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Arden Theatre Company presents A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Novel by John Irving • Adapted by Simon Bent • Directed by Terrence J. Nolen • September 14 - October 15, 2006 • Philadelphia premiere!

August 18, 2006

Philadelphia, PA - Arden Theatre Company kicks off its 2006/07 season with the Philadelphia premiere of A Prayer for Owen Meany, adapted from the beloved, bestselling novel by celebrated author John Irving. A Prayer for Owen Meany will run from September 14 to October 15, 2006. Join us at our award-winning theatre at 40 N. 2nd Street in the heart of vibrant, historic Old City Philadelphia. Just this Wednesday, the Arden earned 24 Barrymore Award nominations for our work last season - double the nominations received by any other area theatre!

Expect to be enthralled by A Prayer for Owen Meany, a powerful, provocative dark comedy of friendship, faith and destiny. Owen Meany is an unusually small child with a striking voice who considers himself an instrument of God. When he accidentally kills his friend John Wheelwright's mother in 1950s New Hampshire, the two boys are forever linked as they search for truth in an evocative memory play seen through John Wheelwright's eyes. First published in 1989, the bestselling novel A Prayer for Owen Meany has become an international phenomenon among readers and critics, hailed by Time as "vintage Irving... a boisterous cast, a spirited story" and "roomy, intelligent, exhilarating... Dickensian in scope" by the Los Angeles Times Book Review. After the play's world premiere in 2002 at the Royal National Theatre in London, the Evening Standard raved: "Simon Bent's adaptation is a triumph of elegant compression..[a] beautiful recreation for the stage of John Irving's epic American novel."

Arden Theatre Company is proud to bring this beloved story to the stage for the must-see Philadelphia premiere. The Arden's all-star ensemble includes some of the Philadelphia region's most distinguished actors. Doug Hara-seen on Broadway in The Boys of Winter and Metamorphoses-will bring to life the indelible character of Owen Meany. Starring as John Wheelwright is Ian Merrill Peakes, previously seen at the Arden as Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and as Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The cast also features acclaimed Philadelphia actors Scott Greer (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Baby Case), Mary Martello (Sweeney Todd, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Anthony Lawton (Sweeney Todd, The Underpants), Paul L. Nolan (Candida, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Karen Peakes (Twelfth Night, The Boxcar Children), Catharine K. Slusar (The Syringa Tree, Northeast Local) and Maureen Torsney-Weir (The Baker's Wife). Award-winning director Terrence J. Nolen, Arden Theatre Company's Producing Artistic Director and co-founder, will direct A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Presented on the Arden's F. Otto Haas stage, A Prayer for Owen Meany features an evocative, ethereal set. Tall, translucent fabric panels-painted to suggest a deeply-colored sky-stretch from the stage's ceiling to floor. The set provides a subtly effective backdrop for the story, which unfolds in the small New England town of Gravesend, New Hampshire. The striking lighting design illuminates separate spaces on the stage, while props and stage décor reveal themselves almost magically throughout the play. The carefully-researched costumes mark the shifting sensibilities of America in the 1950s and 1960s and provide vivid splashes of color against the set's muted palette.

Bestselling author John Irving was born in New Hampshire. He published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, at the age of twenty-six. The World According to Garp, published in 1978 to phenomenal success, established him as one of America's most inventive and talented novelists. He has written eleven novels, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Widow for One Year and A Prayer for Owen Meany. In 2000 he was awarded an Oscar for the screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In January 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

A Prayer for Owen Meany previews begin on Thursday, September 14. Preview performances run September 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19. Opening night is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 20, and the show runs through Sunday, October 15, 2006. Single ticket prices to Arden Theatre Company's mainstage shows are $27-45, with discounts available for seniors, students, military and educators. Groups of 10+ enjoy significant discounts; please inquire about group rates. Subscriptions for the 2006/07 season are now available. Subscribers enjoy significant savings on tickets, the best choice of seats and a liberal ticket exchange policy. Five-show and three-show subscriptions range in price from $69 - $195. Receive a $25 gift certificate to Serrano Restaurant if you recommend an Arden subscription to a friend and they purchase a new, 5-show subscription! Call the Arden Box Office at 215-922-1122, order online at www.ardentheatre.org or visit the box office.

The Arden is accessible to people with disabilities, providing wheelchair accessibility, assisted listening devices and large print programs at every performance. Accessible seating is available by reservation. For more information, call the Arden Box Office at 215-922-1122.

WHERE:
Arden Theatre Company
40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia

WHEN:
September 14 - October 15, 2006
Previews run September 14-19
Opening Night (sold out): 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 20

REVIEWING PRESS: Will receive invitations to the opening night performance of A Prayer for Owen Meany on Wednesday, September 20 at 7 p.m.

