Venice Theatre’s Stage II kicks off New Year with political slugfest, Frost/Nixon
Area premiere of Peter Morgan’s docudrama opens Jan. 19, 2017
(Venice, Florida) Venice Theatre will continue its 2016-2017 Stage II Season with the area premiere of Frost/Nixon by British film writer and playwright, Peter Morgan. The play, called “briskly entertaining” by the New York Times, will open in Venice Theatre’s 90-seat Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre Thursday Jan. 19, and run through Saturday Feb. 11, 2017. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $32 for adults, $15-17 for students, and are on sale now at the theatre’s box office located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. in Venice, online at www.venicestage.com or by phone at 941-488-1115. Because the script contains strong language, audience discretion is advised, although older students are encouraged to attend this historical piece. Special rates are available for groups of 20 or more.
A dramatization of the events surrounding British talk-show host David Frost’s 1977 television interviews with an embattled Richard Nixon, Frost/Nixon opens in the oval office with the president’s resignation in 1974 and ends with highlights of the interviews which play out like a prizefight with Nixon in one corner and Frost in the other. Frost, who was known for covering entertainment and celebrities, was not considered a worthy intellectual opponent to Nixon. Nobody in journalism or politics thought he would get much out of Nixon, let alone a confession. Morgan’s play, often praised by critics for keeping audiences on the edge of their seats, capitalizes on the tension, suspense, and curiosity that the nation felt while watching these highly rated television interviews.
Frost/Nixon premiered in London in 2006 with Frank Langella as Richard M. Nixon and Michael Sheen as David Frost. After a successful run in London, the play moved to Broadway in 2007 with the same actors in the title roles. Langella and Sheen also starred in Ron Howard’s screen adaptation. Both the play and the film garnered positive notices, with the New York Times saying the play was, “staged with the momentum of a ticking-bomb thriller and the zing of a boulevard comedy.” The script, director, and featured actors were recognized with a variety of Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. Langella won the Tony Award for Best Actor.
At Venice Theatre, Peter Ivanov directs Chris Caswell in the role of Nixon. Caswell is a local Best Actor winner, who earned last season’s “Handy Award” for his portrayal of Sweeney Todd, also in Venice Theatre’s Stage II. Stage veteran, Douglas Landin, plays Frost. A full cast list of historical figures follows at the end of this release.
When asked what makes Frost/Nixon exciting, Ivanov says, “It may be the most ‘theatrical’ play you’ve ever seen. There are few experiences in the theater as exciting as a rip-snorting tale told in this wild style. We ride along on the selective remembrances of the lead character, writer and professor, James Reston. He wanders in and out of his own recollections of this national historic moment. He talks directly to the audience one moment, shakes Nixon’s hand the next, and then moves the play from Washington, D.C. to California by simply crossing the stage!”
Ivanov goes on to say, “As a director, it is satisfying to work on a piece that has pertinence to today’s events. Are Mr. Frost and Mr. Nixon timely and important? What they started certainly is. It could be argued that the collision between show business and politics really began with the Frost/Nixon interviews.” In fact, one of Reston’s lines in the play reads, “Hard to tell where the politics stopped and the showbiz started. Maybe in the end there is no difference.”
Again, Frost/Nixon runs in the Pinkerton Theatre Jan. 19 through Feb. 11, 2017. Venice Theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. Box office hours are Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one hour before all performances.
By Peter Morgan
Stage Manager: Mike Campbell
Scenic Designer: Brian Freeman
Sound Designers: Dorian Boyd & Jaclyn Ledoux
Technical Director/Lighting Designer: John Andzulis
Costume Designer: Nicholas Hartman
Master Electrician: Christian Londos
David Frost: Doug Landin
Richard Nixon: Chris Caswell
Bob Zelnick: Bill Czarniak
Jim Reston: Greg Wollaston
Jack Brennan: Allan Kollar
John Birt: Ray Burroughs
Caroline Cushing: Susan Laieli
“Swifty” Lazar: Gary Grossman
Evonne Goolagong: Erika Ginsberg Klemmt
Manolo Sanchez: Jim Walsh
Studio Manager: Jim Brigger
Technician: Chace Wadkins
Camera Man/TV Crew: Drew Burroughs
140 W. Tampa Ave.
Venice, FL 34285