TOP RATING! "Effective, genuine, heartfelt" – San Francisco Chronicle

FIVE STARS! "The best new play I've seen this year" – North Bay Bohemian

FIVE STARS! "Theatre at its best. This is a do not miss production." – For All Events"

Nothing could prepare me for the powerful performance of Nicholas Pelczar: It’s unquestionably the best acting job of the year" – Mill Valley Herald

Weighing in at almost 600 pounds, Charlie is a gentle but grieving giant, beached on a couch in Northern Idaho. Following a cardiac episode, he decides to reach out, after years of estrangement, to his troubled teenage daughter. This big-hearted family drama received MTC’s 2011 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize and has gone on to become one of the most critically acclaimed new plays in America since its premiere in 2012.

Featuring Adam Magill, Michelle Maxson*, Cristina Oeschger, Nicholas Pelczar* and Liz Sklar*

Recommended for mature teens and up.
LENGTH OF SHOW
– One hour and forty-five minutes, no intermission

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Though Samuel D. Hunter won Village Voice’s 2011 Obie Award for playwriting, the success of The Whale marks a turning point in the young writer’s career. With Hunter receiving so many high profile premieres across the US right now, Playbill has declared 2014 “The Year of the Hunter” - a hyperbolic declaration now made literal with the September announcement that Hunter is a recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" Fellow.

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Cast

  • Adam Magill

    Adam Magill

    Elder Thomas

    Adam Magill makes his MTC debut in The Whale. He is a graduate of the Foothill Theater Conservatory and has received additional training at Seydways Studios in San Francisco. Recent credits include Shiner at FaultLine Theater, The Tempest at Do It Live and All's Well That Ends Well at Marin Shakespeare Company. He is also a contributor and company performer for the Play On Words literary performance series.

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  • Michelle Maxson*

    Michelle Maxson*

    Mary

    Michelle Maxson makes her MTC debut in The Whale. Originally from the Bay Area, she lived for many years in New York, where she performed at venues including Cherry Lane Theatre, Culture Project, INTAR, Ensemble Studio Theatre, 78th St. Theatre Lab and Bleecker Street Theater. She has created original works at HERE Arts Center and Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, as well as acted in developmental workshops and readings with New York Theatre Workshop, Lark Play Development Center and American Repertory Theatre. In the Bay Area, Maxson was a resident artist at the Climate Theater and received a Theatre Bay Area CA$H Grant to develop the original piece They Are Bad People. Upcoming projects include the independent film The Fixer, starring Melissa Leo and James Franco, directed by her longtime collaborator Ian Olds. She is an adjunct professor of acting at the University of San Francisco.

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  • Cristina Oeschger

    Cristina Oeschger

    Ellie

    Cristina Oeschger makes her MTC debut in The Whale. A Bay Area native and high school senior at Laurel Springs School, she has performed in numerous musicals around the Bay Area, including Side Show and Shrek at Children's Musical Theater San Jose and the lead in Carrie the Musical at Ray of Light Theatre, for which she was nominated for the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Principal Actress in a Musical. Cristina plans to major in musical theater when she goes to college next fall. cristinaoeschger.weebly.com

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  • Nicholas Pelczar*

    Nicholas Pelczar*

    Charlie

    Nicholas Pelczar (Charlie) has appeared at MTC in Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, The Whipping Man, Othello, the Moor of Venice, The Glass Menagerie and boom. His Bay Area credits include Major Barbara, Arcadia, War Music, Rock ‘n’ Roll and A Christmas Carol at A.C.T.; A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pygmalion, Hamlet, The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Othello, Titus Andronicus, Taming of the Shrew, All’s Well That Ends Well and The Importance of Being Earnest at Cal Shakes; The Pitmen Painters at TheatreWorks; 4 Adverbs with Word for Word; Hamlet and As You Like It at Pacific Repertory Theatre; A Midsummer Night’s Dream at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival; and Marius and Dublin Carol at Aurora Theatre Company. Nationally, he has appeared in The Whipping Man at Virginia Stage Company. Pelczar is a graduate of the A.C.T. MFA acting program.

