by Austin Pendleton
directed by Brad Dalton
The Julie Harris Stage | September 14 – 29, 2019 | Previews September 12 and 13
An ingenious tale of two Hollywood giants—Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier. The time is 1960; the place is a West End theater. Legendary critic Kenneth Tynan has made a startling proposal: Welles should direct Olivier and the young Joan Plowright in Rhinoceros, Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece. But it is the rehearsal process that brims with absurdity as titanic personalities, including Vivien Leigh, wrestle the muse in this witty and incisive depiction of drama, both on and off-stage.
“…beguiling and thematically substantial…full of wit, intelligence and salacious interest.” —Chicago Tribune.
“Both Welles and Olivier struggled with their reputations for brilliance, which they would attempt to live up to and exceed, sometimes in vain. Their outsized and wounded egos, their obsessions and romantic delusions, are all on parade in “Orson’s Shadow.” So, too, are Tynan’s incisive talents as a critic and manipulator, Leigh’s extraordinary theatricality and crippling psychology and Plowright’s forthright charm. The quintet of actors playing these roles are superb, creating their own, fascinating versions of iconic figures — and each delivers a performance that is among the best to be seen this year on local stages.” Provincetown Banner
“Pendleton’s “Orson’s Shadow” is a backstage view of a production of the Ionesco play, which took place at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1960. What a clever idea of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater to run this play in repertory with the Ionesco classic. It is a good idea to see both.” Cape Cod Times
“Welles was larger than life in every way and “Chiz” [Christopher Chisholm] nailed the role. His movement, booming voice, and gigantic gestures drew us in completely. Here we had an aging giant of his industry who was fighting the fact that he had done his best work at 26 years old and was now reduced to trying to raise money for his next project. Chiz projected that with empathy.” CapeCodToday
“Orson’s Shadow is extremely funny and insightful, especially if you know actors and if you have ever been a part of the rehearsal process, which in this play is where all of the demons come out.” Provincetown Magazine
“No spoilers here: go and see for yourself! The play is amusing, thought-provoking, and ultimately extremely satisfying.” Ptownie
Ryan Sheehan (Sean) is thrilled to make his WHAT debut! He spent this summer working at Cape Repertory Theatre starring in their Outdoor Theatre children’s show, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, as well as playing eight different characters in their production of The Full Monty. Previous regional credits; The Tuna Goddess, Mamma Mia!, Shakespeare in Love (Cape Rep Theatre), The Odd Couple (Cotuit Center for the Arts), Pippin (Cape Cod Theatre Co.) New York credits; Watch Your Back (The Barrow Group), Stuck Keys, Ghost Cat, Bored in the U.S.A. (Abingdon Theatre Co.) Ryan has also directed and written plays produced in New York City, and has helped develop new works at Manhattan Theatre Club and NETC. He is a graduate of Quinnipiac University’s Theater and Film BA programs. Love and thanks, as always, to his family. www.RyanSheehanActing.com
Phillip Hays (Kenneth Tynan) is an actor and director based in Houston, Texas, gratefully making his WHAT debut. Recent Houston credits include: Pride and Prejudice, Much Ado About Nothing, Stage Kiss, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (4th Wall); The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Gravity Players); The Barber of Seville, The Triumph of Love (Classical Theatre Company); Cophenhagen, Love Goes to Press, Life Is a Dream, Dog Act, The Coast of Utopia (Main Street Theater); The Whale; or, Moby-Dick (Horse Head Theatre Co.); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pericles, Twelfth Night, Cymbeline (Houston Shakespeare Festival). With Prague Shakespeare Company: Julius Caesar, Cymbeline, Macbeth, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, Richard III, As You Like It, King Lear. Previously on Cape Cod, he directed Cape Rep’s production of Mr. Burns: a post-electric play. Other directing credits include productions with Classical Theatre Company, Main Street Theater, Horse Head Theatre Co. and Prague Shakespeare Company.www.philiphays.com
Christopher “Chiz” Chisholm
Christopher “Chiz” Chisholm (Orson Welles) is honored to return to the WHAT for our 35th Anniversary Season after appearing as “F” in Cock and Senator Higgins in Alabama Story here in our 2016 Season. His credits include the New York stage, Hollywood soundstages, Network Television and Regional and Repertory Theatres across the country and around the globe. Theatre: Harry Dangle One Man, Two Guvnors, Tevye Fiddler on the Roof, Big Daddy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Psuedolus A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Nick Bottom A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Guildenstern in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Dogberry Much Ado About Nothing, Tony Lumpkin She Stoops to Conquer, Ira Drew It’s Only a Play, Marquis de Sade in Marat/Sade and Chad Williams in the world premiere of Walking on the Moon. Film: Wraith, Fever Pitch, Corrina, Corrina, Welcome Stranger, All Lies End in Murder, Stop & Go, The Seventh Octave and Girth of a Nation. Television: Strange Universe, Dress Gray, Ned and Stacey, Beverly Hills 90210, Matlock and Unsolved Mysteries.
