Retiring ASU theatre professors Marshall W. Mason and Daniel Irvine direct The Cherry Orchard and Fifth of July for ASU Mainstage Theatre
TEMPE, Ariz. – It will be the final curtain call for two retiring theatre professors when ASU’s Herberger Mainstage Theatre presents Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and Lanford Wilson’sFifth of July, in repertory beginning Feb. 19.
ASU theatre professor and five-time Tony award nominee Marshall W. Mason will direct The Cherry Orchard, a play about the changing values of a society that has grown complacent. The Cherry Orchard is considered Chekhov’s masterpiece, written for and performed by the Moscow Art Theatre exactly 100 years ago. According to Mason, “the themes remain relevant today, as society enters a new century.” Cast members include ASU theatre professors Victoria Holloway, Jeff McMahon and David Vining, who also is retiring after 27 years on the faculty.
“ I have always wanted to direct The Cherry Orchard,” says Mason. “It was Chekhov’s last play, so it seems appropriate that I leave ASU with it. I previously directed The Three Sisters and The Seagull, so this completes my trilogy of Chekhov.”
Mason is currently artistic director of ASU’s Mainstage Theatre season and will retire this semester after 10 years of teaching at ASU. He is considered one of the 21 most influential directors of the 20th century and has worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Lanford Wilson and Tennessee Williams as well as actors Tony Randall, Kathleen Turner and Jennifer Jason-Leigh, to name a few.
On Feb. 22, the Department of Theatre will host a Russian-inspired brunch to honor Mason, followed by a matinee of The Cherry Orchard. This special event will be held backstage at the Paul V. Galvin Playhouse Scene Shop, amid the sets for the play. Proceeds will benefit the newly established Marshall W. Mason Scholarship fund in the Department of Theatre. Tickets are $50 and reservations must be made in advance by calling 480-965-8562.
First presented by New York’s famed Circle Repertory Company in 1978, Fifth of July, is Lanford Wilson’s poignant and humorous story of a group of former student activists who gather for a reunion at the old Talley place, built in 1860. Critics have called Wilson “The American Chekhov,” and according to director Daniel Irvine, “this play is certainly Wilson’s most Chekhovian.”
“ Fifth of July is about renovation of the spirit and commitment to the people who depend upon us,” says Irvine, a distinguished faculty associate who is retiring after nine years of teaching acting and directing courses at ASU. “It will be staged in the period for which it was originally written in 1977, but new original music will be composed for the production.”
Irvine and Mason met in 1974 while working together at the Circle Repertory Company, which Mason founded with Wilson in 1969. Mason and Irvine joined the ASU Department of Theatre in the mid-1990s, bringing a wealth of experience and originality to its acting and directing courses, and winning several academic and local theatre awards for their work. In 1999, they participated in a celebration of Circle Rep. plays at ASU when Irvine directed Wilson’s Balm in Gilead and Mason and Wilson presented a workshop and reading of a Wilson play in development. ASU’s repertory showing of The Cherry Orchard and Fifth of July marks another milestone in the collaboration between Mason and Irvine, while nodding to the perpetual influence of the legendary Lanford Wilson.
The Cherry Orchard
Feb. 19, 21, 25, and 27, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 22 and 28, 2 p.m.
Fifth of July
Feb. 20, 22, 26, and 28, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 21 and 29, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Galvin Playhouse, Nelson Fine Arts Center, 51 E. 10th St., on the ASU campus.
TICKETS (per show): $14 adults; $12 seniors, faculty, staff and ASU alumni; $5 students. Buy-one, Get-one free on the first Friday of any Mainstage production.
Theatre is part of the ASU Herberger Mainstage Season featuring operas, musicals, dance and music performances. For a complete Mainstage schedule go to,