Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



Mrs. Whitney, written by John Kolvenbach, directed by Kyle Fabel, follows the comedic journey of middle-aged divorcée Margaret Whitney as she attempts to reconnect with her long-estranged ex-husband, Tom. After realizing her loneliness in the absence of her newly-wed daughter, Mrs. Whitney sets about locating her ne’er-do-well ex, sending her on an odyssey of surprising and sharply-funny encounters. Mrs. Whitney runs March 15 – April 8 at Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Tickets are available online at or by calling 978-654-4MRT.

Mrs. Whitney will feature Deirdre Madigan as Margaret Whitney, Joel Colodner as Francis, Rebecca Harris as Louisa, Jay Ben Markson as Fin, and Dennis Parlato as Tom Whitney. Madigan and Harris have graced the MRT stage before, Madigan in Gunshy and Harris in The Missionary Position and Fabuloso (also by Kolvenbach). Colodner, Markson, and Parlato all make their MRT debuts. Kyle Fabel has previously directed Trying, The Four of Us, Tranced, Fabuloso, and The Persian Quarter at MRT. The creative team for Mrs. Whitney consists of Campbell Baird (Scenic Design), Deb Newhall (Costume Design), and Paul Hackenmueller (Lighting Design).

“I’m beyond excited to be working on my third John Kolvenbach play” says director Kyle Fabel who previously directed Kolvenbach’s Fabuloso at MRT, “John’s plays are all rich, both with irresistible humor and with deep, complex, compassionate insight into the human soul. This play has plenty of the former, but perhaps more of the latter than any of his others. Also, having John more involved in the process this time around has already proven wonderfully rewarding.”

“The idea for this play comes from a radio station which played American standards in the 70’s, WNEW in New York, from the DJ’s William B. Williams and Jonathan Schwartz, and from the mid-career albums of Frank Sinatra (Wee Small Hours) and Bob Dylan (Blood on the Tracks and Desire)” says playwright John Kolvenbach. “The play is about romance and loneliness. It’s about the notion that love is a cure for the fundamental human difficulty: that we are born and remain alone. It’s about how that romantic notion both sustains and betrays us. It’s a comedy. About heartbreak.”

John Kolvenbach has enjoyed a great deal of international success as a playwright. Author of Goldfish, Love Song, on an average day, Gizmo Love, Fabuloso, and of course Mrs. Whitney, his plays have been performed in Zurich, Melbourne, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Lisbon among many others. Love Song made its way to the West End in London where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for best new comedy. On an average day premiered at the Comedy Theatre on the West End in 2002 starring Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan. His screenplay Clear Winter Noon was selected for the Black List in 2008, and he is currently writing a screenplay for MGM.

MRT’s 2011-2012 Season is sponsored by Lowell Bank. Mrs. Whitney is sponsored by Farley White Interests with additional support from Yellow Book. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Deirdre Madigan (Margaret Whitney) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Gun-Shy (dir Charles Towers). Broadway: After the Night and The Music (dir. Daniel Sullivan). Off Broadway: Barbra’s Wedding (dir. David Warren), Major Crimes (dir Arthur Penn) and Jigsaws (dir. Susie Fuller). Regional: Two River Theatre Company’s Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (dir. Ken Rus Schmoll) Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at The English Theatre Of Frankfurt, God of Carnage, The Little Foxes, Mary Stuart, Much Ado About Nothing (dir. Ted Pappas), Spinning into Butter (dir. Eddie Gilbert) and Betty’s Summer Vacation (dir. Munson Hicks) at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre. All the Kings Men at the Intiman Theatre (dir. Pam MacKinnon), The Diary of Anne Frank at the Denver Center (dir. Paul Barnes), A Marriage Minuet at Westport Country Playhouse and City Theatre (dir. Tracey Brigden), Dinner With Friends and Julius Caesar at Pioneer Theatre Company (dir. Charles Morey), Lips Together, Teeth Apart at George Street Playhouse (dir. Michael Morris). TV & Film: Law and Order, Law and Order C.I. & The Good Wife.

Joel Colodner (Francis) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Broadway: They Knew What They Wanted, A Memory of Two Mondays, The Beggars Opera, Measure for Measure. Off Broadway: How I Learned to Drive, Do I Hear a Waltz? Regional: Threepenny Opera, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Streamers, Comedians, Hamlet, Arena Stage; The American Clock, Measure for Measure, Wild Oats, Mark Taper Forum; The Rainmaker, Guthrie Theatre; Da’arlin Juno, Long Wharf; A Christmas Carol, Alliance Theatre; The Seagull, Pittsburgh Public Theatre; Is There Life After High School?, Hartford Stage. TV: L.A. Law, Moonlighting, Remington Steele, Cagney and Lacey, St. Elsewhere, 21 Jump Street, Law and Order, Perry Mason – Case of the Avenging Ace, Mrs. Columbo, Eight is Enough, Highway to Heaven, Another World/Texas. Film: The Kirlian Witness, Arthur – On the Rocks, Who is Julia?, Betrayed by Innocence, Not My Kid, Malice in Wonderland. Education: BA, Cornell University. MFA, Southern Methodist University.

Rebecca Harris (Louisa) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: Fabuloso, The Missionary Position. Off Broadway: LIFEGAME, Enter the Night. Off-Off-Broadway: True Crimes, Gint!, American Silents, B & G and Voyage of the Carcass. Regional: The 39 Steps, Mother Teresa is Dead, The Missionary Position, Mezzulah 1946, A Picasso, Fiction, String of Pearls, City Theatre in Pittsburgh; Scramble, Westport Country Playhouse; Centennial Casting, Virginia Stage; Mauritius, Bad Dates, Theater Squared; Frame 312, The Alliance Theatre; The Play About the Baby, The Alley Theatre; Last Chance for a Slow Dance, New York Stage and Film; The Exonerated, The Birthday Party, The Real Thing, Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre. Television: Three Rivers, Life on the Line, Sex and the City, Law and Order. Film: Road, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Unstoppable, Don’t Back Down. Education: MFA, Columbia University, New York.

Jay Ben Markson (Fin Whitney) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Regional: Mercutio, Romeo and Juliet, Dromio of Ephesus, A Comedy of Errors, Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, MaineStage Shakespeare. Educational Credits: Arnholm, The Lady from the Sea, title character, Macbeth, Karl, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Brad, The Rocky Horror Show. Education: BA, Dartmouth College.

Dennis Parlato (Tom Whitney) Merrimack Repertory Theatre: debut. Broadway: John the Baptist, Salome with Al Pacino; Lawrence Jameson, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Mr. Robinson, The Graduate; Captain von Trapp, The Sound of Music; CIA Agent Walter Anderson, Chess; Rooster, Annie; Zach, A Chorus Line. Off Broadway & Regional: Franklin Woolsey, GHOST-WRITER, ETC in Cincinnati. Title roles in Cyrano de Bergerac; Barrymore; J.B; The Master Builder; Christopher Columbus; >Beethoven, 33 Variations; Julian Marsh, 42nd Street; Oliver, The Vertical Hour; Prospero, The Tempest; Big Daddy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Scrooge, A Christmas Carol; Uncle Peck, How I Learned to Drive; Sky Masterson, Guys and Dolls. TV & Film: Delocated, Law and Order, One Life to Live, Loving, Tom De Cillo’s Johnny Suede and Delirious, Eddie Muller’s Dillinger’s Dead, Greg DeFelice’s Bury the Evidence, Rick, Starting Out in the Evening and Bride Wars.


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