POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—A sweeping tale of love and friendship, set against the trials and tragedy of the blacklist of the 1950s, is the basis of Joe Gilford’s Finks, directed by Charlie Stratton, that will receive its world premiere at Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater with a cast led by Josh Radnor (star of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother) and Tony Award-nominated Jennifer Westfeldt (Wonderful Town, Kissing Jessica Stein), July 23 – August 3.
“I deeply admire my parents’ courage,” said playwright Gilford about the inspiration for his choice to dramatize their story. “I also admired their acting talents. And the thing that I most admired was that despite everything, after years and years of struggle as artists and activists, they truly loved each other and stayed together for 40 years until my father’s death.”
Gilford remarked that the “intent of the play is to make sure the audience knows how horrible it was to be blacklisted; how tragic and wasteful.” He continued, “I wanted to show how arbitrary the HUAC [House Un-American Activities Committee] was in its actions; the absurdity of questioning anyone’s political beliefs or their right to free expression and how we have to be vigilant as this continues to happen time and time again.”
Josh Radnor will portray Mickey Dobbs, the character based upon Jack Gilford. Radnor is well-known for playing the central character on the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” He also is noted for his Broadway debut in The Graduate, as the title character opposite Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone, as well as for his work off-Broadway at Vineyard Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, and Blue Light Theater Company. In Los Angeles, he originated the roles of “Young Sandy” and “Sam” in the Ovation Award-winning world premiere production of Jon Robin Baitz’s The Paris Letter. Radnor, a 1994 alumnus of the Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Program, last performed at the Powerhouse during the 2000 season in Quincy Long’s The Lively Lad directed by Max Mayer.
The role of Natalie Meltzer, based upon Gilford’s mother Madeline, will be performed by actress Jennifer Westfeldt, who last appeared on Broadway in Wonderful Town, for which she received a Theater World Award, a Drama League Award and was nominated for a 2004 Tony Award. Westfeldt is best known for co-writing, co-producing, and starring as the title role in the 2002 indie hit Kissing Jessica Stein, released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Her second feature as an actress/writer/producer, the award-winning Ira & Abby, was released last fall to critical acclaim by Magnolia Pictures. Most recently, she starred on two seasons of ABC’s Notes From the Underbelly.
Other cast members include Ned Eisenberg (Awake and Sing, The Green Bird, Titus Andronicus) who will portray Fred Lang, an actor and painter and dear friend of both Dobbs and Meltzer; Kelly AuCoin (Julius Caesar, Copenhagen) will appear as Bobby Gerard, a choreographer; John Rothman (Prelude To A Kiss, Some Americans Abroad, Social Security) will take on the role of Rep. Francis Walter, chairman, House Un-American Activities Committee. The cast will also include Steve Rosen, Mitchell Greenberg, Nathan Mateus Duszny, and John Alix.
About the Production Team
Joe Gilford’s plays including Knockdown, Not Tunisia, In Aisle 4, The End of Our Rope, The Love Museum, and No Fault, have been presented at Naked Angels Theater Company, Roundabout Theater Company, Circle Rep Lab, The Westbank Downstairs Theater, and the Todd Mountain Theater Project. Gilford has had a long career producing television documentaries, and is the recipient of a New York Emmy Award in 1997 for his work on WNET’s “City Arts” series. He wrote the feature film adaptation of the French science fiction novel Operation Pertica; the pilot of Game, his new digital animation comedy series, is in pre-production.
For Naked Angels Theater Company, Charlie Stratton directed Love by Daniel Reitz, 187 by Jose Rivera, What I Meant to Say by Craig Lucas, and New Hope for the Dead by John Sayles, as well as pieces by Tessa Blake and Tony Horkins for Naked TV, a joint TV pilot development program between Naked Angels and Fox TV. In Los Angeles, he was the co-artistic director of The Wilton Project where he directed Neal Bell’s Therese Raquin; Laurie Lathem’s Slide; and April Vanoff’s A Kink in the Release. Stratton also writes and directs for television and film; his screenplay Formosa Betrayed is currently shooting in Thailand. Finks will mark Stratton’s return to Powerhouse, where he last directed Christopher Kyle’s Event Horizon.
Finks scenic design is by Neil Patel, costume design by Alix Hester, lighting design by Jason Lyons, and sound design by Darron L. West. Robert Marra will serve as movement consultant.
By Joe Gilford
Directed by Charlie Stratton
Neil Patel, scenic design
Alix Hester, costume design
Jason Lyons, lighting design
Darron L. West, sound design
Robert Marra, movement consultant
Josh Radnor as Mickey
Jennifer Westfeldt as Natalie
Ned Eisenberg as Fred
John Rothman as Rep. F. Walter
Kelly AuCoin as Bobby
Nathan Mateus Duszny
July 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31; August 1, 2 at 8:00 pm
July 26, 27; August 2, 3 at 2:00 pm
Subscription, Schedule, and Box Office Information:
Tickets may be purchased either online at http://powerhouse.vassar.edu, by calling the Powerhouse box office on campus at (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599, or in person at the box office.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.
The Powerhouse program is the result of a unique partnership between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. The program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 professional artists and some 40 apprentices live and work together to create new theater works. Powerhouse steadfastly supports both emerging and established artists.
Since its inception in 1985, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of hundreds of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.
About New York Stage and Film
Founded in 1985 by Producing Directors Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer and Leslie Urdang, and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer, New York Stage and Film (SAF) is a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development and production of new works for theater and film. SAF has developed and produced premiere works by such writers as John Patrick Shanley, Jon Robin Baitz, Steve Martin, Theresa Rebeck and Eve Ensler.
About Vassar College
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, Vassar is renowned for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the natural and architectural beauty of its campus. More than 50 academic departments and degree programs -- from Anthropology to Cognitive Sciences to Urban Studies -- encompass the arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and social services, and combine to offer a curriculum of more than 1,000 courses.