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  • Liz Sklar*

    Liz Sklar*

    Liz

    Liz Sklar has appeared at MTC in the world premieres of Lasso of Truth, Bellwether and Seagull, as well as Failure: A Love Story, Othello, the Moor of Venice and public readings of Bill Cain’s play-in-development 33. She has also been an MTC teacher in residence at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy in Marin City. Sklar recently participated in A.C.T.’s staged reading of The Desk Set. Other Bay Area credits include Becky Shaw at SF Playhouse, Care of Trees at Shotgun Players, A Christmas Carol at A.C.T., King John at Marin Shakespeare Company and The Tempest at Cal Shakes. Sklar also performed in Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Mortal Folly Theatre in New York City and co-starred with Stacy Keach in the film Imbued. She holds a BA in theater arts from Brown University, an MFA in acting from A.C.T. and has trained with the SITI Company in New York.

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Creative Team

  • Samuel D. Hunter

    playwright

    Samuel D. Hunter makes his MTC debut with The Whale, which won the company’s 2011 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize. His other plays include A Bright New Boise (Obie Award, Drama Desk nomination for Best Play), The Few, A Great Wilderness, Rest and Pocatello. He is the recipient of a 2014 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, a 2012 Whiting Writers Award, a Drama Desk Award, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, a GLAAD Media Award, the 2013 Otis Guernsey New Voices Award and the 2008 PONY/Lark Fellowship. His plays have been produced in New York at Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Clubbed Thumb and Page 73, and around the country at such theaters as Seattle Rep, Victory Gardens, South Coast Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival, The Old Globe, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Denver Center Theatre Company and elsewhere. His work has been developed at the O’Neill Playwrights Conference, the Ojai Playwrights Conference, Seven Devils, and PlayPenn. A published anthology of his work, including The Whale and A Bright New Boise, is available from TCG books. He is a member of New Dramatists, an Ensemble Playwright at Victory Gardens, a member of Partial Comfort Productions, and was a 2013 Resident Playwright at Arena Stage. A native of northern Idaho, Sam lives in NYC. He holds degrees in playwriting from NYU, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and Juilliard.


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  • Jasson Minadakis

    director

    Jasson Minadakis is in his ninth season as artistic director of MTC, where he has directed Failure: A Love Story, the world premiere of Lasso of Truth, The Whipping Man (San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Awards for best production and best acting ensemble), Waiting for Godot, Othello, the Moor of Venice, The Glass Menagerie, Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice, the world premiere of Seagull, Happy Now?, Equivocation (SFBATCC Award for best director), the world premiere of Sunlight, Lydia, The Seafarer, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Streetcar Named Desire, said Saïd, Love Song and The Subject Tonight is Love. As artistic director of Actor’s Express Theatre Company, he directed The Pillowman, Bug, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, Echoes of Another Man, Killer Joe, Burn This, The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, Blue/Orange and Bel Canto. As producing artistic director of Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, he directed Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Chagrin Falls (2002 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Production) and numerous others, including 19 productions of Shakespeare. Regional credits include The Whipping Man at Virginia Stage Company, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Hamlet at Georgia Shakespeare, Copenhagen at Playhouse on the Square (2003 Ostrander Theatre Award for Best Dramatic Production) and Bedroom Farce at Wayside Theatre.

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  • Michael Locher

    scenic designer

    Michael Locher has designed scenery for MTC’s production of I and You. Locally, his work has been seen at Magic Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Center REP, Cal Shakes, the Jewish Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater and the Cutting Ball Theater, where he is a longtime artistic associate and resident set designer. Regionally, his credits include Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland, PlayMakers in Chapel Hill, Yale Rep, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Northern Stage in Vermont, Yale Baroque Opera Project, Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glen Falls, New York, and a number of Off-Broadway productions. Locher also works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, specializing in artwork for theater companies and related organizations. A graduate of the University of California, San Diego (Stewart Prize), and Yale School of Drama (Donald Oenslager Scholarship in Stage Design), he currently lives in Albany with his wife and daughter.


