S. Epatha Merkerson, BD Wong and Blythe Danner Join Actors Fund's Benefit Reading of OUR TOWN; Full Cast Announced!
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by BWW News Desk
Casting is complete for The Actors Fund's upcoming benefit reading of the American classic Our Town on Monday, March 4, 2013 at 7:30 p .m. at The Gerald R. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College (524 West 59th Street). Tony Winners Blythe Danner, BD Wong and two-time Tony Award nominee S. Epatha Merkerson will share the role of the Stage Manager for this one night benefit.
The star studded cast includes Tony Award nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Emily Webb, three-time Tony nominee Rebecca Luker (Mary Poppins, The Music Man) as Mrs. Webb, Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox (Doubt, Chicago) as Mrs. Gibbs, Martin Moran (All the Rage, Spamalot) as of Simon Stimson, Julia Murney (Falling, Wicked) as Mrs. Soames and Leslie Odom, Jr. (Smash, Leap of Faith) as George Gibbs, two-time Tony Award nominee Howard McGillin (Anything Goes, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as Mr. Webb, Jerry Dixon (Once on This Island) as Dr. Gibbs, Wally Dunn (Gypsy w/ Bernadette Peters, Spamalot) as Professor Willard/Joe Stoddard, Philip Hoffman (Into the Woods, A Catered Affair) as Constable Warren, Daniel Jenkins (Golden Boy, Big River) as Howie Newsome, Jose Llana (...Spelling Bee, Flower Drum Song) as Sam Craig, Wolfgang Scheitinger as Wally Webb and Tyrah Skye Odoms (Annie) as Rebecca Gibbs.
The evening will be directed by Peter Flynn (Chess and On the 20th Century for The Actors Fund).
The creative team includes Scenic Design by Ken Goldstein, Lighting Design by Cory Pattak, Sound Design by Patrick Weaver, Costume Supervisor is Jennifer Caprio, Musical Supervisor is Mark Fifer, Make-up by Nathan Johnson and Hair by James Corbett. Jason Quinn is the Production Stage Manager and casting by Stephanie Yankwitt.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover's Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become an undisputed stage classic. Our Town is Thornton Wilder's most renowned and most frequently performed play.
Described by Edward Albee as "...the greatest American play ever written," Our Town won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Tappan Wilder, nephew and literary executor of the playwright stated, ""My uncle loved actors--he was an actor himself, you know--and he was mighty proud to have written a popular large-cast play that provided his fellows with so many jobs! What a great pleasure it is to partner with the Actor's Fund, which Thornton Wilder supported throughout his life, on the occasion of a major milestone in the history of his most famous work."
Tickets for the one-night-only benefit are $75, $100 and $150. Sponsorships are available for $1,500 and $5,000, which include passes to the VIP party after the benefit with cast. Tickets can be purchased at www.actorsfund.org or by calling (212) 221-7300 x133 or emailing email@example.com.
Thornton Wilder (Playwright). Born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Oberlin, Yale (B.A. 1920) and Princeton (M.A. 1925), Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between The Commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. Wilder is the only writer to win Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and drama-for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) and two plays, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942). His other novels include The Cabala, The Woman of Andros, Heaven's My Destination, The Ides of March, The Eighth Day and Theophilus North. His other major dramas include The Matchmaker (adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!) and The Alcestiad. The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden and The Long Christmas Dinner are among his celebrated shorter plays. Wilder also enjoyed success as an essayist, translator, research scholar, teacher, lecturer, actor, librettist and screenwriter. His screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943) remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day. Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature, The Order of Merit (Peru), and the Goethe-Plakette (Germany). In 1930, with royalties received from The Bridge of SanLuis Rey, Wilder built a home for himself and his family in Hamden, CT.Although often away from it as many as 250 days a year, restlessly seeking quiet places in which to write, Thornton Wilder always returned to "the house the Bridge built". He died of a heart attack on December 7, 1975.
Peter Flynn (Director) recently directed 1776 starring Brooks Ashmanskas & Robert Cuccioli for Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. As the Artistic Director of the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York, he directed Lend Me A Tenor starring Michael McCormick, & Emily Skinner, the world premiere of Tim Pinckney's play Ever So Humble starring Andréa Burns; Natascia Diaz as Aldonza in Man of LaMancha; and Wally Dunn in David Mamet's November. Broadway credits: Actors' Fund concerts of On the 20th Century with Douglas Sills & Marin Mazzie, Chess with Josh Groban & Adam Pascal, and Funny Girl with Whoopi Goldberg, Andrea Martin, & Jane Krakowski. Off-Broadway credits: Lee Blessing's Two Rooms - Lion Theatre, Skippyjon Jones, & Junie B. Jones (nominated for two Lucille Lortel Awards including Best Musical), and Rhapsody in Seth - Actors' Playhouse starring Seth Rudetsky. Regional credits: Barrio Grrrl! - Kennedy Center, Sleuth & Man of LaMancha (Carbonell Award, best director) - Maltz-Jupiter Theatre, Guys and Dolls - Engeman Theater, Gypsy - St. Louis MUNY (starring Karen Mason), The Piano Lesson and The Crucible - Tampa Performing Arts Center, A Child's Christmas in Wales - National Theatre of the Deaf. As a writer, Peter is the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth written with writing partner, composer/lyricist Brooks Ashmanskas. They are currently under commission at the Huntington Theatre writing the musical adaptation of For Love of the Game. Peter is on faculty at the Stella Adler Studio for Acting & New York University, and is a graduate of Northwestern University.
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone - performers and those behind the scenes - who works in performing arts and entertainment, helping more than 12,000 peopledirectly each year, and hundreds of thousands online. Serving professionals in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance, The Fund's programs include social services and emergency assistance, health care and insurance, housing, and employment and training services. With offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, The Actors Fund has - for nearly 130 years - been a safety net for those in need, crisis or transition. Visit www.actorsfund.org.