Reception Friday September 6, 6:30 PM

Wrinkles, the Musical

In WHAT’s first playbill (for Rhinoceros 1985), the founders of WHAT wrote: “In June of ‘85 six actors who had worked together in various Wellfleet productions began talking about starting a theatre company here. We found our goals to be very similar. We wanted a group that worked as a collective to produce quality year-round theatre, pulling together the abundant pool of local talent. We wanted to produce original material, particularly that of local writers, and to provide a space for this to take place.


In keeping with our founders’ goals, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is proud to present a fully staged production of Wrinkles, the Musical. With book and lyrics by Wilderness Sarchild and Naomi Turner, and music by Malcom Granger. In Wrinkles, the Musical a group of older women from diverse backgrounds share their stories, joys, sadness, strengths, weaknesses, and a joint, as they come together to create an original musical review for their retirement community. Throughout the rehearsal process they grow closer and bond over their commonalities, breaking down the cultural taboos surrounding the aging process. Wrinkles, the Musical honors those who live authentically, are brave and fearless storytellers, and are ready to reclaim their narrative in order to live life to its fullest.


Like the women in the play, the aging process has been good to Wrinkles, the Musical. Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater first hosted Wrinkles as a work in progress in 2010, presented by TIDES Dance Company. In 2017 and 2018 the play enjoyed critically acclaimed sell-out shows at Cape Cod Theater Company before returning to WHAT for development workshops—both in Wellfleet last spring, and in New York earlier this year. Nine years after audiences were treated to the initial excerpt, Wrinkles returns home to honor the aging process and turn the cultural stereotype of the invisible old woman on end.


We are proud to welcome the return of Wrinkles, the Musical to Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, reaffirming our commitment to the development of new work, the celebration of local voices, and the theater artists who call Cape Cod home. As we end our 35th Anniversary year it feels especially fitting to offer a home grown production with such strong local roots.


Wrinkles, the Musical

Book and Lyrics by Naomi Turner and Wilderness Sarchild
Music by Malcom Granger
Directed by Dani Davis
Musical Direction and Arrangements by Peter Hodgson
October 16 – 27, 2019

Announcing the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD 2019/2020 Season

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater is thrilled to announce the return of the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD for the 2019/2020 Season!  Join the WHAT Opera Guild today for priority access to tickets.


Metropolitan Opera Members may purchase tickets starting Friday September 6, please call or visit the box office.
WHAT Opera Guild Donors may purchase tickets starting Saturday September 7, please call or visit the box office.
Tickets will be available online starting Tuesday September 10.


Franco Zeffirelli’s spectacular production returns to cinemas, with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Met’s Jeanette Lerman-Neubauer Music Director, conducting his first Puccini opera with the company. Powerhouse soprano Christine Goerke takes on the icy title princess, alongside tenor Roberto Aronica as the unknown prince vying for her love.
Saturday October 12, 2019 at 12:55 PM


Massenet’s tale of passion, excess, and their consequences stars rising soprano Lisette Oropesa in the effervescent title role. Tenor Michael Fabiano is her ardent admirer, Chevalier des Grieux, with Maurizio Benini conducting Laurent Pelly’s enchanting production.
Saturday October 26, 2019 at 12:55 PM


Madama Butterfly
Anthony Minghella’s vividly cinematic staging returns to cinemas, featuring soprano Hui He in the devastating title role. Pier Giorgio Morandi conducts one of opera’s most beautiful and heartbreaking scores, with a cast that also includes tenor Piero Pretti as Pinkerton, baritone Paulo Szot as Sharpless, and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong as Suzuki.
Saturday November 9, 2019 at 12:55 PM


Philip Glass
Akhnaten—Met Premiere
Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo headlines American composer Philip Glass’s transcendent contemporary creation, with Karen Kamensek conducting. Phelim McDermott’s stunning production employs a virtuosic company of acrobats and jugglers to conjure a mystical reimagining of ancient Egypt.
Saturday November 23, 2019 at 12:55 PM


