Former Hartford Stage Artistic Director Michael Wilson will direct
Hartford, CT – February 24, 2020 – Former Artistic Director Michael Wilson will return to Hartford Stage in March to direct the original play which inspired the Academy Award-winning film The King’s Speech. Written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter David Seidler, the play tells the true story of King George VI, his speech therapist Lionel Logue, and a friendship that helped steer the course of history. The King’s Speech will run Thursday, March 19, through Sunday, April 19.
“It’s a wonderful gift to our 2019/2020 season to welcome back Michael Wilson, a dear friend to me and to the Hartford community,” said Hartford Stage Artistic Director Melia Bensussen. “The timing of this production couldn’t be more perfect: with our focus on the British monarchy, and the responsibilities central to their role, this production brings to mind the history of the many challenges in accepting leadership. Perhaps more close to home, The King’s Speech reminds us with great wit of the gifts we receive from our mentors and teachers. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to connect back to Michael’s legacy at Hartford Stage and to welcome audiences to once again enjoy his exuberant and theatrical work.”
With international war looming, England’s King George V dies, leaving the Crown and the crisis to his youngest son Bertie. Shy, fragile and afflicted with a profound stammer, Bertie is ill-equipped to inspire and lead a people now instantaneously informed by a new invention: the wireless radio. He seeks help from a Harley Street doctor, Lionel Logue, and finds an unexpected friendship. But can Logue help the King find his voice? Their success or failure as therapist and patient will seal their destiny, the destiny of England and, perhaps, the world. The King’s Speech premiered at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in the UK before debuting on the West End. The film that followed the play won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for David Seidler. The play made its North American debut last year at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Former Hartford Stage Artistic Director Michael Wilson (1998-2011) directed the Tony Award-nominated revivals of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man and Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, which earned a Tony Award for Cicely Tyson, as well as the Tony Award-nominated plays Enchanted April and Dividing the Estate. A Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics’ Circle Award winner for his acclaimed three-part, nine-hour production of Foote’s The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Wilson directed the 2016 Los Angeles premiere of the musical Grey Gardens starring Betty Buckley and Rachel York. Recent projects include the premiere of the new musical Beau by Douglas Lyons and Ethan Pakchar, the American Repertory Theatre revival of The Night of the Iguana, and the premiere of Fellow Travelers by Jack Canfora.
Playwright David Seidler was born in London and sent to the United States as an infant during World War II, which resulted in a childhood stammer. George VI, the reluctant stuttering king, became his boyhood hero, role model, and the inspiration for The King’s Speech, which was adapted for film starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, and Guy Pearce. The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for Seidler in 2010. Seidler’s career began with writing dubbed scripts for Godzilla: King of the Monsters movies. In Hollywood, he has over 20 credits, most notably Tucker: The Man and His Dream, starring Jeff Bridges and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Broadway veteran Bryan Batt (Cats, Sunset Boulevard), who co-starred on the award-winning AMC series Mad Men, will play Lionel Logue. Nick Westrate (Casa Valentina, Bernhardt/Hamlet, and A Moon for the Misbegotten, Broadway) will play Bertie.
Also in the cast of The King’s Speech are Harry Belden (Letters Home, Griffin Theatre)–Understudy; Jeffrey Diebold (Mamma Mia!, North American Tour) as Royal Herald; Tony Dobrowolski (The Winter’s Tale, Chicago Shakespeare Theater)– Understudy; Michelle Jasso (Grand Hotel, Kokandy Productions)–Understudy; John Judd as King George V (American Buffalo, McCarter Theatre Center); Bill Kux (Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Broadway; Ether Dome, Hartford Stage) as BBC News Commentator; Maggie Lacey (Dividing the Estate, Broadway; The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Hartford Stage) as Elizabeth; Elizabeth Ledo (Our Town, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre) as Myrtle Logue; David Lively (Twelve Angry Men, Roundabout Theatre Company National Tour) as Stanley Baldwin; Tim Monsion (Marvin’s Room, Playwrights Horizons/Hartford Stage) as Winston Churchill; Jeff Parker (Candide, Huntington Theatre Company) as David; Chad Patterson (As You Like It, Pacific Conservatory Theatre) as Royal Footman; Tiffany Scott (Sense & Sensibility: The Musical, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) as Wallis Simpson; Noble Shropshire (The Drowsy Chaperone, Broadway; A Christmas Carol–A Ghost Story of Christmas, Hartford Stage) as Cosmo Lang; and Trevor Strahan (Richard III, Shakespeare Dallas) as Royal Footman.
