Monsters of the Villa Diodati Premiere Begins This Month at Creative Cauldron

Jan 11, 2016
Monsters of the Villa Diodati

Creative Cauldron will premiere MONSTERS OF THE VILLA DIODATI, a new musical written by Stephen Gregory Smith and Matt Conner. The production will run from January 28th through February 21st, 2016 at ArtSpace Falls Church. Press Night is Saturday, February 6th at 8:00 pm.

Following the critical success of their musical premiere The Turn of the Screw last season, Monsters is the second installment in Creative Cauldron's "Bold New Works for Intimate Stages" five-year commissioning project. The musical draws its inspiration from events surrounding a famous gathering of 19th century writers on Lake Geneva during the stormy summer of 1816. While entertaining one another with ghost stories, Lord Byron, their host, offered his guests a challenge: who among them could write the perfect tale of terror? From this exercise, two of the most famous stories in gothic literature were born: John Polidori's The Vampyre and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Seasoned Equity Actor Sean Thompson returns to Creative Cauldron to play the iconic role of Lord Byron. Thompson appeared previously as Edgar Allan Poe in Nevermore and Cole in Cole Porter: You're the Top! Also returning are Alan Naylor, who won the 2015 Helen Hayes Award for his role in Creative Cauldron's production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Caitlyn Shea, who appeared as Miss Jessel in last season's The Turn of the Screw. Naylor will play the role of Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shea, his wife, Mary Shelley. The role of John Pollidori, Byron's young physician, and will be played by David Landstrom, and Claire Claremont, Mary's stepsister will be played by Catherine Purcell. Landstrom appeared most recently in the ensemble in Guys and Dolls and in the role of Bear in Avenue Q at the Olney Theatre Center, and as Bernstein in Dogfight at the Keegan Theatre. Purcell appeared in Heart and Soul: The Music of Frank Loesser at the Kennedy Center and in Girl vs. Corinth at New Yorks Monumental Theatre.

Matt Conner's prior musical works have been performed at Signature Theatre and at other professional venues in the Metropolitan DC area. In 2006, Matt Conner received his first critical recognition as a composer with Nevermore, a musical based on the life and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, which The Washington Post praised for its "romantic music...ablaze with feeling." In 2008, Conner was one of six young composers awarded a commission through Signature's "American Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation." His musical The Hollow based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, premiered at Signature in 2011, and in 2013 Conner premiered Crossing, a musical inspired by stories from the Underground Railroad.

Stephen Gregory Smith is a Helen Hayes award-winning local actor, director and writer. He has performed at Arena Stage, Wolf Trap, the Kennedy Center, Ford's Theater, Signature Theater, Metro Stage, Roundhouse Theatre and Olney Theater in both leading and supporting roles. Smith wrote the book for and directed Creative Cauldron's musical revue, Cole Porter: You're the Top! (2012), and directed Thunder Knocking on the Door (2013). Both productions received critical raves and Helen Hayes Awards Recommendations.

In 2010, Smith joined forces with Conner on a musical version of George Romero's 1968 cult classic horror film Night of the Living Dead. After workshop productions in New York City and Kensington, Maryland, Night of the Living Dead The Musical received its first professional production in 2012 at the New Line Theater in St. Louis, Missouri. Critics applauded their nuanced approach in a production that features no zombies on stage, but skillfully mines the psychology of terror: "writers Smith and Conner have found a way to translate the classic horror story into music and lyrics that are just as terrifying and suspenseful as the original film."

The creative team for MONSTERS OF THE VILLA DIODATI includes Warren Freeman as Musical Director, Margie Jervis as Scenic Designer, Alison Johnson as Costume Designer and Lynn Joslin as Lighting Designer.

Tickets for MONSTERS OF THE VILLA DIODATI can be purchased on or by calling 703-436-9948.