Park Square Theatre opens its season with the regional premiere of playwright John Logan's 2010 Tony Award-winning drama, Red, on stage September 14 to October 7, 2012. Set in a New York studio on the Bowery in the late 1950's, the play begins with artist Mark Rothko staring endlessly at his painting, an impressive commission for an unusual setting: the Four Seasons Restaurant in the new Seagram Building on Park Avenue. Under the watchful gaze of his young assistant and the threatening presence of a new generation of artists, we are immersed in a living portrait of a brilliant, yet angry mind.
Red won more Tony awards than any other production in 2010, including Best Play. "As much as any stage work I can think of, Red captures the dynamic relationship between an artist and his creations," wrote New York Times critic Ben Brantley. "It's one thing to say - or to have a character say - that an artist regards his paintings as his children. But it's another to be able to look at that artist looking at his paintings… with a fraught, fatherly anxiety and wonder."
"This play can stir us all," says Park Square Artistic Director Richard Cook, who will direct Red. "Like Rothko, we're aiming high with this production. Though the story is seemingly simple, it takes us to a place where we might see a beauty we've never seen before. We see red, we bleed red, and we reach for the bright pulse of life, fighting off the blackness of doubts and everything superficial."
Playwright Logan, in comments in the publication At Play, said about Red, "… while the play deals with the world of art, it's never been about art to me, honestly. To me, the play is about fathers and sons, students and teachers, mentors and protégés. These two just happened to be painters."
Logan was inspired to write Red while in London working on the film version of Sweeny Todd. "I happened to go to the Tate Modern and see the Seagram murals. The paintings struck me and wouldn't let go: something about their overt seriousness and intensity was uniquely powerful to me. They are above all else, highly emotional works. I kept going back to the gallery and sitting with them, letting them work on me."
Red features a stellar cast, with J.C. Cutler taking on the role of painter Mark Rothko. Park Square audiences will remember Cutler as Odysseus from 2010's adaptation of The Odyssey, also directed by Cook. Cutler, who has been in more than 30 productions at the Guthrie Theater, portrayed Scrooge in last season's A Christmas Carol, a role he is returning to this season.
Steven Lee Johnson makes his Park Square debut as Rothko's protégé, Ken, a youthful and eager artist who wants to establish his own stamp on the artistic community. Johnson is a student in the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program. He received rave reviews for his performance in A Beautiful Thing at the Lab Theatre last February.
Under the director of Richard Cook, the production team for Red includes University of Minnesota theatre professor Lance Brockman (Scenic Designer), Andrew C. Mayer (Sound Designer), Andrea M. Gross (Costume Designer), Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer) and Annie Henley (Scenic Design Assistant).
Performance Schedule: Previews open September 14 and run through September 20. Opening night is Friday, September 21 and the play runs through Sunday, October 7. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are in the company's intimate 340-seat theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.
Ticket prices: Previews: $25. Regular Run $38 & $58. Discounts are available for seniors, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square box office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday), or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org.