by Eugene O’Neill
Adapted & Directed by Scott Edmiston
Season Sponsored by Lee & Diana Humphrey and Bank of America
Production Sponsored by Helen and Herman Gimbel Charity Fund
Director Scott Edmiston sponsored by Paul & Liz Kastner
Runtime is approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, O’Neill’s classic is a surprisingly contemporary play that crackles with fierce physicality, humor, and drama. After a 20-year separation, a coal barge captain (Lyric Stage favorite Johnny Lee Davenport) is reunited with the daughter he unknowingly abandoned to a life of hardship. When Anna falls in love with a shipwrecked sailor, her father and her suitor come to recognize their own culpability in her plight, and all three struggle in their own way for salvation. Following his acclaimed production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Scott Edmiston takes a fresh look at one of America’s greatest playwrights.
“A work about the awesome and overpowering force of nature!” — The Guardian
Press & Reviews
Eugene O’Neill’s works are among the greatest in American drama. They can be very heavy and usually are long but also amazing. This play is deep and filled with emotion, but it will not leave you filled with despair, and it certainly is not drawn out. Director Scott Edmiston has gotten it right, and I would encourage those who have not taken in a work by O’Neill to start here. It will stir your emotions but not overwhelm you. You will see five very fine actors working with the words of a great playwright. And, you will see it all at the wonderful Lyric Stage Theater, a warm and intimate performing venue.
Edmiston’s staging — soaked in cheap booze and set against a Janie E. Howland-designed backdrop of barrels, planking and a stolid sea that rises to an eerie gleam — is strong and spare.
The three leads shine… It’s a rare opportunity to experience fine acting in an undeniably challenging work. . . . timeless.
Whelton is thoroughly persuasive as the strapping, impulsive Mat… McWhorter rises admirably to the occasion.
McWhorter transforms from the exhausted, jaded stranger to a cleansed, refreshed woman with hope, only to be forced to harden herself once again to outside forces. During that process, we see her realize that she has the power to determine the outcome by her will. Throughout the long and broad arc of Anna’s journey, McWhorter is a revelation.
“Remarkably forward looking… hairpin swivels from intense psychological drama to moments of levity are perfectly timed and weighted… Takes you the shortest distance through the heart of his storms while preserving their potency.
What makes this production so intriguing is that Edmiston has cast two wonderful African-Americans as Chris Christopherson and his daughter Anna: Johnny Lee Davenport and Lindsey McWhorter. At first I thought their race might not work in this already complicated play, but I was wrong. It not only worked, but added resonance to O’Neill’s exploration of the “other.” Here is a play about people who live on the fringes — a sailor whose very existence depends upon his fraught relationship with the “Old Devil Sea” and his daughter, who has lived her own life for too long to be dominated by a protective guilty parent who “wants only the best for her.” In bold strokes O’Neill shows us how good intentions often do pave the way to hell.
The cast is terrific. Davenport is wonderful. McWhorter gives a subtle and layered performance as Anna, withholding and vulnerable at the same time.
The result is at once a moving pre-feminist statement and theater as inviting and lasting as a Chippendale armchair…If Chris terms the fog a “dirty trick,” Anna sees it as a kind of metaphor for her redemption. By contrast, there should be no disagreement about Lyric Stage’s “Anna Christie.” Book passage without delay.
“Eugene O’Neill was my first creative hero when I was 17,” says Edmiston, who lives in Waltham. “He opened my mind to what theater can be. Tennessee Williams is often called the poet of American theater; I think of O’Neill as the novelist of American theater. There’s a grandeur to his writing. He has an uncompromising viewpoint, and an interest in exploring the darkness of the human soul. He understands the complexity of human relationships – how love and hate and fear and regret and guilt can all get tangled up in one moment.”
And while I commend the cast for their effective and powerful performances, the play succeeds mightily because it is performed in concert with the spot-on scenic design by Janie E. Howland, and the inspired lighting design by Karen Perlow… Director Scott Edmiston knows O’Neill’s work intimately (he directed a winning production of Long Days Journey into Night some years ago). He is masterful here at Lyric Stage.
Looking down upon the set from my seat I felt as if I were in the rafters of a ship anchored off Provincetown or Boston. I was reminded of how we are all at the mercy of the magnetic pull of the sea.
