Press Release: Casting Announcement for Birdy

For Immediate release: December 13, 2018
Contact: Kati Mitchell

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
presents second production of 2018-2019 Season:

Adapted by Naomi Wallace
from the novel by William Wharton
Directed by Steven Maler
February 27 – March 10, 2019
Carling-Sorenson Theater, Babson College

 Wellesley, MA — Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Founding Artistic Director Steven Maler announced the cast of the second production of its 2018-19 Season: Birdyadapted by Naomi Wallace from the novel by William Wharton, and directed by Steven Maler. The production runs February 27 through March 10 at the Carling-Sorenson Theater at Babson College in Wellesley.

Performance dates are as follows:
February 27, 28, March 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 at 7:30pm, March 3, 9, 10 at 3pm.
Press opening on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 7:30pm.
Press invitations will be sent out in January, 2019.
Tickets: $50, Seniors (65+) $46, Babson faculty, staff, and non-Babson students $15, Babson students $5

In a Philadelphia suburb before World War II, Birdy, a very smart but odd young man, spends his time collecting pigeons and canaries for his aviary. His best friend, Al, has more earthly interests like sports and girls, but is attracted to Birdy’s eccentricity, intelligence and commitment to his birds. But after both young men return from the war, they are forced to deal with the trauma of their experiences, both physical and psychological. Birdy examines the effects of war on young lives, a topic that is just as relevant today as it was decades ago. The story also offers hope: in the possibility of powerful friendships to heal the psychological wounds of war after the physical wounds have healed.

The Company includes Steven Barkhimer as Dr. White, Maxim Chumov as Young Al Columbato, Spencer Hamp as Young Birdy, James Ricardo Milord as Renaldi, Will Taylor as Birdy, and Keith White as Al Columbato.  Set and costume design is by Clint Ramos, Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg, and sound design by Chris Noyes.

This production of Birdy is presented by special arrangement with Knight Hall Agency Ltd and Spring Sirkin. Special thanks to the following supporters: Royal Little Family Foundation, Jann E. Leeming, Senior Trustee; and  Elizabeth T. Ayer/Geoff Van Wyck.CSC Season sponsors are WGBH, The Boston Globe, and the Improper Bostonian.

About the Company:

Steven Barkhimer (Dr. White) is a member of the Actors’ Shakespeare Project (Richard IIIA Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Cherry OrchardMiddletownTwelfth NightThe Winter’s Tale and others) and has recently appeared at Shakespeare & Company (Morning After Grace); Huntington Theatre (Tartuffe); Lyric Stage (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Gypsy and Warrior Class). Author of Windowmen, (Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards) and a collection of music (“Time Was”), he also adapted Sheridan’s School for Scandal for ASP, and provided the libretto for an upcoming opera of Tristram Shandy (music by Martin Pearlman, Music Director of Boston Baroque).

Maxim Chumov (Young Al) is a native of Washington State; he has been training and pursuing acting on the East Coast for the past year. Most recently he has been touring with Chamber Theater’s production of Encore!!!as the narrator of “The Tell-Tale Heart.”  He also appeared in Spokane Civic Theatre’s award-winning production of Orphans by Lyle Kessler and the Modern’s Theater’s production of A Bright New Boise by Samuel D Hunter.

Spencer Hamp (Young Birdy) was seen as Alan Strang in Equus at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Trofimov in The Cherry Orchard at ACT Theatre, The Seagull Project, roles in The Winter’s Tale at Seattle Shakespeare Company, the world premiere adaptation of David James Duncan’s The Brothers K at Book-It Rep, and the West Coast premiere of Buzzer (ACT Theatre, West of Lenin). Recent screen work includes supporting roles in music videos for Erik Blood (“Chase the Clouds”) and Hunter Lea (“I See Through You”), “Law and Order: SVU,” and the upcoming international feature film A Muse.

James Ricardo Milord (Renaldi) was seen in The Agitators and Cyrano at Gloucester Stage, Anna Christie and Barbecue at Lyric Stage, Akeelah and the Bee at the Wheelock Family Theatre, Clybourne Park at Longwood Players Club, The Good Negro, Splendor, The Brothers Size Trilogy, Clockwork Orange at Company One, and Macbeth at Shakespeare Now. Film and television credits include “Honest Thief” (Solution Entertainment Group), “Proud Mary” (Screen Gems), “The Brotherhood” (Showtime), a handful of indies and industrial commercials.

