On the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the Apple family gathers to celebrate the life of an ailing relative: talking, eating, laughing, and singing. This slice-of-life snapshot shows how our family histories can intersect with the history of our country. Featuring the same cast of Boston-area favorites that audiences have adored in the first three Apple Family plays, Regular Singing is the triumphant conclusion to Richard Nelson’s American epic.
“A rare and radiant mirror of the way we live – and fail to live – now.” – The New York Times
The Charles Mosesian Theater is equipped with a Tele-Coil Loop System. Patrons with hearing aids and cochlear implants can set their devices to “T-Coil” to take advantage of the assistive listening system. Patrons wishing for assistive listening devices may pick up a headset from the Box Office upon arrival at the theater. Click here to learn more.
JOEL COLODNER* (Benjamin) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Freud’s Last Session, Imagining Madoff, The Elephant Man, Three Viewings, and Indulgences. Other area credits include Sorry and That Hopey Changey Thing (Stoneham Theatre); Sweet and Sad (Gloucester Stage); It’s a Wonderful Life, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Mrs. Whitney (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); Our Town (Huntington Theatre Company); The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev (Lyric Stage Company); The Light in the Piazza (SpeakEasy Stage Company); and numerous roles with Actors’ Shakespeare Project. Regional credits include Streamers, Comedians, and Hamlet (Arena Stage); The Rainmaker (Guthrie Theatre); An American Clock, Measure for Measure, and Wild Oats (Mark Taper Forum); The Threepenny Opera (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); and The Seagull (Pittsburgh Public Theatre). Off-Broadway credits include How I Learned to Drive (Vineyard Theatre). Broadway credits include work with the Acting Company and Phoenix Theatre. Television credits include Moonlighting, Remington Steele, Eight is Enough, Highway to Heaven, St. Elsewhere, 21 Jump Street, Cagney and Lacey, and LA Law. Mr. Colodner earned his BA from Cornell University and MFA from Southern Methodist University. Originally from New York, he resides in Portsmouth, NH.
LAURA LATREILLE* (Jane) makes her New Repertory Theatre debut. Recent credits include The Nest (Denver Center of the Performing Arts); That Hopey Changey Thing, Sorry, Of Mice and Men, and The Unbleached American (Stoneham Theatre); Sweet and Sad (Gloucester Stage); and The Trials of Gertrude Moody and Utility Monster (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater). Regional credits include Ryan Landry’s M and Mauritius (Huntington Theatre Company); God Of Carnage and Four Places (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); Time Stands Still (2012 Improper Bostonian Best Female Performance Award), Dear Elizabeth, and The Understudy (Lyric Stage Company); Fat Pig and The Shape Of Things (Elliot Norton Award, Outstanding Actress Award, SpeakEasy Stage Company); The Sussman Variations and The Glider (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); The Blowin Of Baile Gall (Vineyard Playhouse); Signs of Trouble and Shel Shocked (Market Theatre); Bash and Sin (Coyote Theatre); and The Bottom of the Sky (Cape Repertory Theatre). Off-Broadway credits include Love Song (59E59); and The Elephant Play (Playwright’s Collective). She has also participated in creating new works with The Lark, New Dramatists, Theatre Masters, Women’s Project and Productions, Playwright’s Collective, Huntington Theatre Company, and the Denver Center’s New Play Summit. She received an MFA from Brandeis University and is currently a faculty member in the Theatre Department at Suffolk University.
