ALBANY, N.Y.—JAN. 12, 2018—As you read this, it’s six hours ahead in Paris. As you read this, it is nowin Paris. Steven Peterson’s Paris Time is happening as we speak—as a couple’s peace, a young woman’s life and a company’s fate are challenged by an anti-Semitic terrorist incident. Sometimes a broken windshield is a harbinger, but sometimes it’s a red herring, too.
Paris Time is being given its world premiere at Capital Repertory Theatre, Jan. 26–Feb. 18, in a production steered by acclaimed director Gordon Greenberg.
Greenberg and Peterson both call Paris Time a thriller, but its whodunit urgency sizzles with a romantic edge.
“At heart,” Peterson says, “it’s a play about a marriage in peril.”
Charlie (Spencer Moses) and Deborah (Kelly Wolf) are American expatriates, living in the 16thArrondissement on his salary as a consultant for a major U.S. based firm with global concerns. She finds focus with a human rights organization, exposing sometimes subtle, sometimes rampant French anti-Semitism.
When a brick, believed to be thrown by a Muslim, goes through the glass on a Jewish employee’s car, Charlie and Deborah’s worlds meet in new and unexpected ways; prompting hard words, hard glances and second thoughts about love.
The arrival, from stateside, of Charlie’s hard-bitten boss, eager to settle the situation quickly and quietly, only serves to turn up the heat.
Charlie and Deborah are, Peterson puts it succinctly, “blindsided by current events.”
Both Peterson and Greenberg have recently spent time in Paris. Peterson, who lived in the city in the early years of this century, visited again in 2017, fascinated by the changes that have taken place socially and politically. Greenberg, an admitted Francophile, has been to the country many times.
“This play is about what is taking place in France right now,” Greenberg says, referring to a burgeoning nationalism. “Our news here, in the U.S., is more colloquial, so we generally don’t see it. But it was brought home to us in August, with the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. We, too, in America, are leaning towards a frightening racial conservatism; and people who don’t believe in anything will be stoking that for personal gain.”
“I found the script compelling,” Greenberg continues. “I was struck by the subject matter as well as by Steven’s writing, which is economical and elegant. While I was in Paris, I took note of a very different temperature regarding the continuing wave of anti-Semitism there. There’s been an exodus from France, not only because of taxation, but by Jews who feel unsafe and have been fleeing to Israel and the United States.”
Paris Time’s world premiere comes to theREP through the company’s Next Act: New Play Summit, a playwriting contest, which, in collaboration with Proctors, puts new work on the North Pearl Street MainStage each season.
Greenberg, who has also directed the premieres of Next Act winners How Water Behaves and Assisted Loving, says, “My goal is to fulfill Steven’s vision and to do his work justice. The Next Act process is important to American theatre as a generator for new stories from emerging writers. The allure of television and other more lucrative avenues for playwrights is so great that we have to make opportunities for them to feel free and supported to make great new works for the stage.”
Greenberg first worked at theREP as an actor, in 1991, in Elaine Berman’s Peacetime, along with Wolf, who he met during the production. Paris Time is his ninth visit as director, and in addition to his Next Act entries, Greenberg has helmed Song of Singapore, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Breaking Up is Hard to Do, 33 Variations, The Single Girls Guide and Blue-Sky Boys. Greenberg’s work—including Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn; Barnum; Guys and Dolls; and Working with Stephen Schwartz and Lin-Manuel Miranda—has appeared on Broadway and in London’s West End. He is currently co-writing the forthcoming Broadway stage adaptation of The Secret of My Success for Universal Stage Productions.
While living in Paris in the early 2000s, Peterson, a Chicago resident, actually worked as an internal communications consultant for a large multinational firm—while the play is fiction, he knows of what he speaks. He is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Other produced works include The Actuary (Peninsula Players, Fish Creek, Wis.), Affluence(Theatre 40, Beverly Hills, Ca.) and The Invasion of Skokie (Chicago Dramatists).
Alaskan Jenny Ashman portrays Charlie’s employee, Reina, the young French Jew at the receiving end of the unidentified threats. She makes her Albany debut following recent performances in Side by Side by Sondheim and Evita at Kansas City Rep and Disney’s The Little Mermaid at the Hollywood Bowl.
Wally Dunn, playing American CEO Martin, is a Broadway veteran, with stints in Spamalot, Gypsy, One Mo’ Time and Master Class; and has appeared regionally at Goodspeed Opera House, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse, McCarter Theatre and Barrington Stage Company. His extensive film and television resume includes School of Rock, The Good Shepherd, 30 Rock and Law & Order.
Like Dunn and Ashman, Spencer Moses makes his Capital Repertory Theatre debut with Paris Time. On Broadway, Moses originated the role of Ned Schneebly in School of Rock, and also starred in the original casts of Doctor Zhivago, Guys & Dolls and The Farnsworth Invention. Locally, he appeared in June Moon at Dorset Theatre Festival.
Tom Templeton returns theREP as Phillipe, a quintessentially charming and mysterious French figure who leads local operations in Paris for Charlie and Martin’s firm. Templeton, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice, worked with Greenberg in Blue-Sky Boys; made his directorial debut last spring with Schenectady Civic Players; and was recently onstage at Curtain Call Theatre.
Wolf, as noted, worked with Greenberg at theREP in 1991. While the duo has remained friends, Paris Time marks their first subsequent collaboration. Wolf starred in The Substance of Fire at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum and has a strong resume in film and TV, including Margaret, Triumph of the Spirit, Less Than Zero and Graveyard Shift, as well as ER, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Grey’s Anatomy, The Gilmore Girls: A Year in The Life and a recurring role on Parenthood.
Greenberg’s production team includes Dramaturg/Assistant Director Teresa Campbell, and the director’s frequent collaborators—Lighting Designer Rob Denton, Set Designer Paul Tate dePoo III, Costume Designer Tristan Raines and Sound Designer David Thomas.
Preview performances for Paris Time take place Jan. 26–28. Opening night is Tuesday, Jan. 30; press night is Wednesday, Jan. 31. Regular performances continue through Sunday, Feb. 18. Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday—with matinees 3 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7. Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl Street, Albany. Tickets range from $20 to $55. Students with valid ID: $16 all shows. For tickets and information, call Tickets by Proctors, 518.445.SHOW (7469) or visit capitalrep.org.
Opening night includes live music from the Dylan Perrillo Trio in the café at 6:30 p.m., and complimentary post-show champagne and dessert from Bella Napoli Bakery. The Chef’s Table performance, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres for ticketholders, from Angelo’s 677 Prime, in the lobby, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Post show discussions with representatives from Paris Time will follow evening performances on Wednesdays, Feb. 7 and 14.
The Sunday, Feb. 18 matinee is preceded by a Behind-the-Scenes event, which features complimentary light breakfast fare for ticketholders, and discussion led by theREP’s Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. Food service begins at 12:30 p.m., with the presentation following from 1–1:30 p.m.
Paris Time is part of the 2017–2018 Bank of America Season at Capital Repertory Theatre, and is sub-sponsored by Stewart Jones, Hacker, Murphy LLP and Omni Development Company, Inc.