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The Originalist
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The Originalist

By John Strand
Directed by Molly Smith
A Co-Production with Asolo Repertory Theatre
and the Pasadena Playhouse

July 7 — 30, 2017
Kreeger Theater

Four-time Helen Hayes Award winner Edward Gero returns as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, offering audiences another opportunity to see his “lively performance” (Washington Post) in this special limited engagement. When a bright, liberal, Harvard Law School graduate embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with the conservative Justice, she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and an unexpected mentor. How will their relationship affect one of the most incendiary cases ever to reach the nation’s highest court? Don’t miss your opportunity to experience the show afresh with a brand-new staging for the Kreeger Theater.


EDWARD GERO (Antonin Scalia)’s Arena Stage credits include Benjamin Hubbard in The Little Foxes and Mark Rothko in Red. He is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner and 15-time nominee. Regional credits include The Originalist (Asolo Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse); Red and Gloucester in King Lear (Goodman); Nixon’s Nixon and Night Alive (Round House); Sweeney Todd (Signature Theatre); Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Ford’s Theatre); and American Buffalo, Shining City and Skylight (Studio Theatre). In 32 seasons with Shakespeare Theatre Company, his over 70 roles include Helen Hayes turns in Henry IV, Richard II and Macbeth. Film/TV credits include House of Cards, TURN: Washington’s Spies, Die Hard 2, Striking Distance and narrations for Discovery Channel and PBS. He is a Ten Chimneys 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow and associate professor of theater at George Mason University.

JADE WHEELER (Cat) is ecstatic to return to the role following productions at Pasadena Playhouse and Asolo Repertory. Jade has performed extensively along the east coast from Massachusetts to Florida. Most recently she appeared in The Legend of Georgia McBride at GableStage. Her one-woman show Who is Eartha Mae? played Off-Broadway at the 2016 United Solo Fest and won for Best Cabaret. Local credits include Debbie Allen’s Alex in Wonderland and Lost in the Stars (the Kennedy Center); An Octoroon (Woolly Mammoth); The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and Ruined (Everyman Theatre). Regional credits include GableStage, Central Square Theatre and Stoneham Theatre. She received her B.A. in theater and French from George Mason University and additional training from La Ferme de Trielle and The Actors Space.

BRETT MACK (Brad) is honored to be making his debut at Arena Stage. Past regional theater credits include The Great Society (Asolo Repertory); Mezzulah 1946 and The Muckle Man (Pittsburgh City Theatre); Leveling Up and The Tempest (The Hippodrome Theatre); Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre); and The Illusion (Chautauqua Theatre). Brett is a recent M.F.A. graduate from Florida State University. He can be seen in season two of Scandal on ABC. Brett is grateful to be a part of the team behind The Originalist and would also like to thank his family for their constant support.


JOHN STRAND (Playwright)’s Arena Stage commissions include Snow Child, The Originalist, The Miser, Lovers and Executioners (MacArthur Award) and Tom Walker. Recent works include the book and lyrics for Hat! A Vaudeville (South Coast Repertory); Lincolnesque (Old Globe); and Lorenzaccio (Shakespeare Theatre Company), and the book for the musical The Highest Yellow (Signature Theatre). Additional plays are The Diaries (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Otabenga (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Three Nights in Tehran (Signature Theatre); and The Cockburn Rituals (Woolly Mammoth). Strand spent 10 years in Paris, where he worked as a journalist and drama critic, and directed NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. His novel Commieland was published by Kiwai Media, Paris in 2013. He is currently at work on a new play about President Teddy Roosevelt for Arena Stage and on the film adaptation of The Originalist.

MOLLY SMITH (Director) has served as Artistic Director since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include Carousel, Oliver!, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive. She most recently directed Our Town at Canada’s Shaw Festival. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; Next to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.

