NOËL PEIRCE COWARD was born in 1899 and made his professional stage debut as Prince Mussel in The Goldfish at the age of 12, leading to many child actor appearances over the next few years. His breakthrough in playwriting was the controversial The Vortex (1924) which featured themes of drugs and adultery and made his name as both actor and playwright in the West End and on Broadway. During the frenzied 1920s and the more sedate 1930s, Coward wrote a string of successful plays, musicals and intimate revues including Fallen Angels (1925), Hay Fever (1925), Easy Virtue (1926), This Year of Grace (1928), and Bitter Sweet (1929). His professional partnership with childhood friend Gertrude Lawrence, started with Private Lives (1931), and continued with Tonight at 8.30 (1936). During World War II, he remained a successful playwright, screenwriter and director, as well as entertaining the troops and even acting as an unofficial spy for the Foreign Office. His plays during these years included Blithe Spirit which ran for 1997 performances, outlasting the War (a West End record until The Mousetrap overtook it), This Happy Breed and Present Laughter (both 1943). His two wartime screenplays, In Which We Serve, which he co-directed with the young David Lean, and Brief Encounter quickly became classics of British cinema. However, the post-war years were more difficult. Austerity Britain – the London critics determined – was out of tune with the brittle Coward wit. In response, Coward re-invented himself as a cabaret and TV star, particularly in America, and in 1955 he played a sell-out season in Las Vegas featuring many of his most famous songs, including “Mad About the Boy,” “I’ll See You Again” and “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” In the mid-1950s he settled in Jamaica and Switzerland, and enjoyed a renaissance in the early 1960s becoming the first living playwright to be performed by the National Theatre, when he directed Hay Fever there. Late in his career he was lauded for his roles in a number of films including Our Man in Havana (1959) and his role as the iconic Mr. Bridger alongside Michael Caine in The Italian Job (1968). Writer, actor, director, film producer, painter, songwriter, cabaret artist as well as an author of a novel, verse, essays and autobiographies, he was called by close friends ‘The Master’. His final West End appearance was Song at Twilight in 1966, which he wrote and starred in. He was knighted in 1970 and died peacefully in 1973 in his beloved Jamaica.
MARK CUDDY is in his twenty-second season as Artistic Director of Geva Theatre Center. This season, in addition to Private Lives, he directed Sylvia and A Christmas Carol. Last season, he directed To Kill a Mockingbird, Good People, A Christmas Carol and the world premiere of The Road to Where. Mr. Cuddy is well known for his staging of premieres, contemporary comedies and musical theatre. Among his Geva Theatre Center productions have been Clybourne Park, Pump Boys and Dinettes, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, You Can’t Take It With You, Company, Superior Donuts, The Music Man, Five Course Love, Fences, Sweeney Todd, A Christmas Story, Pride and Prejudice (which he also co-adapted), Bad Dates, Our Town, Tuesdays With Morrie, Urinetown, Splitting Infinity, Vigil, A Chorus Line, Hamlet, That Was Then (American premiere), Convenience (world premiere musical); 1776, Proof; the world premiere of Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North which was also seen at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., The Miser, the East Coast premieres of both House and Garden, Quilters, Art, Famous Orpheus (world premiere musical) with Garth Fagan Dance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor with the RPO, Golf With Alan Shepard, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and State of the Union. Prior to his tenure at Geva Theatre Center, Mr. Cuddy directed a number of world and American classics while Artistic Director of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Sacramento Theatre Company.
NICHOLAS DORR makes his Geva Theatre Center debut with Private Lives. He has enjoyed a long career as a designer, performer and director. Among the over 200 productions he’s designed for the theatre, favorites include Heartbreak House and The Mystery of Irma Vep for the Sacramento Theatre Co., Three Sisters at the Actors Conservatory Ensemble, The Unified Field at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, The Birds and Electra at the Greek Theatre of New York and Hamlet at the Manhattan Theatre Club. Recent productions include A Most Dangerous Woman at New Jersey Shakespeare, The Cunning Little Vixen for the New England Conservatory and Anything Goes for the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. He is the recipient of numerous awards for this stage designs including 6 Dramalogue Awards, the LA Weekly Award and the Ovation Award for his production of West Side Story at the Civic Light Opera of L.A. Among his film credits: My Girl, Ruby, Albino Alligator and Life as a House. He currently resides on Cape Cod where he’s designed Steel Pier at the Cape Rep, References to Salvador Dali at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre and has served as the Resident Designer at the Cape Playhouse.
