Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama

Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Professional actors, IU students bring Noel Coward's 'Present Laughter' to Brown County Playhouse

July 22, 2009

WHAT: Present Laughter by Noel Coward, directed by Indiana University's Jonathan Michaelsen.
WHEN: Opens Friday, Aug. 7, at 8 p.m. with additional performances Aug. 8, 12-15, 19-22 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: IU's Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren in Nashville, Ind.
TICKETS: $20 regular admission and $12 for children and students. Flex Vouchers, four ticket vouchers for the price of three: $48-$60. For ticket information, group rates, or to order flex vouchers call IU Auditorium at 812-855-1103 or Brown County Playhouse at 812-988-2123, or get details and buy online at No photography or video permitted during performances.

NASHVILLE, Ind. -- The timeless work of master comic playwright Noel Coward returns to Indiana University's Brown County Playhouse for the first time since 1967 with the comedy Present Laughter, starring IU master's students in acting and professional actors from across the country whose collective credits include a role in John Waters' final film, the European premiere of Doubt and a stint on "Law and Order."

Present Laughter is directed by Jonathan Michaelsen, producer for the Brown County Playhouse. Michaelsen lauds Coward's "great style and sparkling writing."

"His sense of humanity and sensuality is remarkable . . . this is the most autobiographical play by Coward, who played Garry in the original production," Michaelsen said.

The creative team includes award-winning scenic designer Fred Duer, costume designer Linda Pisano, lighting designer Marie Shakespeare and sound designer Thomas Oldham. Three professional actors and an actor from the Bloomington community join IU master of fine arts students for a powerful ensemble cast.

"Present Laughter"

Aspiring actress Daphne Stillington (Sarah Fischer) woos Garry (Paul DeBoy) in the Brown County Playhouse production of Noel Coward's "Present Laughter."

Print-Quality Photo

The real story of this production is the caliber of the casting, said Michaelsen, who said he planned this production to showcase the "incredible talents of the master of fine arts acting students at IU."

Present Laughter follows the exploits of Garry, an aging matinee idol preparing for a theatrical tour of Africa. Before he can get away, Garry first must face the advances from a love-struck ingénue eager to capture Garry's heart, the affairs of his adulterous producer and the criticism of a young, aspiring playwright. His wife's arrival complicates matters, but real trouble appears when an irresistible seductress enters stage right. Through Coward's natural wit and theatrical flair, Garry navigates a minefield of complications and mounting confusion.

Along with the MFA students, for whom he liked the play's strong women's roles, Michaelsen cast three professional actors and one outside actor from the Bloomington community to build a powerful ensemble cast. Appearing in the role of Garry is veteran New York actor Paul DeBoy. DeBoy has performed in New York in Euriydice and Sight Unseen and has appeared in many of the theaters across the country, including Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, The Walnut Street Theatre and The Cleveland Playhouse, among others. He appeared in John Waters' final film, A Dirty Shame, co-starring Tracey Ullman and Johnny Knoxville, and has appeared in episodes of TV's "Law and Order."

Jenny McKnight of Chicago appears as Garry's wife, Liz. She has appeared in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens and Steppenwolf, as well as regional theatres including Indiana Repertory Theatre in The Turn of the Screw.

Shannon Koob, playing the part of Joanna, most recently appeared in the one-woman show The Syringa Tree, which she has performed in Europe and around the U.S., and which won her the 2003 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Actress. She appeared in the European premiere of Doubt and has appeared at Yale Repertory Theatre, Denver Center Theater Company, Long Wharf Theatre and many others around the country.

Rounding out the strong professional cast are MFA acting students Matthew Buffalo, Sarah Fischer, Shewan Howard, Henry A. McDaniel III and Abby Rowold. The ensemble also includes recent graduates Rin Ehlers, who appeared in a Brown County Playhouse production of Pump Boys and Dinettes, and Steve Thomas, who appeared in its production of The Boys Next Door, and Bloomington actor Gail Bray.