Wozzeck—New Production
Berg’s 20th-century shocker stars baritone Peter Mattei in the title role, with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin on the podium and soprano Elza van den Heever as the long-suffering Marie. Groundbreaking visual artist and director William Kentridge unveils a bold new staging set in an apocalyptic wasteland.
Saturday January 11, 2020 at 12:55 PM


The Gershwins’
Porgy and Bess—New Production
The Gershwins’ modern American masterpiece has its first Met performances in almost three decades, starring bass-baritone Eric Owens and soprano Angel Blue in the title roles. Director James Robinson’s stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row, a setting vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion, and heartbreak of its inhabitants.
Saturday February 1, 2020 at 12:55 PM


Agrippina—Met Premiere
As the imperious title empress, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato leads the Met premiere of Handel’s tale of deception and deceit. Harry Bicket conducts Sir David McVicar’s wry new production, which gives this Baroque black comedy a politically charged, modern updating.
Saturday February 29, 2020 at 12:55 PM


Der Fliegende Holländer—New Production
Sir Bryn Terfel returns to the Met for the first time since 2012, as the mysterious seafarer searching for salvation. Director François Girard, whose mesmerizing production of Parsifal recently wowed Met audiences, returns to stage Wagner’s eerie early masterwork.
Saturday March 14, 2020 at 12:55 PM


Superstar soprano Anna Netrebko appears in her 16th Live in HD transmission, taking on the soaring title diva of Puccini’s grand melodrama. Bertrand de Billy conducts Sir David McVicar’s evocative production, with tenor Brian Jagde as Tosca’s impassioned lover, Cavaradossi, and baritone Michael Volle as the sinister Scarpia.
Saturday April 11, 2020 at 12:55 PM


Maria Stuarda
A pseudo-historical opera about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her bitter rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I, Donizetti’s drama thrills with intense stand-offs and impressive vocal displays. Soprano Diana Damrau and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton square off as two of history’s most formidable monarchs, with Maurizio Benini conducting.
Saturday May 9, 2020 at 12:55 PM



Praise for Lenin’s Embalmers

“Go for an evening of theater that’s like nothing you have — probably — seen before. Humor blends with history and drama for an inimitable experience.” – Cape Cod Times


Lenin’s Embalmers is a thoughtful, scathing comedy that, dark as it is, had the audience on opening night laughing from start to finish, even as the more serious aspects of it seeped into our brains to reflect on after the curtain fell”  – Provincetown Magazine


“WHAT’s irreverent Lenin’s Embalmers is a unique and lively theatrical experience, and, like Lenin’s still-embalmed body, is not to be missed.” – Cape Cod Chronicle


“Lenin’s Embalmers is wonderful: funny, introspective, and thoughtful… Go see this play.” – ptownie.com


Named one of The 14 Productions To See This Summer In The Boston Area by WBUR


above: Robin Haynes in Lenin’s Embalmers (photo: Michael and Suz Karchmer)

Am HaYam Havurah Jewish Film Festival August 18-26

WHAT proudly welcomes the return of the Am HaYam Havurah Jewish Film Festival, sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation of Cape Cod.


AUGUST 18, 7:30 PM


Documentary (USA, 2019) 1 hr.
Written and Directed by Roberta Grossman (Above and Beyond, producer of Blessed is the Match and Hava Nagila)
WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY tells the powerful story of Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, the secret archive he created and led in the Warsaw Ghetto. With 30,000 pages of writing, photographs, posters, and more, the Oyneg Shabes Archive is the most important cache of in-the-moment, eyewitness accounts from the Holocaust. It documents not only how the Jews of the ghetto died, but how they lived.