DEREK MADONIA has designed numerous shows at Geva Theatre Center including Mother (and me), Miracle on South Division Street, the world premiere of The Road to Where, The Mountaintop, Stranded on Earth, Freud’s Last Session, The Tribute to Sir Elton John and Billy Joel, Perfect Wedding, Underneath the Lintel, Evie’s Waltz, The Underpants, Shear Madness, That was Then, All is Well in the Kingdom of Nice, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, Meet Me Incognito, Tomato Plant Girl, the Portrait the Wind the Chair, This is Not a Pipe Dream and Women Who Steal. He received his B.A. from the University at Albany. Mr. Madonia came to Geva in 1992 as a lighting apprentice and he is currently in his 23rd season as Lighting Supervisor. He would like to thank his family and his talented band of electricians for all their help and support.
DAN ROACH has, since 1988, worked on sound for numerous productions at Geva Theatre Center, NTID’s Theatre for the Deaf, SUNY Brockport, and Keuka College. Most recent productions at Geva include To Kill a Mockingbird, Miracle on South Division Street; Red; The Mountaintop; Katherine’s Colored Lieutenant; The Odd Couple; Stranded on Earth; Last Gas; The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs; Freud’s Last Session; You Can’t Take It With You; Perfect Wedding; On Golden Pond; Over the Tavern; Almost, Maine; Dracula; the Shape of Evil with PUSH Physical Theatre; Evie’s Waltz; Dial M for Murder; The Underpants; Nine Parts of Desire; Doubt and A Christmas Story. He studied sound at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been applying that knowledge to theatre over the past 26 years. He is a resident of Brighton where he lives with his beautiful wife Jing.
DAVID S. LEONG
DAVID S. LEONG made his Geva Theatre Center debut in 2012 with Superior Donuts. He has choreographed fights for many Broadway productions including Fool for Love, Billy Elliott the Musical, Amazing Grace the Musical, A Time to Kill, Carousel, The Civil War, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, King Hedley II, The Rainmaker, Macbeth, and Hamlet. London productions include the West End musical Napoleon, and Jitney at the National Theatre of Great Britain. Mr. Leong’s work has been seen on the stages of nearly every major regional theatre in the United States including Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre, ART, ACT, Seattle Rep, Goodman Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, and the Guthrie Theatre. Mr. Leong is Chairman and Producing Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Theatre.
Literary Director/Resident Dramaturg
JENNI WERNER is in her sixth season at Geva Theatre Center. She has served as dramaturg on seventeen productions at Geva include world premieres by Molly Smith Metzler, Wendy MacLeod, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Lora Cole and Cass Morgan. Previously, she served as the Director of Programming at Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the non-profit theatre field. From 2005-2011, Ms. Werner produced TCG’s annual National Conference, curating the content and organizing the logistics for the largest national gathering of professionals in the non-profit theatre field. For six years, she was adjunct instructor in the Program in Educational Theatre at New York University, and is now an adjunct instructor in the English Department at RIT. She sits on the board of ImageOut. Ms. Werner has an M.F.A. in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a B.A. in theatre and history from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.
JENN LYONS is a Rochester native happy to be working at Geva. Previous shows at Geva include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Miracle on South Division Street, Red, The Mountaintop, Little Shop of Horrors, The Odd Couple and Clybourne Park. National Tours include Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella (starring Eartha Kitt), Showboat and The Who’s Tommy. New York credits include work at Roundabout Theatre and Circle Repertory Theater as well as the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid. Her two favorite productions are Maddie and Jack.
Elissa Myers Casting, Paul Fouquet, CSA
ELISSA MYERS CASTING, Paul Fouquet, CSA, a Rochester native, is honored to be recognized as a Geva Affiliate Artist. This marks the 19th year of Myers’ and Fouquet’s collaboration with Geva Theatre Center. Casting credits include “Poisoner’s Handbook,” “Becoming Helen Keller,” and the mini-series “Mystery of Matter” for PBS. Other PBS projects include “The Abolitionists,” “Dolly Madison,” “Alexander Hamilton,” “John and Abigail Adams,” “Benjamin Franklin” (Emmy Award), “Liberty” (Peabody Award), “God in America,” “People vs. Leo Frank,” “Louisa May Alcott,” as well as PBS “Great Performances” (Artios Award in “Outstanding Achievement in Casting”) and most recently “Murder Of A President” for American Experience. Additionally three “Movies of the Week,” as well as five pilots. Feature films include Hank and Asha (Audience Award at Slamdance 2013 and five other festival awards), and The Union. Theatre includes seven Broadway shows, including Tony-nominated Having Our Say, as well as 26 Off-Broadway shows. Regional theatre casting in the past two years includes Denver Center, Geva Theatre Center, Cleveland Play House, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Magic Theatre, Arena Stage, Alley Theatre, George Street Playhouse, and Arizona Theatre Company. The office has so far received 16 nominations and has won three Artios Awards for “Outstanding Achievement in Casting.”