KAREN MACDONALD* (Barbara) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Long Day’s Journey into Night and boom. Recent credits include Beesus and Ballustrada (Sleeping Weazel Company); and Home of the Brave (Merrimack Repertory Theatre). Regional credits include 77% (Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse); Sweet and Sad (Gloucester Stage); Ulysses on Bottles (Israeli Stage); Red Hot Patriot: The Kick Ass Wit of Molly Ivins and Superior Donuts (Lyric Stage); Ether Dome, Ryan Landry’s M, Good People, Bus Stop, All My Sons, and A Civil War Christmas (Huntington Theatre Company); Sorry, That Hopey Changey Thing, and Doubt (Stoneham Theatre); Other Desert Cities and The Drowsy Chaperone (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Coriolanus, All’s Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, and Twelfth Night (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); The Color of Rose (ArtsEmerson); Two Wives in India (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); The Blonde, The Brunette and The Vengeful Redhead, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and A Moon for the Misbegotten (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); The Snow Queen and Third (Portland Stage); as well as work with Hartford Stage and Berkshire Theatre Festival. A founding company member of the American Repertory Theatre, she appeared in 70 productions, including Endgame, The Seagull, and Mother Courage. On Broadway she understudied and performed the role of Amanda in John Tiffany’s Tony-nominated revival of The Glass Menagerie. She played Titania in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered A Soldier’s Carol with the Boston Holiday Pops. She is the recipient of several Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards for her performances. Ms. MacDonald received both the Robert Brustein Award for Sustained Achievement in the Theatre and the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence in 2010. A graduate of the College of Fine Arts at Boston University, she was the Monin Fellow at Boston College 2010-11, and teaches acting to undergraduates and extension school students at Harvard University.
PAUL MELENDY* (Tim) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in touring productions of Macbeth and Cyrano de Bergerac. Area credits include The Last Schwartz and Sweet and Sad (Gloucester Stage); A Confederacy of Dunces (Huntington Theatre Company); That Hopey Changey Thing (Stoneham Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company/Boston Landmarks Orchestra); Art and Shakespeare at Fenway! (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). He received an Elliot Norton nomination for Outstanding Musical Performance for his work in It’s a Horrible Life (The Gold Dust Orphans). Mr. Melendy can also be seen ongoing in Boston’s Shear Madness as Tony/Eddie. Other regional credits include work with Underground Railway Theater, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Centastage, New Century Theatre, Wheelock Family Theatre, Publick Theatre, Foothills Theatre, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, and Barnstormers Theatre. Film credits include Unfinished Business, The Pink Panther Deux, and The Makeover. He received a BFA in theatre performance from Salem State University.
BILL MOOTOS* (Richard Apple) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Little Shop of Horrors. Area credits include Dancing at Lughnasa (Barnstormers Theatre); Blood on the Snow (Bostonian Society); Sorry and That Hopey Changey Thing (Stoneham Theatre); Sweet and Sad (Gloucester Stage); and Luna Gale (New Century Theatre). Regional credits include productions with Sierra Repertory Theatre, Playhouse on Park, Ivoryton Playhouse, Ocean State Theatre Company, The Gamm Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, The Vineyard Playhouse, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Central Square Theater, Wheelock Family Theatre, North Shore Music Theatre, Vineyard Playhouse, Lyric Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, and many others. New York credits include productions with Metropolitan Playhouse, Manhattan Theatre Source, and American Place Theatre. He was awarded an IRNE for Best Actor in Neil LaBute’s Bash (Coyote Theatre) and Elliot Norton Awards for Best Ensemble for Dead End (Huntington Theatre Company) and Not About Nightingales (Boston Theatre Works). Television credits include the pilots American Odyssey, The Hatfields & McCoys, and HBO’s The Devil You know. Films include The Company Men, Locked In, Hard Luck, Siren, The Makeover, and R.I.P.D. Mr. Mootos serves on the National Board of SAG-AFTRA, and is a proud member of AEA. He can next be seen in A Christmas Carol (The Hanover Theatre).
SARAH NEWHOUSE* (Marian) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in DollHouse. Other credits include Miracle on 34th Street, Distant Music, Picnic, and The Sweepers (Stoneham Theatre); The Norman Conquests (Gloucester Stage Company); Arcadia (Firehouse Theatre at Newburyport); Of Mice and Men (American Stage Festival); and The Rose Tattoo (Berkshire Theatre Festival). Some favorite Boston area credits include The King Stag, Macbeth, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile (American Repertory Theater); The River Was Whiskey (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Legacy of Light, Lost in Yonkers, and The Miracle Worker (Lyric Stage Company); Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It (Publick Theatre); and Shear Madness (Charles Playhouse). Ms. Newhouse is a founding company member of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project, with whom she has performed more than 15 roles in 12 seasons. Her film work includes Beneath Contempt, The Legend of Lucy Keyes, Dischord, and the upcoming feature Bleed for This. She is a graduate of Hampshire College and the ART Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. She currently serves on the board of the Theatre Community Benevolent Fund. She is a native New Yorker who now lives in Watertown with her husband and son.
