International City Theatre Presents ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’

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International City Theatre presents a send-up of Chekhov’s plays that is so completely hilarious, it doesn’t even matter if you think Chekhov is just the name of that Russian guy on Star Trek. Mary Jo DuPrey helms a new production of the deliciously wacky, Tony Award-winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang.

A witty mashup of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard, Durang’s delightfully off-kilter romp is set in bucolic Bucks County, PA. There, middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia have frittered their lives away in the family farmhouse full of regret, angst and the alarmingly ambiguous prophecies of their addled house cleaner Cassandra. Enter their sister, self-absorbed movie star Masha, with her prized 20-something boy toy Spike, and the stage is set for an absurd weekend of abundant comic twists that pays loving homage to Chekhov’s classic themes of loss and longing. The Washington Post calls it “the ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ of Chekhov.”

“Durang’s script is just brilliant – hilarious, smart and fun,” said DuPrey. “One needn’t be familiar with Chekhov because the characters are all so rooted in reality. It’s about the passing of a slower way of life and a more thoughtful, articulate way of living – a time when people related on a deeper and more personal level than in today’s Twitter universe. It reminds us that family is a refuge in our hyper-connected world. It’s poignant, optimistic and very, very entertaining.”

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike premiered at the McCarter Theatre in 2012. Following an off-Broadway run, it transferred to Broadway in 2013, where it garnered not only the Tony Award, but also Drama Desk, New York Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best New Play.

The ICT production stars Stephen Rockwell (resident artist at A Noise Within), Leslie Stevens (ICT’s God of Carnage), Jennifer Parsons (ICT’s Tally’s Folly) and Connor McRaith (recent graduate of the University of Northern Colorado) as the titular four, with Emily Goss (Stupid F**king Bird at The Theatre @ Boston Court) and Murielle Zuker (Seven Spots on the Sun at The Theatre @ Boston Court) taking on the roles of Nina and Cassandra.

Set design is by Maureen Weiss; lighting design is by John A. Garofalo; 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.

Recognized for her ability to balance heightened theatricality with truthful storytelling, Mary Jo DuPrey most recently directed August: Osage County for Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum (four Ovation nominations including Best Production and Best Director, and numerous “Best of 2015” lists). Other credits include the world premieres of Arroz Con Pollo at the Complex and Jane Doe for Los Angeles Theater Ensemble; What May Fall at Theater of Note (LA Weekly “Pick of the Week”); and Jeffrey Archer’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Ovation and LA Weekly nominations, named to Bitter Lemon’s ‘Best Productions of the Year,’ and part of the Actor’s Co-Op’s LADCC’s Polly Warfield Best Season in Los Angeles Award). She recently musical directed a production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream for Ellen Lauren of the SITI Company, and this summer she will direct Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid at Theatricum Botanicum. Mary Jo is a faculty member at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and a renowned vocal coach – the only certified West Coast teacher of the Katie Agresta Vocal Technique. She draws on the performance theories of Wesley Balk, former artistic director of the Minnesota Opera, and Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints to create an approach to performance that is bold and highly innovative.

Christopher Durang has had plays on and off-Broadway, including A History of the American Film (Tony nomination); Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie Award); Beyond Therapy; Baby with the Bathwater; The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Obie Award, Hull-Warriner Award); Laughing Wild; Betty’s Summer Vacation (Obie Award); Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge; and Miss Witherspoon, which had a double premiere at McCarter Theatre and Playwrights Horizons. His musical, Adrift in Macao, with book and lyrics by Mr. Durang and music by Peter Melnick, received its New York City premiere at Primary Stages following a run at Philadelphia Theatre Company. As an actor, Mr. Durang has appeared in movies and in his own plays. He’s appeared with Sigourney Weaver in their co-authored Das Lusitania Songspiel (Drama Desk nominations for both of them), and with Julie Andrews in the Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together at Manhattan Theatre Club. With John Augustine and Sherry Anderson, he performed his crackpot cabaret Chris Durang and Dawne (Bistro Award). With Marsha Norman, he’s co-chair of the Playwriting Program at Juilliard where they have jointly won the Margo Jones Award for their work with developing playwrights. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild Council.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., now through July 3. Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night (June 10), for which tickets are $55 and include a post-performance reception with the actors, and previews which are $35.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 330 East Seaside Way in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or

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