nimbus produces Vonnegut play

Hero returns home. Now what?
nimbus presents "Happy Birthday, Wanda June" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Directed by Josh Cragun, opening October 6 and performing through October 28.

September 20, 2012

First produced in 1971, Happy Birthday, Wanda June is Vonnegut’s wry and provocative retelling of the epic tale of Ulysses. Set in America in the 1970's, the story centers around Harold Ryan, an Ernest Hemmingway type 'man’s man' with a house full of hunting trophies and a lust for adventure. He has been missing for eight years after setting out to find diamonds in the jungle. Penelope is his fourth wife, and was only eighteen years old when they married. She and young son Paul have tried to adjust to life without Harold, while two suitors, a conservative wrestler-turned-vacuum-cleaner-salesman and a peacenik doctor, have been vying for Penelope’s affections. Harold’s return forces a number of confrontations, and not all the reunions are welcome. The Wanda June of the title is a little girl who was killed by an ice cream truck, and now lives in heaven where she comments on the action and plays shuffleboard with (among others) Jesus, Hitler and Judas Iscariot. Her birthday cake, which was never claimed, is bought by one of the suitors as part of an ill-conceived plan to commemorate Harold’s birthday in absentia.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. is of course known for a collection of brilliant and blackly comic novels including Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five. An avowed “peacenik” and humanist, Vonnegut’s whimsically dark and caustic commentary on America’s love affair with war and warriors is on prominent display. The cast includes Kevin Carnahan as Harold and Anna Sutheim as Penelope, and features the talents of Heidi Berg, Naveh Shavit-Lonstein, Song Kim, William P. Studer, Adeline Wendt, Jeremy S. Wendt, and John T. Zeiler. The set design is by nimbus co-Artistic Director Liz Neerland, lighting design by Mitchell Frazier, costume design by Jeni O’Malley, sound design by Jacob M. Davis, and properties by Jenny Moeller.

Director Josh Cragun describes the play as “An allegory for America’s post WWII life." How America has, in an attempt to live up to the perceived glory of those years, “been going around the world killing things because that’s what it thinks it should do.” 

a play by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Directed by Josh Cragun

Featuring Heidi Berg, Kevin Carnahan, Naveh Shavit-Lonstein , Song Kim, William P. Studer, Anna Sutheim, Adeline Wendt, Jeremy S. Wendt, and John T. Zeiler. Set design by Liz Neerland, lighting design by Mitchell Frazier, costume design by Jeni O’Malley, Sound Design by Jacob M. Davis, and Properties by Jenny Moeller.

performances at Nimbus Theatre
1517 Central Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

tickets: 612-548-1380

nimbus has been producing interesting, experimental, and challenging theatre in the Twin Cities since 2001. Presenting an engaging mix of under-appreciated works by established playwrights, new plays by emerging playwrights and innovative company-created productions, nimbus asks audiences, collaborators and conspirators to question ideas, emotions and easy answers. In February of 2011, they took up residence in their new permanent home at 1517 Central Ave NE.

For more information email Josh Cragun or Liz Neerland at