BENNINGTON, VT. >> John Morogiello's award-winning "The Consul, the Tramp & America's Sweetheart," will receive its world premiere at Oldcastle Theatre Company, beginning Sept. 2.
The play is scheduled to run through Sept. 18 with performances 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and matinees at 2 Thursday and Sunday. There also will be a matinee on Sept. 3.
"The Consul, the Tramp & America's Sweetheart" centers around two screen giants, Charles Chaplin and Mary Pickford.
Miss Pickford, known as "America's Sweetheart," was a silent screen star who became the head of United Artists, the film studio she founded with her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, legendary director, D.W. Griffith, and Chaplin.
"The Little Tramp," as Chaplin's movie character was known, was the most popular film comedian during the silent film era of the Twenties. But as the play opens in 1937, he is about to begin shooting his first talking picture. The movie, "The Great Dictator," caused a sensation as Chaplin satirized Adolf Hitler. In the movie Chaplin plays both Adenoid Hynkel, the leader of Tomainia, and his lookalike — a barber.
Georg Gyssling, the German Consul, visits Ms. Pickford to convince her to prevent Chaplin from making the movie fearing it will make a mockery of Hitler.
Oldcastle's producing artistic director Eric Peterson is directing a cast that includes Elizabeth Aspenlieder as Mary Pickford, David Joseph as Charlie Chaplin, Paul Romero as Gyssling and Lori Vega as Miss Hollombee, Pickford's ambitious assistant.
A veteran of 20 seasons with Shakespeare & Company, Aspenlieder's acting credits there include "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," "Mother of the Maid," "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," "King Lear" and "A MIdsummer Night's Dream." She won the Elliot Norton Award Best Solo Performance for her role in "Bad Dates" and last season made her Oldcastle debut in "The Lion in Winter."
Joseph is an 11-year veteran of Shakespeare & Company where he will be seen this fall in "It's a Wonderful Life." His varied career includes George in "Word Play" at Playwrights Horizons in New York, "Henry V" at Shakespeare & Company, "Dracula" at Boston's Colonial Theatre, Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet" for the Boston Symphony; as well as feature films such as Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock"; a national tour of "Man of La Mancha"; and twice singing the National Anthem at Fenway Park.
Vega, who is making her Oldcastle debut, has appeared at Idaho Shakespeare, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare and Saratoga Shakespeare. She played Wendy in "Peter Pan" at Dorset Theatre Festival; appeared Off-Broadway in "Men & Women Talking Love & Sex"; and had a featured role in the Oscar winning film, "Birdman."
Romero is returning to Oldcastle where he played Larry the Liquidator in "Other People's Money" and Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." He has appeared in theaters throughout the U.S., among them Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Huntington Theatre, Arkansas Rep, and Orlando Shakespeare.
Morogiello has had two earlier works premiere at Oldcastle — "Engaging Shaw" and "Play Date." The former has since been produced in numerous productions around the country and in Europe, the latter has been presented successfully in New York and Baltimore. This play has won the Julie Harris Playwriting Award and the Dayton FutureFest. It is scheduled to be produced in California this fall. Morogiello is Playwright in Residence at the Maryland State Arts Council. He has several awards including the Kennedy Center Fellowship of the Americas and the Holland New Voices Playwright Award.
"It is a pleasure to once again offer a play by John," Peterson says in a news release. "John is a talented writer who crafts plays that are very different one from another. (This) play is comedic and thought provoking. You might call (it) a laugh-filled history lesson."
Ticket information is available online at oldcastletheatre.org or by phone at 802-447-0564.