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Obie winner Chris McCann Originates lead in "Radiance"; Chris Grabowski directing Howard Meyer play

Premier performance of "Radiance" tackles toxic personal relationships and toxic environmental issues 60 years after the development of the nuclear bomb.

 
 
Chris McCann will originate the lead role of nuclear engineer Billy Kountze
Chris McCann will originate the lead role of nuclear engineer Billy Kountze
PRLog - Jan. 29, 2013 - MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Axial Theatre will present the premiere performance of playwright Howard Meyer’s Radiance, starring Obie Award-winner Chris McCann and directed by Christopher Grabowski, chair of the Theatre Department at Vassar College and a frequent guest director at regional theatre companies nationwide.  The production previews May 2nd at Pleasantviille’s Axial Theatre, opens May 4th, and runs through May 19th.

         Radiance was a semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference in 2011 and 2012 and a finalist for the 2012 Hormel New Works Festival at the Phoenix Theatre and the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre Playlab.  It explores real-life toxic relationships while exposing a toxic environment, both byproducts of working for and living near the Los Alamos National Lab, developer of  America’s first nuclear warheads.

         Chris McCann will originate the lead role of Billy Kountze, a nuclear engineer.  He received an Obie Award for his portrayal of “Erenhart” in the Lincoln Center production of The Lights. His performance was lauded by The New York Times’ former chief theatre critic, Frank Rich, for its “sharp moments” in his portrayal of a priggish businessman.  Other theatrical credentials include work at New York’s Public Theatre, the Guthrie in Minneapolis, and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck.  Directed by the internationally-renowned Lucian Pintilie, his performance as “Gregers Werle” was once again described as “every inch the embittered prig” in a review by The Los Angeles Times.  

         McCann has also been directed by Joseph Chaikin and Richard Foreman and performed with Holly Hunter, Kevin Kline, Sam Waterston, Al Pacino, and Robert Woodruff, among others.  He is also a lecturer in theatre arts at the Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts.

Chris Grabowski most recently directed a revival of the The Sisters Rosensweig at Portland Stage Company, Maine last fall.  His staging of the 1992-93 Outer Critics Circle award for Best Play was reviewed by the Portland Press Herald as an "impressive production of a very well-wrought play".

         Grabowski was associate artistic director of New York Theatre Workshop which nurtured the development of the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play Rent during his tenure.  He has directed fellow Yale School of Drama alumnus Meryl Streep, been a regular guest director at the National Theatre Conservatory at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Yale Repertory Theatre, and the New York International Fringe Festival, among others.

         Following a record-breaking attendance for its ensemble production of Clifford Odets’ Awake and Sing, last fall, the staging of Radiance renews Axial’s commitment to producing new works that promote a dialogue about serious and important issues.  “To be the first theatre company to produce a play of this caliber is an opportunity to pay tribute to the many accomplishments of our founder and artistic director, playwright Howard Meyer,” said jazz journalist and filmmaker Bret Primack, chairman of Axial’s Board of Directors.

         Meyer noted that while Radiance is a fictional interpretation of actual occurrences told to him by a trusted acquaintance once employed by Los Alamos Lab, “it was further inspired by my life-long heaviness and sadness about the mistreatment of Native Americans. It is a dramatization of just some of the challenges Native Americans face in their attempt to integrate into an Anglo-centric world, without compromising their heritage.  We hope it will create an awareness of a real life environmental threat, thousands of miles away, for an audience that lives in the shadow of Indian Point.”

         Axial Theatre (www.axialtheatre.org) is located on the grounds of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Pleasantville, NY.  For further information about the upcoming performance, group ticket discounts, and Axial’s ongoing acting and playwriting classes, call (914) 962-8828, or e-mail axialtheatre@gmail.com.          

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