RICHARD NELSON’s (Playwright) plays include The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family (Hungry, What Did You Expect?, and Women of a Certain Age), The Apple Family Plays: Scenes from Life in the Country (That Hopey Changey Thing, Sweet and Sad, Sorry, and Regular Singing), Oblivion, Nikolai and the Others, Goodnight Children Everywhere (Olivier Award Best Play), Two Shakespearean Actors, Some American Abroad, Madame Melville, New England, Frank’s Home, Rodney’s Wife, Franny’s Way, The General from America, The Vienna Notes, and others. His musicals include James Joyce’s The Dead, for which he won a Tony Award; and My Life with Albertine. His films include Hyde Park on Hudson, Ethan Frome, and Sensibility and Sense. He is a recipient of the PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is an honorary Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has produced ten of his plays.
WEYLIN SYMES (Director) is thrilled to be directing the final play of Richard Nelson’s remarkable Apple Family Plays in his debut at New Repertory Theatre. Weylin is currently the Producing Artistic Director of Stoneham Theatre. In his time at Stoneham, he has directed over 25 productions for the Mainstage and the young company, Stoneham’s education program, and adapted several pieces for performance on Stoneham’s stage. He also wrote the book for the world premiere musical Lobster Girl, which premiered in June 2016 at Stoneham. Some favorite directing projects at Stoneham include Lobster Girl, Seminar, Distant Music, I Capture the Castle, Buddy Cop 2, Gaslight, Strangers on a Train, Marathon, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Violet Hour, The Dazzle, and The Girl in the Frame. Weylin proudly serves on the board of StageSource. He graduated with a BA from New York University. After growing up in New Hampshire he currently lives in Georgetown, MA. Next up, he will be directing Uncanny Valley at Stoneham.
CRYSTAL TIALA** (Scenic Designer) is Chair and Associate Professor of the Boston College Theatre Department and Chair of the Boston College Arts Council. As a professional scenic designer and union member of the United Scenic Artists local USA 829, she has completed over 100 scenic designs in regional and educational theatres on the East Coast and abroad. Her credits include designing at as Stoneham Theatre, Cutler Majestic, Boston Conservatory, StageWest, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Worcester Foothills Theatre, Barter Theater of Virginia, Bristol Riverside Theater in Pennsylvania, Two Rivers Theater in New Jersey, Rybinsk Theatre in Russia, The American Stage Festival in New Hampshire, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Connecticut Opera, Trinity College, and the University of Hartford in Connecticut. Other experiences include interior design, event design, charge scenic artist, and lead construction on the films Lincoln, Pet Sematary and Heart of Dixie. Ms. Tiala has served in previous years as the Chair of USITT/New England, Chair of Design and Technology for Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region I. She has a BA in Interior Design from the University of Mississippi and an MFA in Scenic Design from the University of Connecticut.
GAIL ASTRID BUCKLEY** (Costume Designer) returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing ART, Cherry Docs, Passing Strange, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Recent design credits include The Alabama Story (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater); The Merry Widow (Boston Lyric Opera); My Fair Lady and Sondheim on Sondheim (Lyric Stage Company); Cosi Fan Tutti (Pittsburgh Opera); Casa Valentina (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Flight (Boston Conservatory); Sorry and Christmas on the Air (Stoneham Theatre); and A Christmas Carol (Hanover Theatre). Upcoming work includes The Marriage of Figaro (Boston Lyric Opera); Gabriel (Stoneham Theatre); and Hand to God (SpeakEasy Stage Company). She received the 2002 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Costume Design, the 2010 Elliot Norton for Best Design for The Adding Machine (SpeakEasy Stage Company), the 2002 IRNE Award for Costume Design for Twelfth Night (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), and the 2006 IRNE Award for Costume Design for Caroline, or Change and The Women (SpeakEasy Stage Company).
