Season to open with parenthood comedy
'Cry it Out' last minute fill-in for Vermont troupe
DORSET — After eight years at the helm of Dorset Theatre Festival, artistic director Dina Janis has seen just about everything in leading the company's transformation from a respected regional venue to an increasingly recognized national destination.
So when legendary Hollywood actor Judd Hirsch had to back out of opening the 2018 DTF season in the classic "I'm Not Rappaport," due to medical reasons, Janis was disappointed, but ready to fill the void.
In place of "Rappaport," which will now kick off the DTF 2019 slate, Janis has lined up the award-winning and popular new play in the East Coast premiere of "Cry it Out," by Molly Smith Metzler, and directed by Marc Masterson.
Janis said that as a leading producer of new work nationally, The DTF leadership attends most new play festivals, and was in the right place at the right time to tap Metzler's work.
"We had just come back from the Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival of New Plays when we learned about Judd," Janis said. "`Cry It Out' had just won the Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Citation, which is a very big deal. It occurred to me that the play was yet to be produced on the East Coast, was new, fun and exciting, and would be perfect for our audiences. It's one terrific play and it is going to be a hit."
The play is billed as an honestly absurd look at the dilemma of returning to work after child birth, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship.
In the play, Jessie is not able to find any other mom friends in her new Long Island neighborhood. But then she and the rollicking Lina start sneaking out for coffee between their duplexes during nap times. When a well-heeled neighbor comes down from the hill above their haunt, the comedy of new parenthood takes on a new light.
Director Marc Masterson said the play is from the cradle, literally. After producing a world premiere of one of Metzler's plays, he commissioned her to write another one and the result was "Cry It Out."
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to direct this play at Dorset," Masterson said. "I find [it] funny and human and warm, completely insightful and recognizable to anyone who has had children and faced the prospect of reimagining their lives."
The cast, which Janis described as a "young, gorgeous and comedically skilled troupe," includes Clea Alsip as Jessie, Andrea Syglowski as Lina, Greg Keller as Mitchell, and Janie Brookshire as Adrienne.
Syglowski, who wowed Dorset audiences a few years back with her highly acclaimed performance in Sarah Ruhl's "Dear Elizabeth," said she found Janis' emphasis on new plays at DTF to be "inspiring and moving," and that she had been hoping for a quick return to acting in Vermont.
"I was tapped for `Cry It Out' on short notice, but my relationship to the material and the playwright, Molly Smith Metzler, is long-standing," Syglowski said. "I was instrumental in the developmental process of the piece, participating in various workshops and then originating the role at The Humana Festival for New Plays. When I was asked to reprise the role at Dorset, with this gorgeous new cast and director, it was a resounding `yes!'"
"Cry It Out," Syglowski continued, takes on "the loneliness in becoming a new parent, and our need for friendship."
"I think the play illustrates for us all how kindness and care can go a long way, despite our differences," Syglowski said. "It's a breath of fresh air in complicated times and I can't wait to share it."
Janis agreed with Syglowski, saying that "Cry It Out" has connected with audiences because it is both funny as well as poignant, and looks at parenthood "in a whole new way."
"How [playwright] Molly [Metzler] captures the joy and difficulty of new parenthood has never really been portrayed on the stage before," Janis said. "The language and ideas are fresh and of our time. I think audiences will feel seen, especially women, as this play tells their story in so many ways."
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