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Guthrie Theater announces full company for M. Butterfly




Previews begin April 17; Opening April 23;

Playing through June 6, 2010, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage

(Minneapolis/St. Paul) The Guthrie Theater today announced complete casting for its upcoming production of David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, the 1988 Tony and Drama Desk award-winning play about a French diplomat who falls in love with a Chinese actress who turns out to be not only a spy but a man. Veteran Shakespeare Theatre Company (D.C.) actor Andrew Long (recently seen in I Am My Own Wife at the Signature Theatre) will play diplomat Rene Gallimard, with the previously announced local standout Randy Reyes taking on the transformative role of Song Liling, under the direction of Theater Latté Da artistic director Peter Rothstein. In addition to Long and Reyes, the cast will also feature Tina Chilip (Comrade Chin/Suzuki/Shu-Fang), Nathaniel Fuller (M. Toulon/Judge), Katie Guentzel (Renee/Girl in Magazine), Charity Jones (Helga/Woman at Party), Lee Mark Nelson (Marc/Consul Sharpless), Sherwin F. Resurreccion (Kurogo), Erik Sharp (Kurogo) and Momoko Tanno (Kurogo). M. Butterfly begins preview performances on April 17, opens April 23 and continues through June 6, 2010. Single tickets start at $24 and are now on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org.

From his prison cell, French diplomat Rene Gallimard tells the story of how he came to be loved by Song Liling, a performer in the Peking opera whom he describes as “the perfect woman.” When she dazzles him with her performance of Madame Butterfly, Gallimard uses his cruelty and power as a Western man to ensnare Song, unaware she is actually a man masquerading as a woman, as was tradition for Beijing opera performers. Unbeknownst to Gallimard, Song is also a spy for the Chinese government and uses their relationship to extract vital information.

The pair’s affair continues for 20 years, until the truth of Song’s identity is revealed, tearing apart Gallimard’s comfortable myths of East and West, man and woman, and sending the story out of his control. Unable to face the fact that his “perfect woman” is actually a man, the ex-diplomat, now convicted of treason and imprisoned, retreats deep within himself and his memories, as the action of the play is depicted as his disordered, distorted recollection of the events surrounding their affair.

M.Butterfly offers an evocative and beautiful blend of theatrical styles and voices that cuts to the heart of the distortions that pollute cross-cultural interactions, tracing the lines of race, gender and power through a story of love and deception. A modern classic, Hwang’s play beautifully blends the power and politics of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly with a contemporary world in which sexual identity issues have become a topic of open discussion and dialogue.

Since his 1999 Guthrie debut in The School for Scandal, Reyes has established himself in the Twin Cities as a highly-recognizable actor, playing memorable supporting roles in more than a dozen Guthrie productions, in addition to his work as an artist, educator and administrator with various companies throughout the community. Song Liling marks his third leading role in a David Henry Hwang production this season, having previously been seen in the 2009-10 Mu Performing Arts’ productions of Flower Drum Song and Yellow Face. “My three plays being done in the Twin Cities also represents the coming of age of Randy as a major American actor,” said Hwang in a recent interview. “Randy and I have previously worked together in New York and Seattle, and he is undoubtedly the big reason why we’re able to do three of my shows here this season.”

The artistic team includes Allen Moyer (Scenic Design), Linda Cho (Costume Design), Marcus Dilliard (Lighting Design), Scott W. Edwards (Sound Design), Elisa Carlson (Voice and Dialect Coach), Marcela Lorca (Movement), David Furumoto (Asian Discipline Consultant), Jo Holcomb (Dramaturg), Martha Kulig (Production Stage Manager), Jason Clusman (Assistant Stage Manager), Elizabeth R. MacNally (Assistant Stage Manager) and Dionne LaViolette (Assistant Director).

About the Guthrie

The Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963, is an American center for theater performance, production, education and professional training. The Guthrie is dedicated to producing the great works of dramatic literature, developing the work of contemporary playwrights and cultivating the next generation of theater artists. Led by Director Joe Dowling since 1995, the Guthrie opened its new three-theater home on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in June 2006.

The Guthrie is located at 818 South 2nd Street (at Chicago Avenue), in downtown Minneapolis. To purchase tickets or season subscriptions call the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224 or toll-free 877.44.STAGE. For more information, or to purchase tickets online, visit www.guthrietheater.org.

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