Cast & Crew
Nancy E. Carroll* (Marthy) returns to the Lyric Stage where she appeared in The Year of Magical Thinking, and The Glass Menagerie. Broadway: Present Laughter. International: The Cripple of Inishmaan,Big Maggie (Druid Theatre, Ireland), Return of the Winemaker (Cork Arts Theatre, Ireland). Regional:Ripcord, I Was Most Alive With You, The Seagull, Good People, Luck of the Irish, Prelude to a Kiss, Brendan, She Loves Me, The Rose Tattoo, Dead End (Huntington Theatre), Rapture Blister Burn (Geffen Playhouse),Our Town, She Loves Me (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Trad, Return of the Winemaker (Tir Na),Shakespeare in Love, Mothers and Sons, Other Desert Cities, The Savannah Disputation, The Women, Company, A Man Of No Importance (Speakeasy Stage), The New Electric Ballroom, Breath of Life, Trad, Doubt, Happy Days, My Old Lady, Collected Stories (Gloucester Stage), Uncanny Valley, Secret Garden(Stoneham Theatre), The Clean House, Frozen, Sweeney Todd, Kindertransport (New Rep), Bailegangaire(Súgán Theatre), Humble Boy, Hamlet, The Winter’s Tale (Publick Theatre), Auntie and Me (Merrimack Repertory), Precious Little, Buried Child, The Unexpected Man (Nora Theatre). TV and Film: Spotlight, Olive Kitteridge, Irrational Man. Elliot Norton Awards for Present Laughter, Brendan, Bailegangaire
Johnny Lee Davenport* (Chris C. Christopherson) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in Water by the Spoonful (2013) and Broke-ology (2011). Recent shows include Oleanna (New Rep), Fences (Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando), Bank Job (Gloucester Stage), Thurgood (New Rep), Oedipus Rex (PICT, Pittsburgh),Akeelah and the Bee (Wheelock Family Theatre), The African Company Presents Richard III, Death of a Salesman, Arcadia (APT, Spring Green, Wisconsin), and Bootycandy (SpeakEasy Stage). Awards: Boston Magazine’s Best Actor, Elliot Norton Award, Best Actor for Broke-ology, two Broadway World Boston Awards, and D.C.’s Helen Hayes Award. For full career credits, please visit JOHNNYLEEDAVENPORT.COM.
Lindsey McWhorter* (Anna Christie) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously appeared in Mr. Burns and Intimate Apparel (IRNE Award – Best Actress, Midsize). Other Boston credits include: Arabian Nights (Central Square Theatre),The Farm (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), In the Next Room (SpeakEasy Stage), In the Continuum (Up You Mighty Race Theatre Company), A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and As You Like It (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Other theatre credits include: To Kill a Mockingbird (Montana Repertory Theatre, National Tour), A Christmas Carol (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Seussical, and All Shook Up (Idaho Summer Repertory). She began her professional acting career in 2006 at the Hangar Theatre with Bloodline: the Children of Argos and later appeared in The Overwhelming. Lindsey has also worked with Berkshire Playwright’s Lab, Double Edge Theatre Company, and Debbie Allen Dance Academy. She received her M.F.A. from Brandeis and BA from Alabama State University and is a proud member of AEA and SAG. Originally from Atlanta, GA, Lindsey grew up in Jasper, AL and currently lives in Medway, MA with her son, daughter, and husband. She gives special thanks to God and to her husband Joe, family, friends and Faith Community Church of Hopkinton for their love and support.
James R. Milord (Larry) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in last season’s Barbecue. Other theatre credits include Akeelah and the Bee (Wheelock Family Theatre), Clybourne Park (Longwood Players Club), Splendor, Brothers Size Trilogy, The Good Negro, Den of Thieves, Emancipation Of Mandy and Miz Ellie, 103 Within the Veil, Clockwork Orange (Company One), Zooman and The Sign, Feathers On My Arm(Our Place Theatre), and Macbeth (Shakespeare Now). He was honored to receive Best Emerging Actor in 2010 ((David Wheeler Award). Film credits include The Brotherhood (Showtime) and a handful of industrial commercials. He currently works as a theatre educator, and continues to pursue his dreams professionally.
Dan Whelton* (Mat Burke) returns to the Lyric Stage having previously appeared in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and One Man, Two Guvnors. Other theatre credits include Million Dollar Quartet, Long Day’s Journey into Night (The Majestic Theater), I Hate Hamlet (Playhouse on Park), A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theatre), Operation Epsilon (Nora Theatre, IRNE Award, Best Ensemble), I Capture The Castle (Stoneham Theatre), The History Boys (SpeakEasy Stage, IRNE Award, Best Ensemble), Take Me Out (Hartford TheatreWorks),The Learned Ladies of Park Ave (Hartford Stage), Arsenic and Old Lace, andBrighton Beach Memoirs (Ivoryton Playhouse). Film credits include Patriot’s Day and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Special thanks to my lovely wife Isabelle, and to our beautiful children Lydia and Liam! Je vousaime!
