by Aldyth Morris
directed by Deborah Gilmour Smyth
featuring Robert Smyth as Father Damien de Veuster
Introduction by Cynthia Gerber
Thru May 5th
Riveting, exhilarating, profound. This is delicious theatre!
Robert Smyth's "tour de force" performance as the passionate priest who fought for the outcasts on the island of Molokai has received more requests for a remount then any other Lamb's production.
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes including an Intermission
Age recommendation: 12 and above
is LAMB's Producing Artistic Director. He joined the staff of Lamb's Players Street Theatre as an actor and director in 1976. In 1978 LAMB'S opened its first resident theatre in National City, and then in 1994 brought the old performance space in Coronado's historic Spreckel's Building back to life as its new home. Robert has directed more than 150 productions for LAMB'S, and performed in over 100, including favorite roles in A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1776, Cyrano De Bergerac, The Boys Next Door, and the one-man show Damien. He and his wife, director, actor, composer, Deborah Gilmour Smyth, make their home in Coronado.
Cynthia was a member of LPT’s Resident Ensemble from 1988 to 2001 and is now an Associate Artist. most recently she played the role of Margie Swanson in The Festival of Christmas Fargo North of Normal, Silent Sky, The Miracle Worker, The Nerd, An American Christmas and You Can't Take It With You. Prior to that you saw her in Twelfth Night, Quilters, Wit and Lamb's annual Festival of Christmas. Favorite productions at LPT include Harvey, The Hit, Susan and God, The Miracle Worker, Flight, Steel Magnolias, Quilters, Busman’s Honeymoon, Detective Story, See How They Run, Amadeus, Dracula, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Ring Round The Moon. Cynthia is a regular performer with Write Out Loud and earlier last year made her debut with Intrepid Theatre in Perfect Arrangement as Kitty Sunderson. Cynthia studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She is also enjoying her role as Cannon and Spencer’s mom.
Deborah Gilmour Smyth
Director and Sound Designer
Associate Artistic Director and director of Patron Services, Deborah has been a member of the Lamb’s resident ensemble since 1979 . Originally from the East Coast, she has lived all over the United States and went to school at San Francisco State University where she studied music and theatre. One of San Diego’s most active performers with over 200 productions to her credit, she is a seven-time recipient of the San Diego Theatre Critics’ Circle’s Craig Noel Award including Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play for Martha in Intrepid Theatre Company's Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf, Vivian Bearing in Lamb’s production of Wit and Outstanding Female Performance in a Musical for her performance as Mother in Ragtime at Starlight Musical Theatre, for her role of Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza at Lamb’s Players, and for her role of Mrs. Lovett at Cygnet Theatre. She has been honored with Backstage West and numerous Patte awards for performance, original music, sound design. At Lamb’s Players Deborah has performed in over 160 productions, directed over 70 productions, sound designed, written original music, or musically directed over 80 productions. Deborah enjoys the opportunity to be involved in an amazing ensemble that is the Lamb’s Players family. Deborah and her husband, Producing Artistic Director Robert Smyth, and their good buddy Banjo Billy make their home in Coronado.
Set and Properties Designer
Michael is an avid Designer, Painter, Builder, Sculptor, Photographer, Videographer, Teacher and "Maker of Things." In San Diego theaters, he has worked as a Scenic Designer/Builder, Scenic Artist, Properties Designer, Multimedia/Video Designer and Technician and Stage Manager for numerous productions and special events. Some favorites: Killer Joe (SDTCC Craig Noel Award - Compass); Pageant, A Christmas Carol (Cygnet); SideMan (Diversionary); American Song (SDTCC Nom.), Quality of Life, End of the Rainbow, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Intrepid Theatre); Seminar, Taming of the Shrew (Innermission); Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella (StageHouse); For Lambs: Silent Sky, Mixtape, Trying (SDTCC Nom.), Joe vs. The Volcano (SDTCC Nom.), 39 Steps. Thanks to all! Check out his work at MichaelMcKeon.com
a graduate of Biola University, Nate is Lamb’s Director of Production. He has been with Lamb’s since 1982 working as photographer, set construction, lighting designer and performer.
