Please note: The scheduled premiere performance on Thursday (Nov. 10) has been canceled. The production will open on Friday (Nov. 11) at 8 p.m.
GRANVILLE, Ohio— Denison University Theatre continues its 81stseason with the musical fantasy “Einstein & the Roosevelts.” Book and lyrics are by Gretchen Cryer, the Jonathan R. Reynolds Playwright-in-Residence at Denison; music is by Nancy Ford. The play is directed by Wendy Barrie-Wilson, a member of the Denison class of 1978 and adjunct professor of theatre, with Kevin N. Wines, vocal instructor with the department of music, as the music director and accompanist. Performances take place at 8 p.m. from Thursday, Nov. 10, through Saturday, Nov. 12, and Monday, Nov. 14, through Thursday, Nov. 17, in Ace Morgan Theatre (211 West College Street). Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for senior citizens, and $4 for students. For reservations, contact the box office at 740-587-6527 or visit www.denison.edu.
“Einstein & The Roosevelts” premiered in 2008 at DePauw University, where 1957 graduates Cryer and Ford began their lifelong collaboration. The play takes place at a fabulous surprise birthday party taking place “in the cosmos” to celebrate Eleanor Roosevelt’s 125th birthday. Franklin Roosevelt has asked his flamboyant and irrepressible cousin, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, to arrange the party because he hasn’t seen Eleanor since the day he died with another woman at his side and he wants the chance to explain and make amends.
Franklin has also invited Albert Einstein to the party because Albert is working on his latest discovery, a way to capture moments from the past and change them, and Franklin is contemplating the possibility of changing the past. Unbeknownst to him, Alice, always the troublemaker, also has invited all the controversial characters in Eleanor’s past: Franklin’s domineering Mama, Earl Miller (Eleanor’s handsome chauffeur), Lorena Hickok (the journalist who was madly in love with Eleanor) and Lucy Mercer (Franklin’s mistress). As Albert summons up moments from the past, Eleanor and Franklin and all the partygoers are forced to deal with conflicts and controversies that were never resolved in their lifetimes.
The role of Eleanor is played by sophomore Laura Wilson (Bakersfield, Calif.); juniors John Hewson (Saddle River, N.J.), Vanessa Theus (Beloit, Wis.), and Emily Schuman (New York) portray Franklin, Alice and Einstein, respectively. First-year students Elena Johannsen (Rockford, Ill.) and Anne Tracy (Hanover, N.H.) play Lucy Mercer and Lorena Hickok. Seniors Owen Beamer (Newark, Ohio), Christina Nannos (Villanova, Pa.), and Christina Gorski (Carnegie, Pa.) play Earl Miller, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and Eleanor and Franklin’s daughter Anna, respectively. Sophomore Samuel Heyman plays FDR’s friend, Louis Howe. Eight actors become a performing troupe, playing waiters, party guests and any other role Alice might assign. The members are seniors Sarah Fiete (Dublin, Ohio), Elisabeth Giffin (Indianapolis, Ind.), and Kaitlyn Grissom (Newark, Ohio); junior Joseph Firoben (Westerville, Ohio); and sophomores Ben Chiewphasa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Devin Daro (Wickliffe, Ohio), Benjamin Flox (University Heights, Ohio), and Pearson Handley (Bristol, R.I.).
Musicians for the production are senior Daniel Clarke (Mansfield, Ohio), junior Natalie Smith (Walton, Ky.) sophomore Raymond Marolt (Galesburg, Mich.), and first-year students Adam Coon (Bryan, Ohio). Professional Chris Baker will complete the ensemble.
The assistant director is junior Kassandra Lyke (Newberry, Mich.); stage managers are junior Mariann Bostic (Norwood, Ohio) and sophomore Emily Wright (North Royalton, Ohio); assistant stage managers are senior Owen Beamer (Newark, Ohio), junior Hongyi Tian (Xi’an, China), sophomore Meghan Neuenschwander (Milwaukee, Wis.), and first-year student Emily Smith (Mars, Pa.). The Video Design Team is composed of seniors Kaitlyn Grissom (Newark, Ohio), Eric Stachura (Perrysburg, Ohio), and Ashlee Dickson (Circleville, Ohio).
The costume designer is associate professor and Department of Theatre chair Cynthia Turnbull, assisted by Joyce Merrilees. Associate professor Peter Pauzé is the scenic and lighting designer. Sound design is by Andrew Johns, assistant professor of theatre and technical director. The choreographer is Erika Twining. Technical assistance has been provided by Chris Faur.