FST Presents the regional premiere of 'The Cottage'

Florida Studio Theatre presents the regional premiere of Sandy Rustin’s "The Cottage," a ridiculous—and potentially murderous — comedy about the ins and outs of marriage and infidelity.

Florida Studio Theatre proudly presents the regional premiere of Sandy Rustin’s "The Cottage," a ridiculous — and potentially murderous — comedy about the ins and outs of marriage and infidelity. Called “Alluring” and “Impressive” by The New York Times, The Cottage is a seductive riot full of surprises inspired by Noël Coward and Oscar Wilde’s comedies. "The Cottage" concludes FST’s 29th Summer Mainstage Season and runs through Aug. 24 in FST’s Gompertz Theatre.

Set in the English countryside in 1923, "The Cottage" opens on Sylvia Van Kipness, a hopeless romantic who has decided to tell her husband about her annual passionate rendezvous with her lover, Beau.

Beau knows nothing of Sylvia’s plan to expose their tryst, so he’s quite shocked when her husband appears on the cottage doorstep. What ensues is an absurd romantic mystery ride in which the true meanings of love and marriage are called into question.

In writing "The Cottage," playwright Sandy Rustin was inspired by Noel Coward’s comedic plays, like Hay Fever and Relative Values, and wanted to bring them into the 21st century. “What I love the most about 'The Cottage' and the play’s genre are the surprises, the thwarted expectations that exist, where audiences are expecting one thing to happen, and then comedy comes in and it doesn’t happen,” shared Rustin. “The biggest challenge in writing a play that is so fully steeped in physical comedy is ensuring that the play also has a strong component of thoughtfulness, which will challenge an audience on an emotional and intellectual level. I want 'The Cottage' to be a great night at the theatre, but I also want people to think. I want to pose questions to audiences, and have them leaving the theatre with even with more questions than answers about love, fate, marriage, women and empowerment.”

"The Cottage" was presented by Manhattan Theatre Club in 2017, and over the past two years, FST has worked with Rustin to develop the play for the regional stage, including a public staged reading of The Cottage in August 2018. As a result of this process, FST audiences will be treated to a brand new, never-before-seen ending to the play.

Directing "The Cottage" is FST Associate Artist Jason Cannon, who recently directed "The Marvelous Wonderettes," "Hand to God," "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" and "Other People’s Money."

Bringing the playful and witty Sylvia to life is FST newcomer Hanley Smith, who just finished playing Cathy in Syracuse Stage’s production of "The Last Five Years." Smith has also performed in "In the Next Room" at Gulfshore Playhouse, "Major Barbara" at Portland Center Stage and "The Glass Menagerie" at Pioneer Theatre Company.

Joining Smith onstage are three other FST newcomers: Greg Balla (Beau), Tracie Lane (Marjorie) and Casey Predovik (Richard). Balla starred in "A Christmas at Pemberley" at Pioneer Theatre Company, "You Can’t Kiss a Movie" at Here Arts Center and starred as a Blue Man as a part of the Blue Man Group for six years. Lane has performed in numerous productions at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, American Shakespeare Center, Stages Repertory Theater  and Houston Shakespeare Festival. Predovic has performed in several Off-Broadway productions, including "Orwell in America" and can be seen on television in "Blue Bloods," "Elementary," "Person of Interest" and "The Good Wife."

Returning to the FST stage to take on the role of Clarke, Sylvia’s hilarious and bumbling husband, is Drew Hirshfield, who was seen in FST’s recent productions of "Cherry Docs" and "Hand to God." Anna Stefanic also returns to FST to play Deirdre after being featured in FST’s hit "Winter Cabaret," "Guitar Girls" and playing the role of Girl in Mad Cow Theatre’s production of "Once."

"The Cottage" concludes FST’s 29th Summer Mainstage Season. Single tickets can be purchased at floridastudiotheatre.org or call 941-366-9000.

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