Election comedy on tap at Penobscot Theatre

Posted Oct. 15, 2008, at 6:56 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 5:55 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot Theatre will continue its 35th anniversary season with a perfectly timed production of the Pulitzer prize-winning comedy “State of the Union” beginning Wednesday, Oct. 22, and running through Sunday, Nov. 2.

“The 2008 election season, with its cast of characters and plot lines has nothing on the world created in [Howard Lindsay] and [Russel] Crouse’s timely comedy. What hasn’t changed in the 60 years of American politics since the play was first on Broadway is astounding,” said Scott RC Levy, the theater’s producing artistic director and director of this production.

“State of the Union” is a delightful satire focusing on the backroom politics and front-page romances of outspoken aircraft industrialist Grant Matthews as he becomes a candidate for the presidency.

Through the persuasive coaxing of his seductive mistress, Kay Thorndike, and her high-powered party boss, James Conover, Matthews throws his hat into the high-stakes 1948 presidential election. With his estranged wife, Mary, by his side, Matthews puts out a message to the people that begins to build momentum while Conover begins tearing down his moral infrastructure. Love and the future of America are on the line in this uproarious comedy.

Making their Penobscot Theatre debuts are Bill Timoney as the spirited Grant Matthews and LeeAnne Hutchinson as Mary Matthews. A native of New Jersey, Timoney has had a long career on stage and in film and television, including “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Law & Order,” “All My Children” and as the voice of the computer in the film “Mission to Mars.”

LeeAnne Hutchinson, who plays Grant’s wife and moral compass, recently portrayed Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at the West Virginia Public Theatre. She has a performed widely throughout New England.

The production includes local favorites AJ Mooney as Kay Thorndike, Jim Pendergist as James Conover, Hans-Stefan Ducharme as Spike MacManus and Arthur Morison and Allen Adams in a variety of roles. The production reunites the five for the first time since last season’s “Night of the Iguana.” Rounding out the cast are Brianne Beck, Dominick Varney, Mike Elliott, Alison Cox, Lacey Martin, Theresa Curtis and Gibran Graham.

Erik D. Diaz is making his PTC debut as scenic designer. Lex Liang returns for his fourth season designing costumes, with veteran Shon Causer providing lighting design.

Penobscot Theatre Company’s production of “State of the Union” is funded in part through grants from the Maine Arts Commission and the city of Bangor. These grants allowed PTC to provide 250 tickets free of charge to “State of the Union” through TCG’s Free Night of Theater national program. The tickets “sold out” within 48 hours.

PTC will host “talk back” sessions after each performance with politicians discussing the election process.

The Penobscot Theatre Company will present “State of the Union” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22; and Thursdays, Oct. 23 and 30; 8 p.m. Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31, and Saturday, Nov. 1; 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 26, and Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 1-2. Tickets range in price from $10 to $40 and are available by calling 942-3333 or toll free at 877.PTC.TIXX, or visit www.penobscottheatre.org.

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