A Noise Within (ANW), the acclaimed classical repertory theatre company, concludes its 2013-14 season with Come Back, Little Sheba by William Inge, opening on Saturday, April 5 and running through Saturday, May 17, 2014. Directed by ANW co-artistic directors Julia Rodriguez- Elliott and Geoff Elliott, it tells the story of a middle-aged couple, Lola and Doc, at a time when the pace of American life was not so rapid. Awash in the what-ifs and drifting apart, they have taken in a young, vivacious college boarder—and in so doing unwittingly create an explosive catalyst for change. After more than half a century, William Inge’s contemporary masterpiece remains compelling and deeply resonant.
ANW’s Co-Artistic Director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott comments on the play, “Come Back, Little Sheba is the most modern and only American play in our season themed ‘Lost and Found,’ and a perfect one to end on. Inge really captures the insularity and longing of the cloistered, small-town Midwest during the middle part of the last century. Lola loses Sheba. Doc loses his sobriety. And their marriage loses its way, but Inge has a way of ennobling their experience of loss.”
The play is also notable for its groundbreaking (and controversial) depiction of alcoholism and the burgeoning Alcoholics’ Anonymous Movement, which had been founded little more than a decade earlier in the Midwest. It is thus striking for its stark psychological realism, rare in drama of its day. Lead actress Deborah Strang notes, “William Inge always touches my soul. He seems to have such an affinity for the deep yearning within each of us, young and old alike–and for the human need for love, passion, connection—and, ultimately, for acceptance.” www.ANoiseWithin.org for updated pricing and seat availability.
The cast features Deborah Strang* as Lola and Geoff Elliott* as Doc, along with Lili Fuller as Marie and Miles Gaston Villanueva* as Turk. Other members of the cast are Jill Hill* as Mrs. Coffman, John Klopping as the Milkman, Jack Elliott as the Messenger, Paul Culos as Bruce, Mitchell Edmonds* as Ed Anderson/Postman, and James Ferrero as Elmo Huston. * Denotes member of Actors’ Equity
Single ticket prices for Come Back, Little Sheba start at $34. Contact the A Noise Within box office in person, via phone at 626-356-3100, or online at
William Inge burst upon the theatrical scene with Come Back, Little Sheba, a story of American marital frustration. Many years before the action begins, Doc and Lola had an indiscreet affair. She became pregnant and, he, compelled to marry her, gave up his medical studies, and forfeited his brightest future. Doc settled down to a life of quiet desperation with simple, homey Lola, who lost the baby but has remained his steadfast, if slatternly, wife. Now a chiropractor and recovering alcoholic, Doc’s sobriety is tested when Marie, a young college student, becomes their boarder, bringing new life and long-dormant hostilities to the surface of Doc and Lola’s troubled marriage.
Inge was born in 1913. He grew up in the small town of Independence, Kansas; and would later attribute his understanding of human behavior to growing up in a small town. His father was a traveling salesman and Inge had a close relationship with his mother. After his education and a stint teaching at Stephens College from 1938-43, he moved to St. Louis, and worked as the drama and music critic at the St. Louis Times. Inge became acquainted with Tennessee Williams, who inspired him to write his first play Farther Off from Heaven. Inge then taught at Washington University and began serious work turning one of his own early fragmentary short stories into a one-act play.
This work evolved into Come Back, Little Sheba, which earned him the title of most promising playwright of the 1950 Broadway season. In 1952, Paramount Pictures released the film version of the play, starring Shirley Booth and Burt Lancaster. Booth won the Tony, the NY Drama Critics Award and later the Oscar as Best Actress of The Year, for her compelling performance as Lola on stage and screen. Sheba was the start of an amazing run for Inge on Broadway and in films: 1952’s Picnic, which won Inge the Pulitzer, was followed by the hit plays Bus Stop (1955) and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957). Hollywood made each into a film shortly afterward. In 1959, A Loss of Roses closed after a three-week run; Inge was devastated by the negative criticism. In 1960, Inge’s first screenplay, “Splendor in the Grass,” won him the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. His next two plays were unsuccessful and he left New York, moving to California in 1963. In 1968, he took a teaching position at UC Irvine but, becoming increasingly depressed, he quit in 1970. His final two works were unsuccessful novels. Inge committed suicide at 60 in 1973 in Hollywood.