JEFF ADELBERG** (Lighting Designer) returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing Speed-The-Plow, A House With No Walls, and Orson’s Shadow. Other recent work includes Dogfight, Mothers and Sons, Necessary Monsters, Carrie the Musical, and The Whale (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Rhinoceros (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); God’s Ear, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, and Middletown (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Mr. g (Underground Railway Theater); Lobster Girl, Sorry, That Hopey Changey Thing, and The Addams Family (Stoneham Theatre); Dusk Rings a Bell, and Equally Divided (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); Mary’s Wedding (PlayMakers Repertory Company); Le Nozze di Figaro, Skin and Bone, Capsule 316, Alice in War, and The Threepenny Opera (Boston Conservatory); and Boston’s Christmas Revels since 2010. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Mr. Adelberg teaches at Boston College, Brandeis University, and MIT. LDJeff.com
DAVID WILSON** (Sound Designer) returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing over a dozen shows including A Christmas Story, Scotland Road, Blue Window, Exits and Entrances, A House with No Walls, The Scarlet Letter, and Sylvia. Other recent area productions include lighting and sound design for Windowmen (Elliot Norton Nomination, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); lighting design for Crazy for You (Reagle Music Theatre); sound design for The Comedy of Errors (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Bootycandy (SpeakEasy Stage Company); and An Octaroon (Company One); and sound and music design for The Comedy of Errors (Elliot Norton Award, Best Sound Design, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Mr. Wilson served on the faculty of Brandeis University for over 20 years, teaching lighting and sound design, and created and led the MFA program in sound design. His designs for theatre at other companies include Central City Opera, Dibble Dance, Gloucester Stage, Lyric Stage, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Nora Theatre, North Shore Music Theater, Stoneham Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, Wheelock Family Theatre, and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. He has designed and taught at Boston College, Boston Conservatory of Music, Bowdoin, Emerson, Tufts, Suffolk, and UMass Lowell. dw-design.com
ANNA BURNHAM* (Stage Manager) returns to New Repertory Theatre after stage managing Blackberry Winter, Via Dolorosa, The Snow Queen, Broken Glass, God Box, Stronger Than the Wind, The King of Second Avenue, The Little Prince, Assassins, and Imagining Madoff. Area credits include Rhinoceros (Boston Playwrights Theatre); Jar The Floor, The Little Foxes, Mr. Burns: a post-electric play, Other Desert Cities, The How and the Why, Good People, Red, Quality of Life, Distracted, and Superior Donuts (New Century Theatre). New York credits include Corner Pocket (Extant Arts); Notice Me (Foglight Productions); and In Paradise & She Plundered Him and Summer Shorts Festivals IV & V (Interactive Arts). She received a BA from Bennington College. Originally from Westport, CT, she currently resides in Roxbury.
*member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
**member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829
The following performances are followed by a talkback discussion with members of the cast and New Rep staff:
Thursday 9/8, 7:30pm
Saturday 9/17, 3pm
Sunday 9/18, 2pm
Thursday 9/22, 2pm
Sunday 9/25 at 2pm
Program Notes: Regular Singing
Regular Singing is the final play in Richard Nelson’s celebrated four-play series about the fictional Apple family of Rhinebeck, New York. Each play addresses political subject matter through the perspectives of various family members. “We’ve become used to viewing our politics and our political landscape through the lens of journalists or commentators who are now comedians,” Nelson says. “Their observations are certainly invaluable to us,” he continues. “However, what has been missing from our political forum is the individual’s voice.” Seeking an outlet for political expression other than television’s daily rants, Nelson sees theatre as the ideal venue for authentic human exchange. To that end, he stages each of the Apple Family Plays around a meal and captures the dinner table conversation as it shifts back and forth between issues of personal and national significance.
