Trinity Rep Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Season with Grapes of Wrath

Saturday, August 17, 2013


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Anne Scurria and Stephen Thorne will star in Trinity Rep's production of The Grapes of Wrath.

As Trinity Rep celebrates its 50th anniversary as Rhode Island's premier theatre for the dramatic arts, the company will kick off its landmark season with John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. This American literary classic is the definitive tale of the strength of family and the human spirit in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Previews for the play will begin on September 5, 2013, and the show will run until October 6, 2013 in Trinity Rep's Dowling Theater.

"I am thrilled to invite Rhode Islanders to join us in celebrating our 50th anniversary season with this amazing, inaugural production," states Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Rep. "The Grapes of Wrath is an epic tale, one that sings about the strength of the common man, one that asks us to look for the power that lies within each of us, the power to face forward against insurmountable obstacles."

Sure to please

Adapted for the stage by Frank Galati, this evocative and deeply affecting stage version promises to lift Steinbeck’s novel to new heights of theatrical urgency, especially when married with director Brian McEleney's visceral storytelling style.

Part naturalistic epic, part road novel, part inspirational gospel, the Grapes of Wrath production will be staged in what has long become the Trinity Rep's signature style, with original folk-rock music from the show's band, 3pile. It also boasts a 17-member cast led by resident acting company member Stephen Thorne as Tom Joad. "This play is unmistakably flesh and blood, heart and soul, and it cries out for a company of great actors to bring these remarkable characters to life," says Columbus. The cast features fellow company members Stephen Berenson, Janice Duclos, Mia Ellis, Anne Scurria, Fred Sullivan, Jr., Charlie Thurston, and Joe Wilson, Jr. It also features guest artists Jessica Crandall and Richard Donelly, and Brown/Trinity Rep MFA actors Alex Curtis, Sherri Eldin, Ben Grills, Zdenko Martin, Nikki Massoud, Ted Moller and Matt E. Russell.

Hitting close to home

Written in the wake of the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath speaks to the same harsh realities that America faces today: natural disasters, rampant foreclosures, corporate greed, and record joblessness. The story of a nation is told through the eyes of one Oklahoma clan—the Joads—driven off their farm and forced west to find work in California’s “promised land.” Throughout their epic journey, the family refuses to lose hope in the face of suffering as they cling furiously to their human dignity.

"There is such a need to tell this story now in a very real, very understandable way,” explains director Brian McEleney. “People should not be able to walk away from this and say, 'Oh, that was fun, what a nice re-enactment of Americana.' We have seen natural disasters like Katrina, and we have also seen our neighbors lose their jobs and their homes to foreclosure. The Joad family experiences those same things, and there is a very heroic example to be found in their ability to not be overwhelmed and in fact, endure these trials. I hope audiences will join us on this adventure, this journey, and really experience this truly great American novel in a contemporary way rather than at a nostalgic distance."

Director McEleney and his design team have transformed the Dowling Theater space into an intimate and rustic country bar setting, and the production will be staged in the round with the audience on both sides. Set designer Michael McGarty has built a functioning bar in the middle of the playing space, and the bartenders will be serving patrons before and after the performance while the house band plays. Resident costume designer William Lane has created the period costumes; lighting designer John Ambrosone and sound designer Peter Sasha Hurowitz lend their talents to the creation of the rustic environment.

Tickets for The Grapes of Wrath and the rest of the theater's 50th Anniversary season go on sale Saturday, August 17th. The Grapes of Wrath will have discounted previews from September 5th through the 7th at 7:30pm. Friday, September 6th is Pay What You Can (PWYC) night, tickets on sale at 6:30pm that evening. Go to for more info, show times, and tickets.


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