Shaun is ecstatic to be back at his theatre home, Hedgerow. A native Texan, he has been performing in the Philly area for over five years. In that time he has enjoyed participating in numerous productions including A Christmas Carol and A Flea in Her Ear (Hedgerow Theatre); Star Wars: The New Musical Hope and Evil Dead: the Musical (Bootless Stageworks); and Bonnie and Clyde: The Musical and Assassins (The Eagle Theatre). Love and thanks to Mom, Dad, & Cris; and to you, theatre patron, for keeping the theatre alive. To find out what is next visit: http://www.shaunyates.com
Sarah J. Gafgen couldn’t be more delighted to be back at Hedgerow Theatre where she was seen on stage many times including as Kathy in Vanities. Some other favorite roles include Annie Oakley (Annie Get Your Gun), Agnes Gooch (Mame), Joanne (Vanities), Emma Goldman (Ragtime) and Edith (Pirates of Penzance). Sarah has appeared on stage at The Walnut Street Theatre, Media Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre and Montgomery Theatre, among others. Thanks to Jared and the Hedgerow family for the opportunity to be a part of this great event! Love to Carl, Mom and Dad. www.sarahjgafgen.com
Carl is a performer and teacher in the Philadelphia Area. A Texas native, he has been performing for over six years with such companies as Arden Theatre Co, People’s Light and Theatre Co, Storybook Musical Theatre, Bristol Riverside Theatre, Quince Productions, Live On Stage Productions, and Family Stages. Regional credits include Mystery Of Irma Vep, Cinderella, Pride and Prejudice, Rent and Cyrano. Love to God, Mom, Dad, Hus, Lee and his wife and partner in crime, Sarah.
In the spring of 1941, as Londoners endured the Blitz, playwright Noël Coward slipped away to Wales to draft a new script centered on death and the great beyond. “Title [is] Blithe Spirit,” he wrote in his diary. “Very gay, superficial comedy about a ghost. Feel it may be good.” Then, six days later, the play was finished.
Dubbed “An Improbable Play in Three Acts,” Blithe Spirit features novelist Charles Condomine and his second wife, the stiff and rigid Ruth, as they prepare to host a seance to conducted by clairvoyant Madame Arcati. For him, it’s a lark, research for his novel The Unseen; however, the scheme backfires, and Charles’ first wife, the temperamental Elvira, is summoned. Now, Charles finds himself torn between two loves: a passionate dead wife and an unfeeling living one.
With its plot full of ghosts, seances, and mystics, Blithe Spirit is a witty take on an old theme, like Mel Brooks lovingly parodying Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with Young Frankenstein, only Coward’s target is high culture and the Gothic literature.
Coward had been plotting a comedy about ghosts for some time, but could never quite work it out in his mind. The title of the play is taken from Percy Shelley‘s poem “To a Skylark” (“Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! / Bird thou never wert”), and is the descendent of a long line of British traditions, namely farce and Gothic literature.
The 18th century nourished two opposing trends: the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Proponents of the Enlightenment valued objectivity and reason, whereas the Romantics preferred passion and a desire to feel things.
In 1764, Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto and planted the seeds of Gothic literature. This short novel combined elements of terror and medievalism with Romantic ideals and set a precedent for a thrilling new genre.
Focused on the individual, Romantics asked, “Why get lost in a crowd when you could shine alone?” Like a nightmarish demon brother, the kid sibling of Romanticism, taking all the good things about the genre and dipping them in shadow and sin, the Gothics combined life and death in one theatrical rendering.
The plot of Gothic novels typically involves people who become mixed up in a complex, paranormal scheme, often involving a desperate heroine, such as Anne Radcliffe’s classic Gothic novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794).
Originating from the ornate architecture created by the Goths, medieval castles shrouded in mystery, these Gothics proved the past to be the ideal backdrop for a literary style concerning itself with superstition, horror, and the absurd.
