Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

November 9, 2012, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Merrimack Repertory Theatre


A Laugh Out Loud World Premiere Comedy Takes Audience
Behind-the-Scenes of Life & Love in the Theatre

November 29-December 23

Lowell, MA – When the personal conflicts of a long-suffering acting couple, their adult daughter, and a young newcomer start to affect their performances, the audience is guaranteed a front row seat to this company’s theatrics. “Half ‘n Half ‘n Half,” a world premiere comedy written by John Kolvenbach and directed by Kyle Fabel, is a farcical behind-the-scenes look at life in a repertory theatre. “Half ‘n Half ‘n Half” runs at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) from November 29 through December 23. Tickets begin at just $20 and are on sale now thru or by calling 978-654-4678.

“Half ‘n Half ‘n Half” will feature Jim Ortlieb as George, Carol Halstead as Loretta, Zoë Winters as Frances, and Andrew Pastides as Michael, all making their MRT debut. Kyle Fabel has previously directed “Homestead Crossing,” “Mrs. Whitney,” “The Persian Quarter,” “Fabuloso,” “Tranced,” and “The Four of Us”. The creative team for “Half ‘n Half ‘n Half” consists of Randall Parsons (Scenic Designer), Paul Hackenmuller (Lighting Designer), J Hagenbuckle (Sound Designer/Composer), and Lara de Brujin (Costume Designer).

Director Kyle Fabel is no stranger to the MRT stage, or to working with playwright John Kolvenbach. “This is my fourth time working on a John Kolvenbach play, third time as a director. And for the first time, I’ve been involved almost from the ground up. John and I have been reading, work-shopping and scheming ‘Half n’ Half n’ Half’ for what seems like ages now, and I can’t wait to finally present it to my favorite audience, here at MRT.”

Playwright John Kolvenbach elaborated on the production. “‘Half ‘n Half ‘n Half’ is a backstage comedy. Four actors are on tour, performing a Russian melodrama and a 1930’s Boulevard comedy. We also see them backstage, as themselves. Two of the touring actors are married and in their fifties. They are accompanied by their daughter and a stranger.

The original idea for the play was this: Could you draw a line through all of these disparate styles, an emotional line across the genres that would be continuous, that the audience could follow with their hearts? The two lead actors have been married for decades and have been looking forward to their divorce. In each of the plays within the play, this relationship is pushed and prodded and tested. I hope that the audience will follow the subtext across the melodrama and the comedy, so that the whole – the elaborate, comic and messy whole – will add up to a meditation on marriage and time.”

John Kolvenbach says he is very pleased to continue his ongoing collaboration with MRT. This is the third Kolvenbach play produced by MRT, starting with “Fabuloso” in 2010, and then “Mrs. Whitney” last season, both under the direction of Kyle Fabel. Kolvenbach’s other plays include: “Goldfish,” “Love Song,” “on an average day,” and “Gizmo Love.” “Goldfish” premiered at South Coast Repertory in the spring of 2009, directed by Loretta Greco. “Goldfish” was then produced at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco in the fall of that year. The Magic also premiered “Mrs. Whitney” in the fall of 2009, under Kolvenbach’s direction. “Love Song” premiered at Steppenwolf in Chicago in the spring of 2006, directed by Austin Pendelton. “Love Song” went on to the West End, where it was nominated for an Olivier Award, Best New Comedy. The London production was directed by John Crowley, with Neve Campbell, Cillian Murphy, Kristen Johnston and Michael McKean. “Love Song” has been produced in Zurich, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, Seoul and Rome. There have been over fifty productions in the US. “on an average day” premiered at the Comedy Theatre on the West End in 2002, with Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan, also directed by Mr. Crowley. “on an average day” has been produced in Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Lisbon, among many other places. Kolvenbach’s plays are published by Methuen and licensed by DPS. Kolvenbach’s first screenplay, “Clear Winter Noon,” was selected for the Black List in 2008.

MRT’s 2012-2013 Season is sponsored by LowellBank. “Half ‘n Half ‘n Half” is sponsored by Winn Development, with additional support from Yellowbook. MRT is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Jim Ortlieb

JIM ORTLIEB (George) MRT: Debut. Broadway: The Farnsworth Invention, Guys and Dolls, Billy Elliot: The Musical (1st National Tour). Regional: Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Steppenwolf Theatre; Candide, The Goodman Theatre; Scapin, American Blues Theatre (Member); Of Thee I Sing (Dir. Charles Repole), Orchestra Hall; M the Murderer, Organic Theatre; Only Kidding (Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee), Wisdom Bridge Theatre; Hughie, Gare St. Lazare Players (Member); Tartuffe, The Mikado, Candide, Weston Playhouse. The Grapes of Wrath (Dir. David Cromer) The Ford’s Theatre; Alfred Stieglitz Loves O’Keefe, Ghost Ranch Productions; The Wasps, Getty Villa. International The Homecoming, Hughie (Paris, France), Faith Healer, Dark Pony, Translations (West Cork, Ireland), Gare St. Lazare Players. Television: Mr. Ortlieb has been in over 50 television shows including Vegas, Grey’s Anatomy, The Closer, CSI, Bones, Six Feet Under, The Shield and Nasedo in Roswell. Film: Contagion (Dir. Steven Soderbergh), Drunkboat, A Mighty Wind (Dir. Christopher Guest), Magnolia(Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson), Chain Reaction (Dir. Andrew Davis), Home Alone and Running Scared. Education: Graduate of Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers University. Other: Mr. Ortlieb also works as a teacher and director.

