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Clarence Brown Theatre to perform "Fuddy Meers"

fuddy meers
David Brian Alley and Magan Wiles in "Fuddy Meers" at the Clarence Brown Theatre's Carousel Theatre Ozzie and Harriett? NOT!!!!!!!!!!!

KNOXVILLE -- Proving that no family dysfunction is insurmountable, the award-winning, wacky-yet-poignant comedy, "Fuddy Meers" takes the Clarence Brown Carousel Theatre stage February 9-26, 2012.

Claire has a rare form of psychogenic amnesia that erases her memory whenever she goes to sleep. This morning, like all mornings, she wakes up a blank slate. Her chipper husband comes in with a cup of coffee, explains her condition, hands her a book filled with all sorts of essential information, and he disappears into the shower. A limping, lisping, half-blind, half-deaf man in a ski mask, pops out from under her bed and claims to be her brother, there to save her. Claire's info book is quickly discarded, and she's hustled off to the country-house of her mother, a recent stroke victim whose speech has been reduced to utter gibberish. Claire's journey gets even more complicated when a dimwitted thug with a foul-mouthed hand puppet pops up at a window, and her husband and perpetually stoned son show up with a claustrophobic lady-cop that they've kidnapped. Every twist and turn in this funhouse plot bring Claire closer to revealing her past life and everything she thought she'd forgotten.

"Fuddy Meers" is a story of a fractured, dysfunctional family in search of themselves and their relationship to one another. Gertie's extended family has experienced an inordinate number of misfortunes: death, stroke, amnesia, drug abuse, theft, arson and imprisonment. The combined shock of these events has traumatized her beleaguered family transforming who they once were. They are now a family of strangers. As a family, they have forgotten who they once were," said director John Sipes.

Walking a fine line between grave reality and joyous lunacy, the world of David Lindsay-Abiare's plays is often dark, funny, blithe, enigmatic, hopeful, ironic, and somewhat cockeyed. "My plays tend to be peopled with outsiders in search of clarity," he said.

"Fuddy Meers" performed to sell-out crowds Off Broadway, quickly transferred to Broadway for another successful run, and has had numerous productions in regional theatres across the country. Lindsay-Abaire went on to have several other hits on the New York stage, including "Kimberly Akimbo," "Wonder of the World" (starring Sarah Jessica Parker), and "Rabbit Hole" (starring Cynthia Nixon, Tyne Daly and John Slattery), for which he won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony nomination for Best Play.

"In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, we, as a society, still try to maintain the traditional, idealized notion of the American family. But in reality, the family rarely conforms to the wholesome, unspoiled depiction that exists in the fanciful, delusional American psyche," Sipes said. "Lindsay-Abaire puts before us a family that in many ways is more typical of our families—not in manner or degree but in spirit. He has taken a good look at the family, and all its problems, weaknesses, anger, and dysfunction and says, 'This is it! This is the real American family! Laugh at it! Laugh at yourselves! Face the truth, laugh and maybe—just maybe-- change will come!'"

John Sipes (Director) is an associate professor in the UT Department of Theatre. Before joining the UT faculty, he was a director and the resident movement director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 15 seasons. Prior to his residency at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he was a director and movement director for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival for 12 seasons, and served as the Festival's artistic director for five seasons. Recent directing credits include: "Woyzeck," "Oedipus the King," "Love's Labour's Lost," "All My Sons" (Clarence Brown Theatre); "Henry VIII," "King John" (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); "Julius Caesar" (Shakespeare Santa Cruz); "The Year of Magical Thinking," "The Hollow" (Milwaukee Rep); and "mr. lear" (Usine-C, Montreal). He received his MFA in Acting from Indiana University. He is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique (AmSAT), and a certified actor/combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. He also trained in corporeal mime with Étienne Decroux in Paris, and studied with Tadashi Suzuki in Japan.

David Brian Alley (Richard) is in his 12th season as an Artist-in-Residence and member of the UT Theatre Department Acting faculty. He holds an MFA in Performance and a BA in Theatre from UT, as well as an AA in Acting from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He has performed in several Clarence Brown productions. He has appeared at the PlayMakers Repertory, The Mark Taper Forum and the ImprovOlympic Theatre. David also has several film and television credits.

Suzanne Ankrum (Heidi) is a third year UT Theater MFA candidate in Acting. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with degrees in Theatre and Environmental Science and went on to perform in Richmond, VA with the Richmond Shakespeare Festival, the Henley Street Players, and the Richmond Triangle Players. While there she also helped found the Nightlight Collective, an ensemble company producing work in Richmond, VA. Previous CBT credits include: "A Christmas Carol," "Tartuffe," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," and "Woyzeck."