Taking elements such as atmosphere, clergy, paranormal, melodrama, omens, and epic settings, Gothic literature twists them into a compelling, dark story.
Gothic novels established a new movement. Whereas today we are no longer surprised by a lurking butler, a shadowy figure in the night, or a coven of witches, Gothic authors paved the way for the macabre and mysterious.
Every plot held a new surprise; every novel, a new ending. These stories enthralled readers by enticing them to look behind the veil and wonder where those mournful wails hailed from, turning the atmosphere of the story into character.
Yet, the real beauty of the genre lies in the reflection it represents. Like a grimy, cracked mirror sitting on the wall of the House of Usher, this genre of fiction gives us a twisted look at reality.
Traditional romantic heroes morph into hellhounds, sometimes literally, but more often than not as trusted metaphors for order, decay, and rot. In essence, the Gothic is the birth of the antihero.
Why are these books so appealing? Why do these plays touch our soul? It’s because all the demons, all the crooked monks and monsters, are really extensions of ourselves.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde offers a literal protagonist-antagonist trapped in one body. In essence, a man is his own worst enemy. What happens when the monster that lurks inside of all of us is set free?
This idea would later be expounded by Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray, turning an innocent protagonist into a decidedly repulsive antagonist. To the outside world, Dorian is a handsome example of high culture. Yet Wilde’s dramatic imagery of a decaying portrait reflecting the inner workings of its hero exposes the weight of choice, guilt, and malevolence.
Much like Coward’s earlier successes Hay Fever and Private Lives, or Wilde‘s classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, Blithe Spirit is both a condemnation and a celebration of all things uniquely British.
Cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine is married, but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira, who is called up by the visiting medium Madame Arcati.
Director Carly Bodnar leads an all-star cast of Hedgerow favorites in Nöel Coward’s stylish supernatural comedy, Blithe Spirit, playing October 5 through 29. The cast includes Producing Artistic Director Jared Reed, board member Michael Fuchs, veteran Susan Wefel, and fan favorite Stacy Skinner.
The show also reunites the three cast members of the Barrymore Recommended production of On the Verge: Jennifer Summerfield, Maryruth Stine, and playing the coveted role of Madame Arcati will be this year’s recipient of the Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award, Penelope Reed.
Is it our enjoyment of a well-plotted farce, or our obsession with life after death, that charges this intelligent and enduring Gothic play? Coward’s timeless and distinct voice, combined with superb direction and a killer cast, give us insight into human interactions and relationships that make up all the fun in this one-of-a-kind production.
For more information call the box office, 610-565-4211, visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org, or email email@example.com. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media). Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those age 30 and under are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18, please contact Art Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. Shows are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Adam Altman (Core Company Member) – Adam first appeared on Hedgerow’s stage as the title role in Uncle Vanya; he is incredibly pleased to be able to continue to work with this talented group of artists in this historic venue. Adam’s first taste of acting was auditioning for the role of the lead kid (“Dylan” in the original sides) in the feature film Cop and a Half, starring Burt Reynolds. Though Adam actually got a callback, he ultimately failed the screen test because they wanted him to “arrest” a fully-grown adult for jaywalking; 7-year-old Adam found this far too ridiculous and consequently couldn’t keep a straight face. Much later, Adam became an Eagle Scout, attended college, and received purification in the fires of theme park entertainment. In addition to holding a BA in Theatre Performance from Seton Hill University, Adam also studied acting at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, and with Olivier, Tony, and Helen Hayes award winner Jane Lapotaire. Adam is an Iron Age Theatre family member, having appeared in over 20 Iron Age productions. Some other companies with whom Adam has performed include: the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, Delaware Shakespeare, Inis Nua, Theatre Horizon, Lantern Theater, Tiny Dynamite, Commonwealth Classic, Shakespeare in Clark Park, Montgomery Theater, Delaware Theatre Co, Arden Theatre Co, and the National Constitution Center. Adam lives in Glenside with his amazing wife Katie and their two sons Seamus & Lucius.
