A Supreme Court Drama Comes to TV: The Originalist

March 7, 2017

New York area audiences have the rare opportunity to see a Supreme Court drama that unfolded in Washington, D.C., when THIRTEEN’s Theater Close-Up presents The Originalist.

Captured live on-stage at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., The Originalist stars Edward Gero as one of America’s most brilliant and polarizing figures: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. When bright, liberal, Harvard Law School graduate Cat (Kerry Warren) embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with Justice Scalia (Edward Gero), she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and an unexpected mentor. How will their relationship affect one of the most incendiary cases ever to reach the nation’s highest court? Along the way, Cat’s relationship with Scalia is complicated further by Brad (Harlan Work), an adversarial law clerk on Scalia’s staff.

Premiering Monday, March 13 at 9pm on THIRTEEN, The Originalist, written by John Strand and directed by Molly Smith, is one of the many live performances Theater Close-Up has captured expressly for THIRTEEN audiences. After the television broadcast, performances can be viewed online by those in the THIRTEEN broadcast area. THIRTEEN is using its unrivaled expertise in producing national PBS arts programming to provide New Yorkers with unparalleled access to theater productions.

About Actor Edward Gero

Gero last appeared at Arena Stage as Mark Rothko in “Red.” He is a four-time Helen Hayes winner and 14-time nominee. Regional credits include Mark Rothko in “Red” at the Goodman Theatre; the title role of “Sweeney Todd” at Signature Theatre; “The Chosen” at Theater J; Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” and Horace Vandergelder in “Hello, Dolly!” at Ford’s Theatre; “American Buffalo,” “Shining City” (Helen Hayes nomination) and “Skylight” (Helen Hayes Award) at Studio Theatre; and “The Matchmaker” at Center Stage. In 30 seasons with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, he’s played 70 roles, including Helen Hayes-winning turns in “Henry IV,” “Richard II” and “Macbeth.” In New York, he’s appeared at South Street Theatre and Classic Stage.

About Playwright John Strand

Author John Strand is a resident playwright with Arena Stage through the American Voices New Play Institute. His previous work at Arena Stage includes “The Miser,” an adaptation of the Moliere play set in Reagan-era America; “Lovers and Executioners,” winner of the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play; and Tom Walker, also commissioned by Arena Stage. His recent work includes the book and lyrics for “Hat! A Vaudeville,” a new musical with a score by composer Dennis McCarthy (South Coast Repertory); “Lincolnesque,” a dark comedy about politics and madness in D.C. (The Old Globe, dir. by Joe Calarco); and “Lorenzaccio,” his adaptation of Alfred de Musset’s 1834 French classic (Shakespeare Theatre Company, dir. by Michael Kahn).

Reviews and Encores

Of the Arena Stage production, The New York Times wrote, “… The meat of the play draws a portrait of the private man in accordance with the public record: rigid in his views, deeply moralistic and unafraid to express his florid contempt for those benighted souls who see things from any perspective other than his own. Also: He’s funny.”

DC Theatre Scene opined, “Arena and director Molly Smith have given this fine work a good, rigorous production … Edward Gero is a continuing wonder …”

The encore presentation of The Originalist airs Sunday, March 19 at 3:40 am. The play will also air Sunday, March 26 at 10 pm on WLIW21. Theater Close-Up — a unique collaboration between THIRTEEN and New York City area non-profit Off-Broadway theaters — removes any obstacles to seeing fantastic theater productions.

More Theater Close-Up Productions

Enjoy these Theater Close-Up productions from the past year: Buried Child, by Sam Shepard, Jonathan Tolins’ comedy Buyer & Cellar, Rasheeda Speaking from The New Group, Fashions for Men from Mint Theater, Wiesenthal filmed at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, Repairing a Nation from Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Incident at Vichy from Signature Theatre, and The Woodsman recorded at New World Stages.

The original Season One episodes to watch include Looking at Christmas, The Iliad, The Vandal, Regular Singing, Sweet and Sad, Sorry, That Hopey Changing Thing, Hellman vs. McCarthy, and London Wall.