The Originalist opens at Pasadena Playhouse

Jade Wheeler and Edward Gero in “The Originalist” at Pasadena Playhouse

When a bright, liberal law school graduate embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with Justice Antonin Scalia, she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and an unexpected mentor.  As the country watched the process of Scalia’s seat being filled, “The Originalist” looks into the complexities of one of the most polarizing Supreme Court Justices of all times.  This powerful work portrays the passionate people risking heart and soul to defend their interpretation of the truth, and the constitution.

Written by John Strand and directed by Molly Smith, “The Originalist” initially opened in Washington DC in 2015 and is enjoying a new tour, running at the Playhouse April 11-May 7 after which it will return to DC rep in July. “The play is flat out great, provocative theater. It’s funny, it’s moving and packs some big punches. It has become more and more meaningful over the past year since Justice Scalia’s passing and with the new administration. Striving for a middle ground feels like an epic struggle these days” says ​Director Molly Smith​. “Ed Gero’s performance as Justice Scalia is even stronger and more monumental, and I know he will only continue to deepen and grow in the role. I can’t wait to share this production with the wonderful audience and staff at The Playhouse. Look out, Pasadena.”

Jade Wheeler and Brett Mack in a scene from “The Originalist”

Acclaimed actor ​Edward Gero​ reprises his role as Scalia, a role that was written with Gero in mind for the part. Back when the show was in development, Gero had the opportunity to not only meet Scalia and observe at the court and in chambers but he developed a friendship with the man. Scalia gave the actor full access and felt confident that Gero was the actor for the job. Although Scalia did not ultimately see the production, his colleagues did and Justice Ginsberg commented that Gero had “captured the spirit of my good friend perfectly.”

His experiences getting to know Scalia and observing the court led Gero to view the justices as people with a profound love for the law and language. He says they have the ability to argue, take a vote and get on with it with a belief that they are listening from their highest selves. He finds the play to be ultimately a hopeful one, where two characters from the opposite spectrum politically, can bond yet remain true to their beliefs.

In our current climate, audiences seem to be yearning for a civil public discourse. The play centers on issues of democracy, constitutional laws, what it means to be an American and asks if this experiment is still possible. The Pasadena Playhouse will present post-show engagement activities for every performance In order to help facilitate conversation around these timely topics.

Tickets​ range from $25 – $80 with premiere seats at $115. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 626-356-7529 or at The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office 39 South El Molino Avenue.

Running time for this production is 95 minutes with no intermission.

Photo Credit: Gary W. Sweetman


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