Pasadena Playhouse announces casting for Uncle Vanya

May 1, 2022
Uncle Vanya at Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman announced casting and creative team for the Los Angeles premiere of the Richard Nelson, Richard Pevear, and Larissa Volokhonsky translation of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov coming to the Playhouse June 1 through June 26.

The production stars Hugo Armstrong (Power of Sail at Geffen Playhouse) as "Vanya," Anne Gee Byrd (Doubt at Interact Theatre Company) as "Marya," Brian George (CBS' The Big Bang Theory) as "Serebryakov," Khetanya Henderson (Cirque du Soleil's Love) as "Elena," Brandon Mendez Homeras (Wolf Play at Soho Rep) as "Astrov," Jane Taini (ABC's Station 19) as "Marina," and Sabina Zuniga-Varela (Bordertown Now at Pasadena Playhouse) as "Sonya."

The creative team features direction by Michael Michetti; scenic design by Tesshi Nakagawa; costume design by Wendell C. Carmichael; lighting design by Jaymi Smith; sound design by John Nobori; and stage management by Meredith O'Gwynn.

"It is always thrilling when an old classic play is stunningly reborn. This new translation of Uncle Vanya breathes new life into a theatrical masterpiece, and I can't wait for this insanely talented group of theater artists to bring it to life on our historic stage." said Danny Feldman, Pasadena Playhouse Producing Artistic Director.

This exhilarating revival pairs one of the greatest plays ever written with the world's most celebrated translators of Russian literature. After years of caring for their family's crumbling estate, Vanya and his niece receive an unexpected visit from his brother-in-law and his alluring wife. When hidden passions and tumultuous frustrations come to a boil in the heat of the summer, their lives threaten to come undone. Comic, cutting, and true to life, this translation of Uncle Vanya provides an up-close, conversational-style encounter with a classic drama that every theater-lover must see.

Director Michael Michetti says, "I have always been drawn to Uncle Vanya, but revisiting it now in this fresh, exciting new translation it feels more relevant than ever. In the play, the characters' mundane lives are turned on end, and it forces them to reconsider the choices they have made and question whether it's too late to make a change. Rereading it now, as we're beginning to emerge from this global pandemic, something about that felt so familiar. Having our lives upended and our daily routines interrupted by COVID forced many of us to reflect on our lives and our choices and, like the characters in Uncle Vanya, some of us may never go back to the Before Times. For me, this gives the play a special poignancy and immediacy in this moment."

Originally premiering at The Old Globe in 2018, Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times said, "This new "Vanya" has a conversational smoothness that removes the cobwebs sticking to those other translations that never let you forget that the play was written in 1897."

Jennifer Vanasco of WNYC News said, "The exquisite translation, by Nelson along with Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, strips the language to its essence. It's clear and illuminating. When a gunshot goes off, it's not the bang that surprises, but the sudden explosion of feeling. "

Richard Nelson, in writing of his collaboration with Pevear, and Volokhonsky, told The New York Times, "As we worked together, I, as both a playwright and director, was always thinking toward production, imagining the questions that would be asked by actors and designers, and trying to make sure we were asking them as we translated. We decided to come together once a year and translate a play, and found a publisher, TCG books, for the series. We began to get commissioned by theaters and eventually turned to the Everest of our ambitions: the major plays of Anton Chekhov."

Widely considered one of the world's greatest writers, Anton Chekhov was born on January 29, 1860, in Taganrog, Russia. In 1879 he entered the University of Moscow to study medicine and graduated in 1884. He kept a strict writing schedule and continued to practice medicine for the rest of his life. In addition to his numerous short stories, many considered masterpieces of the form, Chekhov wrote over a dozen plays, among them the classics of Western dramatic literature Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, The Three Sisters, and The Seagull.