Dear Hedgerow friends,
Please join us for our Annual A Christmas Carol Auditions, Sunday, October 8th, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. at Hedgerow Theatre, 64 Rose Valley Road, Rose Valley, PA 19063.
This year we are featuring a special choir of all ages to sing carols during the performance. We are also auditioning for the named roles of Past, Fan and/or the Cratchit children: Peter, Martha, Belinda, Tiny Tim & the two little Cratchits (male or female).
All who audition please be prepared to sing a Christmas carol of your choice (a Cappella) and have a funny joke or story to tell. If you auditioning for The Ghost of Christmas Past please see the side below for auditioning.
Because planning for the busy holiday season is challenging, and because conflicts weigh heavily in all casting decisions, the conflict form at the link below must be completely filled out before any audition.
To save time on audition day, please fill the forms out online in advance. Otherwise, you may have to wait until forms are filled out.
If auditioning with multiple family members with the SAME conflicts, fill out the form and email Ariel Baker, email@example.com, with the names of your participating family members. If you have family members with different conflicts, you will need to fill out separate forms.
Thank you! We look forward to seeing you and enjoying another wonderful year of Christmas Carol. Thank you for being a part of this special tradition!
The Hedgerow Company
Christmas Carol Audition Sides: Pick One
( Pasts Must Audition With This Side)
Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?
Who, and what are you?
I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.
No. Your past.
What business brings you here.
A night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end.
Your reclamation, then. Take heed! Walk with me!
I am a mortal, and liable to fall.
Bear but a touch of my hand there, [touches his heart] and you shall be upheld in more than this!
For all other roles: prepare a funny Joke or Story and a Christmas carol
SUSAN WEFEL (Edith) a graduate of The School of Theater at Boston University and is a 38 -year veteran actress and company member of Hedgerow Theatre. She has studied under Dolores Tanner, Rose Schulman, Janet Kelsey, Louis Lippa, and Penelope Reed. Recent Hedgerow Roles include her critically acclaimed Shirley Valentine, Gaslight (Elizabeth), No Sex Please, We’re British (Mother), Pride and Prejudice (Mrs Bennett), Servant of Two Masters (Brigella), and the annual A Christmas Carol, in which she has performed every year! Seen at Media Theater in The Addams Family, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot, To Kill a Mockingbird, Side Show and Romeo and Juliet. Winner of Broadway World Award 2016 for Best Supporting Actress of Philadelphia for portrayal of Grandma in Billy Elliot.
AARON OSTER (Sound Designer) has been a sound designer, director and dramaturg in Minneapolis, and in the Philadelphia Area since 2003. He has designed for many local companies, including Inis Nua, EgoPo, Theatre Ariel, Simpatico, Luna Theater and Flashpoint. This is his second show with Hedgerow, following Around the World in 80 Days. He is an adjunct professor of theatre at Rutgers Camden and West Chester University, and occasionally at Drexel. Thanks to Lindsay, Eliana and Gavi.
MARYRUTH STINE (Elvira) is a performer and educator focused on community-driven projects balancing silly stories and social critique. Hedgerow: Sherlock Holmes and the Crucifer of Blood (Irene), Pride & Prejudice (Lydia/Lady Catherine), On the Verge (Alex). Philly stages & classrooms include The Painted Bride, Cabaret Verité, IRC, Philadelphia Opera Collective, PhillyShakes, EgoPo, Little Fish, Theatre Horizon, WolfPAC, and Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Montreal: Teen Sleuth and the Freed Cyborg Choir, Organizer, Monster. Vancouver: Beaver Dreams, Herban Adventures. Chennai: Aanmaiyo aanmai! (with Marapacchi) Jujubee (with Perch). Bangalore: Turntables (with LesBiT). Thank you Hedgerow, much love!