Raul Esparza, Thom Sesma, George Abud, Christopher Gurr, Mahira Kakkar, Eddie Cooper, Elizabeth A. Davis and Omozé Idehenre Set for Classic Stage Company’s THE RESISTABLE RISE OF ARTURO UI, October 30 – December 22

Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang
Thom Sesma. Photo by Lia Chang

Classic Stage Company is presenting The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht’s unsettlingly timeless work, which kicks off CSC’s 2018-2019 season on October 30, with rehearsals beginning this week. Directed by John Doyle, this comical yet disturbing play from one of the greatest political satirists of all time follows a Depression-era Chicago mobster, Arturo Ui, who, with the help of his henchmen, manipulates and murders his way to totalitarian rule of the cauliflower trade. Society, of course, fails to act upon his “resistible rise.”

Four-time Tony Award nominee and “Law and Order: SVU” alum Raúl Esparza plays the Al Capone-like, Hitler-paralleling Arturo Ui in this production. Joining him is a talented cast that includes George Abud (CSC: Nathan The Wise, Peer Gynt, Allegro; Broadway: The Band’s Visit), Eddie Cooper (Off-Broadway: Atlantic Theater Company’s This Ain’t No Disco; TV: “Forever,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Banshee,” “The Night Of”),Tony nominee Elizabeth A. Davis (CSC: Caucasian Chalk Circle, Allegro; Broadway: Once; TV: “Law & Order: SVU,” “Blue Bloods,”), Christopher Gurr (Broadway: Cats, Tuck Everlasting, Kinky Boots, Amazing Grace, All the Way; National Tours: Memphis, Monty Python’s Spamalot), Omozé Idehenre (Her Portmanteau at the Boston Court Theater, Good Grief at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, Caucasian Chalk Circle at ACT; Film: On the Road), Mahira Kakkar (Henry VI at NAATCO and The Winter’s Tale at TFANA, TV: “Friends From College,” “Blacklist,” “The Big C”),and Thom Sesma (CSC: Pacific Overtures; Broadway: The Times They are A-Changin’, Man of La Mancha; TV: “The Good Wife,” “Madam Secretary,” “Jessica Jones”).

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim 

The creative team includes Anne Hould-Ward (Costume Design), Jane Cox and Tess James (Lighting Design), Matt Stine (Sound Design), Bernita Robinson (Production Stage Manager) and Jessica Fleischman (Assistant Stage Manager).

John Doyle says of Arturo Ui, “Everyday I read the play, I think, ‘I hear these words on CNN as I read them on the page.’ The play will be falling right around the midterm elections, and it’s fitting that it reminds us of the choices that are available to us in relation to the way the world can go. That really is at the foundation of what classical theater says. Classic plays have politics at their heart-you take a play like Richard III or the Scottish Play-they’re warnings. And there’s a warning in Arturo Ui. This is a time for theater to say something; if we’re not screaming and shouting now, when are we ever going to do it?”

Brecht wrote Arturo Ui in 1941, while in exile from Nazi Germany, in Finland. During that time, he was awaiting his U.S. visa, and thereby imagined a vision of totalitarianism fit for America, and the American stage. (Though the play, ultimately, was never performed until 1958 in Germany, after Brecht’s death.) In Arturo Ui, Brecht recast and reframed the fascism whose roots he had experienced firsthand, before leaving Germany for fear of persecution for his politically scalding works in 1933. Within a make-believe, vaudevillian portrayal of American mafia culture, the narrative of Arturo Ui is written to meticulously parallel events and individuals that brought the Third Reich to power, and led them to overtake their neighbors.

Though this is a highly contemporary work in the vast history of theater canon, Arturo Ui has a classical air, its “epic theatre” style emblematic of Classic Stage Company’s work. Written largely in verse, Brecht’s play nods to Richard III, speaking to the ubiquity of violent authority through time-while foreshadowing its potential for reemergence any time in the present and future. Before directing Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle in 2010, Doyle’s acclaimed style-often minimal and anti-naturalist, highlighting ensemble casts, making visible the act of performance-was noted for having already deeply incorporated Brechtian qualities. With the democratic ethos and introspection-inducing nature of Brecht’s and Doyle’s theater-making, the production takes to heart our ability to resist violent power structures.