MISHA KACHMAN (Set Designer) has worked at Asolo Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Shakespeare, Opera Lafayette, Opera Royal Versailles, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, Round House, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, Signature Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Studio Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Theater J, Wilma Theater and Woolly Mammoth, among many other companies in the United States and abroad. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth and an associate artist at Olney Theatre Center. Misha is a Helen Hayes Award recipient, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy and serves as the associate professor of scene and costume design and head of M.F.A. in design at University of Maryland.

JOSEPH P. SALASOVICH (Costume Designer) is the costume director at Arena Stage, where he has worked for 17 seasons in various capacities on over 100 productions. He most recently designed costumes for Molly Smith’s Mother Courage and Her Children and the world premiere of The Originalist. He held internships with Williamstown Theatre Festival and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Joe studied at the University of Dayton. For Karen and Marjan.

COLIN K. BILLS (Lighting Designer) is pleased to return to Arena Stage, where his credits include Oliver!, Fiddler on the Roof and the premiere of The Originalist. He is a company member at Woolly Mammoth where he has designed over 45 productions, including An Octoroon, HIR and Black Side of the Moon. As a conspirator with the devising company dog & pony dc, he has collaborated in the writing, direction and design of A Killing Game, Beertown and Toast. His recent work includes Macbeth at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Midwestern Gothic at Signature Theatre and Transmission with The Welders. Colin is the receipient of three Helen Hayes Awards and a Princess Grace Fellowship in Theater. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College.

ERIC SHIMELONIS (Sound Designer) returns to Arena Stage after having composed music for Orpheus Descending and Anna Christie, and creating the sound design for the original production of The Originalist. Other recent projects include Grounded (Everyman Theatre, Olney Theatre Center and Northern Stage); The Nether (Woolly Mammoth); and The Flick (Signature Theatre), for which he received a Helen Hayes Award nomination.


Arena Stage’s production of The Originalist, starring Edward Gero as the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and directed by Molly Smith, was broadcast on PBS’s THIRTEEN in March 2017.

Photo Gallery

In the news

Washington Post | Peter Marks
Edward Gero will forever savor the first words Antonin Scalia ever spoke to him. “I’m not coming to see the play,” the justice declared that afternoon in the late fall of 2014, as Gero entered his chambers… Read more

New York Times | Adam Liptak
In December, after more than a year of research and reflection, Edward Gero went to see an argument at the Supreme Court. He was in the final stages of preparing to portray Justice Antonin Scalia onstage… Read more

NBC Meet the Press | Chuck Todd
John Strand and Edward Gero discuss their new play, The Originalist. Learn more

NPR | Rachel Martin
Drama, suspense, monologues, arguments—what could be more theatrical than the U.S. Supreme Court? A new play called The Originalist takes a look at one of its real-life stars… Learn more


Arena Stage will host special post-show conversations with notable guest panelists during the run of John Strand’s critically-acclaimed political drama The Originalist, based on the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The conversations will bring together guests with expertise on Justice Scalia and the Supreme Court, including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, NPR’s Nina Totenberg; The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin; former Congressmen Tom Davis (R-VA) and Martin Frost (D-TX); Georgetown Law Professor Lawrence Solum; and former Political Science Professor Joe DiGangi, a member of the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Post-Show Conversations

Wednesday, July 19, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
• Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio
• Former Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA), author of The Partisan Divide
• Jess Bravin, Supreme Court correspondent for The Wall Street Journal
• Playwright John Strand
• Actor Edward Gero

Saturday, July 22, following the 8:00 p.m. performance
• Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court
• Artistic Director Molly Smith

Tuesday, July 25, following the 7:30 p.m. performance
• Lawrence Solum, law professor and originalism scholar at Georgetown Law
• Playwright John Strand
• Actor Edward Gero

Thursday, July 27, following the 8:00 p.m. performance
• Former Congressman Martin Frost (D-TX)
• Joe DiGangi, former political science professor, member of the Supreme Court Historical Society
• Playwright John Strand
• Actor Edward Gero


Audio Described

July 22, 2017 – 2:00 p.m.

Open Captioned

July 20, 2017 – 8:00 p.m.

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The Originalist