Carol Halstead

Carol Halstead (Loretta) MRT: Debut. Broadway: Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. Off Broadway: Walking Down Broadway, The Mint; The Duchess of Malfi, Pericles, Red Bull Theatre; Easter Candy, Amazing Adventures of Tense Guy, Paradise Theatre; The Mask, The Clurman; Urgent Fury, The Cherry Lane; Alarm Dog Rep Plays Dead, NY Public Theatre; Dreams are Funny, Home; Planet America, Ensemble Studio Theatre; The Two Mrs. Trumps, The Westbeth; Easter Candy, Young Playwrights; Windows on the World, NY International Fringe Festival; Women at Work, Vital Theatre Company. Regional: Good People (Jean), The Old Globe; August: Osage County (Barbara), Fulton Theatre; God Of Carnage (Annette), Hudson Stage Co.; The Clean House (Lane), Syracuse Stage; Private Lives (Amanda), Kitchen Theatre; The Philadelphia Story, You Can’t Take It With You, Reckless, All My Sons, The Chautauqua Theatre Company; A Flea In Her Ear (Raymonde), Kansas City Rep; West Coast Premier of Teresa Rebeck’s Bad Dates (Dean Goodman Choice Award – Best Solo Performance); June Moon (Lucille), Dorset Theatre Company; The Beard of Avon (Queen Elizabeth), Twelfth Night (Olivia), Bad Dates, Portland Center Stage; Macbeth, Milwaukee Shakespeare. The Voysey Inheritance, Baltimore’s Center Stage; Picasso at the Lapine Agile, Cleveland Playhouse; A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, Arcadia, The Skin of our Teeth, Misalliance, Racing Demon, Life with Father, A Christmas Carol, The Denver Center Theatre; All’s Well that Ends Well, Loves Labors Lost, The Shakespeare Theatre, DC. International: Picasso At The Lapine Agile, Budapest, Hungary. Film/TV: Law and Order: CI, Jonny Zero, As the World Turns, All My Children, Towelhead, The Whipper Snapper. Education: Florida State University, The American Conservatory. Other: Ms. Halstead makes her home in New York City where she trains as a Second-Degree Black Belt in Seido Karate.

Zoë Winters

ZOË WINTERS (Frances) MRT: Debut. Off-Broadway: 4000 Miles, Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3; Love Song, 59E59 (Written/directed by John Kolvenbach). New York: Hater, Ohio Theatre; Swimming Legs, TheaterLab; The Eyes of Others, Not at the Dinner Table; New Ohio Theatre. Regional: The Importance of Being Earnest, Paper Mill Playhouse; The Imaginary Invalid, Seattle Repertory Theatre; The Rivals, The Matchmaker; Baltimore CENTERSTAGE; Mauritius, Magic Theatre; The Diary of Anne Frank, Virginia Stage Company. Film/Television: In the Family, Under, Law & Order, Ugly Betty, Gossip Girl, Army Wives. Education: BFA, SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory.

Andrew Pastides

ANDREW PASTIDES (Michael)MRT: Debut. Off-Broadway: Love Song, 59E59; Makeout Session, Barrow Group. Regional: Goldfish, Magic Theatre; The Glass Menagerie, Tartuffe, Two River Theatre; The Chosen, The Cleveland Playhouse; Molly’s Delicious, The Arizona Theatre Co.; Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Theatre Alliance. Film/Television: Blue Bloods (CBS), Law and Order (NBC), Suits (USA), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), Si Nos Dejan (Dir. Celia Rowlson-Hall), Hank and Asha (Dir. James Duff). Mrs. Tenderfoot Takes a Lover and Shadows and Lies (Dir. Jay Anania). Education: Andrew is a graduate of The University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. Other: Andrew is working with Playwright John Kolvenbach for the third time.


$5 Night – November 29 at 7:30PM. Patrons may purchase tickets for $5, cash only, at the Box Office between 4:30PM-7:30PM. Limit 2 tickets per person. Following the performance, there will also be a Director’s Dialogue, where the director and designers field audience questions and describe how the play was staged. Opening Night – December 2 at 7PM. Audience members are invited to join Merrimack Rep’s staff and cast after the show in raising a glass of champagne to celebrate the opening of the production. Cookie Matinee – December 5 at 2PM. Patrons enjoy complimentary cookies and coffee in the lobby before the show, courtesy of Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus. Lowell Night – December 5 at 7:30PM. Lowell residents may purchase tickets for $10 at the box office from 4:30PM-7:30PM. Proper ID required, limit 2 per person. Post Show Discussions – December 6, 13, and 20 at 7:30PM. Audiences can stay after the performance to learn the inside scoop and chat with the actors.


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