Jeanne's work as a designer this year in San Diego includes Shadowlands for Lambs Players, On the 20th Century for Cygnet Theatre, The Perfect Arrangement and Buddy Holly for Intrepid Theatre, She designed last year's Lambs production of American Rhythm for which she received a Critics Circle, Craig Noel Nomination. Her work has achieved theater critics awards in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. Other productions awarded for costume design include her original designs for The Wonderful World of Oz, A Servant Of Two Masters, The Light in the Piazza, Little Foxes, Joyful Noise, Metamorphosis, and two dozen other productions. Besides designing she currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College.
"A truly singular performance. Altogether phenomenal!"
- Coronado Eagle-Journal
"Smyth has always been outstanding in the role, but his portrayal has deepened with time - now given even greater poignancy by age itself."
"Riveting! One you don't want to miss!"
- SD Insider
"DAMIEN BLESSED WITH EARTHY AUTHENTICITY
Clad in a filthy cassock, his face bronzed by both the tropical sun and the depredations of a terrible disease, the man who would become Hawaii’s first saint speaks of suffering and redemption.
“A leper takes a long time dying, and there’s time for some joy along the way,” the priest born Joseph de Veuster says with a typical mix of candor and humanity in Aldyth Morris’ one-man play “Damien.”
At Lamb’s Players Theatre, Robert Smyth inhabits the character of Father Damien (as de Veuster became known) with an earthy authenticity that draws a playgoer into this saga of the man who ministered to the lepers of Molokai.
Smyth, the Coronado-based theater’s producing artistic director, has played the role of the 19th-century priest many times over the last 30 years, although this is his first return to it since 2000. (His wife, associate artistic director Deborah Gilmour Smyth, directs the production.)
It’s a story that’s clearly close to his heart — and to the mission of Lamb’s, which produces a wide range of theater (including big musicals and world-premiere works) but grounds its programming in explorations of the moral and the spiritual.
Smyth skillfully brings to life all of Damien’s passion and bluster (the priest himself admits his temper was a problem), born of anger and frustration at how authorities banished those suffering from leprosy to Molokai’s isolated Kalaupapa Settlement, with precious few resources to sustain them.
The Hawaiians, Damien tells us, called Kalaupapa “the place without a sunset” because of the sea cliffs that towered above it. He calls it “a dumping ground for lepers — the saddest place on Earth.” Damien spent some 16 years there, before himself dying of leprosy (now known as Hansen’s disease) in 1889.
Morris’ play (which Lamb’s associate artist Cynthia Gerber introduces with a short, engaging monologue) covers not just Damien’s life but afterlife; he describes his own death, and the wonders that greeted him upon his exhumation in the 1930s, when his body was flown back to his home country of Belgium ...the two-act, 100-minute show has a spare, involving theatricality, with graceful contributions by Gilmour Smyth (sound), Nathan Peirson (lighting), Michael McKeon (sets) and Jeanne Barnes Reith (Smyth’s costume).
“Damien” does especially well at capturing its subject’s hard-won humor. And, above all, his single-minded devotion. "
Jim Hebert - UT San Diego
"If you saw Father Damien de Vuester holding a cardboard, "please help" sign on a street corner, you'd probably walk swiftly past. Robert Smyth's admirable performance will invert your first impression. Damien, the resident priest at Molokai, Hawaii's leper colony, was canonized for his caring and devotion. I've seen several versions and have watched Smyth grow as a storyteller. This version, by far his best, weaves an intricate text into a moving tale."
Jeff Smith - SD Reader
"I confess I was not looking forward to a “one man” show. Nor a play about a priest who worked with lepers. My concerns were misplaced.
DAMIEN was one of the best stage performances I’ve ever seen. Bravo!
- James W Huston Reviews
"Robert Smyth has played the role four times over the past three decades. The current portrayal is his deepest, richest and most satisfying."
Pat Launer - KSDS
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