JWT to present Wasserman play readings

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From top left, are Lucy DeVito, Mindy Cohn and Andrea Bowen At bottom, are Amanda Bearse, Olivia Hack and Mindy Sterling. Photo credit: JWT

All-star cast to participate

By Rose Ziff

Three plays by Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein will be presented in two triple-header days of theatre readings when JWT, director Stan Zimmerman and an all-star cast salute the groundbreaking artist who made a career out of exploring the lives of intelligent, talented women.

Titled The Wendy Chronicles, this unique audience experience will feature readings of Uncommon Women & Others, Isn’t It Romantic, and The Heidi Chronicles on two consecutive Sundays—Jan. 5 and 12. Seats are available for each play or may be purchased as a three-show package.

“I wanted to tell the history of the Women’s Movement through some of Wendy’s most well-known plays,” said Zimmerman, who created and will co-produce The Wendy Chronicles at The Braid, Jewish Women’s Theatre’s art and performance space in Santa Monica in cooperation with Pop-Up Playhouse.

Theatre and television veteran Zimmerman directed and produced the LatinX Diary of Anne Frank and is also an experienced television writer.  “The presentation of all three plays gives audiences a rare chance to see the trajectory of a writer who was so instrumental in influencing me.  If I hadn’t seen her original productions in New York as a young NYU drama student, I don’t think I would have had a TV career writing comedy for so many ‘Girls’ – from Golden to Gilmore,” Zimmerman adds.

Wasserstein’s words will come to life by an accomplished cast that includes Lucy DeVito (Always Sunny in Philadelphia),Andrea Bowen (Desperate Housewives), Amanda Bearse (Married with Children), Olivia Hack (Gilmore Girls), and Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers).  Mindy Cohn (Facts of Life) will be reading stage directions.   Other cast members will be announced shortly.

JWT’s Assistant Artistic Director Andrew Fromer will co-produce The Wendy Chronicles with Zimmerman.   “Stan has been a mentor of mine for a while now,” says Fromer. “When he told me about this ambitious concept, I knew it would be a perfect fit at JWT.  We look forward to celebrating these wonderful pieces and honoring a pioneer in theatre whom we lost too soon.”

Wasserstein’s first notable production, which will be presented at The Braid at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 and 12, was “Uncommon Women & Others” that she wrote in 1977, as a thesis project at Yale. The play starred Glenn Close, Swoosie Kurtz and later Meryl Streep.

Isn’t it Romantic, which will be performed at 4 p.m on the same days, had a long off-Broadway run, then transferred to Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theatre.

In 1989, Wasserstein was awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize for The Heidi Chronicles and a Tony Award for Best Play.  She was the first solo woman to receive the distinguished Tony and audiences will be able to understand why at 7:30 p.m. on the January dates.  Following the final play readings on both nights, a Talk-Back with the cast and production staff will be held, followed by a VIP reception.

Visit: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org for additional information.

The cast features:

MINDY COHN (STAGE DIRECTIONS AS “WENDY WASSERSTEIN”) is an actress best known for her role in TV’s The Facts of Life and as the voice of Velma Dinkley in the Scooby Doo franchise. Her feature film work includes The Boy Who Could Fly and Violet Tendencies and on stage she has starred in James Lapine’s Table SettingsBell, Book and Candle; and Glorious to rave reviews. She will be seen in A Nice Girl Like You, a Lifetime movie to be released in 2020.

LUCY DEVITO (HOLLY – Uncommon Women and Others, JANIE – Isn’t It Romantic, HEIDI – The Heidi Chronicles) is an actress and producer.  Her extensive theatre work includes: off-Broadway–Hot MessLove Loss, What I Wore and The Shoemaker and other New York and regional work including Bump and How My Grandparents Fell in Love.  On TV, she appeared in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Deadbeat, Shameless, and Girls.

ANDREA BOWEN (KATE – Uncommon Women and Others, HARRIET – Isn’t It Romantic, SUSAN – The Heidi Chronicles) is best known for playing Julie Mayer on Desperate Housewives.  She started on Broadway at age six, playing Cosette in Les Miserables, then originated Marta Von Trapp in the 1998 The Sound of Music revival, and Adele in the 2000 production ofJane Eyre. Her TV credits include That Was Then, Scandal, and Hawaii Five-O.

