ST. PETERSBURG — American Stage Theatre Company will continue its 2019-20 season with “Silent Sky,” running Nov. 20 through Dec. 22.
Performances will take place at Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg.
Ticket prices vary by performance. For information and tickets, call 727-823-7529 or visit Americanstage.org.
“Silent Sky” is by Lauren Gunderson, considered by many to be America’s most popular modern playwright. Gunderson also wrote last season’s “Miss Bennet: Christmas at the Pemberley.” This production of “Silent Sky” will be directed by Kristin Clippard, who directed “The Roommate” during the 2018-19 season. The play’s themes include family and love, making it a great family show to see during the holiday season.
"There is good reason that playwright Lauren Gunderson is one of today's most produced American playwrights,” said Stephanie Gularte, American Stage chief executive and producing artistic director. “Her work consistently integrates compelling characters and timeless themes with a fresh, contemporary sensibility. Last season American Stage audiences were enchanted by our production of Gunderson’s ‘Miss Bennet: Christmas at the Pemberley.’ With ‘Silent Sky,’ we are proud to bring the work of Gunderson back to our stage with a beautiful story about one of American history's inspiring hidden figures.”
The production will feature four American Stage alumni, including Benjamin T. Ismail, Vickie Daignault, Kate Berg and Karel K. Wright. In addition, newcomer Susan Maris joins the cast.
“We are here to celebrate an astronomer’s scientific journey to map the stars and understand life on earth,” said Clippard. “It’s a dreamy and romantic look at her courageous path through a revered institution and the men who stood in her way. Gunderson writes about Henrietta’s pioneering spirit in a whimsical way that honors American curiosity and ingenuity. It also takes an honest look at work inequality in the early 20th century. Science, history and romance all blend together to tell this story.”
Set in the early 1900s, “Silent Sky” follows Henrietta Leavitt as she begins work at the Harvard Observatory. She finds that she isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours.” Social progress, like scientific progress, can be hard to see when one is trapped among earthly complications in this luminous, witty and inspiring true story of a brilliant, history-making woman.
Maris portrays Henrietta Leavitt in her American Stage debut. Her New York credits include the Wild Project, West End Theatre, Prospect Theatre Co. and Titan Theatre. Regional credits include “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Learned Ladies,” “Othello,” “The Servant of Two Masters,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Blithe Spirit” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey; “Cymbeline” at Theatreworks Colorado; and “Shakespeare in Love,” “Twelfth Night” and “Hamlet” at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. She has appeared in “Limitless,” “She Gave Me Water” and “The Blood Painting.”
Berg stars as Margaret Leavitt. Berg played Melody in the American Stage production of “Bad Jews.” Among her regional credits are “The Glass Menagerie” at the Guthrie Theatre; “Sylvia” at Cape May Stage; “Echoes” at Urbanite Theatre and “Agatha Christie’s Spiders Web” at Theater Barn. In New York, she appeared in “Hedda Gabler” at Dyckman Farmhouse Museum.
Daignault takes on the role of Annie Cannon. Daignault returns to American Stage where she was seen as Det. Audrey O’Conner in “Between Riverside and Crazy” and Jean in “Good People.”
Wright portrays Williamina Fleming. She was last seen at American Stage as Delia Coleman in “One Slight Hitch” and as Mattie Fae in “August: Osage County.” Wright received her BFA from the University of Minnesota and MFA from the University of Illinois. She trained with American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
Ismail plays Peter Shaw. Ismail previously performed in the American Stage production of “The Invisible Hand” in 2017. He has also served as the director of American Stage productions of “Between Riverside and Crazy,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Informed Consent” and “4000 Miles.” He is the former producing artistic director of Big Idea Theatre in Sacramento, California.