Cast Announced for
Ensemble for the Romantic Century's
Off-Broadway Premiere of
Hans Christian Andersen: Tales Real & Imagined
Starring Jimmy Ray Bennett
(The Nuclear Family – IFC, Amazon's Hand of God)
Performances Begin April 13th
Ensemble for the Romantic Century (Eve Wolf, Executive Artistic Director) continues the 2018 - ‘19 season, ERC’s 18th, with its final offering of the season, Hans Christian Andersen: Tales Real & Imagined by Eve Wolf. Performances will begin April 13th for a limited run through May 25th, with opening night scheduled for May 5th. Performances will be at The Duke on 42nd Street (229 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues).
Donald T. Sanders, ERC Director of Theatrical Production, directs Jimmy Ray Bennett in the title role. Hans Christian Andersen: Tales Real & Imagined also features Countertenors Daniel Moody and Randall Scotting, and puppet artists Craig Marin & Olga Felgemacher, along with Max Barros and Carlos Avila (on pianos) and percussionist Shiqi Zhong. Hans Christian Andersen will have scenic & costume design by Vanessa James, lighting design by Beverly Emmons & Sebastian Adamo, sound design by Bill Toles, and puppetry design by Flexitoon.
Mr. Sanders describes Hans Christian Andersen: Tales Real & Imagined as “a fairy tale for grown ups and growing ups.”
Go beyond the magic and into the imagination of the iconic author Hans Christian Andersen, and discover how his complicated personal life inspired countless beloved tales such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Ugly Duckling.” and more. Ensemble for the Romantic Century presents this world premiere production featuring the timeless classics that have transcended generations, with the music of Benjamin Britten and Henry Purcell and enhanced by the classical puppetry of Flexitoon.
Hans Christian Andersen is known as one of the most prolific authors of fairy tales, having written over 3300, some of which are so infused to our culture it's hard to imagine a world without them. This piece explores beyond just the magic taking a deeper look at the inner life of Andersen and how some of his most memorable tales, transcend age and nationality.
Jimmy Ray Bennett is creator of the Off-Broadway improvised "cult-hit" The Nuclear Family as well as the “Extended Family” for IFC. Theatrically, he has worked with NY City Center, NYTW, New World Stages, The Kennedy Center, LaJolla Playhouse, The McCarter, Prospect Theatre Company, the Ogunquit Playhouse, 45th St. Theatre and most recently at The Arena in Washington DC. Best known as Nathan Brooks on Amazon's “Hand Of God,” the White DL for the Peabody Award winning documentary “DL Hughly: Endangered Species List” and Netflix's upcoming “AJ & The Queen” starring RuPaul. He can also be found in three of the top selling video-games of all time, “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Red Dead Redemption” I and II. A writer and graduate of Florida State University, he has also, at some point, played a cat. @jimmyraybennett
Puppet artists Craig Marin & Olga Felgemacher met in 1979 and founded Flexitoon, one of the world’s most celebrated puppet production companies. They design, build and perform puppets, marionettes and animated objects, as well as create award-winning programming for television, film, internet and theater. Their creations starred on Nickelodeon’s first series, the award-winning "Pinwheel" (prompting Time Magazine to call their Pinwheel Puppets "the best"); They turned the Weekly Reader characters into three dimensional stars with "KIDS-TV" on Showtime, and starred as "DJ Kat" on FOX (which won the Outstanding Kid Show Award from New York State Broadcasters). They developed and performed the popular Juke Box Band on the multi-award winning PBS television series "Shining Time Station" starring George Carlin and Ringo Starr. Flexitoon was awarded the first National Endowment for Children's Educational Television Grant and created and produced "GOIN' UP" for Thirteen/WNET; won the 1996 UNIMA Award for Outstanding Broadcast Puppetry, and have received Official Selection Laurels in several international film festivals including LA Shorts and Kids First. Their many commercials include the Talking Stain for Tide which was voted one of the top Super Bowl commercials of all time. Prior to teaming, Olga Felgemacher, a graduate of Northwestern, was lead performer at the famous Bil Baird Marionette Theater in NYC. She was personally signed by Jim Henson to perform with his Muppets on both “Sesame Street” and the first Muppet Movie. Craig Marin has dedicated his life to the puppet arts and as a child performed on all the local NYC kid TV shows. While in high school, Marin formed the Marko Puppet Theatre and toured colleges throughout the United States with a highly original concept that was just right for the times -- a psychedelic puppet show. The show garnered such an underground reputation, that Marko was asked to perform for the Grateful Dead at Jerry Garcia's birthday party!
The critically acclaimed Ensemble for the Romantic Century, now in its 18th Season, conjures the past with original multimedia productions that fuse chamber music, drama, and history. The subject matters span across centuries, from Tolstoy to Toscanini, from Verne to Van Gogh, all brought to life through the fusion of drama and sound. We believe that one can understand Freud more deeply by listening to the erotic cabaret music of fin de siècle Vienna, that one can appreciate Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” more profoundly by listening to him speak of his tortured love life and his debilitating deafness. By illuminating the interplay between literature, biography and music we have transformed the concert experience.
