DORSET — Dorset Theatre Festival’s 44th season opens July 9 with a revival of Christopher Durang’s comedy “Laughing Wild” outdoors at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester. Directed by the Festival’s resident artist, Jade King Carroll, the play will star Dan Butler (“Frasier”), who starred in the Festival’s 2019 hit “Slow Food,” and five-time Festival performer and 2020 Drama Desk Award-winner Mary Bacon (“Coal Country,” Dorset’s “Mrs. Christie”).
“Laughing Wild” is a hilarious blast-from-the-1980s comedy by Christopher Durang, whom the New Yorker called “one of the funniest men in the world.” The play, in three parts, stars a man and a woman struggling to cope with life in modern America. Over the course of two monologues and a chance meeting inside of a dream, the characters take on everything from the supermarket to nuclear waste to their own frenetic psyches.
“The play’s title refers to a line in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Happy Days,’ ‘laughing wild amidst severest woe,’” said Dina Janis, Dorset’s artistic director. “It seems to me we have all just lived through a time of severest woe, and perhaps it’s time to laugh wildly together.”
The director of “Laughing Wild,” Jade King Carroll (Dorset’s “Skeleton Crew”), is joined by scenic designer You-Shin Chen, costume designer Rodrigo Muñoz, lighting designer Yuki Nakase Link, sound designer Megumi Katayama, fight director David Anzuelo, casting director Judy Bowman, CSA, and stage manager Olivia Louise Tree Plath.
“This play feels so relevant to me at this moment, as it investigates with truly brilliant humor what it means to be human, what it means to find connection, and what it means to simply breathe together. It’s a truly perfect play to bring people back together,” Janis said.
“Laughing Wild” will begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays beginning July 9 at Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester.
“With all the beautiful galleries and the wonderful programming our friends at Southern Vermont Arts Center have planned, we are really encouraging people to come for the day and stay for the play,” Janis said. The Festival began collaborating with SVAC in late 2020 in order to make the outdoor theater a reality.
Dorset will offer on-demand streaming versions of both of this year’s main stage plays, which will also be available as an option for patrons who are unable to reschedule if they miss a performance due to weather conditions. The next play of the season, “Queen of the Night” by travis tate, will open Aug. 10. Tickets for the outdoor season are on sale now at dorsettheatrefestival.org.
The outdoor main stage season is sponsored by Church Street Hospitality, and support for Dorset Theatre Festival’s 44th season is provided by the Rodgers Family Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, and members of the Dorset Theatre Festival World Premiere Circle.
ABOUT THE ARTISTSJade King Carroll has worked for the Festival over the past three years. Her interpretations of classical and new work have been seen at leading theatre institutions across the country including New York Theatre Workshop, Audible, McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theatre, Two River Theatre, Lincoln Center Institute, Playmakers Rep, Portland Stage, City Theatre, Perseverance Theater, Miami New Drama, Marin Theatre, Atlantic Theater, and Playwrights Realm, as well as serving as associate director for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Gin Game” on Broadway.
Carroll has taught, guest lectured and directed extensively, including at Julliard, Princeton, and NYU. Past awards and fellowships include: Drama League Award, TCG New Generations Future Leader, New York Theatre Workshop, Van Lier, Second Stage Theatre, Women’s Project, McCarter Theatre, SUNY 40 under 40, Gates Millennium Scholar, and the Paul Green Award from the National Theatre Conference and The Estate of August Wilson.
Mary Bacon won the 2020 Drama Desk Sam Norkin Award for Patti in “Coal Country” at NYC’s The Public Theater and Susan in “Nothing Gold Can Stay” at Partial Comfort Productions and for her NYC theatre career on and off Broadway. Last seen at DTF as Agatha Christie in Heidi Armbrusters’ “Mrs. Christie,” and also in DTF’s “Outside Mullingar,” Theresa Rebeck’s “The Scene” with Tim Daly, “Mauritius,” and “The Novelist” with Michael Cristofer.
Favorite NYC theater includes: Primary Stages: Kate Hammill’s “Little Women,” Horton Foote’s “Harrison, TX” with Hallie Foote and Jayne Houdyshell, “The Roads To Home” with Hallie Foote and Harriet Harris, Charles Busch’s “The Tribute Artist” with Charles Busch and Julie Halston, and “Happy Now?”. On Broadway: Tom Stoppard’s “Rock n Roll” and “Arcadia,” Drama Desk and Lortel nominations for “Women Without Men” at The Mint, Alma in “Eccentricities of a Nightingale” at TACT (one of the NY Times top ten productions of the year), “Becky Shaw” at Second Stage, and The Public’s “Giant” directed by Michael Greif, featured in The NY Times top ten moments of the year in theater. Regional includes Hartford Stage, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Williamstown Theater Festival, Westport Country Playhouse, The McCarter, Yale Rep, Seattle Rep, The Long Wharf, Old Globe, and others. TV/Film: “Lost Girls” with Amy Ryan, “Blue Bloods,” “The Blacklist,” “FBI Most Wanted,” “The Mist,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Mildred Pierce,” “Elementary,” “Madame Secretary,” “The Good Wife,” and all the Law and Orders. Mary is a member of the Actors Center Workshop Company, and a co-founding member of the Dorset Theatre Festival’s Women Artists Writing Group.
Dan Butler’s many acting credits include: “Travesties” (Roundabout), “Twentieth Century” (Roundabout), “The Hothouse” (Broadway), “Beautiful Day Without You” (Origin Theatre), “WarholCapote” (A.R.T.), “Toast” (Public), “The Weir” (Irish Rep), “Irish Curse” (Soho Playhouse), “Old Money” (Lincoln Center), “Only Thing Worse You Could’ve Told Me…” (Actor’s Playhouse, Drama Desk/Outer Critics nominations), “Beast,” “Emerald City” (both at NYTW), “Lisbon Traviata” (MTC/Mark Taper Forum), and “The Widow Claire” (Circle in the Square downtown).
His film credits include “Crazy Stupid Love,” “Karl Rove, I Love You” (co-writer/director), “Pearl” (adaptor/director), “Enemy of the State,” “Fixing Frank,” “Long Walk Home” and “Silence of the Lambs.” In addition to “Frasier,” his television credits include “Modern Love,” “The Mist,” “Prayers for Bobby” and “Hey, Arnold.”