Mark Zeisler and Ryan Barry in Red
Mark Zeisler and Ryan Barry in Red

LOWELL -- Painter Mark Rothko is among Merrimack Repertory Theatre artistic director Charles Towers' favorite artists.

And there was no question he wanted to direct John Logan's play Red, which is about Rothko, at the MRT.

Towers brings Red to audiences this week. It opens Thursday, Feb. 14, in previews, to the press on Sunday, Feb. 17 and runs through March 10.

"His paintings are amazing -- there's a kind of genius about him," said Towers.

The play is a work of art, too.

"There's good reason that it won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Play and went on to become the most produced play in America," said Towers. "It's a terrific drama, shot through with great humor."

But it is not a biography, he added.

"It is about human relationships with a father/son story at the core," said Towers.

Towers has cast Mark Zeisler as Rothko and Ryan Barry as his assistant Ken, the son figure. Zeisler, a favorite MRT actor, has appeared here before in A Picasso, The Seafarer, Tranced and The Homecoming. Barry makes his MRT debut.

The plot revolves around the conflicts that arise when Rothko, presented with the opportunity to work on larger murals, hires Ken as his assistant. Ken ends up challenging Rothko's fervently held artistic beliefs.

"The relationship has the power of generational conflict for riveting theatre," said Towers.

Tickets start at $20. www.MRT.org or 978-654-4678.

On the Marquee

Vicki Lawrence and Mama, A Two-Woman Show
Vicki Lawrence and Mama, A Two-Woman Show
  • MELODY CAVALCADE: Tickets are on sale now for The GLMT Melody Cavalcade, presented by The Greater Lowell Music Theatre on March 15-16 in Fisher Hall, 35 Wilder St., UMass Lowell South Campus. It features music and comedy in the style of an old-time radio show. Tickets $20, general; $15, seniors and students at 978-853-9620 or visit www.glmt.org/BUY-TICKETS for details.
  • MAMA TELLS ALL: Vicki Lawrence and Mama, A Two-Woman Show arrives Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m. at the Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston, 617 Lexington St., Waltham. $34-$54 at www.reaglemusictheatre.org. Cannon Theatre
  • TUNA RE-DO: Greater Tuna, presented by the Lowell High School Drama Club, snowed out by the storm, will be staged Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 4 p.m. or Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. in Little Theatre upstairs from the cafeteria at the school. $5 at door.

Nancye Tuttle's email is nancyedt@verizon.net.