Performances of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui take place at Classic Stage Company (136 E 13th St, New York), with previews beginning Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The production opens Wednesday, November 14, 2018, and closes Saturday, December 22. Performance times are Tues.-Thurs. at 7pm, Fri.-Sat. at 8pm, and Sat.-Sun. at 2pm.

There will be no Saturday matinee on the first Saturday, November 3, 2018. A student matinee scheduled for Wednesday, November 29, 2018. There will be no performances on Thursday, November 22, 2018 or Friday, November 23, 2018 due to Thanksgiving.

Tickets are currently on sale to members. Members receive the best prices, flexibility, exclusive benefits, and invitations to special events throughout the season. Memberships begin at $50 ($25 for Students). For more information visit classicstage.org or call 212.677.4210.

Single tickets ($75 previews, $80 post opening, $125 prime) are currently on sale, and can be purchased at classicstage.org or 212-352-3101(or toll free 866-811-411).

About the Cast
George Abud (Clark) is a proud Arab-American actor. CSC: Nathan The Wise (opposite F. Murray Abraham), Peer Gynt (opposite Gabriel Ebert), Allegro (dir. John Doyle). Broadway: The Band’s Visit starring Katrina Lenk & Tony Shalhoub (OBC Recording), The Visit starring Chita Rivera & Roger Rees (OBC Recording). Off-Broadway: The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company, dir. David Cromer). International: The New Prince with Barbara Walsh, Marc Kudisch & Paulo Szot (Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam). Regional: Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Geva Theatre Center), Fiddler on the Roof (Human Race Theatre). Please consider joining George in supporting these incredible organizations: anera.org, sams-usa.net, maketheroadny.org.

Eddie Cooper (Roma) Atlantic Theater Company: This Ain’t No Disco (The D.A.). Bucks County Playhouse: The New World (Miles Standish). Encores! Off Center: Assassins; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Jerome); and Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey II); Two Rivers: All-male A Funny Thing Happened… (Domina). TV: “Delco Proper”, “Forever”, “Mozart In The Jungle”, recurring on Cinemax’s “Banshee” as Fat Au and HBO’s Emmy nominated “The Night Of”. Proud graduate of Laguardia High School & Ithaca College. Big thanks to my family, and the team at Judy Boals Inc, and Ivy Rock Management. @MrEddieCooper

Elizabeth A. Davis (Giri) CSC: Caucasian Chalk Circle, Allegro (Drama Desk Nom; Dir John Doyle). Broadway: Once (Tony Award Nom; Dir John Tiffany). Select Off-Broadway: My Name’s Not Indian Joe (Book, Music, Lyrics; Director Don Scardino), King Lear, Zorba! (City Center Encores), Four Last Things (American Globe Theatre), Dust Can’t Kill Me (NYMF Award; Dir. Srda Vasiljevic) 39 Steps (New World Stages). Select Regional: Rain (The Old Globe), The Devil’s Disciple, The Misanthrope (STNJ), Once (American Repertory Theatre) Streetcar Named Desire (The Cleveland Playhouse). Film: Wisdom Tooth, Trauma Is A Time Machine, Blur Circle. TV: “L&O SVU,” “Blue Bloods,” “Jim Gaffigan Show, ” “Fringe.” BFA, MFA.

Raúl Esparza (Arturo Ui) is a Cuban-American actor, who has received Tony nominations for his performances in Broadway productions of Taboo, Company, Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, and David Mamet’s Speed The Plow. Other Broadway credits include the revival of The Rocky Horror Show, and the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He recently served as an actor and creative consultant for Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s second Main Stage Powerhouse production of The Waves, a musical adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf. He is known for his roles in TV series such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Hannibal,” “Bojack Horseman,” and “The Path,” and in film as a voice artist in the Oscar-nominated Twentieth Century Fox animated feature Ferdinand, as well as the 2010 horror thriller, My Soul to Take.