Will Taylor (Birdy) is an actor, director, choreographer, and musician whose Broadway credits include A Chorus Line (Bobby), The Producers, La Cage aux Folles, and 42nd Street. Will recently played Rudy in Moises Kaufman’s production of Bent at the Mark Taper Forum.  TV and film credits include “The Good Wife” and “Partners,” and “Sex And The City 2”. Will directed the award-winning New York production of Chickens In The Yard (Adjusted Realists), and created the hit ongoing dance challenge On 1 Condition (Dixon Place).  He has served as choreography and movement specialist for TV’s “Lip Lync Battle”, and has choreographed several world premiere plays and musicals. As a singer, Will toured the world in concert with Kristin Chenoweth and is currently working on his debut album of original songs.

Keith White (Al Columbato) is a New York based actor and singer. A graduate of The Boston Conservatory, he toured with the National Tour of Jersey Boys and performed on Broadway in A Bronx Tale.

About the creative team:

William Wharton (Author) Born Albert William du Aime (1925-2008), he published his first novel later in life under a pseudonym, achieving great popular and critical success. He joined the army upon graduating from high school and was severely wounded during World War II. After the war, Wharton studied painting and psychology at the University of California and spent more than a decade teaching art in the public school system of Los Angeles. He moved to Europe with his wife and children in 1958 and settled his family in Paris, where he remained for most of his life. The family divided time between several residences, including a houseboat, and subsisted on profits from his Impressionist-style paintings, which Wharton sold on the street. His first novel, Birdy, was published in 1979 and was made into a film with Matthew Modine and Nicholas Cage in 1984; his second novel Dad, equally successful, was published in 1981 and filmed in 1989; A Midnight Clear, published in 1982, filmed in 1992. Other novels include Scumbler (1984), Pride (1985), Tidings (1987), and Last Lovers (1991), they drew less attention than his early work. He also illustrated his 1989 novel Franky Furbo and published a number of novels in Polish. In addition, Wharton wrote two memoirs—Wrongful Deaths (1994; republished as Ever After: A Father’s True Story, 1995), which chronicles the aftermath of his daughter’s death in a car accident, and Houseboat on the Seine (1996), an account of his unconventional life as an American expatriate.

Naomi Wallace (Playwright) is from Kentucky. Her plays—which have been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and the Middle East—include In the Heart of America, Slaughter City, One Flea Spare, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Things of Dry Hours, The Fever Chart: Three Visions of the Middle East, And I and Silence and The Hard Weather Boating Party. In 2009, One Flea Spare was incorporated into the permanent repertoire of the French National Theater, the Comédie-Française. Only two American playwrights have ever been added to La Comédie’s repertoire in 300 years; the other was Tennessee Williams. Films: “Lawn Dogs,” “The War Boys,” “Flying Blind” (co-written with Bruce Mcleod). Awards: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (twice), Joseph Kesselring Prize, Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, Obie Award (One Flea Spare) and the 2012 Horton Foote Award for most promising new American play. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts development grant.

Steven Maler (Director) is the Founding Artistic Director of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC). At CSC he has been directing Free Shakespeare on the Boston Common productions since 1996, including Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, King Lear, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Coriolanus, All’s Well That Ends Well, Othello, The Comedy Of Errors, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, Henry V, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and Romeo & Juliet. In collaboration with Boston Landmarks Orchestra, he directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring the Overture and Incidental Music of Felix Mendelssohn, as well as concert stagings of The Boys from Syracuse and Kiss Me Kate at Boston’s iconic Hatch Shell. For CSC he has also directed one-night-only readings of iconic plays featuring Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Paul Rudd, Blair Brown, Tony Shalhoub, Leslie Uggams, David Morse, and Jeffrey Donovan among others. He also conceived and directed Shakespeare at Fenway an evening of Shakespeare scenes performed at Boston’s iconic Fenway Park. Other CSC works include his recent critically acclaimed production of Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, the world premiere of Jake Broder’s Our American Hamlet, and the world premiere of Robert Brustein’s The Last Will. He directed Péter Eötvös’ operatic treatment of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (U.S. Premiere) and Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face for Opera Boston, The Turn of the Screw at New Repertory Theatre, Santaland Diaries and Chay Yew’s Porcelain at SpeakEasy Stage Company, Top Girls and Weldon Rising at Coyote Theatre, and The L.A. Plays by Han Ong at A.R.T. His New York City credits include the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of Without You, written and starring Anthony Rapp. The production has been seen in Boston, Edinburgh, Toronto, London, and Seoul. He received the prestigious Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, as well as for Best Production for Twelfth Night, Outstanding Director for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Best Production for Suburbia and Best Solo Performance for John Kuntz’s Starf***ers (which also won Best Solo Performance Award at New York International Fringe Festival). His feature film “The Autumn Heart,” starring Tyne Daly and Ally Sheedy was in the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival.

