Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



The powerful new family drama Four Places by Joel Drake Johnson receives its East Coast Premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, October 14 – November 7, 2010, stage direction by Charles Towers. Two middle-aged siblings take their mother out to lunch where the conversation turns from routine banter to life-changing revelation. The indelible characters are both marvelously funny and devastatingly human as they lead one another to a place where forgiveness and understanding are tested, but love is still possible. Subscriptions and individual tickets are available online at or by calling 978.654.4MRT.

“Funny and heart-wrenching” — Backstage (Critic’s Pick)

The all-Equity cast of Four Places features Carole Monferdini, Kate Udall, John Wojda and Laura Latreille. Kate Udall and John Wojda return to Merrimack Rep after previously appearing in A Moon of the Misbegotten and The Pursuit of Happiness, respectively. Carole Monferdini, who has appeared on Broadway in The Misanthrope and Waltz of the Toreadors, and Elliot Norton Award-winner Laura Latreille, who has recently appeared at Huntington Theatre and Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, make their MRT debuts.

“I love Joel Drake Johnson’s Four Places” says Merrimack Rep Artistic Director Charles Towers. “Like many great American plays, it is about family; about the unbreakable bonds that sometimes break. It is also about love. I find his writing to be utterly honest and true, shot through with a great sense of humor that rises not out of jokes, but out of our real recognition of family relationships. So many of us fall into one of the two categories so profoundly rendered here by Johnson: adult children with aging parents, or older parents with adult children. Many of us are navigating these relationships from one side of the fence or the other. Plus, any play that addresses the role denial plays in family life is a play that also has its eye toward the larger role denial plays in American politics and the shaping of the American character. Four Places is at once funny, shocking and heartbreaking in the best theatrical way.”

Joel Drake Johnson is one of the newest members of Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble. The critically acclaimed, Jeff Award-nominated Four Places was produced by Victory Gardens in the spring of 2008. His earlier works at Victory Gardens Theater, Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour, were also Jeff-nominated for Best New Play and all three plays were directed by Sandy Shinner, Victory Gardens’ Associate Artistic Director. Four Places was subsequently produced in Los Angeles by The Rogue Machine Theatre where, under the direction of Robin Larsen, it garnered more critical acclaim.

Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A Blue Moon, which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists and also Jeff-nominated for best new work. He got his start as a writer at Chicago’s critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater, which (under the leadership of Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia) produced such plays as Beautiful Dreamer. His other plays include As the Beaver, first produced by Zebra Crossing, and The Fall to Earth (Rick Snyder, dir.) which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award-winner Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep, directed by Joe Brancato and featuring Tony Award-winner, Michelle Pawk. Steppenwolf later produced A Blameless Life (Anna Shapiro, dir.) and Tranquility Woods (Sandy Shinner, dir.) as part of their 2005 and 2007 First Look Repertory.

He has taught playwriting at Northwestern University, DePaul University and Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. He lives in Chicago and New Buffalo, Michigan where he is working on three new plays: The First Grade which was produced by the Aurora Theatre Company in the winter of 2010; A Guide for the Perplexed which was produced by Victory Gardens in the summer of 2010 and starred Kevin Anderson and Fran Guinan; and The Boys Room, a part of Northlight Theatre’s Interplay and Steppenwolf Theatre’s First Look reading series and now a part of Victory Gardens’ 2010-11 season. Johnson is a member of PEN AMERICA and the Dramatists Guild.

The production staff for Four Places features Charles Towers (director), Bill Clarke (scenic design), Deb Newhall (costume design) and Jeff Adelberg (lighting design). IRNE-winner Bill Clarke’s scenic design work has previously been seen on the Liberty Hall stage in A Delicate Balance, The Seafarer, The Homecoming and many more. Deb Newhall has previously designed for Black Pearl Sings!, Fabuloso and The Seafarer. Lighting Designer Jeff Adelberg makes his MRT debut.

This production of Four Places is sponsored by Lowell General Hospital, with additional support by WBUR. Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2010-2011 season is sponsored by Lowell Cooperative Bank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Carol Monferdini

CAROLE MONFERDINI (Peggy) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut Broadway: The Misanthrope, National Theatre of G. Britain; Waltz of the Toreadors, National Tour. Off-Broadway: Full Gallop, Westside Arts Theater; The Club, Circle in the Square; Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Provincetown Playhouse. New England: The Nibroc Trilogy, Chester Theatre Company. Regional: Pride and Prejudice, Geva Theatre Center; Medea, The Subject Was Roses, Pittsburgh Public Theater; The Retreat from Moscow, Delaware Theatre Company; A Christmas Story, Cleveland Play House, All’s Well That Ends Well, Lettice and Lovage, Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Film: Next Stop, Greenwich Village, The Bell Jar, The Brass Ring.

Kate Udall

KATE UDALL (Ellen) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: A Moon for the Misbegotten (2008). Off-Broadway: Blue Heron Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, MHStages. Regional: Williamstown Theatre Festival, George Street Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Wittenburg (world premiere), Arden Theatre. International: She has played at the Edinburgh Fringe, in Bamberg, Germany and Italy. She is a founding member of Vox, an international ensemble that was featured in the documentary Giving Voice: The Actor’s Journey. In 2006, Vox was invited to present Metamorphoses at the International Theatre Festival in Lisbon. Film: Choke. Television: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, SVU and Kidnapped. Other: Ms. Udall is a designated teacher of Linklater Voice Technique and she spent six years as an Associate Professor of Voice/Acting at West Virginia University. She is a proud member of Actors Equity.

John Wodja

JOHN WOJDA (Warren) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: The Pursuit of Happiness. Broadway: Spring Awakening (1st National Tour), Present Laughter, Merchant of Venice, Two Shakespearean Actors, Macbeth, Holiday. Off-Broadway: New Group (Ecstasy, Mourning Becomes Electra), NYSF/Public Theater, Theatre For A New Audience, Primary Stages, WPA Theatre, Women’s Project, Classic Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theater, SoHo Playhouse, WestBank Downstairs. Regional: Dozens of leading roles including four seasons at Canada’s Stratford Festival. Television: Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: SVU, Third Watch, The High Life, all NY-based soap operas. Film: Amir Naderi’s Manhattan by Numbers, Seven Servants with Anthony Quinn, and most recently in Visiting Friends.

Laura Latreille

LAURA LATREILLE (Barb) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut Regional: In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Hunter Gatherers, Fuddy Meers, Killer Joe, Ruby Tuesday, The Art Room, Public Exposure, Psychopathia, Sexualis, Wellfleet Harbor Actor’s Theatre; Mauritius, Huntington Theatre; Fat Pig, The Shape of Things (Elliot Norton Outstanding Actress Award), Speakeasy Stage Company; Shel’s Shorts & Signs of Trouble, Market Theatre; Sin, Bash, Why We Have a Body, Coyote Theatre; The Glider, Boston Playwrights Theatre; The Blowin’ of Baile Gall, Vineyard Playhouse. Education: Brandeis, MFA

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