Chester Theatre Company Presents American Premiere of “Folk”

Chester, MA – Chester Theatre Company (CTC) is proud to present Tom Wells’s Folk in the historic Chester Town Hall, 15 Middlefield Road in Chester, MA, from August 17 – 27, 2017. The production is directed by James Warwick, staging his eighth production for the company.
Folk was first produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre at the start of a tour by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Hull Truck Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre. The Guardian, in reviewing that production, noted Wells’s “priceless ability to endow the ordinary with luminous significance.”
For Winnie, a Guinness-hoisting nun, and Stephen, a shy maintenance worker, Friday nights are for playing and singing. Until fifteen-year-old Kayleigh lobs a brick through Winnie’s window. These three band together into the unlikeliest of folk trios, and an equally unexpected family. Dappled with humor and melody, this charming play asks whether we may have more in common than our apparent differences suggest.
“Working on the script of Folk and listening to the music that Tom Wells has so sensitively incorporated has touched me deeply,” said director Warwick.  “His sense of these characters’ hopes and fears, his gentle humor and joy in bringing this heartwarming story to life is very special. I’m excited to share this new young playwright’s rare talent with our Chester audiences…my eighth production with this great little theater company.”
Folk, while not a musical, per se, is infused with song. The three actors will be singing and playing a variety of instruments, including tin whistles, guitar, and the spoons. Katryna Nields, of The Nields, is Music Consultant for the production.
As with the previous production in The Town Hall Theatre, Every Brilliant ThingFolk will be staged in the round.
The artistic team includes:
Emery Henderson (Kayleigh) is a native of Western Massachusetts. Regional credits include The Majestic Theater (Next to Normal, One Slight Hitch) and New Century Theater (The Little Foxes) as well as three seasons with Majestic Children’s Theater. She started singing at the age of 7 with jazz artist Montenia Shider. Emery is very happy to be out of high school and will attend The Boston Conservatory at Berklee as a musical theater major in the fall.
Michael Sean McGuinness (Stephen) National Tour: Dad Barton in Goosebumps (Writer/Director: Rupert Holmes). Off-Broadway: The Stage Manager in A Wilder Christmas at Peccadillo Theatre Company; Jerry Gold in 2.0 at 59E59; Algernon inThe Importance of Being Earnest at The Pearl Theatre Company. Regional: Tolstoy in The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord; Bracken in Safe House at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Christopher in Tribes at Portland Stage; Leontes in The Winter’s Tale at Vermont Shakespeare Company; Keyes in Double Indemnity at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Malvolio in Twelfth Night at Pig Iron Theatre Company; Iago in Othello at Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre. TV/Film: The Blacklist, Frasier, Law and Order, Terry Tate Office Linebacker, Double Header(with David Margulies), The Guiding Light, As The World Turns. Education/Training: BFA Acting, New York University; Stella Adler.
Michele Tauber (Sister Winnie) is pleased to return to Chester Theatre Company where she performed numerous roles in the production of pride@prejudice.  More recently, she was seen on television as Martha Plemmons in BULL on CBS.  New York: Nurse Porter in Orpheus Descending, directed by Austin Pendleton (also at The William’s Festival in 2010 & 2011); The Charity That Began at Home at The Mint Theatre Company; The Roundtable Ensemble; two seasons with The Acting Company touring in The Rivals, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo & Juliet, O, Pioneers!, and Macbeth; NYC International Fringe Festival; Phoenix Theatre Ensemble; and Turnip Theatre Co.  Regional Theatre: Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia & Actor’s Theatre of Louisville’s 39th Humana Play Festival in I Promised Myself To Live Forever (Creator and Actor); Nurse Guinness in Heartbreak House at the Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware; six seasons of A Christmas Carol at The McCarter Theatre; See How They Run at Barrington Stage; the one-woman show The Ghosts of Mary Lincoln as Mary Todd Lincoln at  Theatre 40 in LA; Two River Theatre Company; Indiana Repertory Theatre; Syracuse Stage; New Jersey Rep; Capital Rep; Gulfshore Playhouse; Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Texas Shakespeare Festivals; The Cleveland Playhouse; Forum Theatre Company; Luna Stage Company; Olney Theatre Company; Shadow Lawn Stage; Dreamcatcher Rep; and Arkansas Repertory Theatre.  TV/Film work: Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order, Kate & Allie and The Street. Training: MFA from the PTTP at the University of Delaware.
James Warwick (Director) As a resident US theatre director since 1997, Mr. Warwick has many regional and NYC productions to his credit.  He has served as associate artistic director at both Chester Theatre Company and Berkshire Theatre Festival, and artistic director at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. In March 2007, Mr. Warwick was named Interim President of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles and in Oct. 2009, President of Theatre of Arts in Hollywood, two of the oldest drama schools in the US. He is the recipient of BAFTA, Spotlight, Helen Hayes, Dramalogue, Ovation, and Berkshire Eagle awards for his work.
In 2014, he returned to his freelance directing career and directed Madagascar with Debra Jo Rupp and High Dive with Jennifer Roan at the Chester Theatre Company. James also redirected, for the second year running, the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker for its US tour and directed 6 one act plays for Theatre of Arts in LA.  In 2015, he directed a critically acclaimed new play called Halcyon Days by Deidre Kinahan for Chester Theatre Company and an adaptation of Little Women at Farleigh Dickenson University as well as Gogol’s The Government Inspector for Bard College. His 2017 projects include directing Almost, Maine by John Cariani for Bard College and recording several audio books for Amazon’s Audible series. Folk will mark his 8th production for Chester Theatre Company. His plans for the future include a rehearsed reading of a new play by Steven Otfinoskii called Mortal Friends at Ventord Hall on Sept 15, followed by a new audio book recording of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
James Warwick trained at London University/Royal Central School of Speech and Drama as an actor, left with The Spotlight award for the most promising actor of the year and spent much of his early career in English regional theatre learning his craft. Subsequently, he played several leading roles in London’s West End and starred in many filmed series for BBC Television and PBS Masterpiece Theatre, including Partners in Crime playing Tommy Beresford, and Lillie, playing Suggie de Bath, both opposite Francesca Annis.  In 1995, Mr. Warwick toured America as Arthur in Camelot, followed by Sir Robert Chiltern in An Ideal Husband on Broadway. He has played leading roles at the Arena Stage DC, Berkshire Theatre Festival, South Coast Rep, Santa Monica Playhouse, Bay St. Playhouse, and other regional theatres.
The design team includes:
Heather Aulenback (costumes), Travis George (set design), and James McNamara (lighting and sound).
All performances will take place in the intimate setting of Chester’s Historic Town Hall, 15 Middlefield Road, Chester, MA. Show times are 8:00 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and 2:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Individual ticket prices are $37.50. Chester residents, members of the military and their families, and those holding EBT/SNAP cards may purchase $10 tickets at the door or by calling the box office. (Call box office for details.) Student Rush $10 tickets are available day of show. Single tickets, season subscriptions, and flex passes may be purchased online at chestertheatre.org, or by phone at 413.354.7771. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available.
About Chester Theatre Company
Chester Theatre Company, a professional theatre company located between the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley–and convenient to both–is known for presenting high-quality productions with top-notch actors, directors, and designers from across the country since 1990. Founded by former Artistic Director of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, Vincent Dowling, CTC is now in its 28th season, and produces four thought-provoking plays each summer in the intimate setting of the Town Hall Theatre.
For further information, please call CTC at 413.354.7770, or visit www.chestertheatre.org.

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