John Feltch (Laurence Olivier) is delighted to be here at WHAT, up from Houston where he was a resident actor at the Alley Theatre for 14 years and over 70 productions. He has worked at many of the nation’s leading regional theatres including American Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, La Jolla Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St.Louis, among others. John has appeared on Broadway in ENCHANTED APRIL and off-Broadway in THE DAZZLE for the Roundabout Theatre.
Favorite roles include Prior Walter in ANGELS IN AMERICA, parts I and II, at the Venice Biennale, Salieri in AMADEUS at Clarence Brown Theatre with the Knoxville Symphony, Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at The Alley and Cincinnati Playhouse and Ben Johnson in THE BOOK OF WILL at Houston’s Main Street Theatre. He is also a teacher and director. John received his B.A. from Williams College and MFA from UNC Chapel Hill and has served on the faculties of UNCCH, University of Houston and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Kelsey Torstviet (Joan Plowright) is honored to be returning to the Julie Harris Stage for this celebratory season at WHAT! Selected credits include: …Where you Eat (Wild Project, NYC), LARVAE (The Alchemical), Blithe Spirit (Capital Repertory Theatre), The Turn of the Screw (WHAT), Theory of Mind (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Capital Repertory Theatre), I Am A Camera (WHAT), and A Hatful of Rain (Teatr Studio, Warsaw). BFA: NYU. She is a member of the Acting Faculty at The Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City. A huge thank you to Chris, Daisy, Brad, Michael, and the Intern Company for their exuberant and tireless work. And to Mom, Dad, and Joe for their love and support.
Abigail Rose Solomon
Abigail Solomon (Vivien Leigh) appeared in THE ROOMMATE at Shadowland Stages earlier this summer. She has also worked with Manhattan Theatre Club, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, California Shakespeare Festival, Dorset Theatre Festival, Payomet Performing Arts Center, Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, Abingdon Theatre Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Women’s Project, and New Georges. She toured nationally with a one-woman show for eight years. TV and Film includes Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mercy, Childless, Odd Mom Out, Sex & the City, Law & Order, NYPD Blue and a recurring role on Days of Our Lives. She has her MFA from the NYU Graduate Acting Program. Abigail is also a Drama Desk Award winning and Tony Award nominated producer, and lives with her husband and two children in NYC. She dedicates these shows to Daniel Walker, her drama teacher and mentor. Thank you, Daisy Walker, who first directed her in high school. @AbigailRoseSolomon, www.AbigailRoseSolomon.com.
Brad Dalton (Director) is thrilled to be making his WHAT debut with this production of Orson’s Shadow. A graduate of Harvard University and the National Shakespeare Conservatory, Brad has directed many plays in Houston, his home town, including the hit run of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, which was sold-out for one solid year. Other shows include Hamlet, Equus, Inventing Van Gogh. Carousel. The Unseen, Black Pearl Sings, An American Brat. Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, The Spitfire Grill, Nickel and Dimed and The Glass Menagerie. Brad’s career as an opera director includes productions at the Metropolitan Opera, the Barbican in London, Carnegie Hall, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, State Opera of South Australia, Pittsburgh Opera, San Diego Opera, Santa Barbara Opera, Opera San Jose and Opera Boston. In 2003, he directed the Australian premiere of Dead Man Walking, for which he won the prestigious Helpmann Award for “Best Director of an Opera in Australia”.
Did you know WHAT’s 1985 production of Rhinoceros was shut down? Read about it in The Provincetown Independent:
A Tale of Two ‘Rhinoceros’es
WHAT celebrates 35 years with the play that started it all
BY Jacob Greenberg
Jeannette de Beauvoir talks to Christopher Ostrom, Daisy Walker (director, Rhinoceros) and Brad Dalton (director, Orson’s Shadow) on WOMR’s Arts Week
(They come in at 15:30)