The Acting Company's "Moby Dick Rehearsed" comes to the Quick Center for the Arts

Enthusiasts of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," Orson Welles, Shakespeare and dynamic live theater are hereby put on notice: The award-winning Acting Company opens its new production of "Moby Dick Rehearsed," Orson Welles' stage adaptation of the classic novel by Herman Melville at Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts on Friday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. As part of ArtsBound, the Outreach Program co-sponsored by the Herman Goldman Foundation and the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation, there will be an additional show for grades 5 and up at 10 a.m. on Jan. 25 in the Kelley Theatre at the Quick Center.

It has been said, "Only a fool - or perhaps a genius - would adapt one of the greatest American novels for the stage. Orson Welles was a bit of both." Always a multi-leveled thinker and observer, Welles took this classic novel, explored the potent similarities of Melville's dominant character, Captain Ahab, and one of Shakespeare's most tortured characters, King Lear and drew a dramatic parallel between them in "Moby Dick - Rehearsed."

In The Acting Company's production, director Casey Biggs has created a mesmerizing theatrical tour-de-force that transforms Welles' play into deeply affecting theater. The company worked hard to achieve the experiential realism that makes the production riveting to young audiences and avid theatergoers alike.

In preparation for this production of "Moby Dick Rehearsed," The Acting Company's actors and director visited Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea to immerse themselves in whaling and the whaling ships that inhabited Melville's world. Dr. Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, who is an associate professor of English at the University of Connecticut, is also a Demonstration Squad Foreman at the Museum and hosted the company's visit. In addition, Dr. Bercaw Edwards is Executive Secretary of The Melville Society, one of the largest international single-author societies with over 700 individual and institutional members. The Company's enthusiasm was notable and Dr. Bercaw Edwards spoke of their visit saying, "I was MOST impressed with the director and the cast and deeply enjoyed my time with them - including giving them a chance to row in whaleboats."

Welles set his play in an empty theater and by treating the audience as a partner in creating illusion he deeply enriched the theatrical experience. Noted theater critic Kenneth Tynan wrote, "With this Moby Dick, the theater becomes once more a house of magic."

The story focuses on a troupe of actors led by a tyrannical director - powerfully portrayed by Seth Duerr - that abandons their rehearsal of a play about one unforgiving, vengeance obsessed man, King Lear, to recreate another of the same emotional stripe, Captain Ahab. The New York Times wrote of a 2007 performance by Duerr in a previous production of the show, "... Mr. Duerr is happily up to the challenge. With sunken eyes that betray a touch of madness, he looks like a man losing a battle but refusing to give up ... Mr. Duerr's booming baritone even brings to mind Welles himself."

The Acting Company has nurtured the nascent careers of such stars as Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Frances Conroy, David Ogden Stiers and Jeffrey Wright, to name but a few. Honored by the Tony Awards for Excellence in Theater, the Company has won the Obie, Audelco, Citibank's Excellence in Education and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.

Since its founding by the legendary John Houseman - who was a co-founder with Welles of the Mercury Theatre in 1937 - and Margot Harley in 1972, The Acting Company has performed 127 productions touring to 48 states and ten foreign countries.

Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance are $30; tickets for the ArtsBound 10 a.m. performance are $7. Tickets are available online at or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For further information, please visit

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950,

Posted on January 8, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 146

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