Sunday, September 23rd marks 60th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s legendary “Checkers speech” Douglas McGrath’s new play CHECKERS about Nixon, wife Pat and speech that forever changed U.S. political landscape set for world-premiere at Vineyard Theatre
Previews October 12th, opening night October 31st
ANTHONY LaPAGLIA is Nixon; KATHRYN ERBE is Pat
Terry Kinney directs
Sunday, September 23rd marks the 60th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s political game-changing “Checkers speech,” and on Monday, September 24th at 10 a.m. tickets go on sale for the Vineyard Theatre’s world-premiere production of CHECKERS, a play by Douglas McGrath about Nixon, his wife Pat and that historic speech. CHECKERS is directed by Terry Kinney. Preview performances begin at The Vineyard (108 E. 15 St.) on October 12; October 31 is opening night. Tickets can be purchased by calling The Vineyard box office at 212 353 0303 or online at www.vineyardtheatre.org.
The cast of CHECKERS will include Kelly Coffield Park, Kathryn Erbe (as Pat Nixon), Joel Marsh Garland, Anthony LaPaglia (as Richard Nixon) , Kevin O’Rourke, John Ottavino, Mark Shanahan, Lewis J. Stadlen and Robert Stanton.
Mr. McGrath’s play CHECKERS is described, as follows:
It’s 1952. A young Richard Nixon is campaigning as his party’s candidate for Vice-President, his wife Pat proudly at his side, when an accusation of financial impropriety almost ends his promising career. In a momentous speech, he takes charge of his fate, and changes the character of American politics forever. CHECKERS is a revelatory look at Nixon’s drive, history and most surprisingly, his marriage to Pat – all of which are explored with insight, blistering wit and unexpected tenderness. A stunning new play from Academy Award nominee Douglas McGrath, whose film credits include EMMA, INFAMOUS and BULLETS OVER BROADWAY. Directed by Terry Kinney (REASONS TO BE PRETTY, AFTER ASHLEY).
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the “Checkers speech” — delivered before a national television audience on September 23, 1952 — Chuck Todd on his “The Daily Rundown” program on MSNBC-TV on September 20, 2012 remarked that the speech “helped re-shape modern politics and usher in the era of TV as the vehicle for political messaging…by one man who would one day change the face of Presidential politics for good,” going on to note how the effects of Nixon’s speech are reflected in the 2012 Presidential race.
David Lagesse wrote in U.S. News & World Report in 2008, “That TV address not only saved Nixon’s career and vice presidential candidacy, it also launched American politics on a path that still guides it today. Nixon sensed the power of TV to shape a politician’s image and how image would shape politics.”
Anthony LaPaglia most recently starred as Tito Merelli in the Stanley Tucci directed revival of Ken Ludwig’s farce LEND ME A TENOR at the Music Box Theatre. Theatre credits include: THE GUYS, BOUNCERS, NORTHEAST LOCAL, ON THE OPEN ROAD, THE ROSE TATTOO and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, which earned him Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his portrayal of Eddie Carbone in 1998. TV credits include: 7-year run on “Without A Trace” (Golden Globe Award) “Frasier” (Emmy Award for recurring role of “Simon Moon”), and “Murder One”. Films include: LANTANA, BETSY’S WEDDING, EMPIRE RECORDS, SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, SWEET AND LOWDOWN, THE CLIENT, 29TH STREET, ONE GOOD COP, COMPANY MAN, SUMMER OF SAM, AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, THE SALTON SEA, HAPPY FEET, LANSKY, PHOENIX, COMMANDMENTS, BRILLIANT LIES, WINTER SOLSTICE, THE BANK, THE ARCHITECT and most recently, BALIBO, for which he proudly earned his second Best Actor AFI Award. In 2011 Anthony starred in P.J. Hogan’s MENTAL alongside Liev Schreiber and Toni Collette. In 2012, Anthony starred in the Julian Assange bio pic, UNDERGROUND.
Kathryn Erbe is best known for playing Detective Alexandra Eames in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Erbe’s television credits include playing the infamous death row inmate Shirley Bellinger on the acclaimed HBO series “Oz.” She also appeared on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street,” the miniseries “George Wallace,” Showtime’s original production of “Naked City: Justice with a Bullet,” NBC’s “Another World” and the television movie “Breathing Lessons.” Erbe also gained notice in the 1999 box office hit STIR OF ECHOES opposite Kevin Bacon and DREAM WITH THE FISHES with David Arquette. Her additional film credits include ENTROPY, KISS OF DEATH, D2: THE MIGHTY DUCKS, RICH IN LOVE, WHAT ABOUT BOB? and SPEAKING OF SEX with Lara Flynn Boyle and Bill Murray. Before appearing in feature films, Erbe began her career on the stage. She is a member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company and has starred in many of their productions, including Tennessee Williams’ A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE as Stella, CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS and MY THING OF LOVE. She earned a Tony® Award nomination in 1991 for her portrayal of Mary in SPEED OF DARKNESS. Erbe is also an active member of the Atlantic Theatre Company. Most recently, Erbe filmed THREE BACKYARDS starring opposite Embeth Davidtz and Edie Falco, MOTHER’S HOUSE, WORST FRIENDS, and THE LOVE GUIDE with Parker Posey.
