Nov. 21, 2012
-- Emmy Award-winner Ian Buchanan and Ovation Award nominee Peggy Goss, along with William Bremer, Marianne Muellerleile, Sean O’Neill, Stacie Rippy, Toni Sawyer, James Siering and Joanna Strapp, headline The New Phoenix Theatre’s staged reading of Noel Coward’s 1939 comic farce Present Laughter on Sunday, December 2 at 7 PM at the Colony Theatre, Burbank, CA. The evening benefits the Colony Theatre’s current emergency financial drive. Tickets @ $20.00 may be obtained from the Colony Theatre Box Office: 818.558.7000. For tickets, more information, or to make a donation, please visit: www.colonytheatre.org
Present Laughter follows a few days in the life of actor Garry Essendine, a wildly successful, self-obsessed West End matinee idol, as he prepares for a theatre tour to Africa. Amid a series of farcical events, Garry has to deal with several women who want to seduce him, placate both his long-suffering secretary and his estranged wife, cope with a crazed young playwright and overcome his impending mid-life crisis (he has just turned forty). The story was described by Coward as "a series of semi-autobiographical pyrotechnics."
Coward starred as Garry Essendine in Present Laughter during the original 1942 London run. The first Broadway production starred Clifton Webb. George C. Scott, Albert Finney and Peter O’Toole starred in subsequent memorable London and New York productions.
Noel Coward wrote: "Present Laughter
is a very light comedy and was written with the sensible object of providing me with a bravura part." He completed the script in 1939, before the outbreak of World War II but did not produce the play until 1942. Given the hero's repeated laments over his own ageing and mortality, the title can be seen as ironic. Coward acknowledged that the central character, the egocentric actor Garry Essendine, was a self-caricature Coward repeats one of his signature theatrical devices at the end of the play, where the main characters tiptoe out as the curtain falls – a device that he also used in Private Lives, Hay Fever and Blithe Spirit. The play’s title comes from a lyric in a song in Shakespeare’
s Twelfth Night, “present mirth has present laughter.”
Founded in Los Angeles in 2007, The New Phoenix Theatre offers chamber theatre staged readings of the great international classical theatre repertoire. Past NPT staged readings have included: Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, The Misanthrope, Tartuffe; Phaedre, Medea, Twelfth Night, Ghosts, and, most recently, The Guardsman, which was presented at The Colony Theatre in June, 2012.