Christopher Gurr (Dogsborough) Broadway: Cats (dir. Trevor Nunn, chor. Andy Blankenbuehler), Tuck Everlasting, Kinky Boots, Amazing Grace, and All The Way with Bryan Cranston. National Tours: Memphis (dir. Christopher Ashley), Monty Python’s Spamalot (dir. Mike Nichols). Regional: The Sting (Paper Mill), Titanic (Pittsburgh CLO), Copenhagen, 1776, Twelve Angry Men (Geva), Tommy, Oklahoma! (Berkshire Theatre Festival), The Lion in Winter (Indiana Rep), The Drowsy Chaperone (Human Race). Television: “Madame Secretary.” Guest Artist/Educator at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Webster University, St. Louis, and Geva Theatre, Rochester, NY. Proud union member: Actors’ Equity, SAG/AFTRA, and Stage Directors & Choreographers Society. ChristopherGurr.com

Omozé Idehenre (Mrs. Dullfleet) Her Portmanteau (Boston Court Theater), Good Grief (Kirk Douglas), Runboyrun (Magic Theatre), Gem of the Ocean, The Convert, Seven Guitars(Marin Theatre Company), The Comedy of Errors and Richard III (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), The Winter’s Tale, Spunk, Macbeth (California Shakespeare Company), Clybourne Park, Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Scorched, A Doll’s House, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (American Conservatory Theater). Film: On the Road. Education: MFA, The American Conservatory Theater and The Groundlings.

Mahira Kakkar (Flake / Dockdaisy) was born in Kolkata, India. Selected theater: Henry VI (NAATCO), The Winter’s Tale (TFANA), The Importance of Being Earnest (Two River), Monsoon Wedding with Mira Nair, Miss Witherspoon and Vanya, Sonia… with Christopher Durang, Clive with Ethan Hawke. Film/TV: Hank and Asha (Slamdance favorite, Best Actress Napa Film Festival, Best Actress Wild Rose Film Festival), Hechki, Bite Me, “Friends From College”, “Law and Order”, “Louie”, “Odd Mom Out”, “Blacklist”, “Blue Bloods”, “The Big C.” Training: Juilliard. Website: mahirakakkar.com

Thom Sesma (Givola) CSC: Pacific Overtures (Lortel nom., Featured Actor, Musical). Broadway/National Tours: The Times They Are-A Changin’, Lion King, Miss Saigon, Titanic, Man of La Mancha (2002 revival), Face Value, Search and Destroy, Nick & Nora. Off-Broadway: Sweeney Todd (Barrow Street Theatre), Discord (Primary Stages), Awake and Sing! (NAATCO/Public Theatre), Othello (Public Theatre/NYSF), Cymbeline (NYSF). Regional: McCarter Theatre, Yale Rep, Arena Stage, Centre Stage, Old Globe, Cincinnati Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and more. Recent television: “Instinct,” “The Good Wife,” “Madam Secretary,” “Person of Interest,” “Jessica Jones,” “Gotham.” Connect with Thom via Twitter: @ThomSesmaNYC, Instagram: @thsesma.

About the Creative Team
John Doyle (Director) first joined CSC in 2013 as Associate Director, and became Artistic Director in 2016. He has directed productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures (2017) and Passion (2013, Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro (2014, Drama League Nomination, Best Revival of a Musical), as well as Dead Poets Society (2016), Peer Gynt (2016), and As You Like It (2017).

Additional theater in the U.S. includes: The Color Purple (Tony Award, Best Revival of a Musical; Drama Desk Award, Best Director of a Musical), Sweeney Todd (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, Best Director of a Musical; Drama Desk Nomination Outstanding Set Design of a Musical), Company (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Awards Best Musical Revival; Tony and Drama Desk Nominations, Outstanding Director of a Musical), A Catered Affair (Drama League Award, Best Musical Production; Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), The Visit (Tony Nomination, Best Musical; Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Director of a Musical), Ten Cents a Dance (Williamstown/ McCarter), The Exorcist (The Geffen, LA), Road Show (Public Theater/Menier Chocolate Factory), Where’s Charlie? and Irma La Douce (Encores!), Wings (Second Stage), A Bed and a Chair (City Center), Kiss Me Kate (Stratford), Caucasian Chalk Circle (ACT), Merrily We Roll Along and Three Sisters (Cincinnati).