This engagement of Come Back, Little Sheba includes a symposium with a noted Inge scholar on Wednesday April 2, (symposium starts at 6:30pm, play at 8:00pm) who will discuss the play prior to that evening’s performance. There will also be post-performance conversations with the artists of Sheba on April 13 at 2pm, April 25 at 8pm and May 15 at 7:30 pm and an ASL-interpreted performance on May 16 at 8pm. Pay What You Can performance is Thursday April 3 at 7:30pm.
Come Back, Little Sheba is generously supported by Dr. Edward J. Kormondy and an anonymous donor. Come Back, Little Sheba is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. ASL Interpreted Performances are underwritten by The Ellingsen Family Fund.
Media Sponsors for A Noise Within’s 2013/14 Season are the Pasadena Star-News and KPCC 89.3 FM.
A Noise Within is located on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Sierra Madre Villa Avenue at 3352 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107.
About A Noise Within
A Noise Within performs and promotes classical theatre as an essential means for our community to confront the universal human experience, expand personal awareness and challenge individual perspectives. A Noise Within’s mission is to produce world-class performances of the great works of drama in rotating repertory with a resident company; to educate and inspire the public through programs that foster an understanding and appreciation of history’s great plays and playwrights; and to train the next generation of classical theatre artists.
A Noise Within was founded in 1991. Operating out of a former Masonic Temple in Glendale, they staged a production of Hamletthat was accessible and relevant at a time when classic theatre was not widely performed in Los Angeles. The twenty-year evolution from a small neighborhood theatre to the current acclaimed repertory company has been marked by constantly raising the bar on what great classical theatre can be. The move to a new, permanent home provides A Noise Within with expanded artistic possibilities, a greater scope of educational opportunities, and the capacity to meet demand and reach its full potential.
A Noise Within Producing Artistic Directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott both hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Florida and a Master of Fine Arts from San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. In 1991, with a mere $3,000 from their personal savings account, they set an ambitious vision for ANW: to establish a home for the classics that would present a challenging repertory, take artistic risks, and ensure accessibility to diverse audiences. Through its founders’ and company’s passion and persistence, the theatre now ranks as the leading presenter of great world drama in Southern California.
Calendar Listing: Come Back, Little Sheba
Come Back, Little Sheba by William Inge
A Noise Within, 3352 East Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107
Saturday, Mar 29 at 8pm
Wednesday, Apr 2 at 8pm (Symposia starts at 6:30 PM)
Thursday, Apr 3 at 7:30pm (Pay What You Can)
Friday, Apr 4 at 8pm
Saturday, Apr 5 at 8pm (Opening)
Sunday, Apr 6 at 2pm
Sunday, Apr 13 at 2pm (Conversations)
Sunday, Apr 13 at 7pm
Friday, Apr 25 at 8pm (Conversations)
Saturday, Apr 26 at 2pm
Saturday, Apr 26 at 8pm
Sunday, May 4 at 2pm
Sunday, May 4 at 7pm
Saturday, May 10 at 2pm
Saturday, May 10 at 8pm
Thursday, May 15 at 7:30pm (Conversations)
Friday, May 16 at 8pm (ASL Performance)
Saturday, May 17 at 8pm
Tickets and information:
Website: www.anoisewithin.org; Phone: 626-356-3100 ex 1
Prices: Single Tickets from $34; Student Rush with i.d. an hour before performance $20.00;
Groups (10 or more): Adults from $25.00; Students from $16.00
Pay What You Can Performance: Thursday, Apr 3 at 7:30pm. Pay What You Can tickets go on sale at the box office window the day of the performance, starting at 2pm, and are sold on a cash-only basis based on availability; limit of two tickets per person.
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Come Back, Little Sheba – Stand In Photo
Awake and Sing! (pictured right: Deborah Strang)
Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz
Click on image for hi-res version