Scott Edmiston (Director) returns to the Lyric Stage where he recently directed the award-winning productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2017 Elliot Norton Award) and My Fair Lady, (2016 Elliot Norton Award). Other Lyric stage credits: Light Up the Sky, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Water by the Spoonful,Time Stands Still, My Name is Asher Lev, Miss Witherspoon, The Scene, Lobby Hero, and Private Lives. He has directed more than 60 Boston-area productions at SpeakEasy Stage, American Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre, and Underground Railway Theatre, among others. Highlights include Long Day’s Journey into Night, Constellations, Shakespeare in Love, The History Boys, Casa Valentina, The Light in the Piazza, Reckless, Five by Tenn, In the Next Room or the vibrator play, A Marvelous Party, and Betrayal. Six of his productions have received Elliot Norton Awards as Outstanding Production or Musical, and he has received four Norton Awards and three IRNE Awards for his direction. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State, the StageSource Theatre Hero Award, and the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence in Theatre. He is the author of “Acting Misbegotten: The Creative Journey to Eugene O’Neill” published in the anthology Critical Insights: Eugene O’Neill (Salem Press, 2012). Scott is a Professor of the Practice and Chair of the Department of Theatre at Northeastern University.
Janie E. Howland** (Scenic Design) has most recently designed Lyric Stage’s Gypsy, Company, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Other recent productions include Sonia Flew (Wellesley Rep), The Importance of Being Earnest (Odyssey Opera), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Boston Children’s Theatre), Arcadia (Nora Theatre), Home Game (Ohio Star Theatre), Urban Nutcracker (Tony Williams Dance Center). Off-Broadway: Simon Says. Work seen at CONSENSES conceived by Sally Taylor. Other venues include Emerson Majestic, New Rep, Weston Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Speakeasy Stage, A.R.T. Institute, Boston Conservatory, Company One, Stoneham Theatre, Seacoast Rep, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre Studio 210. Brandeis University M.F.A.; Co-founder CYCO SCENIC; four-time Elliot Norton Award winner, four-time IRNE Award winner; adjunct faculty at Emerson College, Wellesley College. USA Local 829. JANIEHOWLAND.COM
Charles Schoonmaker** (Costume Design) returns to the Lyric Stage having designed costumes for Grey Gardens, 33 Variations, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Charles is the recipient of four Daytime Emmy Awards for his work in television and an IRNE Award for Best Costume Design for Venus in Fur at the Huntington Theatre. Other work on Boston stages includes North Shore Music Theatre, SpeakEasy Stage, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Arts Emerson, Boston Baroque, Central Square Theatre, and the Israeli Stage Company. Regional credits include the Berkshire Theatre Group, The Chester Theatre Company, Dorset Theatre Festival, and seven seasons as the resident costume designer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Television credits include Another World, All My Children, and As the World Turns. He teaches costume design at Bennington College. CHARLES-SCHOONMAKER.COM
Karen Perlow** (Lighting Design) has been a Boston area designer for over 25 years. She returns to the Lyric where favorite productions include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Death of a Salesman, Water by the Spoonful, My Name Is Asher Lev, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Miss Witherspoon, Urinetown, the Musical, Dirty Blonde, and Lobby Hero. Earlier this season she designed The Royale (Merrimack Repertory Theater), Peer Gynt (Boston Symphony Orchestra), Shakespeare in Love (SpeakEasy Stage), The Irish & How They Got That Way (Greater Boston Stage Company), and Hold These Truths (Lyric Stage). Later this season she will be designing Two Jews Walk into a War (New Rep), Calendar Girls (Greater Boston Stage Company), and Dancing at Lughnasa (Gloucester Stage). She is a 3-time winner of the IRNE Award for Best Lighting Design (2009, 2007, 2002), and NYC SOLO Fest 2013. Karen has taught Light Design at Northeastern and MIT as well as English to Speakers of Other Languages with the YMCA. Member USA 829. She also serves as the treasurer of the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund (TCBF.org) for Larry.
Dewey Dellay** (Composer/Sound Design) is back at the Lyric Stage after having composed and designed for numerous past productions, two of which were Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Death of a Salesman. Some other past credits include Constellations (
Jesse Hinson (Fight Choreographer) is a Boston-based actor, choreographer, and educator. He has designed violence for Actors’ Shakespeare Project, SpeakEasy Stage, The Lyric Stage, Central Square Theater, and Berkshire Theater Group. He earned an M.F.A. in acting from Brandeis University and is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Theatre at Northeastern University.
Amelia Broome (Dialect Coach) returns to the Lyric Stage where she has assisted with dialects for numerous shows and has performed in leading roles, as well at many theatres in the Boston area. She is a certified Linklater voice teacher with over twenty years experience teaching voice, speech, and musical theatre. She has also served as dialect coach for SpeakEasy Stage, Nora/Central Square Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Merrimack Rep, Gloucester Stage, Stoneham Theatre, and the Huntington Theatre. She is on the Acting Faculty at Emerson College. Member: AEA, MTEA (Music Theater Educators Alliance), and VASTA. Amelia holds an M.F.A. from Boston University.
* denotes member of Actor’s Equity Association
** denotes member of United Scenic Artists (USA-Locat 829)
*** denotes member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC)
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