Synopsis

John Barrymore (1882-1942) was perhaps the most famous member of a theatrical dynasty.  John, his brother Lionel, and his sister Ethel were known as the "Royal family of the American theater."  John's granddaughter Drew continues that acting tradition in our own day.

The play opens up the life of the legendary John Barrymore in a unique and theatrical manner.  Mr. John Barrymore, or Jack Barrymore or Jake Barrymore, is presented as a ghost haunting an unknown theater, which, at the moment, is in rehearsal for a play. 

The gods have sentenced Barrymore to this purgatorial existence as penance for his abandonment of the theater and the squandering of his talents, in the pursuit of fame, greed, and dissipation.  Barrymore disputes these assertions of the gods as he painfully and humorously examines the spectrum of his life. 

He chronicles his ascendancy to the throne as the finest classical actor of his generation; his arrival to the pinnacle of movie stardom; his intimate and compassionate relationships to his sister Ethel and his brother Lionel; and the explosive debacles of his four marriages. 

The play has wit, terror, agony and hope, as we watch a mythological character explore the truths and deceptions of his extraordinary life.

 

Barrymore's Ghost Cast and Staff

Cast

Richard Figge (John Barrymore) Mr. Figge’s acting credits range from Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest to modern comedy and drama. He is best known for his performance of David Rintels’ one-man play Clarence Darrow, which he has presented across the country, in Europe, and in 1985 in Washington, D. C., under the patronage of President Reagan. He has toured in productions of Mass Appeal, Love Letters, and Tuesdays with Morrie.  In 1997 he toured with Vincent Dowling, portraying President Theodore Roosevelt to Mr. Dowling’s John Muir in Phyllis Webster’s new play John and Teddy. In 2007 he appeared as Joe Keller in Nancy Cates’ production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Weathervane Playhouse. He has been a member of the Ohio Shakespeare Festival for five seasons, in roles including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Polonius in Hamlet, and Holofernes in Loves Labors Lost. Mr. Figge has experience in film and has made radio and television commercials. He has appeared in special broadcasts on public radio and can be heard as the narrator on the CD, Visions of Souls: The Joshua L. Chamberlain Story. He has narrated Peter and the Wolf with the Wooster (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra and was a narrator for a performance of Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale with the Charlottesville (Virginia) Symphony. He is delighted to be working again with Nancy Cates, exploring this richly theatrical script about the fascinating, paradoxical, and sometimes elusive John Barrymore.

Staff

Nancy Cates (Director) Ms. Cates is one of the two Founding Artistic Directors of the Ohio Shakespeare Festival and has been a professional director for over 30 years. She and her husband Terry Burgler are the two Artistic Directors of the Coach House Theatre in Akron, Ohio. Among her recent credits are Oh, Coward!, Side by Side by Sondheim, All My Sons, The Gin Game, and The Philadelphia Story.