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  • Kurt Landisman

    lighting designer

    Kurt Landisman has designed lighting for over 40 of MTC’s productions, including August Wilson’s Fences, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, Topdog/Underdog, Othello, the Moor of Venice and Seven Guitars. His lighting designs have been seen at most Bay Area theaters including A.C.T., Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, Aurora Theatre Company, Center REP, San Francisco Opera, Cal Shakes, Magic Theatre and TheatreWorks. He has received numerous San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle and Drama-Logue awards. Nationally, Landisman’s designs have been seen at Arizona Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, Los Angeles Opera, Minnesota Opera, Sacramento Opera, Virginia Opera, Tulsa Opera, Ballet Arizona, Guthrie Theatre and Cincinnati Playhouse, as well as Off Broadway at Circle Rep and Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. His association with playwright Sam Shepard included the world premieres of True West and Fool for Love. Internationally, his designs have been seen in Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai. kurtlandisman.com

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  • Christine Crook

    costume designer

    Christine Crook has designed costumes for MTC’s productions of August Wilson’s Fences and Circle Mirror Transformation. She also designs for theater, dance and opera all over the Bay Area with companies like Opera Parallèle, Magic Theatre, Cal Shakes, Aurora Theatre Company, Boxcar Theatre, SF Playhouse, UC Berkeley, Center REP, Festival Opera, Lizz Roman Dance, Berkeley Playhouse, and with Just Theater and the Shotgun Players as a company member of both. Recent credits include Lucia di Lammermoor with LA Opera and Hundred Days with Encore Theatre Company at Z Space. Crook has an MFA in costume design from UC San Diego and is the recipient of two San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. christinecrook.squarespace.com

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  • Chris Houston

    composer, sound designer

    Chris Houston is a pianist, composer and sound designer. He has composed music and/or designed sound for 27 MTC productions, including Failure: A Love Story, August Wilson’s Fences, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, The Whipping Man (co-production with Virginia Stage Company), Waiting for Godot, It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Topdog/Underdog, Othello, the Moor of Venice, The Glass Menagerie, the world premiere of Bellwether, Seven Guitars, In the Red and Brown Water, Equivocation and more. Locally, his designs and compositions have been featured at A.C.T., Aurora Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, Center REP, Magic Theatre and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.Vicki Shaghoian

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  • Vicki Shaghoian

    breath and physicality coach

    Vicki Shaghoian makes her MTC debut with The Whale. She recently relocated to the Bay Area to join the MFA faculty at A.C.T. Previously, she was an assistant professor of acting at the Yale School of Drama for 14 years. Among her many affiliations as a vocal coach, music director and teaching artist are Yale Repertory Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Broadway (Metamorpheses), the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, the Drama League’s New Directors/New Works Program, New York Musical Theater Festival, All Stages New Playwright Series, New York International Fringe Festival, Rattlesnake Playwrights Theater, Miscreant Theater Company, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Theater Institute, the Foundry Theatre, the Old Globe and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

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  • Kirsten Royston

    props artisan

    Kirsten Royston has been MTC’s props artisan for Fetch Clay, Make Man and assistant props artisan for Failure: A Love Story. The resident technical director of San Francisco State University’s Brown Bag production development class, she is a Bay Area-based set, props and production designer. Her recent prop work includes American Buffalo and The Letters at Aurora Theatre Company and Daylighting: The Berkeley Stories Project and Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness at Shotgun Players. kirstenroyston.com

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  • Sean McStravick

    stage manager

    Sean McStravick has previously stage managed MTC’s productions of Fetch Clay, Make Man and Good People. In the Bay Area, he has stage managed for Shotgun Players, 42nd Street Moon and Willows Theatre Company, where he was the production stage manager from 2010 to 2012. Regionally, he has worked with North Coast Repertory Theatre, Blue Trunk Theatre Company, Back Seat Theatre and Actors Alliance of San Diego. Sean is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.

