(Dorset, VT – June 21, 2021) Dorset Theatre Festival will open its 44th season with a revival of Christopher Durang’s comedy Laughing Wild outdoors at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT. Directed by the Festival’s resident artist, Jade King Carroll, the play will star Dan Butler (Frasier), who starred in the Festival’s 2019 hit Slow Food, and five-time Festival performer and 2020 Drama Desk Award-winner Mary Bacon (Coal Country, Dorset’s Mrs. Christie). 

The Festival’s 2021 comeback season will begin with the hilarious blast-from-the-1980s comedy Laughing Wild by Christopher Durang, whom the New Yorker called “one of the funniest men in the world.” The play, in three parts, stars a man and a woman struggling to cope with life in modern America. Over the course of two monologues and a chance meeting inside of a dream, the characters take on everything from the supermarket to nuclear waste to their own frenetic psyches.

Director Jade King Carroll, Dan Butler, and Mary Bacon.

“The play’s title refers to a line in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, ‘laughing wild amidst severest woe,’” said Dina Janis, Dorset’s artistic director. “It seems to me we have all just lived through a time of severest woe, and perhaps it’s time to laugh wildly together,” Janis said. 

The director of Laughing Wild, Jade King Carroll (Dorset’s Skeleton Crew), is joined by scenic designer You-Shin Chen, Costume Designer Rodrigo Muñoz, Lighting Designer Yuki Nakase Link, Sound Designer Megumi Katayama, Fight Director David Anzuelo, Casting Director Judy Bowman, CSA, and Stage Manager Olivia Louise Tree Plath.

Christopher Durang is a playwright, satirist, and performer whose Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. Durang’s plays also include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, Best Book of a Musical, 1978), The Actor’s Nightmare, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie Award), Beyond Therapy (on Broadway in 1982 with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow), Baby with the Bathwater (Playwrights Horizons, 1983), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Public Theatre, 1985; Obie Award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons, 1987), Durang/Durang (an evening of six plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1994, including the Tennessee Williams’ parody, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls), Sex and Longing (Lincoln Center Theatre production at the Cort Theatre, 1996, starring Sigourney Weaver), and Betty’s Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons, 1999; Obie award). 

“This play feels so relevant to me at this moment, as it investigates with truly brilliant humor what it means to be human, what it means to find connection, and what it means to simply breathe together. It’s a truly perfect play to bring people back together,” said Janis. 

Laughing Wild will begin at 8:00 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays beginning July 9 at Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, which is also home to art galleries, the Manchester Music Festival, and the new CurATE Cafe. 

“With all the beautiful galleries and the wonderful programming our friends at Southern Vermont Arts Center have planned, we are really encouraging people to come for the day and stay for the play,” said Janis. The Festival began collaborating with SVAC in late 2020 in order to make the outdoor theater a reality. 

Dorset will offer on-demand streaming versions of both of this year’s main stage plays, which will also be available as an option for patrons who are unable to reschedule if they miss a performance due to weather conditions. The next play of the season, Queen of the Night by travis tate, will open August 10. Tickets for the outdoor season are on sale now at dorsettheatrefestival.org.

The outdoor main stage season is sponsored by Church Street Hospitality, and support for Dorset Theatre Festival’s 44th season is provided by the Rodgers Family Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Arts Council, and members of the Dorset Theatre Festival World Premiere Circle.


Dorset Theatre Festival’s mission is to create bold, innovative, and authentic theatre that engages a diverse, multi-generational community, and economically broad region: enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring our audience through the celebration of great plays. We aim to redefine the landscape of theatre by presenting thought-provoking productions drawn from the new and classic canon, as well as through the development of new work, new audiences, and new artists for the future of American theater. We produce theatre that matters.

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