Georgia Ensemble opens 20th season with classic comedy

Kaufman and Hart’s ‘The Man Who Came to Dinner’

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ROSWELL, Ga. – Georgia Ensemble Theatre will open its 20th season Thursday, Sept. 6 with a genuine theater classic, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. Directed by Artistic Director Robert J. Farley, the production is co-sponsored by longtime GET corporate partners Bank of North Georgia and Northside Hospital.

This season opener is about coming full circle. Two decades ago, GET opened its doors with the classic Kaufman and Hart comedy, “You Can’t Take It With You.” Now, 20 years and more than 100 productions later, Farley has gone back to the same well of Kaufman and Hart.

“There are a lot of reasons why we’re doing this play,” said Farley. “First, it is one my favorite plays of all time. It has a madness that is a challenge to direct.

“Second, it makes a marvelous bookend to our debut play 20 years ago,” he said. “And this is a destination theater, so we wanted to open this season with a big bang.”

There are some other connections as well. Shannon Eubanks, one of the original cast members in that debut play and a devoted member of the ensemble, is appearing again. Also appearing is Tony Larkin whose mother was in “You Can’t Take It With You.” Larkin is also the first graduate of the GET Conservatory.

“The Man Who Came to Dinner” is also special, Farley says, because it shows the maturity of the company after two decades.

“With a cast of 23, it is epic theater. It is the greatest comedy of the 20th century in American theater. And I wanted to put something on the stage this year that represented the best of what we have become over 20 seasons – the scale of the show and what we can do in the future,” he said.

Another reason for the choice is that no one does these kinds of plays anymore, he said.

The 20th season, which GET is promoting as its emerald anniversary, is going to be “a yearlong party,” Farley said.

In the play, you’ll meet the irascible arts critic Sheridan Whiteside as he pays a visit to the Stanley household where Marx Brothers-like madness ensues with secretaries, ex-cons, cockroaches and penguins.

GET favorites from the 2012 hit show, “Becky’s New Car” include Wendy Melkonian as “Maggie Cutler” and Allan Edwards as “Sheridan Whiteside.”