Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

October 19, 2012, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Memory House, MRT | Tags: , , , ,


The last-minute stress of completing a college admission essay forces a mother and her adopted daughter to confront long-hidden family secrets in the very moving and funny “Memory House” by Kathleen Tolan, directed by Melia Bensussen. “Memory House” runs at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) from October 25 through November 18. Tickets begin at just $20 and are on sale now thru or by calling 978-654-4678.

“A captivating emotional ballet that is also a moving demonstration of the strenuous work that goes into good mothering.” —The New York Times

According to director Melia Bensussen, “Memory House” explores several different conflicts. “‘Memory House’ brilliantly captures the complexity of the relationship between a teenage daughter and her mother, and the painful process for them both of the daughter’s growing up. Kathleen’s play is smart and funny, and reminds us of how we’re not alone when enduring the complexities of our own family structures. No matter what our own backgrounds are, and whether we are in the midst of raising children ourselves or not, ‘Memory House’ reminds us of the validity of the struggles of intimacy and family.”

“Memory House” will feature Susan Pellegrino as Maggie and Rebecca Blumhagen as Katia, both in their MRT debuts. Melia Bensussen has previously directed “Two Jews Walk into a War…,” “The Blonde, Brunette, and Vengeful Redhead,” “Aunt Dan & Lemon”, and “Something in the Air” at MRT. The creative team for “Memory House” consists of Judy Gailen (Scenic and Costume Designer), Brian Lilienthal (Lighting Designer), Seághan McKay (Projection Designer), and Susan Hudspeth (Assistant Stage Manager).

Playwright Kathleen Tolan attended Empire State College, State University of New York, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. She continued her education at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, where she earned a Master’s degree in Fine Arts. After completing her undergraduate and graduate education in the 70s, she began her acting career. She has acted in experimental theatre, Off-Broadway theatre, regional theatre, television, and film. Some of her most successful and known work as an actress was on television and film, starring in the Emmy Award-Winning soap opera, “Ryan’s Hope,” as the character Mary Ryan Fenelli. She has also starred in a couple of big motion pictures, such as “Death Wish” (1974, Dino De Laurentiis Company and Paramount Pictures) and “The Rosary Murders” (1987, First Take and Rosary Take One). After retiring as an actress she became a playwright. Some of her most well-known plays include “The Wax,” “A Girl’s Life,” “Approximating Mother,” “Kate’s Diary,” “A Weekend Near Madison,” and her most recent and critically acclaimed play “Memory House.” She is currently working on a new play titled “Istanbul Notes,” for the Seattle Repertory Theatre. She has received numerous awards including the Thornton Wilder Fellowship, the McKnight National Residency and Commission, the Charles H. Revson Fellowship, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, several MacDowell Colony and Hedgebrook residencies, and two Sundance Institute residencies. Tolan is also a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Writer’s Guild of America, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and the PEN American Center. She currently resides in New York where she teaches playwriting at Purchase College, State University of New York, and is the coordinator of the Dramatic Writing Program at the university.

MRT’s 2012-2013 Season is sponsored by LowellBank. “Memory House” is sponsored by Washington Savings Bank. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Susan Pellegrino (Maggie) MRT: Debut. Broadway: Equus, Prelude to a Kiss, Imaginary Friends, Present Laughter, The Kentucky Cycle, Two Shakespearean Actors. Off Broadway: Septimus, Clarissa Ripetime Theatre Co. Distracted, The Paris Letter, Roundabout Theatre. Outward Bound, Pullman Car Hiawatha, Keen Co. One Shoe Off, Second Stage at the Public, Marvin’s Room, Minetta Lane. Regional: Doubt, Virginia Stage Company, A Christmas Carol, Learned Ladies, McCarter Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre, St. Louis Reparatory Theatre, Portland Stage, The American Conservatory Theatre (Five seasons—Dramalogue Award for Absurd Person Singular). Tours: Rumors, 84 Charring Cross Road. Film/TV: Michael Clayton, The Wendigo, Notes for my Daughter (ABC) MAC, The Becky Bell Story (HBO) Pan Am (CBS) Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, Law and Order Trial By Jury(NBC) Hack (CBS) One Life To Live, As The World Turns. Education: City College and San Francisco Stage College, The American Conservatory Theatre Training Program.

Rebecca Blumhagen (Katia) MRT: Debut. Regional: Our Town, Arden Theatre; Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labours Lost, Virginia Shakespeare Festival; Smart Cookie, Alliance Theatre. TV/Film: The Girls Guide to Depravity (starring); Body of Proof, Underground; Lefty Loosey Righty Tighty; Adam Underground. Director: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Our Town (adaptation), St. Margaret’s English Medium School, Kisongo, Tanzania; The Sky is so far from the Land, (documentary, film). Other: Currently resides in New York, NY, where she studies with Michael Howard. She is thrilled to be joining the Merrimack Repertory Theatre for this production of Memory House!


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