New Jersey Stage

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two River Theater Company Presents "A Thousand Clowns"

(RED BANK, NJ) -— Two River Theater Company, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias, continues its season with Herb Gardner's comedy A Thousand Clowns, directed by Davis McCallum. Performances will begin at Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, on Tuesday, February 1 and continue through Sunday, February 20. The opening night performance is Saturday, February 5 at 8pm.

Herb Gardner received a 1963 Tony Award nomination for A Thousand Clowns and won the Variety Critics Poll as Outstanding New Playwright. For his 1965 film adaptation of the play, which was a nominee for Best Picture, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and won the Best Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild. In this classic—and subversive—comedy, a whip-smart kid named Nick lives with his far-from-conventional uncle in 1960s New York. When child services knocks on his door, Uncle Murray is forced to make a decision: hold on to the kid, or hold on to his life of free-spirited fun.

Matthew Gumley, a veteran of four Broadway productions (Elf, The Addams Family, Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast) plays Nick and Michael Nathanson (The Lion King National Tour and Romeo and Juliet at Lincoln Center Theater) plays Murray. Also featured in the cast are Crystal Finn (Sandra Markowitz), Brad Heberlee (Albert Amundson), Tony Award nominee and Asbury Park resident Lou Liberatore (Arnold Burns), and Nick Sullivan (Leo Herman).

Tickets are available from, over the phone from 732.345.1400 or at the Two River Theater Box Office, 21 Bridge Avenue. Single ticket prices start at $35. Discounts are available for groups, seniors, students, and patrons aged 30 and under.  This production is sponsored in part by RBC Wealth Management.

Says Artistic Director John Dias, "I'm very excited to have Davis McCallum at Two River to direct A Thousand Clowns; he is someone whose work, intelligence and spirit I have admired for a very long time. His vision for this play captures the moment in a time that is so beautifully evoked by Herb Gardner, the early 1960s, with a dynamic immediacy and a real understanding of the characters—and the conflicts they face as the world changes around them."

Herb Gardner made his Broadway debut with A Thousand Clowns. He received the 1986 Tony Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and John Gassner Playwriting Award for I'm Not Rappaport and was a 1992 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Conversations with My Father. One of the contributing writers to Free to Be...You and Me, he wrote the screenplays for Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, which starred Dustin Hoffman, and adaptations of his plays I'm Not Rappaport, The Goodbye People (both of which he also directed) and Thieves. At the beginning of his career he wrote a comic strip, "The Nebbishes," which started in the Chicago Tribune and was syndicated in more than 40 newspapers; he retired the cartoon to concentrate on writing fiction and published his only novel, A Piece of the Action, in 1958. In 2000, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Writers Guild of America. He died in 2003 at the age of 68.

Davis McCallum directed Namaste Man at Two River Theater earlier this season as part of the "Flashes of Brilliance" series. Other recent work in New York includes world premieres of Sam Hunter's A Bright New Boise (Partial Comfort) and Five Genocides (Clubbed Thumb), Greg Moss's punkplay (Clubbed Thumb), Charles Mee's Queens Boulevard (Signature Theatre), Quiara Alegría Hudes' Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue (P73; Pulitzer Prize finalist), Laura Marks' Unbound: The Journals of Fanny Kemble, and Rob Urbinati's West Moon Street (Prospect Theater Company). For the Acting Company, he directed The Turn of the Screw (adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher), Jane Eyre (adapted by Polly Teale) and Shakespeare's The Tempest and Henry V, the last of which was co-produced by The Guthrie and presented in New York at the New Victory. His regional credits include the Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Williamstown and many other theaters.

The creative team for A Thousand Clowns includes scenic designer Jason Simms, costume designer Jessica Ford, lighting designer Matthew Richards, composer/sound designer Mark Bennett and ukulele coach Paul Heaney. The casting is by Janet Foster, C.S.A. and the stage manager is Amanda Michaels.