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Actors’ Studio Asks ‘Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?’

Betsy Bowman, left, plays Honey; Michael Amoroso, seated, plays Nick; William Roth plays George and Kari Ely plays Martha in the St. Louis Actors' Studio's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
St. Louis Actors' Studio
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Betsy Bowman, left, plays Honey; Michael Amoroso, seated, plays Nick; William Roth plays George and Kari Ely plays Martha in the St. Louis Actors' Studio's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the St. Louis Actors’ Studio presents the twisted reality of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

“I think it’s the greatest American play of the second half of the 20th century,” director John Contini told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday. “I think it changed the face of theater when it came out.”

Written by Edward Albee and debuting in 1962, the play focuses on the lives and marriage of a middle-aged couple, George and Martha. The play won a Tony Award for best play in 1963, and was adapted as a film in 1966. It was revived on Broadway in 2004.

Actress Kari Ely, who plays Martha, said the story and relationships between the characters were markedly different from other plays of its time. The way they speak, including mild profanity, also was something new to audiences. “The way they speak sounds much more natural, the way you and I would talk,” she said.

George and Martha invite another couple, Nick and Honey, to their home after a university faculty party. George and Nick are university professors, and Martha is the daughter of the university’s president.

“Martha, I think, had hoped for better things out of George, and didn’t get them,” said William Roth, who plays George and founded the St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Martha wants George to take over her father’s position at the university; George has no interest in that role.

“There are plenty of genuine things that go on through this play,” Roth said. “It’s not just a knock-down, drag-out battle. There are things in George and Martha’s life that they struggle with and they have tried to, up until this point, reconcile and live with. This evening brings just about everything that they care about, including each other, to the forefront.”

But a love story is at the heart of the play, the cast said.

“You take that love story, and it is a love story, (and) you take that couple, and you magnify it with a lot of alcohol and hilarity ensues,” Ely said of the drama.

“It is a comedy more than anything else,” Contini said. “It’s a dark comedy, and we’re very aware of that,” Roth said.

Related Event

Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

  • When: Feb. 13-March 1, 2015
  • Where: Gaslight Theater, 360 N. Boyle Ave., St. Louis
  • More information

“Cityscape” is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

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