This Morgan McCallum article was originally published by TOWN on June 29th, 2021.
For Mike Sablone, producing artistic director of The Warehouse Theatre, knowing that the powerful play he produced and premiered here in the Upstate is heading to the West Coast—with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, no less—is a dazzling and humbling career highlight.
Paul Grellong’s POWER OF SAIL, first produced by the Warehouse Theatre in 2019, promises to captivate new audiences at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles with its second major production. Says Sablone, “It’s hard to produce world premieres, but even harder is getting that second production. I’m proud that the first world premiere produced during my tenure for The Warehouse is going to have such a large life.”
In February 2022, The Geffen Playhouse, along with Daryl Roth, will produce the play with Tony and Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston (ALL THE WAY, Breaking Bad) leading the cast of playwright Paul Grellong’s POWER OF SAIL, also featuring Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy, Private Practice), Hugo Armstrong (MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES, GOD OF CARNAGE), Tedra Millan (THE WOLVES, PRESENT LAUGHTER), and Seth Numrich (Switzerland, Turn: Washington’s Spies), and helmed by Soulpepper Theatre artistic director Weyni Mengesha.
The show will run at the Geffen from February 1, 2022, through March 13, 2022.
POWER OF SAIL was produced by The Warehouse in March 2019. Neil Shurley, reviewing the play for BroadwayWorld called it “a cogent and urgent message for our time.” The play follows distinguished Harvard professor Charles Nichols (Emmy & Tony Award winner Bryan Cranston) who finds himself in hot water after inviting an incendiary white nationalist to speak at his annual symposium. His colleagues are concerned, his students are in revolt, but Charles is undeterred in his plot to expose and academically thrash his invited guest. This profoundly relevant new play examines the insidiousness of hate disguised as free speech and the question of who ultimately pays the price.
Playwright Paul Grellong praised the work done in Greenville, saying, “The Warehouse was more than just a first home for the play. Producing Artistic Director Mike Sablone is the reason I returned to the script after having set aside an old draft years ago. As a testament not only to the length of our friendship but the depth of his patience, Mike has been the first reader on everything I’ve written since we met in 2000. As a result of our conversations in the wake of the 2016 election—personal, artistic, and political—he encouraged me to revisit POWER OF SAIL and rebuild it for the present. I remain profoundly grateful for that.”
Grellong’s credits include the play MANUSCRIPT, which was produced by Daryl Roth at the Daryl Roth Theater, and has since been performed internationally. He has also written for The Boys, Scorpion, Revolution, and Law & Order: SVU.
Sablone doesn’t hesitate to share the credit: “The size and scale of this production is a testament to the incredible work of the original Warehouse artistic team. The best thing is that in The Geffen’s playbill, on the title page every patron will read the note: ‘POWER OF SAIL was originally produced at The Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina,’ thus getting the good word out about the great work we do here. This is what professional regional theatres should do: originate important work that then travels to larger cities. Not all theatre has to come from NYC. I’m proud that we were the first to produce this impactful and engaging work.”