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10:32 a.m. March 24, 2012
Hello? Dead Man's Cell Phone -- at UT Knoxville's Clarence Brown Theatre

dead man's cell phone

In a quiet café, Jean is enjoying a bowl of lobster bisque. A phone begins ringing incessantly at the next table. Discovering the owner is dead, she answers his phone and quickly becomes ensnarled in his very bizarre life!

The Clarence Brown Theatre at UT Knoxville will present the award-winning Dead Man's Cell Phone from March 29-April 15, 2012. Winner of the 2008 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play or Musical, the show a fantastical comedy about remembering the dead, communicating with the living, and connecting with those we love in a technology-obsessed world. For mature audiences, the production is sponsored by the Arts & Heritage Fund, WUOT and WUTK.

"Audiences will definitely laugh and have a good time, but I hope they leave wanting to talk about the ideas in the play. We are at a cultural crossroads when it comes to how we communicate with each other. I look at my 17-year old daughter who is NEVER on the home phone – who would have thought that would ever happen!! In fact, most of her communication isn't even by voice anymore – it is through texts or tweets or Facebook posts. Surely this is changing the way we experience each other, but how? In some ways I think it's driving us apart, but in other ways perhaps it's providing opportunities for us to come together," said Director Casey Sams.

With a unique comic voice and perspective, Sarah Ruhl is among the most acclaimed and accomplished young playwrights in contemporary theatre. She gained widespread recognition for her play The Clean House, which won the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in 2004 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005. She also won the 2006 MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.

"I'm a huge Sara Ruhl fan, and I've been dying to work on one of her plays since I first came across them. They are such a fascinating mix of humor and tenderness, of reality and fantasy. And her language is both beautifully poetic and hysterically funny. And, you know, any play that calls for a cell phone ballet has to be fun to produce," Sams said.

Casey Sams (Director) is an Associate Professor at UT where she works in both the Graduate and Undergraduate programs teaching Movement and Acting. Casey's Clarence Brown projects this year include choreographing Tartuffe, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and A Christmas Carol. She has worked in regional theatres as The Round House Theatre, The Utah Shakespearean Festival, PlayMakers Rep, North Carolina Stage Company, Virginia Stage Company, Knoxville Opera Company, and Vermont Stage Company.

Ricardo Birnbaum (Gordon) was born in Madrid, Spain. He is currently finishing his MFA in Acting at UT and will graduate in the spring of 2012. His CBT credits include: A Christmas Carol, Tartuffe, Woyzeck and The Merry Wives of Windsor. He also has acted at The Great River Shakespeare Company.

Internationally, he has worked in Madrid in theatres, film and television.

Christian Brock Darnell (Metaphysical Butler) is a junior studying Theatre. He was last seen in the CBT's A Christmas Carol and also performed in All Campus Theater's Months on End.

Carol Mayo Jenkins (Mrs. Gottlieb) 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 performed in 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.

Jennifer Kibbey (Metaphysical Butler) is a sophomore pursuing a degree in Theatre. Dead Man's Cell Phone is her first production at the Clarence Brown Theatre.

Ted Kitterman (Dwight) is a junior pursuing a degree in Theatre. Previous CBT credits include: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Music Man, A Christmas Carol, Amadeus, and Man of La Mancha. He also has acted, directed, and produced several projects for All Campus Theatre, UT's student Theatre group, the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge, and The University of Tennessee. Regionally, he has performed at the Roxy Regional Theatre in his hometown of Clarksville, TN.

Natasha Koetsch (Other Woman/Stranger) is a senior studying Acting and Costume Design. She performed previously in the CBT's The Music Man. She also was seen in All Campus Theatre's, Broken Bride, a Rock Opera. Additionally, she was in the Tennessee Stage Company's staged reading of Heartland along with Tennessee Valley Players' Curtains.

Jenna Sampsell (Metaphysical Butler) a junior studying Theatre with a focus on Stage Management.

This is her debut performance at the CBT.

Erik Schiller (Metaphysical Butler) is an undergraduate student studying Theatre. He previously performed in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the CBT. He also has performed with All Campus Theatre and Tennessee Stage Company.

Ashleigh Stochel (Jean) is a third year MFA candidate in Acting. She received a B.A. from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN and J.D. from Valparaiso University School of Law. Previous training includes the Summer Training Institute at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. Previous CBT credits: Woyzeck, A Christmas Carol, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Tartuffe.

Sarah Jordan Stout (Hermia) is a senior college scholar majoring in Interdisciplinary Playwriting. Previous CBT credits include: Tartuffe and Phaedra. She also has performed with the All Campus Theater.

Kerri A. Considine (Dramaturg) is a Graduate Teaching Associate and PhD student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She has a master's degree in English from UT and a BFA in Theatre Arts from Point Park University in Pittsburgh. She spent several years in Chicago interning at the Steppenwolf Theatre as well as in development and special events for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Andrew Karlin (Scenic Designer) is designing his first production for the Clarence Brown Theatre. He served as a Scenic Designer at the Hatlen Theatre (Santa Barbara), numerous productions for George Washington University, and for the University of Arizona's Educational Theatre Company. In addition to his work as a designer, he serves as the UT Theater Department's Production Manager and Technical Director. He received his B.A. in Theatre from the University of Arizona, and his M.F.A in Theatre Design from George Washington University.

Elizabeth Aaron (Costume Designer) is a recent graduate of UT's MFA program in Costume Design and is working as freelance designer and craftsperson. Her previous CBT costume design credits include: The Music Man, Charley's Aunt, and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. She recently designed for the Lexington Children's Theatre.

Kate Bashore (Lighting Designer) is a second year MFA candidate in Lighting Design at UT and received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Wake Forest University. She has designed the lighting for various productions at the Clarence Brown Theatre, Playhouse on the Square (Memphis, TN), American Stage Theatre Company (St. Petersburg, FL), and has served as the Resident Lighting Designer for Festival 56 (Princeton, IL) since 2008.

Mike Ponder (Sound Design) has been the Resident Sound Designer for UT's Theatre program and the CBT professional company for over 10 years. Some standout productions include Dance in Time (the American debut of Laszlo Marton's Hungarian epic, told through movement and dance), Metamorphoses (with Joe Haj of Playmakers), and the American debut of George Tabori's The Brecht Files. For The North Carolina Stage Co. he designed for Hedwig and the Angry Inch directed by Ron Bashford and more recently composed electric bass music for Lee Blessing's Chesapeake as well as designing for Underneath the Lintel.

Jessie Alexander (Stage Manager) is a senior majoring in Theatre and is stage managing her first show. Previously, she served as Assistant Stage Manager for Black Pearl Sings! and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Assistant Director on The Music Man and Moonlight and Magnolias, and many other crew positions.

Dead Man's Cell Phone runs from March 29-April 15, 2012. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances begin at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices vary. For tickets, please call the CBT box office at 865-974-5161 or Tickets Unlimited at 865-656-4444.

Published March 24, 2012

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