Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater Celebrates 35 Years with its 2019 summer theater season, featuring five plays, expanded family programming, and special events.

Continuing WHAT’s legacy for producing adventurous contemporary work, the season opens with David Mamet’s Race, a profound (and profane) exploration of the intersection of racial and gender politics featuring Mamet’s signature razor-sharp dialogue. Murder for Two is a musical murder mystery full of invention and humor. Featuring a cast of two, who not only portray 13 characters but also accompany themselves on the piano. Based on a true story of deception, scientific achievement and bitter betrayal, Lenin’s Embalmers is both a rollicking comedy and an epic tragedy. Two scientists, driven by fear and fame, are pushed to their limits when tasked with embalming the late Soviet leader.

The 35th anniversary season returns to where WHAT began in 1985 with Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece Rhinoceros. This cautionary tale about the lure of fascism is especially befitting in our age. As a complement to Rhinoceros, Orson’s Shadow, will be performed in repertory with a shared cast. The absurdity of Ionesco’s play is no match for the absurdity behind the scenes when Hollywood giant Orson Welles directs Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright in Rhinoceros’ UK premiere. Based on true events, Orson’s Shadow is a sharp and witty play that proves that the drama is not always confined to the stage.

This summer brings expanded family programming in The Larry Phillips Performance Pavilion. WHAT for Kids returns for its 18th year with Fantastic Mr. Fox, adapted from Roald Dahl’s beloved book. New this summer P.I.E. Story Theatre, interactive storytelling for young audiences makes its Cape Cod debut.

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater’s 2019 Summer Season is made possible through the support of Cape Air, Fanizzi’s Restaurant, and Snow’s Fuel. Additional funding is provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. WHAT’s Youth and Family programming is made possible through the support of The Edward Bangs Kelley and Elza Kelley Foundation, The Horizon Foundation, The Cricket Foundation, The Red Auerbach Youth Foundation, and the Wellfleet Cultural Council.


  1. RACE by David Mamet, directed by Jackie Davis from June 7 – June 28, 2019: As two lawyers struggle to defend a wealthy white executive charged with raping a black woman they quickly discover that present-day racial and gender politics are as complex as the case in front of them. When a new legal assistant gets involved in the case the opinions that boil beneath explode to the surface.
  2. MURDER FOR TWO: Book and Lyrics by Kellen Blair, book and music by Joe Kinosian, directed by Sam Scalamoni. July 5 – July 27, 2019: Officer Marcus Moscowicz is a small-town policeman with dreams of making it to detective. One fateful night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party of Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney and the writer is killed…fatally. With the nearest detective an hour away, Marcus jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills. Murder For Two is an inventive blend of music, mayhem and murder! In this hilarious 90-minute show, 2 performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.
  3. LENIN’S EMBALMERS by Vern Thiessen, directed by RJ Tolan. August 9 – August 31, 2019: When two biochemists are recruited by Josef Stalin to embalm the late Soviet leader, both men are pushed to their limits. Driven by fear and fame, both men attempt to achieve the impossible, but discover a dark secret. If they should succeed the rewards will be boundless, but failure can bring only one outcome. Based on true events, playwright Vern Thiessen’s dark comedy brings to light the resilience of the human spirit, ever-changing war games and the importance of always having vodka on hand.
  4. RHINOCEROS by Eugene Ionesco, translated by Derek Prouse, directed by Daisy Walker. September 7 – September 28, 2019: When a peaceful village is overrun by a herd of rhinoceros, the villagers must decide if they will join the stampede or resist the approaching catastrophe. Only one man is willing to stand up to the crowd and declare “I’m not capitulating”.Written in 1959 in alarmed reaction to the mid-20th-century proliferation of totalitarianism, Ionesco’s play takes aim at the underlying roots and the seductively corrosive lure of herd mentality.
  5. ORSON’S SHADOW by Austin Pendleton, directed by Brad Dalton, September 14 – September 29, 2019: An ingenious tale of two Hollywood giants—Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier. The time is 1960; the place is a West End theater. Legendary critic Kenneth Tynan has made a startling proposal: Welles should direct Olivier and the young Joan Plowright in Rhinoceros, Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece. But it is the rehearsal process that brims with absurdity as titanic personalities, including Vivien Leigh, wrestle the muse in this witty and incisive depiction of drama, both on and off-stage.

WHAT for Kids

  1. FANTASTIC MR. FOX by David Wood and Roald Dahl in The Larry Phillips Performance Pavilion, July 1 – August 15, 2019: Roald Dahl’s much-loved story follows the vain attempts of three farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, one fat, one short, one lean, to get rid of the fox who regularly steals food from their farms. They try to kill him by any means possible. Outwitted at every turn, the farmer’s ploys backfire. Fantastic Mr. Fox devises a plan which will ensure full stomachs for not only his family, but all his friends, who celebrate with a sumptuous feast.
  2. P.I.E. (Projects In Education) STORY THEATRE at the Larry Phillips Performance Pavilion in July and August, created and directed by Patrick Riviere. This storytelling for young audiences combines narrative, mime, song, exciting characters and five stools to create a world of imagination, fun and learning. Join the cast of five as they present a set of fairy tales and fables chosen from a repertory of over 30 stories. There are turtles, possums, trolls, witches, cats and of course, kings, queens and dragons! Everyone is always asked to join in one of the stories and without spoiling the fun, some great lessons are learned as well.

Special Event #1

Dancing Under the Stars, Sunday July 14, 2019. Enjoy dinner and dancing in the Larry Phillips Performance Pavilion. Featuring live music, a ballroom dance performance, and dance lessons to get you out of your seat and onto the dance floor.

Special Event #2

Birthday BASH! Sunday August 4, 2019. The Sock and Buskin Bash is back! Join us for a birthday party like no other, with live music, creative cuisine and drink, and interactive entertainment that is sure to surprise and delight. Plus live and silent auctions to benefit Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater.