Press Room

Timely Play About A Whistleblower And An Epidemic Receives World Premiere

Monday, Dec 27, 2021

Media Contact:
Jennifer Fitzgibbon
Publicity Manager
801-581-7222
jennifer.fitzgibbon@ptc.utah.edu

Timely Play About A Whistleblower And An Epidemic Receives World Premiere

Inspired by the Ibsen classic “An Enemy of the People,” Jeff Talbott’s play presents the consequences of speaking out about a public health threat.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT— Almost two years after its new play reading was interrupted by the pandemic in March 2020, Pioneer Theatre Company presents the world premiere of THE MESSENGER by award-winning playwright JEFF TALBOTT. The main stage production will open January 14, 2022 and will run through January 29, 2022. Tickets are available at www.pioneertheatre.org or by calling 801-581-6961.

The Messenger tells the story of Therese Stockman a small-town doctor in Norway in 1882 who has made a shocking discovery about the industry that gives her town its lifeblood. Her friend Kristine, the editor of one of the town newspapers, is about to take the story and run with it, but at what cost? The Messenger is a dramatic roller coaster ride that examines our relationships with the press and the community, challenging when and where to draw the line when public safety and economics clash.

“I have been recently fascinated by classic pieces of theatre containing social and political themes that closely mirror our current climate,” says PTC’s Artistic Director KAREN AZENBERG. “Ibsen’s whistleblower story, An Enemy of the People, has always been intriguing, and even more so in the last year. When I spoke to Jeff [Talbott] about it, he jumped on the idea of a new adaptation, presenting with me with a first draft less than two months later! Little did I know that the play’s other theme, the threat of a viral contagion, would be so incredibly timely!”

There also will be a free public event on January 15, 2022 directly after the 2:00 p.m. matinee featuring the playwright on stage with UPHE president/founder DR. BRIAN MOENCH, playwright and activist MARY DICKSON, and former Salt Lake City MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON.

Playwright JEFF TALBOTT has appeared as both an actor and a playwright at PTC. His play /i/ was developed in Pioneer Theatre Company’s Play-by-Play new play reading series in 2017 and subsequently produced by PTC in 2018. A Public Education was also read in the series in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2015 O’Neill Playwrights Conference, one of five times he has been a finalist. He also won an Outer Critics Choice Award winner for his play The Submission.

“Henrik Ibsen is my favorite playwright,” says Talbott. “And yet… once I sat down to write, I quickly thanked him for inspiration and wrote my own thing. His spectacular play is trapped in its time, and once I freed myself to write something new, something now, this play jumped out of me. And the chance to build it, from page 1, with my friend and collaborator Wes Grantom is the kind of gift you just keep pinching yourself for getting. We’re so excited to bring our brand-new play to PTC!”

WES GRANTOM will direct. He previously directed The Lifespan of a Fact, The Lion in Winter, and Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors at Pioneer Theatre Company, and directed beep boop at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Original music for this production has been composed by WILL VAN DYKE. He has orchestrated and arranged shows both on Broadway and off and writes musicals with Jeff Talbott.

Scenic and costume design are both being created by YOON BAE who is an international scenographer. Previously for PTC, she designed sets for Once and costumes for Once On This Island.

Light design is by BRIAN TOVAR, an award winning lighting designer who has created original work for major off-Broadway and regional theaters, everywhere.

Resident designers MICAH LAMBERT MAXSON design sound and SAMANTHA WOOTTEN design hair and make-up for this production.

ORA JONES plays Therese Stockman, a medical doctor concerned with illness in her community perhaps from recently opened Baths that have been a boon for the local economy. Jones has performed at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in numerous productions. Broadway credits include Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Matilda. Regional and the New York credits include performances at Long Wharf Theatre, Yale Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, Public Theatre, and Weston Playhouse.

MARK H. DOLD plays Therese’s brother Peter Stockman, a local business leader. Dold, A graduate of Boston University and The Yale School of Drama, performed at PTC in 1996 and his most recent Broadway credit was the in The Inheritance. MEREDITH HOLZMAN debuts at PTC as Kristine Hovstad, the editor of the local newspaper, The Messenger, who must weigh the public’s right to know with the intense pressure from the community. Holzman’s past credits include Broadway’s Death of a Salesman, among many other stage and television credits.

