Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts announced today the cast and creative team for the world premiere of The Age of Innocence, which will perform at Hartford Stage Thursday, April 5, through Sunday, May 6.
The Age of Innocence has been adapted for the stage by Douglas McGrath. Tony Award Winner Doug Hughes will direct. Four-time Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines leads the cast, which features Sierra Boggess, Helen Cespedes, and Andrew Veenstra.
The Age of Innocence, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921, is one of Edith Wharton’s most memorable novels. Set during the Gilded Age in New York, McGrath’s powerful and poignant adaptation introduces us to the courtly young gentleman lawyer Newland Archer; his traditional and demure fiancée May; and the free-spirited Countess Ellen Olenska, who has come home from Europe, tainted by scandal. From the moment Newland meets the Countess, he is torn between virtue and desire, and all three are forced to make the agonizing choice, ever old and ever new, between love and honor.
“Douglas McGrath and Doug Hughes are bringing this splendid adaptation of Edith Wharton’s masterpiece to Hartford Stage,” Tresnjak said. “The wonderful Boyd Gaines, winner of four Tony Awards, leads a renowned cast featuring Sierra Boggess, Helen Cespedes, and Andrew Veenstra. We are thrilled to welcome all of them to Hartford Stage.”
Playwright and screenwriter Douglas McGrath received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. His first film as a writer and director was his adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. He co-wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film Bullets Over Broadway, which transferred to Broadway as a Tony Award-nominated musical. McGrath’s other films include his adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, Infamous, and the HBO documentary His Way.
Director Doug Hughes won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for Doubt. He also received a Tony Award nomination for the play Frozen, which performed at Circle in the Square on Broadway. He directed Ayad Akhtar’s celebrated play Junk on Broadway last year. Several productions transferred to Off-Broadway during his tenure as Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre from 1997 to 2001, including Wit, Red, and Down the Garden Paths. Hughes has been the Associate Artistic Director of the Manhattan Theatre Club and Director of Artistic Planning of the Guthrie Theater. As Resident Director of the Roundabout Theatre, Hughes directed The Big Knife in 2013 and Mrs. Warren’s Profession in 2010.
Acclaimed actor Boyd Gaines will portray The Old Gentleman in The Age of Innocence. Gaines is a four-time Tony Award Winner – receiving recognition for his work in The Heidi Chronicles (Best Featured Actor in a Play – 1989), She Loves Me (Best Actor in a Musical – 1994), Contact (Best Featured Actor in a Musical – 2000), and Gypsy (Best Featured Actor in a Musical – 2008). He most recently appeared in the Broadway production of the play An Enemy of the People. His many television and film credits include The Good Wife, L.A. Law, One Day at a Time, Fame, The Sure Thing and Heartbreak Ridge.
Actress Sierra Boggess, who originated the role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid on Broadway, a musical based on the 1989 Disney animated film, will portray Countess Ellen Olenska. Boggess is also well-known for her portrayal of Christine Daaé in numerous productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Boggess was cast to reimagine the role in Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. She began her career in the Ensemble and as understudy for Cosette on the U.S. national tour of Les Misérables. Boggess also appeared in the musical Princesses at the Goodspeed Opera House. Additional credits include the Off-Broadway production of The Secret Garden, the original West End production of School of Rock, and the original Broadway production of Love, Loss and What I Wore.
Actress Helen Cespedes will portray May Welland. The Julliard School of Drama graduate’s New York credits include the Off-Broadway production of A Picture of Autumn at The Mint Theatre and a staged reading of The Rose Tattoo at The Acting Company, directed by Doug Hughes. Cespedes has also appeared in regional productions of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Old Globe Theatre and The Women of Padilla at Two River Theater. She appeared in the Stephen Soderbergh HBO series The Knick and the film short The Way I Remember Itwith Christine Ebersole.
Stage and screen actor Andrew Veenstra will portray Newland Archer. Veenstra played the lead role of Albert Narracott in the first U.S. tour of the Tony Award-winning play War Horse. He starred as John Wilkes Booth in the world premiere of the Off-Broadway production of An Error of the Moon and as Hamlet at the Lincoln Center Theater. Veenstra’s regional credits include Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Two Gentleman of Verona and the world premiere of David Ives’ The Heir Apparent with the Shakespeare Theatre Company at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, D.C. His television appearances include Unveiled, Bones and Law and Order: SVU.
Joining Gaines, Boggess, Cespedes, and Veenstra in the company of The Age of Innocence are Darrie Lawrence (The Humans, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; The Killing of Sister George, The Actors Company Theatre-TACT) as Mrs. Manson Mingott; Deirdre Madigan (After the Night and the Music, Broadway; And a Nightingale Sang, Westport Country Playhouse) as Mrs. Welland, Mrs. Van Der Luyden and Florist; Haviland Morris (Bad Dates, Long Wharf Theatre; Arcadia; Broadway; film Sixteen Candles) as Mrs. Archer; Josh Salt (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Broadway; Pride and Prejudice, Center Stage) as Thorley, Riviere and Dallas; Tony Ward (The Front Page and The Audience on Broadway) as Mr. Van Der Luyden, Larry Lefferts and Letterblair; and Nick Wyman (Catch Me if You Can and A Tale of Two Cities on Broadway) as Julius Beaufort, Sillerton Jackson and Mr. Hickey.
Sara Norton, Daniel Owens, Sara Schwab and Alessandro Gian Viviano, students from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, are cast in the Ensemble.
In addition to McGrath and Hughes, the creative team includes Set Designer John Lee Beatty (designer of over 110 Broadway productions, including Sweat and Disgraced, Tony Award winner for The Nance and Talley’s Folly); Costume Designer Linda Cho (the new musical Anastasia, Hartford Stage and Broadway – Tony Award Nomination; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Hartford Stage and Broadway – Tony Award Winner for Costume Design of a Musical; Rear Window, Hartford Stage); Lighting Designer Ben Stanton (Fun Home – 2015 Tony Award Nomination; Spring Awakening – 2016 Tony Award Nomination); and Sound Design and Original Music by Mark Bennett (Junk; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on Broadway).
Lori Lundquist (Ether Dome, Hartford Stage; The Wolves, The Playwrights Realm) will serve as Production Stage Manager, with Jared Oberholtzer (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Hartford Stage; Illyria, Joseph Papp Public Theater/Anspacher Theater – Stage Manager) as Assistant Stage Manager.