Avant Bard Announces Full Cast and Creative Team for ‘A Misanthrope’

"A brisk, biting comedy" set in "a booze-fueled pool party with the wealthy and wanna-be famous."

Avant Bard Theatre announces the full cast and creative team for its season finale, A Misanthrope, a world premiere adaptation of Molière’s The Misanthrope by Manhattan-based playwright Matt Minnicino, directed by Megan Behm in her Avant Bard debut.

A Misanthrope is a brisk, biting comedy about a cynic named Alceste who thinks insincerity is a sin. But the joke’s on him when he falls for Celimine, an ingenue who’s more than his match. Matt Minnicino’s A Misanthrope distills Molière’s best-known farce into quippy rhyming couplets. And it pokes fun at social flattery with a hot take on the absurdity of modern hot airs. Hypocrisy has never been more hilarious.

“Moliere’s comic classic was about mocking hypocrisy of the French aristocracy, but we’re going to look at these themes through a more modern lens,” said Director Megan Behm. “We’ve set A Misanthrope in the present at a fabulous vacation villa in the South of France during a booze-fueled pool party with the wealthy and wanna-be famous.

“The characters are international jet-setter types, filthy rich and in the prime of their lives,” Behm continued. “They are all mostly oblivious to the consequences of their actions. With money to burn, why be serious about anything?

“To me, this play is about the inauthentic and superficial selves people project into the world, and then what happens when they are trapped in these roles. Alceste is not just some asshole who mocks everyone because he’s mean. He’s an outcast because he refuses to play this game.”

Top row: Sara Barker, Jenna Berk, Patrick Joy, Elliott Kashner, Thais Menendez. Bottom row: Chloe Mikala, Tendo Nsubuga, Matthew Sparacino, Hannah Sweet.

The cast features nine local talents, listed here with character notes by Behm:

Elliott Kashner as Alceste (“Scary smart”). Jenna Berk as Philinte (“Good buddies with Alceste”). Matthew Sparacino as Oronte (“Self-impressed. From old money. Works hard, plays harder”). Thais Menendez as Celimene (“Sparkly alpha girl. Young and rich with multiple suitors”). Patrick Joy as Clitandre (“Eurotrash party boy”). Tendo Nsubuga as Acaste (“Desperately wants to be the cool hipster type, but can’t pull it off”). Chloe Mikala as Eliante (“Utterly cool. Bookish. Bicurious”). Sara Barker as Arsinoe (“Prim and proper divorcée who is secretly desperate to be laid. Once wealthy and now not”). Hannah Sweet as Basque (personal assistant to Celimene) and DuBois (PA to Alceste).

The creative team includes Set Designer Megan Holden, Costume Designer Alison Samantha Johnson, Lighting Designer Elizabeth Roth,Sound Designer Kevin Alexander, and Properties Designer Liz Long.

Playwright Matt Minnicino.

Matt Minnicino’s work has been developed around the country. Besides Molière, he has adapted Chekhov (three times), Strindberg, Ibsen, Gorky, Genet, Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Homer, The Book of Genesis, poems by Rilke, art by Magritte, and more. He is an alumnus of Pipeline Theatre’s PlayLab, the Great Plains Theatre Conference, and SPACE on Ryder Farm and is the winner of the Arts & Letters Prize.

Director Megan Behm. Photo by Clinton Brandhagen.

Megan Behm’s directing credits include To Tell My Story (Helen Hayes Nomination, Best Original Adaptation) and Switch (The Welders), 45 Plays for 45 Presidents (NextStop Theatre), Cymbeline (Virginia Shakespeare Festival), Safe as Houses (Pinky Swear Productions), The Comedy of Errors (Lean & Hungry Theater), The Campsite Rule (The Washington Rogues), Minus You and Edward Cullen Ruined My Mother’s Love Life (The Source Festival), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and According to Shakespeare (InterAct Story Theatre).

For full cast and creative team bios, see “Who’s Who in A Misanthrope.

“Matt Minnicino, whose work has been an audience favorite in Avant Bard’s Scripts in Play Festival, is one of the smartest and funniest playwrights I know,” said Executive and Artistic Director Tom Prewitt. “His fresh takes on classics are right up Avant Bard’s alley. And we’re all intrigued by Megan Behm’s swanky concept for Matt’s laugh-out-loud script.”

A Misanthrope begins previews May 30, 2019, and runs through June 30. Performances are at Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two, 2700 South Lang Street, Arlington, VA 22206.

Tickets are $40 and available online or by calling 703-418-4808. Advance-purchase Pay What You Will tickets are also now available online for previews, and will be on sale online for all other performances beginning the Monday before.

A Misanthrope contains some themes risqué,
Some subjects sordid, words one shouldn’t say.
Much as we’d love to mitigate your fears;
Such syllables wouldn’t suit the youngest ears.
                    —The Saucy Author


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