AUGUST 19, 7:30 PM


Germany, 2018 German (with English subtitles)108 minutes
Starring Bruno Ganz (Downfall, Wings of Desire) as Sigmund Freud
Based on the international bestseller by Robert Seethaler
A tender, heart-breaking story about one young man and his friendship with Sigmund Freud during the Nazi occupation of Vienna.
Seventeen-year-old Franz journeys to Vienna to apprentice at a tobacco shop. There he meets Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz), a regular customer, and over time the two very different men form a singular friendship. When Franz falls desperately in love with the music-hall dancer Anezka, he seeks advice from the renowned psychoanalyst, who admits that the female sex is as big a mystery to him as it is to Franz. As political and social conditions in Austria dramatically worsen with the Nazis’ arrival in Vienna, Franz, Freud, and Anezka are swept into the maelstrom of events. Each has a big decision to make: to stay or to flee?


AUGUST 25, 7:30 PM


France, 2017 French (with English subtitles) 131 minutes
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg (Norman, Melancholia) a
Based on the acclaimed autobiographical novel by Romain Gary
From his childhood in Poland to his adolescence in Nice to his years as a student in Paris and his tough training as a pilot during World War II, this epic drama tells the romantic story of Romain Gary, one of the most famous French novelists and sole writer to have won the Goncourt Prize for French literature two times. PROMISE AT DAWN offers a sweeping narrative that chronicles French author, airman and diplomat Roland Gary’s life and his complex relationship with his mother, who drove him to greatness against all odds in a Europe torn by anti- Semitism and war.


AUGUST 26, 7:30 PM


Directed by Joseph Madmony and Boaz Yehonatan Yacov
Israel, 2018 Hebrew (with English subtitles) 104 minutes
Menachem, a former front man for a rock band, is now religious, and a father to a six-year-old. When his daughter is diagnosed with cancer, he must find a creative solution to fund the expensive treatments. He reunites his band for one last tour. The journey to save his daughter exposes old wounds and allows him to reconnect with his secular past. Menachem understands that only a new connection to his past and to his music can pave the road to his own redemption.



Announcing our 2019 Season

We are thrilled to announce our 2019 Summer Theater Season.

This year we celebrate the 35th anniversary of our founding and the adventurous spirit that united 6 theater artists to create Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, inspiring generations of theater-goers and theater artists here on the Outer Cape and beyond.  We are proud to offer these 5 unique plays, some truly special events, plus expanded offerings for the whole family.
Continuing our legacy for producing adventurous contemporary work, we open our season with David Mamet’s Race, a profound (and profane) exploration of the intersection of racial and gender politics featuring Mamet’s signature razor-sharp dialogue.  Opening in July, Murder for Two is a musical murder mystery full of invention and humor.  Featuring a cast of two, who not only portray 13 characters but also accompany themselves on the piano, you won’t want to miss this tuneful homage to the classic whodunnit.
Two scientists, driven by fear and fame, are pushed to their limits when tasked with embalming former Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin. Based on a true story of deception, scientific achievement and bitter betrayal, Lenin’s Embalmers is both a rollicking comedy and an epic tragedy.
Our season returns to where we began in 1985 with Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece Rhinoceros.  This cautionary tale about the lure of fascism feels especially befitting in our age.  Directed by Daisy Walker, daughter of WHAT founder Dan Walker, we are proud to offer this tribute to the founders of WHAT and their vision that has inspired us for 35 years.  As a complement to Rhinoceros we offer Orson’s Shadow,  performed in repertory with a shared cast.  The absurdity of Ionesco’s play is no match for the absurdity behind the scenes when Hollywood giant Orson Welles directs Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright in Rhinoceros’ UK premiere.  Based on true events, Orson’s Shadow is a sharp and witty play that proves that the drama is not always confined to the stage.
We are thrilled to expand our family offerings in The Larry Phillips Performance Pavilion.  WHAT for Kids returns for its 18th year with Fantastic Mr. Fox, adapted from Roald Dahl’s beloved book.  New this summer we welcome P.I.E. Story Theatre, interactive story telling for young audiences.  Don’t be surprised to see P.I.E. Story Theatre popping up around the Outer Cape this summer.  Thanks to some very generous support we’ll be offering this program for FREE all summer long throughout the community.
Flex Pass subscription will be available starting March 18, with single tickets going on sale May 1.  And we still have a few surprises to share.  Be sure to visit what.org to stay up-to-date on all of our programming this summer.