Other members of the press: Are invited to see the show by scheduling tickets through Karen Gross, Public Relations Associate, 215-922-8900 x49 or kgross@ardentheatre.org

WHO:
A Novel by John Irving
Adapted by Simon Bent
Directed by Terrence J. Nolen

Assistant Director: Matthew Decker
Scenic Design: Christopher Pickart
Costume Design: Alison Roberts
Lighting Design: Kenton Yeager
Sound Design: Jorge Cousineau
Puppet Design: Aaron Cromie
Stage Manager: Francis deSales Brookes

Cast
Owen Meany: Doug Hara (resident of Lambertville, NJ)
John Wheelwright: Ian Merrill Peakes (resident of Merchantville, NJ)
Mrs. Meany, Mitzy Lish, Nun: Catharine K. Slusar (resident of Philadelphia)
Lydia, Nun: Maureen Torsney-Weir (resident of Berwyn, PA)
Reverend Merrill, Mr. Fish: Scott Greer (resident of South Philadelphia)
Mr. Meany, Chief Pike, Dr. Dolder, Jarvit Father: Anthony Lawton (resident of NW Philadelphia)
Grandma Wheelwright: Mary Martello (resident of Princeton, NJ)
Rector Wiggins, Coach Chickering, Randy White: Paul L. Nolan (resident of Claymont, DE)
Tabitha Wheelwright, Nun: Karen Peakes (resident of Merchantville, NJ)
Dan Needham: Kevin Bergen (resident of Folsom, PA)
Mary Beth, Jarvit Daughter, Nun: Corinna Burns (resident of South Philadelphia)
Girl 1, Jarvit Mother, Nun: Kristyn Chouiniere (resident of Philadelphia)
Boy 1, Jarvit Boy: Foster Cronin (resident of Philadelphia)
Harold, Larry Lish, Major Rawls: David Raphaely (resident of Philadelphia)
Barb Wiggins, Sam White, Nun: Janice Rowland (resident of Philadelphia)

SPECIAL EVENTS:

The Young Professionals Circle will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 15 before the 8 p.m. preview of A Prayer for Owen Meany. Co-hosted by Arden Theatre Company and Social Philly, the festive Young Professionals Circle pre-show party features cocktails and delectable hors d'oeuvres, plus a chance to meet and mingle with other Philadelphia professionals. Cost is $35 per person (plus a $4.50 handling fee) which includes the pre-show party and admission to the performance. This is an RSVP ONLY event -- Ticket purchases must be made by 5 p.m. September 11 by calling Karen Gross, Public Relations Associate at Arden Theatre Company, 215-922-8900 x49.

On Tuesday, September 19, Arden Theatre Company will host Educators Night and College Night. All educators and college students, with valid ID, are invited to attend the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday preview performance for a discounted ticket price of $10.

As part of Arden Theatre Company's 2006/07 SALON Series, the Arden will present From Page to Stage - Bringing a Novel Character to Life for A Prayer for Owen Meany from 6 to 7:30 pm Tuesday, October 10. John Irving's well-known character Owen Meany has a voice that sounds like he's murdering mice. How will actor Doug Hara accomplish that? Join director Terrence J. Nolen and cast members Hara (Owen) and Ian Merrill Peakes (John Wheelright) in a lively discussion about how they approached Irving's quirky, complex world. SALONS provide an interactive, informal and entertaining opportunity for up-close-and-personal dialogue between the public and the region's premier theatre professionals. Held at Arden Theatre Company, SALONS are $25 each, three for $70 or four for $80, or $10 tickets to students with valid ID. Ticket price includes refreshments. Space is limited; reservations are encouraged by calling the Arden box office at 215.922.1122.

The Arden's must-see 19th season promises to arouse, provoke, illuminate and inspire our audiences as we continue our mission of bringing to life the greatest stories by the greatest storytellers of all time. The 2006/07 season features ALL PHILADELPHIA PREMIERE productions: A Prayer for Owen Meany (Sept 14- Oct 15); Crime and Punishment (Oct 12-Dec 3); Arden Children's Theatre production of The BFG (Nov 29 to Jan 21); Dex and Julie Sittin' in a Tree (Jan 11- Mar 4); Caroline, or Change (Mar 8 to Apr 8); Arden Children's Theatre production of Ferdinand the Bull (Apr 11-May 13); and Lookingglass Theatre Company's Lookingglass Alice (May 10-June 10). Join us at our award-winning theatre in the heart of vibrant, historic Old City Philadelphia, and you'll understand why Arden Theatre Company has earned six Philadelphia magazine "Best of Philly" Awards, four "Theatre Company of the Year" citations from The Philadelphia Inquirer and four Philadelphia City Paper Reader's Choice Awards. Visit www.ardentheatre.org.

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