Written and originally performed between 2010 and 2013, each play in the cycle focuses on a particular period of time in modern history: the 2010 midterm elections (That Hopey Changey Thing), the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks (Sweet and Sad), Election Day 2012 (Sorry), and the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination (Regular Singing). Rather than choosing what Nelson calls a “societal day event,” like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July, he situates the plays at “communal” moments when the characters, along with the audience, struggle to understand their shared experience. Together, the plays provide a rich story arc covering several years in the characters’ lives, yet each play stands on its own as a compelling drama.
Richard Nelson set the Apple Family Plays in Rhinebeck, New York, where he and his wife raised two children and where he still lives and works. He based Barbara and Benjamin Apple’s fictional home on a modest yellow house that actually exists on Center Street but that he’s never visited. On a walk through the historic village with Maryann Plunkett, the actress who originated the role of Barbara, Nelson asked her to help him select a house where a family could feel safe enough to express their thoughts and feelings about the world outside. “It was one of my happiest memories as an actor,” Plunkett says. “There were a few choices, but I loved the white picket fence, the lack of pretension. It looked like a home.”
As he was writing the plays, and especially when he felt stuck, Nelson often strolled along the streets for inspiration. He occasionally ate lunch at the historic Beekman Arms Inn, which his characters refer to with pride. “I literally imagine every moment of the plays somewhere in my own village,” Nelson says.
The Apples are not modeled directly after people Nelson knows, but their conversations reflect the kind of discussions Nelson and his wife engage in with the small group of friends they regularly entertain. Together, they talk about their lives, their hopes, their work, their families, what they’ve recently read and seen. “Invariably politics does come up,” Nelson says. “In the safety of my living room I was hearing things that I hadn’t heard anywhere else: misgivings and worries about Obama or other Democrats, for instance, and concern that this country and the people running it, no matter the party, weren’t living up to any kind of ideals.” For his plays, Nelson chose topics he thought “worried liberals of a certain generation” around Rhinebeck would be talking about at a particular point in time.
Commissioned by the Public Theater of New York, the Apple Family Plays premiered across four years, from 2010 to 1013, on the actual dates the individual plays are set and thus took place in real time as real events unfolded on the national stage. Each play had its own independent run at the Public before being presented in repertory. Richard Nelson himself directed all of the plays with the same cast members, sets, props, lighting, and sound. The series received critical acclaim and earned a multitude of awards, including an Obie and a New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best ensemble acting.
Filmed in 2013, the Apple Family Plays premiered on New York-area PBS television in 2014.
The Apple Family Plays embarked on a European tour in Spring 2015, nearly two years after the plays had concluded their repertory runs at the Public Theater. Nelson directed the productions with original company members at festivals in Germany, England, and Austria.
In 2015, Stoneham Theatre staged the New England premiere of That Hopey Changey Thing, the first of the Apple Family Plays presented in collaboration with Gloucester Stage. Gloucester Stage produced the second play, Sweet and Sad, that same year. In spring 2016, Stoneham Theatre produced Sorry, and this fall Stoneham has partnered with New Rep to bring the cycle to completion with Regular Singing. Stoneham Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, Weylin Symes, has directed the same cast and design team for all four plays. The sets and props have travelled between stages.
The Ambition of the Apple Family Plays
To playwright Richard Nelson, the Apple Family Plays are about “the need to talk, the need to listen, the need for theater, the need to be in the same room together and the need to know, in some small and even some bigger ways, that we are not alone.” One of the most satisfying outcomes of his playwriting process, he says, was finding a way to address political questions not through grand ideas or ideology but through simple human talk. As Ben Brantley of The New York Times notes, the Apple Family Plays show “how world events are refracted and reflected in our own living and dining rooms in ways we’re not always aware of.” He adds that, “as no other works of theater have,” all four dramas “vibrantly locate the intersection of public events and private lives in these United States of the early 21st century.”