Kelly Coffield Park appeared at the Vineyard Theatre in Jane Anderson’s play FOOD AND SHELTER and has also appeared on stage in MILL FIRE at Goodman Theatre and The Women’s Project. She was a member of the original cast of the hit TV series “In Living Color” and has appeared in the films JERRY MAGUIRE, FIELD OF DREAMS and QUIZ SHOW. Joel Marsh Garland appeared Off-Broadway in ESSENTIAL SELF-DEFENSE and CHOSEN SPEED. His many film and TV credits include recurring roles in “Bored to Death” and “Kings.”
Kevin O’Rourke appeared on Broadway in Michael Weller’s THE SPOILS OF WAR and in the 1990 revival of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. His many film and television credits include THE AVIATOR and “Boardwalk Empire.”
John Ottavino appeared on Broadway in A DOLL’S HOUSE and in Lucy Thurber’s play THE INSURGENTS at Contemporary American Theatre Festival, as well as in the film REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Mark Shanahan’s theatre credits include THE 39 STEPS on Broadway and Off-Broadway in TRYST and AS BEES IN HONEY DROWN.
Lewis J. Stadlen most recently appeared on Broadway in THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE and THE PRODUCERS. He is a two-time Tony nominee for his performances in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM and CANDIDE. He received the Drama Desk Award and Theatre World Award for the musical MINNIE’S BOYS and was nominated for the Drama Desk for THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.
Robert Stanton’s Broadway credits include A FREE MAN OF COLOR, MARY STUART and THE COAST OF UTOPIA. He won a Village Voice Obie Award and the Clarence Derwent Award for his performance in ALL IN THE TIMING by David Ives.
Douglas McGrath is the author of the play THE BIG DAY, presented at Pasadena Playhouse, and has performed his one-man show POLITICAL ANIMAL Off-Broadway. He collaborated with Woody Allen on the screenplay for BULLETS OVER BROADWAY, for which they were nominated for an Academy Award®. He began his career as a writer for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. His first film as writer and director was the Academy Award ®winning EMMA, from Jane Austen’s novel. His other film credits include Dickens’s NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, INFAMOUS, HIS WAY, and I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT. McGrath has written numerous essays on the arts and politics for the New Republic, The New Yorker, The Nation, The New York Times and Vanity Fair.
Terry Kinney directed The Vineyard’s productions of Gina Gionfriddo’s AFTER ASHLEY and Nicky Silver’s plays BEAUTIFUL CHILD and THE AGONY & THE AGONY. Other credits include REASONS TO BE PRETTY (both off and on Broadway) and EYES FOR CONSUELA at Manhattan Theatre Club. Mr. Kinney is a founding member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where his many directing credits include OF MICE AND MEN, FOOL FOR LOVE, STREAMERS, RECKLESS, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.
The creative team for CHECKERS includes Neil Patel (scenic design), Sarah Holden (costume design), David Weiner (lighting design), Milburn/Bodeen (music and sound design), Darrel Maloney (projection design).
Also this season, Vineyard Theatre will produce the New York premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s (BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO) THE NORTH POOL, directed by Giovanna Sardelli (ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER) in February 2013, and the world-premiere of SOMEWHERE FUN by Jenny Schwartz (GOD’S EAR), directed by OBIE Award winner Anne Kauffman (DETROIT) in May 2013.
One of the nation’s leading non-profit theatre companies dedicated to new plays and musicals and bold new programming, The Vineyard has consistently premiered provocative, groundbreaking works and is thrilled to be celebrating its 30th Anniversary Season.
Vineyard Theatre’s leadership includes Douglas Aibel (Artistic Director), Jennifer Garvey-Blackwell (Executive Producer), Sarah Stern (Co-Artistic Director), and Michael Page (General Manager).
Scheduled currently through November 18, CHECKERS will perform Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $75 (Premium tickets are $100).
Tickets go on sale to the general public on September 24. Tickets can be reserved by calling The Vineyard box office at 212 353 0303 or online at www.vineyardtheatre.org
Vineyard Theatre is located at 108 East 15th Street (between Irving Place and Union Square East).