(NEW YORK, NY) -- Hunter Theater Project presents an Independent Theater Production of What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad, a world premiere play and the final in the Rhinebeck Panorama, written and directed by Tony Award winner Richard Nelson. The limited engagement will run from August 28 to October 8 at Frederick Loewe Theater at Hunter College in a very intimate 74-seat configuration, with press opening night on Wednesday, September 8, the same day the play is set. General admission tickets, on sale now, are priced at $39.50 with student tickets $17.50, including service charges.
“I have been inspired by producing my last two Apple Family Zoom plays independently and it has led me to create a new ad hoc theater venture that I am calling An Independent Theater,” said Playwright and Director Richard Nelson. “For the production of What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad I have joined forces with Hunter Theater Project and its producer, Gregory Mosher, with whom I did Uncle Vanya in 2018, continuing my relationship with Gregory that has now spanned more than 40 years. Theater is coming back to New York and I am so pleased that The Michaels Abroad will help welcome audiences and actors back to the stage, and together again in our intimate 74-seat theater.”
“We’re delighted to welcome Richard Nelson back to Hunter College,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab. “The Hunter Theater Project is another example of Hunter’s ongoing commitment to the arts. While attending a public university, our students are able to engage in professional productions while learning from our talented faculty in both the intimate Loewe Theater and our new Baker Theatre Building. With this project, Hunter College continues to play a leading role in the cultural life of New York City.”
Begun 12 years ago with the four-play Apple Family play series, and continued with the three plays of The Gabriels, and again last summer with A Pandemic Trilogy (three Zoom plays), Nelson’s Rhinebeck Panorama has followed the lives of families from a small Upstate village for over a decade, with a total of 12 plays. The Michaels, about the third family in this series, premiered in the fall of 2019 and What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad, Nelson’s latest and last of this series, brings the Rhinebeck Panorama to a close.
“Nelson builds characters who are rich in spirit and soul and sets them in motion like tops.”-- The New Yorker
No longer in comfortable Rhinebeck, New York, the Michaels family with deep roots in the world of modern dance, are crawling out from under the deadly pandemic, which has turned life as we knew it, upside down. It is now September 8th, 2021, and we find the Michaels in Angers, France, to attend a student dance festival. Called “As hopeful as it is heartbreaking” (New York Times), the first Michaels play took us into the kitchen of Rose Michael, a celebrated choreographer, as she faced a serious illness; What Happened? brings the family back together without the presence of its matriarch, Rose. Once again we are in a kitchen, and once again we witness the making of a meal; and like its title, What Happened?, the characters are asking questions – what just happened? What now? As they cook and eat and dance.
“Hunter Theater Project is honored to present the capstone play of Richards Nelson’s 12-play Rhinebeck Panorama,” said Gregory Mosher, Producer of the Hunter Theater Project. “There’s a special resonance to theatrical cycles by playwrights such as August Wilson, Eugene O’Neill, and Quiara Alegría’s Hudes, in which audiences experience more than each individual play, stand alone though they all certainly do. During the past decade, Nelson’s Apples, Gabriels, and now Michaels families have become part of the lives of theater-goers from around the world. As the Michaels and our audience alike emerge from the pandemic in this final play of the panorama, Nelson’s play explores both our sense of collective loss and a new beginning.”
What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad features Charlotte Bydwell, Haviland Morris, Maryann Plunkett, Jay O. Sanders, Matilda Sakamoto, Rita Wolf and Yvonne Woods. Sets by Jason Ardizzone-West; Costumes by Susan Hilferty; Lighting by Jennifer Tipton; Sound by Will Pickens. Production Stage Manager Theresa Flanagan.
RICHARD NELSON (Playwright and Director). His plays include the recent Pandemic Trilogy (three Zoom plays) as well as The Michaels, Illyria, The Gabriels, The Apple Family Plays, Nikolai and The Others, Farewell to the Theatre, Conversations in Tusculum, Goodnight Children Everywhere (Olivier Award, Best Play), Two Shakespearean Actors (Tony nomination, Best Play), Some Americans Abroad (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy), and others. His musicals include James Joyce’s The Dead (with Shaun Davey, Tony Award Best Book of a Musical); his screenplays include Hyde Park on Hudson (Roger Michell, director). He directed Uncle Vanya in 2018 for Gregory Mosher and the Hunter Theater Project. With Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he has co-translated plays by Chekhov, Gogol, Turgenev, and Bulgakov. He is an honorary associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company and recipient of the PEN/Laura Pels “Master Playwright” Award.
HUNTER THEATER PROJECT is a professional theater company in residence at Hunter College. It launched in Fall 2018 with Richard Nelson’s Uncle Vanya, which was nominated for numerous awards and included in several “Best of 2019” lists; the filmed version of the production was broadcast nationally on public television. It was followed in Spring 2019 by Isabella Rossellini’s one-woman, one-dog show Link Link Circus, and in early 2020 by Erica Schmidt’s all-female adaptation Mac Beth. Hunter Theater Project aims to present high-quality drama at prices affordable to young people, theater artists, educators, and less affluent theater-goers.
This production is made possible by a generous grant from Susie Sainsbury.
All guests must provide proof of completed immunization via Excelsior Pass or Vax Card, upon arrival to the event. Any individual who fails to present proof of immunization, as required, will not be admitted into the event. Children under the age of 12 who are not yet vaccine eligible, and under the age of 16 who have not yet been vaccinated, may accompany and be seated with a vaccinated adult if masked.
What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad will have a strictly limited engagement at the Frederick Loewe Theater at Hunter College (68th Street between Park and Lexington) from August 28 to October 8 with a very intimate configuration for an audience of only 74. Press Opening Night is Wednesday, September 8. Tickets are priced at $39.50 with student tickets $17.50 for all students with valid ID, including service charge. Hunter ID gets $5 off either price. Showtimes are Tuesdays-Sundays at 7:30pm with Saturday matinees at 2:00pm and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm with select Thursday matinees. (Running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with no intermission). For more information on the world premiere production and to purchase tickets, please visit www.huntertheaterproject.org.