The creative team includes Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet (Of Mice and Men, Broadway–Associate Designer); Costume Designer David C. Woolard (West Side Story, Broadway); Lighting Designer Howell Binkley (Hamilton–Tony Award, Broadway); Projection Designer Hana S. Kim (Sweat, American Conservatory Theater); Sound Designer and Original Music Composer John Gromada (over 40 Broadway productions, including The Trip to Bountiful and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man); Wig and Make-Up Designer Richard Jarvie (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Chicago Shakespeare Theater); Choreographer Jane Lanier (Guys and Dolls, Broadway–Associate Choreographer); and Dramaturg Christopher Baker (The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Hartford Stage).
The Production Stage Manager is Lori Lundquist (Jeeves & Wooster in “Perfect Nonsense”, Hartford Stage). Lauren Cavanaugh (At the Old Place, Old Globe Theatre) and Katrina Herrmann (The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Lookingglass Theatre Company) are the Assistant Stage Managers.
Producers for the Hartford Stage production of The King’s Speech are David & Janice Klein, The Pryor Family, and Jack & Donna Sennott.
- Dates & Times – The King’s Speech runs Thursday, March 19, through Sunday, April 19. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and select weekday matinee performances begin at 2:00 p.m.
- Press and Opening Night – Friday, March 27, at 8:00 p.m.
- PlayDate Performance – Saturday, March 28, at 2:00 p.m. (Free babysitting service for parents and caregivers of children ages 2-10)
- Sunday Afternoon Discussion – Sunday, March 29, immediately following the 2:00 p.m. matinee
- Open Captioned Performance – Sunday, April 5, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For patrons who are deaf or have hearing loss. Free service with admission.
- Audio Described Performance – Saturday, April 11, at 2:00 p.m. For patrons who are blind or have low vision. Free service with admission.
- AfterWords Discussion – Tuesday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m.; Wednesday, April 1, at 2:00 p.m.; and Tuesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. Join members of the cast and our artistic staff for a free discussion immediately following the performance.
Tickets start at $25. For show times and tickets, contact the Hartford Stage Box Office at 860-527-5151 or visit https://www.hartfordstage.org/kings-speech/. Student tickets are $20. For group discounts (10 or more), contact Group Sales at 860-527-5151. Group rates are limited to select performances and based on availability.
Hartford Stage enters its 56th season beginning an exciting new chapter. Artistic Director Melia Bensussen and Managing Director Cynthia Rider will continue the theatre’s legacy of artistic excellence by creating theatrical works that enlighten, entertain, and educate.
Renowned for producing innovative revivals of classics, as well as provocative new plays and musicals, Hartford Stage has earned many of the nation’s most prestigious awards, including the 1989 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Additional national recognition includes honors from the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, American Theatre Wing (OBIE), and the New York Critics Circle.
Hartford Stage has produced over 80 world and North American premieres, including the new musicalAnastasia, which enjoyed a two-year run on Broadway; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical; and Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Other notable premieres include The Engagement Party by Samuel Baum; Make Believe by Bess Wohl; The Age of Innocence by Douglas McGrath; Seder by Sarah Gancher; Rear Window, adapted by Keith Reddin, and starring Kevin Bacon; An Opening in Time by Christopher Shinn; Reverberation by Matthew Lopez; Big Dance Theatre’s Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; and Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty. Nationally-renowned titles include the New York transfers of Enchanted April; The Orphans’ Home Cycle; Resurrection (later retitled Through the Night); The Carpetbagger’s Children;and Tea at Five.The leading provider of theatre education programs in Connecticut, Hartford Stage’s offerings include student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for students (ages 3-18) and adults, afterschool programs and professional development courses.
The leading provider of theatre education programs in Connecticut, Education @ Hartford Stage offers student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for students (ages 3-18) and adults, afterschool programs and professional development courses. Education @ Hartford Stage programming reaches approximately 21,000 Connecticut students annually