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Published October 08, 2019
The University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance opens the 2019-2020 production season with the classic Noel Coward comedy “Present Laughter.”
Directed by UW Department of Theatre and Dance Professors Lee Hodgson and Lou Anne Wright, “Present Laughter” runs Oct. 16-19 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. on the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts main stage.
Tickets for the production cost $14 for the public, $11 for senior citizens and $7 for students. Tickets are available at the Performing Arts box office and the Wyoming Union information desk, by calling (307) 766-6666 or by going online at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.
“Present Laughter” is about a self-obsessed screen star in the midst of a midlife crisis as he juggles romantic entanglements, his ex-wife and the personal lives of his friends.
At the center of his own universe, matinee idol Garry Essendine is suave and self-indulgent, but his ex-wife says he is too old to be having numerous affairs. His group of harmless, infatuated debutantes is largely tolerated, but just before he escapes on tour to Africa, the full extent of his fast and loose lifestyle is discovered, and hilarity breaks loose.
This surprisingly modern reflection on fame, desire and loneliness premiered in the early years of World War II.
Already an acclaimed playwright, composer, director, actor and singer known for his wit and flamboyance, Coward wrote the play in 1939 as a light comedy and star vehicle for himself. It was slated for production in London that year but, when Britain entered World War II in September, all the theaters were closed by government order. Coward served in the war effort from 1939-1942, first in the propaganda office and then as a touring entertainer for troops abroad.
“Present Laughter” was first produced in Blackpool in September 1942, with Coward starring and directing, as part of a national tour to bring the theater to the provinces during wartime. The tour also included productions of Coward’s “Blithe Spirit” and “This Happy Breed,” and played in 22 cities, ending with a six-week run at the Haymarket Theatre in London.
The play premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre in October 1946, and it is among several of Coward’s plays, including “Hay Fever,” “Private Lives,” “Design for Living” and “Blithe Spirit,” which are still regularly produced.
A 2017 Broadway revival starred Kevin Kline as lead character Essendine, just one in a long line of eminent British and American actors to undertake the role.
For more information, call Kathy Kirkaldie, UW Fine Arts coordinator, at (307) 766-2160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.