Neil Friedman (Millet) is an Artist-in-Residence at the CBT. His credits here include: "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," "Moonlight & Magnolias," "The Music Man", "The Merry Wives of Windsor", "Man of La Mancha", "Charley's Aunt", "Born Yesterday", "A Christmas Carol", and "The Triumph of Love". His Chicago area credits include: The Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire, and The Peninsula Players. He is a recipient of Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards. He also has performed at regional theaters throughout the country.

Carol Mayo Jenkins (Gertie) is an Artist in Residence in the UT Theatre Department. She was in her first play with John Cullum on the Carousel stage when she was seventeen. She went on to train at The Drama Centre in London, England. She has started theatres in London, New York and Los Angeles. She has done six Broadway plays, seven Off- Broadway, and played leading roles in countless regional theatres across the country. She has appeared extensively on television, including five years on the award winning series, "Fame."

Conrad Ricamora (Kenny) is a third year MFA actor at UT (Spivey Humanities Fellowship). Credits include: Philadelphia Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, the Prince Music Theatre, the Media Theatre, and InterAct Theatre Company, among others. Clarence Brown credits include: "The Laramie Project: An Epilogue," "Oedipus the King," "Shakespeare in Love" (with Knoxville Symphony), "Woyzeck," "A Christmas Carol," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Music Man," and "Tartuffe." Film work: "Talladega Nights."

Visiting guest artist, Jefferson Slinkard (Limping Man) has performed in New York on Off- Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway as well as in regional theaters across the country and internationally in Asia for the past 23 years. His television credits include: "Law and Order: SVU," and "Law and Order: Criminal Intent." He received his BA in Theater at the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Acting from Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory.

Magan Wiles (Claire) is an UT Theater MFA candidate in her final year of study. CBT credits include: "Woyzeck," "Merry Wives of Windsor," and "Tartuffe." She earned a BA from Saint Louis University in 2004, became a member of Actor's Equity, and worked steadily in St. Louis for the next five years, appearing with the St. Louis Repertory Theatre, the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, and many others. Regionally she has worked with Geva Theatre Center (Rochester, NY) and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Anita Fuchs (Set Designer) is based on Berlin, Germany and holds an MA degree in Scenography from TU Berlin and an MFA degree in Set Design from Boston University. Since 2004, she has been a freelance set designer and scenic designer working with companies in New York, the New England theatre region, and Germany as well as with educational institutions like New York Tisch School of the Arts, Lincoln Center Theatre, and the Moscow Art Theatre School Institute for Advanced Theatre.

Miwa Ishii (Costume Designer) is a second year UT Theater MFA candidate in Costume Design. Her past CBT credits include: "Phaedra," "Tartuffe," "The Music Man," and "The Merry Wives of Windsor." Prior to beginning her master's program, she completed internships for the Shakespeare Theatre Company (D.C.), Goodman Theatre (Chicago) and Summer Repertory Theatre (CA).

Timothy Hart (Lighting Designer) is a second year UT Theater MFA Lighting Design student from St. Charles, Missouri. He earned his BFA at Missouri State University. He was the lighting designer for "Tartuffe" at Clarence Brown Theatre. His work also has been seen at Summerstock University of Findlay, Pellissippi University, North Carolina Stage Company, and The Great River Shakespeare Festival. He was the Assistant Lighting Designer for "Ring of Fire" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, "Woyzeck" and "The Music Man" at the Clarence Brown Theatre.

Joe Payne (Sound/Projection Designer) is assistant professor of Sound and Media for the Department of Theatre. Previously, CBT credits included: music and sound for "The Merry Wives of Windsor," and projections for "The Who's Tommy." He has designed sound, media, and/or composed music for more than 150 productions in regional theaters throughout the country, including 12 years at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. He has taught master classes for various sections of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Utah Theatre Association, and Illinois High School Theatre Festival.

Lindsay M. Stringfellow (Stage Manager) is a graduate of the UT Theatre program. Previous CBT credits include: "Tartuffe," "Woyzeck," and "Speech and Debate." She served as assistant stage manager for the CBT's "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," "A Christmas Carol," "Amadeus," and "The Who's Tommy." In the past she has worked in television as an audio engineer for Nickelodeon and Disney studios; and she has been a performer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL for the past 13 years.

"Fuddy Meers" runs from February 9-26, 2012. Strong language and adult content. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances begin at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices vary. Discounts apply. For tickets, please call the CBT box office at 865-974-5161 or Tickets Unlimited at 865-656-4444.

Published February 2, 2012

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