A Touch of the Poet


Two-time Emmy Award-winner Daniel J. Travanti ("Hill Street Blues") returns to the New York stage in a revival of the Eugene O'Neill classic A TOUCH OF THE POET as Con Melody -- a role he has played previously to acclaim in Boston, Washington and Denver -- with previews to begin December 2, prior to an official opening December 7, at The 14th Street Theater (344 East 14th Street) in Manhattan. Ellen Crawford, best known to audiences as Nurse Lydia Wright on TV's "ER," is set to co-star as Con's wife, Nora. Alex Lippard (THE LAST WORD…) will direct.

Produced by the theatre company Friendly Fire, A TOUCH OF THE POET will play a strictly limited engagement through December 20 only.

Daniel J. Travanti most recently appeared to great plaudits on the New York stage last year Off-Broadway in Oren Safdie's THE LAST WORD….

In A TOUCH OF THE POET, Mr. Travanti stars as Cornelius (a.k.a. Con) Melody, once a landed gentleman in Ireland, now an innkeeper in America who has fallen upon hard times. He lives in the past, strutting like a peacock in his army officer's uniform from twenty years before, playing the part of the nobleman and treating his wife Nora (Ellen Crawford) and daughter Sara (Tessa Klein) with contempt and derision -- all to puff up his own sense of pride and importance. When the arrival of a mysterious lady and her son threatens to destroy Con's grand illusion, he makes one last attempt to defend his honor, resulting in a drunken brawl and utter humiliation. Finally forced to confront his true self, Con learns to accept who he really is. Or does he?

Joining Mr. Travanti and Ms. Crawford in the cast of A TOUCH OF THE POET are Steven Boyer (Broadway's I'M NOT RAPPAPORT), Richard Crawford (The Civilians' GONE MISSING), Richard B. Watson (Irish Rep's THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE), Tessa Klein (Irish Rep's PHILADELPHIA, HERE I COME), Antoinette La Vecchia (Primary Stages' STRING OF PEARLS), Peter Rogan (Broadway's THE SEAFARER), Timothy Smallwood (Obie Award-winning ECSTASY), and Ian Stuart (Irish Rep's A PRISONER OF THE CROWN).

A TOUCH OF THE POET features set design by Michael V. Moore, costume design by Amanda Bujak, lighting design by Miriam Crowe and sound design by Will Pickens.

Daniel J. Travanti returns to the role of A TOUCH OF THE POET's Con Melody, which he has played previously at American Repertory Theatre in Boston, Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and The Denver Center for the Performing Arts in Denver, Colorado. He is best known for his portrayal of Captain Frank Furillo on "Hill Street Blues," for which he received two Emmys and a Golden Globe Award. This season, he guest starred on "Grey’s Anatomy" as Barry Patmore.

Outside New York, Mr. Travanti's stage credits include Oren Safdie's THE LAST WORD… at Malibu Stage Company, OLD WICKED SONGS and ALL MY SONS at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and THE GUYS in Chicago. Other credits include THE ASPERN PAPERS in London's West End; LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES at the Ambassadors Theatre, London; RHINOCEROS and ONLY KIDDING at the Cleveland Playhouse; and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at Old Globe Theatre. He also toured as Nick in Edward Albee's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, opposite Colleen Dewhurst; in TWIGS, opposite Sada Thompson; and I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER, which was later filmed for PBS' American Playhouse.

Ellen Crawford is best known as Nurse Lydia Wright on TV's long-running series "ER." She has been seen previously on Broadway in DO PATENT LEATHER SHOES REALLY REFLECT UP? Regionally, Ms. Crawford has appeared at The Old Globe, Berkeley Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage and, among others, San Diego Rep.

A TOUCH OF THE POET, set in a rundown inn near Boston in the 1820s, is the only completed play in Eugene O'Neill's planned 11-part "American Family" cycle which he called "A Tale of Possessors Self-Dispossessed." A TOUCH OF THE POET, completed in 1942, was first performed in 1957. Four-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Eugene O'Neill (1886-1953) made his Broadway debut in 1917 with his one-act IN THE ZONE. His plays include BEYOND THE HORIZON, ANNA CHRISTIE, THE ICEMAN COMETH; LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT; A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN; DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS; MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA; THE HAIRY APE; AH, WILDERNESS!; and STRANGE INTERLUDE.

Alex Lippard directed the Off-Broadway premiere of Oren Safdie's THE LAST WORD… starring Daniel J. Travanti. Other recent Off-Broadway credits include SAKE WITH THE HAIKU GEISHA at Perry Street Theatre, CUPID AND PSYCHE at Altered Stages and MONSTERFACE at Irish Arts Center. For Friendly Fire, of which he is Artistic Director, he has directed 'TIS PITY SHE'S A WHORE and HECUBA, starring Kristin Linklater at The Culture Project. He won an Overall Excellence in Directing Award for MOONCHILD at the 2004 NY International Fringe Festival.

Performances of A TOUCH OF THE POET run December 2-20: Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 2:00pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm at The 14th Street Theater (344 East 14th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues). Tickets are available online at Theatermania.com or by calling 212-352-3101; or at the door, one hour prior to curtain (cash only at box office).




© 2008, Friendly Fire Theatre, Inc.