13 Feb Actors Michael Barrett Austin, Danielle Levin lead Grapes of Wrath cast that will play multiple roles, provide live music

The second show of TheatreFIRST’s 10/11 season will open January 28 at The Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre, 531 19th Street, on the ground floor of The Fox Oakland Building.

Oakland, Calif., December 21, 2010 — Michael Barrett Austin and Danielle Levin lead an ensemble cast of Bay Area actors in TheatreFIRST’s upcoming production of The Grapes of Wrath, which features actors playing multiple roles as well as providing live music for the production.

Barrett Austin plays Jim Casy, the fallen preacher who joins the Joad family after they are forced from their Oklahoma home during the depression and travel to California seeking not only work but also dignity, in John Steinbeck’s classic novel. Barrett Austin also plays the roles of Agricultural Officer and Boy. Levin takes on the role of matriarch Ma Joad, along with playing Car Salesman, Proprietor, Weedpatch Camp Director and Camp Guard.

Barrett Austin is known to Bay Area audiences from his work in productions at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Center REPertory Company, Just Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre and SF Playhouse, to name a few. Levin’s most recent credits include Animal vs. Animal, My Name is Asher Lev, and said SAID  with Marin Theatre Company; she also is a company member of the 13th Annual Best of PlayGround Festival and has performed with Shotgun Players and Aurora Theatre Company.

“These are two of the finest actors working in Bay Area theatre, and it will be very exciting for audiences to see them stretching themselves as they play multiple roles in this production,” said Michael Storm, TheatreFIRST Artistic Director. “Fine acting is always a hallmark at TheatreFIRST and this show is certainly no exception.” Other members of the cast include Alex Hersler as Tom Joad, Roy Landaverde, Emily Morrison, Kelly Strickland, Rebecca Pingree, and Ryan Tasker.

Renowned director Jon Tracy will direct this adaptation by Frank Galati, of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, where the piece was first presented before moving on to Broadway and winning the Tony Award for Best Play. When asked for some thoughts on his production Mr. Tracy had this to say, “The suffering and the strength of humanity is an endless cycle. Do we learn from the past? Or is the cycle of wrath unbreakable? Where do we find hope for change? The 8 actors will have a space in which they tell this story. Do they inhabit the past? Are they themselves the characters in the present? It’s impossible to be sure as the props and costumes and music don’t stay in one period. The point in a nutshell…this play can take place at any time in our country’s history.”

The show will open January 28, 2011, in The Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre at 531 19th Street on the ground floor of The Fox Oakland Building. The show runs Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm, through Sunday, February 20. Tickets start at $10 and are on sale now at brownpapertickets.com.

Since 1993, TheatreFIRST has been one of the most interesting and dynamic theatre companies around.  TheatreFIRST’s history of Bay Area premieres includes Blue Remembered Hills, Via Dolorosa, The Great Celestial Cow, Fronteras Americanas, Making Noise Quietly, and The Arab-Israeli Cookbook. Awards include Best Small Theatre by East Bay Express and the Bay Guardian’s Goldie Award For Theatre. Half way through its second season in its new home The Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre, in the newly renovated Fox Oakland Building, TheatreFIRST continues its commitment to remain Oakland’s resident professional theatre company.

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Attention Calendar Editors

What:             The Grapes of Wrath, adapted by Frank Galati from the novel by John Steinbeck

Who:             Directed by Jon Tracy

When:            Previews Thursday, January 27th, 2011, at 8:00pm

Opening Friday, January 28th, 2011 at 8:00pm

Runs Thursday through Saturday Evenings at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2pm

Closes Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where: The Marion E. Green Black Box Theatre

Located at 531 19th Street, Oakland, CA 94612 on the ground floor of The Fox Oakland Building, just one block from the19th Street BART station in downtown Oakland.


Regular Ticket Prices: $30 for Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday matinees

$25 for Thursday shows

Under 30 $15

Preview $10


More information is available on our website at www.theatrefist.com

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