In the U.K., John Doyle has been Artistic Director of four regional theaters: The Worcester Swan, The Cheltenham Everyman, The Liverpool Everyman, The York Theatre Royal, and was also Associate Director of the Watermill Theatre, Newbury. During these residencies, he directed numerous productions of new and classic works. Notable credits include: Female Parts, Sweeney Todd, Gondoliers, Mack and Mabel (West End), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Oklahoma! (Chichester), Amadeus (Wilton’s Music Hall), The Millenium Cylce of Mystery Plays (London), Carmen, Fiddler on the Roof (Watermill), The War of the Roses, The Madness of George III (York), The White Devil, Othello, Candide (Liverpool). He is co-author of Shakespeare For Dummies.

Ann Hould-Ward (Costume Designer) CSC: Passion, Allegro, Peer Gynt, Dead Poets Society, Pacific Overtures, As You Like It, Fire and Air. Select Broadway: The Color Purple, The Visit, The People in the Picture, A Free Man of Color (Drama Desk nom.), A Catered Affair (Drama Desk nom.), Beauty and the Beast (Tony Award), Into the Woods (Tony and Drama Desk noms), Falsettos, Sunday in the Park With George (Tony and Drama Desk noms), Saint Joan, Little Me. Other Off-Broadway: Notes from the Field, The Blue Flower, Russian Transport, Road Show, Lobster Alice, Cymbeline. Ms. Hould-Ward’s work can be seen in over 35 international companies of Beauty and the Beast, and her other designs are featured in shows all over the world. More than 100 regional theater credits. Recipient of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Patricia Zipprodt Award.

Jane Cox (Lighting Designer) CSC: Pacific Overtures, Peer Gynt, Allegro, Passion and Winter’s Tale. Broadway: Jitney (Tony nom.); Amelie, Color Purple (Drama Desk nom.); Machinal (Tony and Drama Desk nom); All the Way; Come Back, Little Sheba; Picnic. Jane is a member of theMonica Bill Barnes Dance Company, has a long collaboration with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and is the director of the theater program at Princeton University.

Tess James (Lighting Designer) is a freelance Lighting Designer and Associate based in New York. Her recent projects as a designer include Roe at Asolo Rep and as an associate designer include Soft Power at The Curran Theatre and The Public Theatre’s Othello; Throughout her career she has working with a array of amazing intuitions including BAM, New York City Center and the Sydney Opera House. She is currently an artist in residence at Princeton University.

Matt Stine (Sound Designer) Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include: Sweeney Todd (Sound Design, Barrow Street Theatre), The Liar (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company ), A Christmas Carol (Music Producer, McCarter Theater), Dead Poets Society (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company), The Clearing (Sound Designer, 59E59), The Black Crook (Sound Design, Abrons Art Center), Nathan The Wise (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company), Misery (Music Producer, Broadway), Mother Courage And Her Children (Sound Design, Classic Stage Company), The Tempest (Music Producer, Delacorte Theater), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Music Supervisor, Delacorte Theater) 27sound.com

Bernita Robinson (Production Stage Manager) is very happy to return to CSC with this wonderful production. Previous CSC Productions: PSM for Carmen Jones. Broadway credits include Ragtime(original) Thurgood, Man of La Mancha (revival), A Moon for the Misbegotten (revival), Aida, Beauty and the Beast among others. Regional theatre credits include Alabama Shakespeare, Pioneer Theater, Kansas City Rep and Casa Manana – productions of Ring of Fire, A Few Good Men, Evita and the world premiere of Roof of the World. Off-Broadway productions at Signature, Playwrights Horizons, The York, among others. Member of AEA National Council.

Jessica Fleischman (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to return to Classic Stage Company after working on Fire and Air this past winter! National Tours: Jersey Boys (2nd Nat’l). Off-Broadway: Jersey Boys (New World Stages), Little Rock (Sheen Center), King Liz, The Other Thing (2ST), Red Eye of Love (Amas Musical Theatre), Normativity (NYMF). Regional: Where Storms Are Born (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Opera: Piramo e Tisbe (LOTNY). Jessica is a proud graduate of Penn State University. http://www.Jessica-Fleischman.com


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s