The Ten Chimneys Foundation in Wisconsin, founded by legendary theatre couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, has launched a fellowship program for the nation’s top regional actors. Here’s the description from the foundation’s site:
In the summer of 2008, eleven of the most prestigious and accomplished regional theatres in the country were invited to nominate multiple actors for consideration to be named LUNT-FONTANNE FELLOWS. All of the actors who were nominated for this honor: have 20-plus years of experience as professional actors; are widely considered among the top actors in their community; and are widely respected by audiences, directors, and fellow actors for their talent, dedication to craft, attention to detail, and passionate pursuit of excellence – the qualities for which Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne were so revered.
Well, the “best of the best” have now been selected, and we here at bardolatry are hardly surprised that two of our favorite actors are among those chosen: Dan Donohue from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Lee Ernst from the Milwaukee Rep and the American Players Theatre back in our old Wisconsin stomping grounds.
You’ve been hearing us natter on about Dan Donohue on this site all summer, and fully concur with Bill Rauch’s assessment (in his nominating letter) that DD is “a genius”. Alas, we haven’t been able to take in any of Lee Ernst’s performances in over a decade, since our move from Wisconsin to Oregon; but besides his wonderful Shakespeare work at the APT, Lee Ernst is unforgettable to Clan Murphy for his performance in what still stands, after all these years, as our single favorite regional theatre production: the Joe Hanreddy-directed world premiere of a joint (and bi-lingual) American/Japanese production of Silence, Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s fictional masterpiece about Jesuit missionaries in 16th century Japan. (The show, at the Milwaukee Rep in the mid-nineties, also starred Marco Barricelli, another OSF favorite.)
Congratulations, Lee and Dan! Clan Murphy would love to be flies on the wall during some of those master classes with Lynn Redgrave!