Clint Ramos (Set and Costume Designer) For CSC, he has designed Death and the MaidenRomeo and JulietJulius CaesarAs You Like ItA Midsummer Night’s DreamMuch Ado About NothingHamletMacbethTaming of the Shrew. He is the recipient of the TONY Award, Obie for Sustained Excellence, 3 Lucille Lortel Awards, 2 American Theater Wing Awards, Helen Hayes Award and many others. His most current work can be seen on Broadway with Once On This Island (costumes) and Off-Broadway with Mankind (scenery) at Playwrights Horizons. He has over 200 NY, national and international design credits. Other notable credits are EclipsedHere Lies LoveSunday in the Park with GeorgeElephant Man. He is professor of scenic design at SUNY Purchase. He is originally from the Philippines. He lives in New York with his husband and daughter.

Jeff Adelberg (Lighting Designer) returns to CSC after designing Death and the Maiden and Macbeth last season. Other recent work includes Trouble in Tahiti and Arias and Barcarolles (Boston Lyric Opera); GloriaThe Night of the IguanaAs You Like It (The Gamm Theatre, RI); Beckett Women: Ceremonies of Departure (Poets’ Theatre at the MAC Belfast, Northern Ireland); Being EarnestThe Legend of Georgia McBride (Greater Boston Stage Co.); FrankensteinConstellations (Underground Railway Theatre); The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeHand to God (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Man of La Mancha (New Repertory Theatre); Rhinoceros (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Edward IIGod’s Ear (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Finish Line (Boston Theatre Co.); and Boston’s Christmas Revels since 2010. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Jeff teaches at Boston College and Brandeis University. Member of United Scenic Artists

 Chris Noyes (Sound Designer) has composed, recorded and produced music for theatre, TV, film and radio. Over the years, he has worked on tours and recordings with many of Boston’s most popular recording artists, including the Cars and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Chris was commissioned to compose music for the critically acclaimed modern dance company, Pilobolus. This fall, he will return as the composer and sound designer for Chamber Theatre of Boston’s national tours of their productions of Encore, a collection of one-act plays adapted for the theatre from short stories written by American authors such as Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe. He retired this year from the Berklee College of Music, where he has been a faculty member for 39 years. While on the faculty at Berklee, Chris taught courses ranging from Acoustics and freshman level Introduction to Music Technology to Ensembles and upper semester electives in Music Production as well as Sound Design and Sound Synthesis.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (CSC), best known for its annual free performances on Boston Common, is a non-profit theater company founded in 1996, dedicated to artistic excellence, accessibility, and education. CSC’s Free Shakespeare on the Common has served over one million audience members over its 24-year history and has become a beloved summer tradition enjoyed by nearly 50,000 people annually, including this summer’s highly acclaimed production of Richard III. In 2013, CSC became the Theatre-in-Residence at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. In addition to the annual Boston Common production, CSC now presents fully staged productions at the Sorenson Center for the Arts at Babson, including the recent world premiere of Our American HamletBeckett in Brief, Death and the Maiden, and Old Money; “Theatre in the Rough,” semi- staged readings including Fear and Misery in the Third Reich featuring Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams; as well as presentations of “Shakespeare & the Law,” and “Shakespeare & Leadership.” CSC fulfills its educational mission with actor-training programs for pre-professional and professional actors through the summer Apprentice program and CSC2. To learn more about these programs, visit

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