ICT Continues 30th Anniversary Season with West Coast Premiere of 'Abigail/1702'

Arts and Entertainment

March 25, 2015

From: International City Theatre

Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has fashioned intriguing sequel to Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible'

Long Beach, CA - What ever happened to Abigail Williams? Combining a provocative parable of sin and redemption with a good, old-fashioned ghost story, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Carrie, Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark, Fox's Glee) explores what might have come next for the real-life Puritan villainess at the center of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. ICT artistic director caryn desai [sic] directs the West Coast premiere of Abigail/1702, opening May 1 at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Two low-priced previews are set for April 29 and 30.

It's 1702, a decade after The Crucible's infamous seductress danced with the devil in Salem, when Aguirre-Sacasa's "next chapter" begins. Abigail has been living in a village near Boston under an assumed name, trying to start afresh. But now her past is about to catch up with her.

"What intrigued me most about the character of Abigail was how much of an enigma and mystery she is," said the playwright in an interview. "She gets all the turmoil going with her accusations, and then leaves Salem before The Crucible's last act, never witnessing the results of what she started. I wondered if she might be living in secret, trying to atone for what she had done, being hounded by guilt, and that fascinated me. The idea of someone who had done a horrific thing but was trying to make up for it really captured my imagination."

ICT's desai was immediately drawn to Aguirre-Sacasa's complex, highly theatrical story. "It's spooky, haunting and surreal a real thriller," she says. "As Abigail searches for redemption, she's forced to face off against the very devil she once embraced as a teenager."

The recipient of the 2012 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, Abigail/1702 premiered at New York Stage and Film as part of its 2012 Powerhouse season, and has subsequently been produced at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park and Pittsburgh's City Theatre.

Starring in the title role at ICT is Jennifer Cannon, whose credits include the first American-licensed production of Jerry Springer: the Opera at both Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN and the Tony award-winning Lost Colony in Manteo, NC, and who is currently a member of Jack Stehlin's The New American Theatre here in Los Angeles. Also in the cast are Kevin Bailey (Scar in the original Broadway and L.A. casts of The Lion King, If All The Sky Were Paper at the Kirk Douglas, And the World Goes 'Round at ICT), Ross Hellwig (national tour of RFK: The Journey to Justice with L.A. Theatre Works, The Rainmaker at A Noise Within, Photograph 51 at the Fountain), Michelle Holmes (current Stage Raw nominee for her role as Frau Blucher in DOMA Theatre Company's Young Frankenstein, previously seen at ICT in Song of Singapore) and 11-year-old Jace Febo (Izzy in the animated series Lego Friends). Set design is by Christopher Scott Murillo, lighting design is by Donna Ruzika, costume design is by Kim DeShazo, sound design is by Jeff Polunas, props are by Patty and Gordon Briles, wigs are by Anthony Gagliardi, casting is by Michael Donovan Casting and the production stage manager is Molly McGraw.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. His plays include Doctor Cerberus (South Coast Rep, L.A. Theatre Works), an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (Roundhouse Theatre), King of Shadows (The Working Theatre), Good Boys and True (Steppenwolf, 2econd Stage Theatre, the O'Neill), Based on a Totally True Story (MTC), The Mystery Plays (2econd Stage, Yale Rep, Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award), The Velvet Sky (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), The Muckle Man (City Theatre), Dark Matters (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, the O'Neill), Rough Magic (Hangar Theatre), The Weird (Dad's Garage Theatre) and the GLAAD Media Award-nominated comedies Golden Age and Say You Love Satan. Other plays include The Dracula Cycle at Dallas Theatre Center and a musical adaption of Bret Easton Ellis' controversial satire American Psycho. He is the co-book writer of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway and wrote a new book for the classic musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! In addition to his playwriting, Mr. Aguirre-Sacasa is known for his work on the Golden Globe-winning FOX comedy Glee, the Emmy-nominated HBO series Big Love, and for Marvel Comics.

caryn desai is an award-winning director with awards and nominations from LADCC, Ovations, NAACP, LA Weekly, Robby and Drama-Logue. Recent credits: Other Desert Cities, Red, the West Coast premiere of Ghost-Writer, God of Carnage, The Old Settler, Loving Repeating...A Musical of Gertrude Stein, The Clean House, Bright Ideas, Backwards in High Heels, Once on This Island (6 NAACP nominations including direction), Raisin (LADCC Best Production), and Dinah Was (multiple Ovation nominations). She has served on grant panels for the county and city and as a speaker/panelist for the SRO Theatre Conference at USC on Best Practices, the Technical Theatre Conference about the role of a director, and more. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

International City Theatre was born in 1985 when Shashin Desai opened a 99-seat black box theater on the campus of Long Beach City College where he was chairman of the drama department. From the beginning, the fledgling company attracted critical acclaim and multiple awards including the Los Angeles Drama Circle's prestigious Margaret Harford Award for "Sustained Excellence in Theater." Determined to build a high quality professional, mid-size theater company in the City of Long Beach, Desai was delighted to receive encouragement from the Mayor and City Council to move International City Theatre downtown to the Center Theater at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. By 1996, ICT was producing simultaneous seasons on the college campus and at the Performing Arts Center. In 1999, the Long Beach City Council proclaimed International City Theater the "Professional Resident Theater Company" at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. A year later, ICT made the choice to invest entirely in the downtown, mid-size theater with an annual five-play season. When Desai retired in 2011, ICT's board of directors unanimously approved caryn desai, ICT's general manager since 1990, to take the reins as producing artistic director. The 2015 season marks the fifth under the leadership of caryn desai.

Previews: April 29 and April 30
Performances: May 1 May 24
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: April 29 only (preview)
Thursdays at 8 p.m.: April 30 (preview); May 1, 7, 14, 21
Fridays at 8 p.m.: May 1 (Opening Night), 8, 15, 22
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: May 2, 9, 16, 23
Sundays at 2 p.m.: May 3, 10, 17, 24

Long Beach Performing Arts Center
300 East Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802

562-436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.org

Opening Night (May 1) : $54 (includes post-show reception with the actors)
Saturdays and Sundays (except May 1): $48
Thursdays and Fridays: $46
Previews: $34