Chicago Production of Picnic Casts Female Actor in Lead Role of Hal | Playbill

Regional News Chicago Production of Picnic Casts Female Actor in Lead Role of Hal Molly Brennan will play the drifter who upends a small town in American Theater Company’s production of the William Inge classic.
Molly Brennan
Molly Brennan
Jeff Award winner Molly Brennan will star as Hal, the drifter who upends a small Kansas town, in American Theater Company’s upcoming production of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning Picnic.

Directed by ATC artistic director Will Davis, performances will run March 17–April 23.

In a statement Davis said, “My number one goal here is to not have a conversation about what kind of body is playing the role of what kind of body. I cast this show to reflect the queer longing I feel emanating from the heart of Inge's play. From my view, Inge's canon is defined by a question about desire and his terror of it. Each of his works asks questions about heeding the call of the heart and being punished for it. I see this as a reflection of the times he lived in and his experience of homophobia both internal and external. This production will pivot between experiencing the text through the lens of queer fellowship and experiencing the text through the lens of closeted longing. As is always true what we say is not what we mean and my casting choices for this show are meant to pull that divergence into focus.”

The cast will also feature Robert Cornelius (Howard), Alexia Jasmene (Millie), Patricia Kane (Flo Owens), Laura McKenzie (Mrs. Potts/Piano Player), Jose Nateras (Alan), Michael Turrentine (Rosemary), and Malic White (Madge).

“Closeted and dogged by an acute sense of failure for most of his life until he ended it,” Inge, according to press notes, “wrote some of the great lyrical plays of the American mid-century, and Picnic was his masterpiece, his playground and, quite possibly, his fantasy. In this loving reimagining, Davis puts Inge at the center of his Pulitzer Prize-winning play and animates what is both sacred and profane about small town life against the backdrop of Dust Bowl hymns and love songs. Part séance, part love letter to a ghost, this Picnic explores a life lived at the periphery of one’s own desire.”

The design team includes Evvie Allison (choreography), Joe Schermoly (set), Melissa Ng (costumes), Rachel Levy (lights), Miles Polaski (sound), and Abigail Cain (props).

Single tickets for Picnic range from $20 to $38 and are available by calling the ATC box office at (773) 409-4125 or by visiting

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