ERC was founded by pianist Eve Wolf in 2001 with the intention of creating an engaging and innovative approach to chamber music concerts. ERC’s theatrical concerts interweave letters, memoirs, diaries, poems, and other literature with chamber and vocal music; the music’s historical context is reinforced through its connections with history, politics, philosophy, psychology, and the other arts to create a compelling new performance experience. These unique productions merge dramatic and fully staged scripts with music, recapturing the past with a sense of immediacy that transports, illuminates, and captivates. The scripts, drawn from historical material that includes letters, diaries, memoirs, newspaper articles, poetry, and literature create an intricate counterpoint to the musical program. The subject matters span across centuries, from Tolstoy to Toscanini, from Verne to Van Gogh, all brought to life through the fusion of drama and music. By illuminating the interplay between literature, biography and music ERC has transformed the concert experience. The Romantic Century was about imagination and experimentation. Elevating the human condition through art: that is the spirit we hope to summon.
ERC has created over 40 original theatrical concerts at such institutions as BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music); Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA; The Jewish Museum of New York; the Archivio Fano of Venice, Italy; the Festival de Musique de Chambre Montréal; the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/MIFA; the French Institute-Alliance Française/FIAF, New York; the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies at Columbia University; the Italian Cultural Institute of New York; and the City University of New York (CUNY). ERC’s programs are distinguished by their artistic excellence, breadth of repertoire, and variety of subject matter. In its relatively short history, the Ensemble for the Romantic Century has enriched the music scene with highly innovative productions that are also historically informed, aesthetically exquisite, and emotionally transporting.
Eve Wolf is Founder and Executive Artistic Director of ERC as well as playwright. Recent credits include Van Gogh’s Ear (Pershing Square Signature Center, 2017; New York TimesCritic’s Pick); Anna Akhmatova: The Heart Is Not Made of Stone (BAM, 2016; New York Times Critic’s Pick); and Jules Verne: From the Earth to The Moon (BAM, 2015; also a New York Times Critic’s Pick). Ms. Wolf founded Ensemble for the Romantic Century in 2001 with the mission of creating an innovative and dramatic concert format in which the emotions revealed in memoirs, letters, diaries, and literature are dramatically interwoven with music, thus bringing to life the sensations and passions of a bygone era. For the past sixteen seasons, Ms. Wolf has written scripts for more than twenty-five of ERC’s theatrical concerts and has performed in most of the ensemble’s forty-plus original productions. Some highlights include Ms. Wolf’s scripts for Tchaikovsky: None but the Lonely Heart, which was performed at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA (2013) and at BAM (2014);Van Gogh’s Ear at the Festival de Musique de Chambre de Montréal; Fanny Mendelssohn: Out of Her Brother’s Shadow, commissioned by the Jewish Museum of New York; and The Dreyfus Affair and Peggy Guggenheim Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors. In 2009, she performed before a sold-out audience at the Sale Apollinee of the Teatro La Fenice in Venice in the Italian production of her script, Toscanini: Nel mio cuore troppo di assoluto.
Donald T. Sanders has been Director of Theatrical Production for ERC since 2005. In 2011, he directed Seduction, Smoke and Music at the Tuscan Sun Festival starring Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack. Other ERC productions include Toscanini: Nel mio cuore troppo di assoluto at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, Sale Apolline, and Van Gogh’s Ear at New York’s Florence Gould Hall and the Festival de Musique de Chambre Montréal. He has directed productions at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater as well as the off-Broadway plays of Arnold Weinstein, Eric Bentley, Kenneth Koch and William Russo. Sanders is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. He is the Executive Artistic Director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), presenting such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vanessa Redgrave, England’s Out of Joint and Complicite companies, and France’s Comédie Française. In 2002, Sanders was made a Chevalier dans L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the Republic of France.
Founded in 1990, The New 42nd Street is an independent nonprofit organization charged with the continuous cultural revival of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, building on the foundation of seven historic theaters to make extraordinary performing arts and cultural engagement part of everyone’s life. The New 42nd Street fulfills this purpose by ensuring the ongoing vibrancy of 42nd Street’s historic theaters; supporting performing artists in the creation of their work at the New 42nd Street Studios and The Duke on 42nd Street; creating arts access and education at The New Victory Theater, New York’s premier theater for kids and families; and through the New 42nd Street Youth Corps, its model youth development initiative, which pairs life skills workshops and mentorship with paid employment in the arts for NYC youth. Inspired by the city it serves, The New 42nd Street is committed to the transformational power of the arts. The Duke on 42nd Street is a centrally-located black box theater rental that offers smaller scale productions the unique opportunity to perform on famed 42nd Street. Housed within the NEW 42ND STREET Studios, The Duke on 42nd Street is a fully-staffed facility featuring customizable, state-of-the-art seating in various configurations, and full light, sound and support systems. The venue has hosted such companies as Playwright’s Realm, Red Bull Theater, Primary Stages, Transport Group, Theatre for a New Audience, Lincoln Center Theater LCT3, The Royal Court Theatre, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Armitage Gone! Dance, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Naked Angels, Classical Theater of Harlem and the National Theater of Great Britain.
Tickets, which are now on sale, are $39 to $149 and can be purchased online at Dukeon42.org; by phone at 646-223-3010; or in person at The Duke on 42nd Street at 229 West 42nd Street (Tuesdays-Fridays 4-7 and Saturdays 12-6).
For more information, visit romanticcentury.org.