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* Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
+ Member, United Scenic Artists
^ Member, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Reviews

  • "Makes a splash... a curiously effective exploration of empathy and search for signs of genuine, heartfelt expression... Under Minadakis’ skilled orchestration, Nicholas Pelczar’s remarkably open, unwieldy, weak but surprisingly strong-willed Charlie and the rest of the cast draw us ever deeper into a world of human error, remorse, aspirations and connection."

    — San Francisco Chronicle Read full review
  • "Brilliant: beautifully written, emotionally knotty... the best new play I've seen this year... a remarkable performance by Nicholas Pelczar... One of the many miracles of Hunter's ingenious drama: it allows us to enter the lives of others so deeply we begin to see the world—good, bad or ugly—through their eyes."

    — North Bay Bohemian Read full review
  • "Brings forth an emotional wallop worthy of its title seagoing creature... a triumphant performance by Nicolas Pelczar... All the pieces of this production have aligned with Hunter's words to bring The Whale to a place of rare theatrical magnitude."

    — Bay Area Reporter Read full review
  • "Powerful... Nothing could prepare me for the powerful, spot-on performance of Nicholas Pelczar... For me, it’s unquestionably the best acting job of the year... The supporting cast also dazzles... “The Whale” is so potent that the opening night crowd, totally stunned, didn’t applaud for several seconds. A thunderous tumult then rocked the place."

    — Mill Valley Herald and other Marinscope Community Newspapers Read full review
  • "Theatre at its best! Marin Theatre Company’s New Play Program has become the Bay Area blue-chip showcase for new American plays.... Stunning, riveting and gut wrenching; will keep you transfixed... Nicholas Pelczar gives a prizewinning performance... This is a do not miss production."

    — For All Events Read full review
  • "Strongly recommended: Excellent... frightening, funny, heartfelt and layered with intelligently observed empathy... Hunter’s script is a marvelously woven tapestry of characters confronting fears and identities they’ve spent years trying to keep at bay... Each member of the cast delivers a memorable performance, But it’s Nicholas Pelczar’s compelling performance as Charlie that will likely remain unforgettable for those who see it."

    — A Beast in a Jungle Read full review
  • "Hunter’s play has much to recommend it – a seething dark humor and plenty of juice – and Marin Theatre’s take on it, deftly orchestrated by director Jasson Minadakis, is irresistible. If you think a lonely fat guy’s end-of-life travails can’t be riveting, think again... I was gripped by The Whale. It’s must-see theater... The remarkable actor Nicholas Pelczar [is] front and center in a role that would try the finest actors [and] you believe completely in him - though what he does goes beyond realism; he transmutes it into wrenching poetry."

    — Piedmont Post (and Repeat Performances) Read full review
  • "Uniquely beautiful, intriguing... Actor Nicholas Pelczar is extraordinary: He imbues Charlie’s gargantuan body with such feeling that you immediately root for him, even though the odds are decidedly not in his favor. The wheezing, the strenuous effort to journey from the couch to the walker to the bathroom is arduous and hard to watch, but then there’s Pelczar’s sweet face or Charlie’s even sweeter nature there to remind you of the person underneath all that person."

    — TheaterDogs Read full review
  • "Directed with skill and sensitivity that elicits multi-layered performances from each actor... Nicholas Pelczar delivers a tour de force as Charlie – It’s an incredible feat of acting. The other four actors are outstanding, too, creating characters with complex motivations... It holds the audience rapt, thanks to Hunter’s writing and Pelczar’s performance for the ages."

    — The San Mateo Daily Journal Read full review
  • "This often darkly comedic drama is emotionally wrenching... It's a powerful and difficult play – But some of Charlie's hopefulness about human nature can't help but rub off on the viewer."

    — Marin IJ Read full review
  • "A memorable night: Nicholas Pelczar is brilliant; It is a dazzling tour de force of acting... A moving production."

    — Talkin' Broadway – San Francisco Read full review
  • "Nicholas Pelczar gives a stunning demonstration of craft; a virtuoso performance akin to a musician mastering an atonal score written in constantly changing rhythms

    — My Cultural Landscape Read full review

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