TURNA METE plays Petra Stockman in her PTC debut as Therese’s daughter. Past credits include Off-Broadway’s The Parable Conference along with various film and television credits. GRAYSON DEJESUS returns to PTC after 2020’s The Lion in Winter, as Einar Billing, Petra’s boyfriend who is associate editor of The Messenger, looking to make his mark in journalism.

Henrik Abelman, a typesetter for The Messenger, is an invested member of the community affected by the public health crisis. He is played by BARZIN AKHAVAN making his PTC debut. Akhavan appeared in Broadway’s Network and has a number of Off-Broadway, regional, film and television credits.

Students CONNER MAMAUX-PARTRIDGE, MARCELLO JOSEPH SAY, ALEXIS THOMSEN and VICTORIA WOLFE, from the Actor Training Program at the University of Utah, round out the cast.

MEDIA PHOTOS AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD: High-resolution color photos of this production will be available for media use on the PTC website beginning Wednesday, January 12, 2022 after 12 noon.

Go directly to http://www.pioneertheatre.org/press-room/media-photos/ to view.

INTERVIEWS: Interviews with the cast and artistic staff are available. Call 801-581-7222 to arrange.

WHO:
Pioneer Theatre Company

WHAT:
The Messenger

WHEN:
January 14 – 29, 2022
January 15 – Special Event
January 22 – Talk Back

TIMES:
Monday – Thursday, 7:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 2:00 p.m. (Talk-back with cast directly after January 22 performance)

ADDITIONAL EVENTS
January 15, 2022, directly after the 2 p.m. matinee, KUED host and playwright/activist Mary Dickson will moderate a Town Hall featuring physician and public health activist Brian Moench, M.D.; former SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson; and playwright Jeff Talbott. This event will be livestreamed.

WHERE:
Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC) is located in the
Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City

PRICES:
$33 – $50 in advance; $5 more when purchased on day of show.
Students K-12 are half-price Monday-Thursday.

WHERE:
Pioneer Theatre Company (PTC) is located in the
Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South 1400 East, Salt Lake City

PRICES:
$33 – $50 in advance; $5 more when purchased on day of show.
Students K-12 are half-price Monday-Thursday.

MORE INFO:
Box Office: 801-581-6961
Open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon. – Fri.

The Messenger

CAST:
(In order of appearance)

TURNA METE*……………………………………………..Petra Stockman
GRAYSON DeJESUS*……………………………………..Einar Billing
ORA JONES*………………………………………………..Therese Stockman
BARZIN AKHAVAN*……………………………………….Henrik Abelman
MARK H. DOLD*…………………………………………..Peter Stockman
MEREDITH HOLZMAN*…………………………………..Kristine Hovstad
ALEXIS THOMSEN…………………………………………Marianne
MARCELLO JOSEPH SAY………………………………….Noah
VICTORIA WOLFE…………………………………………Elisabeth
CONNOR MAMAUX-PARTRIDGE………………………..Tobias

CREATIVE:

JEFF TALBOTT…………………………….Playwright
WES GRANTOM…………………………..Director
WILL VAN DYKE…………………………..Composer
YOON BAE………………………………….Set and Costume Designer
BRIAN TOVAR……………………………..Lighting Designer
MICAH LAMBERT MAXON……………….Sound Designer
SAMANTHA WOOTTEN…………………..Hair & Makeup Designer

* Member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA)

PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY (PTC): Now celebrating its 60th season, the award-winning PTC is Utah’s Premiere Professional Theatre and a leading arts organization of the West. Led by Artistic Director Karen Azenberg and Interim Managing Director Diane L. Parisi, PTC promotes community-building and education through presenting world-class productions; developing new socially resonant and universal work; hosting talks, lectures, and workshops that engage a versatile and inclusive demographic, while celebrating diversity in culture and society; and serving as the connecting bridge between art and scholarship as an affiliate of the University of Utah.