AMANDA BEARSE (LILLIAN CORNWELL – Isn’t It Romantic) began her career in New York on All My Children.  In LA, she co-starred in the cult horror film Fright Night opposite Chris Sarandon, followed by playing Marcy D’Arcy on Married… with Children.  While there, she launched her directing career, then worked on numerous sitcoms and sketch comedies.  Bearse is now lead instructor in the Acting for Film program at the Seattle Film Institute.

OLIVIA HACK (CARTER – Uncommon Women and Others, ENSEMBLE – The Heidi Chronicles) began her entertainment career in commercials at age four.  She got her break playing adorable Cindy in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel.  She made her film debut in Star Trek: Generations, playing the daughter of Captain Picard. She is currently best known for providing the voice of iconic characters in several Nickelodeon’s classics.

The Wendy Chronicles will run two consecutive Sundays – January 5 & 12.  Uncommon Women & Others at 12:30 p.m.,Isn’t it Romantic at 4:00 p.m. and The Heidi Chronicles at 7:30 p.m.  A talkback and VIP reception will follow The Heidi Chronicles on both dates.  All shows will be performed at The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave, Unit 102, Santa Monica, CA 90404.   Tickets are $50 for general seating to plays 1 and 2 and $60 (includes the reception) for play 3.  $128 for a 3-show-pass.  Tickets can be purchased at jewishwomenstheatre.org.

A portion of the proceeds will go to The Wendy Project.  Established in 1998 with TDF (Theatre Development Fund), the program allows top theatre professionals to share their time and expertise with students throughout the five boroughs of NYC.

 

JEWISH WOMEN’S THEATRE (PRODUCER) gives voice to contemporary Jewish stories in America today by developing original artistic works, by ensuring these works are performed and seen, and by creating a lasting legacy for future generations. Starting its 12th season, JWT has created 45 original “Salon Theatre” shows, commissioned 40 short or long-form plays or monologues, adapted numerous pieces, and presented six short films. JWT commissioned and produced Ovation-recommended Not That Jewish by Monica Piper, which ran for over 16 months in LA and premiered off-Broadway, running for over 200 performances. JWT also produced Rain Pryor’s Fried Chicken & Latkes, Annie Korzen’s Annie Korzen Famous Actress, and Vicki Juditz’s Ovation-recommended Sacred Resistance. For booking a show for your organization or for more info:  www.jewishwomenstheatre.org.

POP-UP PLAYHOUSE (PRODUCER) presented three highly successful productions for their 2018 inaugural season at the Dorie Theatre/The Complex.  First up was the all-star revival of Justin Tanner’s Heartbreak Help with Melissa Peterman, Teresa Ganzel, Sarah Gilman and Tony winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, followed by the World Premier of Paul Shoulberg’sPledge.  They concluded with the World Premiere production of Knife to the Heart by Stan Zimmerman and Christian McLaughlin.  The sold-out run starred Andrea Bowen, Anne DeSalvo, Todd Sherry and Josh Zuckerman.  PledgeKnife to the Heart and the initial run of The Diary of Anne Frank garnered a whopping fifteen Broadway World 2018 nominations.  Pop-Up Playhouse’s last production was Zimmerman & McLaughlin’s two-character comedy, Yes, Virginia starring Mindy Sterling and Arnetia Walker at the Dorie, December 2018.

STAN ZIMMERMAN (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER) Director/Writer/EP/Creator: “secs & EXECS”, “Skirtchasers” – (telloFilms web series).  Consultant: “Katya” aka Russian “Roseanne” (Sony/CTC).  Writer/EP/Creator: “Rita Rocks”. Writer/Producer: “Gilmore Girls”, “Roseanne” (WGA nomination – “Kiss Episode”). Writer: “The Brady Bunch Movie”, “A Very Brady Sequel”, “Annie” (ABC-TV movie), “The Golden Girls” (WGA Nomination), “Fame”, “Brothers”.  Writer: Right Before I Go – all-star benefit directed by Michael Wilson (Town Hall).  Director: Pledge – World Premiere, Synthesis – World Premiere, Warm CheeseDaughter Of…Entertaining Mr. SloaneBLINK & You Might Miss Me (Best Director winner- Broadwayworld), Spike HeelsA Tuna Christmas, Gemini.  Writer/Director: Knife to the Heart, Yes VirginiaSuicide Notes: In Their Own WordsMeet & GreetIt’s On! (workshop-NYMF/Signature Theatre, Falcon Theatre).  TV Host/Showrunner: “Situation: Comedy” (Bravo/Producer Sean Hayes).