Finn Wittrock Sarah Wayne Callies Julie Halston and Shuler Hensley in a new Kennedy Center production of
The Guardsman by Ferenc Molnár in a new translation by Richard Nelson directed by Gregory Mosher
"I think of The Guardsman as a very funny play about a very bad marriage. This new production is a wonderful opportunity to go back and discover a truly great play--in a way the writer intended it to be seen."--Director Gregory Mosher
Budapest's most beautiful and beloved young actress is notorious for her affairs that only last six months. When she finally decides to marry, she of course chooses Budapest's most handsome and talented young actor. Five and a half months into the marriage, the actor suspects his new wife is getting restless. So he decides to take on his most daring role yet, disguising himself as her ideal lover--a dashing courtier to the emperor--to test her fidelity and win her love. But the more he woos his wife as this guardsman, the more insanely jealous he gets of the character he feels compelled to play.
Finn Wittrock (Death of a Salesman), Sarah Wayne Callies (TV's The Walking Dead), Julie Halston (Anything Goes), and Shuler Hensley (Tony Award winner for Oklahoma!) star in this brand-new Kennedy Center production of the classic play by Ferenc Molnár, who is best known for Liliom, the source for Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. Both darkly humorous and achingly heartbreaking, The Guardsman calls to mind another psychodrama about a tumultuous marriage--Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?--as well as other "disguised lover" romps like Così fan tutte and Some Like It Hot.
This staging of The Guardsman also features a new translation by Tony Award–winning playwright Richard Nelson (James Joyce'sThe Dead), who has restored Molnár's original, more passionate version instead of the 1920s adaptation tailored to the light comedy skills of husband-and-wife acting legends Alfred Lunt & Lynn Fontanne. Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Gregory Mosher--whose credits include the 2010 Broadway revival of A View from the Bridge starring Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber, and the Kennedy Center's 2004 production of The Glass Menagerie starring Sally Field--The Guardsman uses the world of the theater as a metaphor for all of life's illusions.
Performance Timing: Two hours, 15 minutes---including one 15-minute intermission
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Director Gregory Mosher's take on the cast:
ON FINN WITTROCK AS "THE ACTOR" "Like everybody who saw Mike Nichols's Broadway production of Death of a Salesman last year, I was dazzled by young Finn's performance as Happy. I knew right away that there couldn't be a better guy to play Hungary's greatest actor and unhappiest husband."
ON SARAH WAYNE CALLIES AS "THE ACTRESS" "I'd somehow missed the whole Walking Dead phenomenon, so when Sarah came in to read with Finn, I just saw a magnificent actress--beautiful, sexy, funny, and scarily skilled. There's also a kind of great, longing sadness about her, and without that, you miss half of Molnár's play."
ON JULIE HALSTON AS "MOTHER" "Julie's zillions of fans know how funny she is--in her one-woman shows, Broadway productions like Anything Goes and Gypsy, and the immortal Charles Busch comedies. I love that she also brings a wisdom to this role as Sarah's long-time confidante."
ON SHULER HENSLEY AS "THE CRITIC" "We were really fortunate to catch Shuler, a Tony and Olivier Award–winning actor who most people know from his musical performances like Jud in Oklahoma! His character is mentor and pal to these young married stars, with the slight complication that he's hopelessly in love with the wife."