Block, Olivo et al. Lead BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK at 2nd Stage This Season

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Second Stage Theatre (Carole Rothman, Artistic Director) has announced that Stephanie J. Block, Daniel Breaker, KIMBERLY HÉBERT GREGORY, Kevin Isola and Karen Olivo will star in the world premiere comedy, BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK, the new play by Lynn Nottage, directed by Jo Bonney. BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK is Ms. Nottage's first play to be produced in New York since she won the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined in 2009.

The production will begin preview performances on April 6, 2011 and officially open on May 9, 2011. For subscription or ticket information, please call the Second Stage Box Office at 212-246-4422 or visit the company's website, www.2ST.com.

In a new comedy from the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright of Ruined, Lynn Nottage draws upon the screwball films of the 1930's to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK is a seventy year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career. When circumstances collide and both women land roles in the same Southern epic, the story behind the cameras leaves Vera with a surprising and controversial legacy scholars will debate for years to come.

BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK will feature scenic design by Neil Patel, lighting design by David Weiner, costume design by ESosa and original music & sound design by John Gromada. Additional casting will be announced shortly.
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Stephanie J. Block (Gloria Mitchell) recently starred on Broadway in 9 to 5: The Musical as Judy Bernly, for which she earned a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Prior to to 9 to 5, Stephanie starred as Elphaba in the Broadway company of Wicked and recorded her debut solo album, This Place I Know. Other Broadway credits include originating the roles of Grace O'Malley in The Pirate Queen and Liza Minnelli in The Boy from Oz (opposite Hugh Jackman). She also starred in the first national touring company of Wicked as Elphaba for which she won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actress and the Carbonell Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Some of her regional credits include Funny Girl, Crazy For You (L.A. Ovation Award Nomination), Oliver (Critics Award-Best Actress), James Joyce's The Dead, Triumph Of Love, The Grass Harp, South Pacific, Will Rogers Follies, They're Playing Our Song opposite Jason Alexander, and the World Premiere of Wicked.

Daniel Breaker (Leroy Barksdale/ Herb Forrester) most recently appeared on Broadway as Donkey in Shrek the Musical. His other Broadway credits include Passing Strange (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, Theatre World Award, AUDELCO Award), Cymbeline (LCT) and Well. Off-Broadway he starred in Passing Strange (Public), Lynn Nottage's Fabulation (Playwrights Horizons), Pericles (Red Bull, Culture Project). Regionally Breaker has appeared in Life Is a Dream (South Coast Rep), The Comedy of Errors (Shakespeare Theatre Company; Helen Hayes nomination), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (SCR), The Tempest (STC; Helen Hayes nomination), A Midsummer Night's Dream (STC), The Rivals (STC), The Silent Woman (STC), HMS Pinafore (Berkshire Theatre Festival), Black Sheep (Barrington), Sundance Theater Lab, 2005. Breaker's film and television credits include Passing Strange directed by Spike Lee and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

KIMBERLY HÉBERT GREGORY (Lottie/ Carmen Levy-Green) recently starred in The Brother/Sister Plays at The Public Theatre. Gregory's other theatre credits include the first national tour of The Lion King, Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery at Chicago Theatre Company (Joseph Jefferson Nomination), Amen Corner at the Goodman Theatre, Nickel and Dimed at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Waiting to be Invited at the Victory Gardens Theater, and Julius Caesar at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Antony and Cleopatra and Gee's Bend at Hartford Stage, Tough Titty at The Magic Theatre, and a one-woman piece entitled Evangeline Elsewhere at the 1st National NY Irish Theatre Festival. Gregory's television and film credits include I Think I Love My Wife, "Gossip Girl," "New Amsterdam" and "The Black Donnellys."

Kevin Isola (Maximillian Von Oster/ Brian Blaze) recently appeared in the Transport Group's production of The Boys in the Band. His other New York theatre credits include Brooklyn Boy (MTC, Broadway), Trust (Play Company), The World Over, The Water Children (both for Playwrights Horizons), Twelfth Night and Venus, WASP and Other Plays (NYSF/Public Theatre), Everett Beekin (Lincoln Center) and The New Bozena (Cherry Lane). Regionally he has appeared in Twelfth Night (McCarter), The Glass Menagerie (Old Globe), King Lear (STNJ), The Rainmaker (Center Stage) and Venus (Yale Repertory). Isola's film and television credits include Frank the Rat, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Uninvited, 24 Nights, The New Yorker, "Fringe," "Damages," "Boston Legal," "Law and Order," "All My Children."

Karen Olivo (Anna Mae/ Afua Assata Ejobo), the 2009 Tony Award winner for her portrayal of Anita in West Side Story, also created the role of Vanessa in the Tony Award-winning musical production of In the Heights both on and off Broadway. She also starred in the televised documentary "In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams." Her other Broadway credits include Rent and Brooklyn. On television Olivo has been seen in recurring roles on "The Good Wife," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Conviction" as well as in "A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House." Her film credits include Adrift in Manhattan, Sibling, The New Twenty and Two Lovers.

Playwright Lynn Nottage'S relationship with Second Stage Theatre dates back to 1995, when the company commissioned and produced Ms. Nottage's breakthrough work, Crumbs From The Table of Joy, which has since had over 30 productions around the country. Ms. Nottage is also one of Second Stage Theatre's Time Warner Commissioned Playwrights and participated in the company's New Works Festival in 2008. Her other plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined, which is currently being produced in London's West End; Intimate Apparel (AT&T OnStage Award); A Walk Through Time (a children's musical); Mud, River, Stone (finalist, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); Por'knockers; Poof! (Heideman Award), and Las Meninas (AT&T OnStage Award). Ms. Nottage is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Steinberg Award for Playwriting, the MacArthur Genius Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg New Play Award, Best Play and John Gassner Outer Critics Circle Awards, and two AUDELCO awards.

Director Jo Bonney returns to Second Stage Theatre where she staged Eric Bogosian's subUrbia, Charles Fuller's A Soldier's Play and Lisa Loomer's Living Out. Other credits include Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon (MCC); Culture Clash's American Night (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Darci Picoult's Lil's 90th (Long Wharf Theatre); Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home from the War (Public Theatre Lab); Naomi Wallace's The Hard Weather Boating Party (The Humana Festival) and Fever Chart (Public Theatre Lab); Michael Weller's Beast (New York Theatre Workshop); Alan Ball's All that I Will Ever Be (NYTW); Will Power's The Seven (NYTW & La Jolla Playhouse) (Lortel Award, Best Musical); Neil LaBute's Fat Pig (MCC & Geffen Playhouse); Some Girl(s) (MCC); Carol Churchill's Top Girls (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Christopher Shinn's On the Mountain (Playwrights Horizons); Nilo Cruz's Anna in the Tropics (Arena Stage); Universes' Slanguage (NYTW/ Mark Taper Forum); Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July (Signature Theatre) (Lortel Award, Best Revival); Jose Rivera's Adoration of the Old Woman (La Jolla Playhouse) and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (The Public Theater); Diana Son's Stop Kiss and Anna Deavere Smith's House Arrest (The Public Theater); Jessica Goldberg's Good Thing (The New Group); John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (CSC,NY); Danny Hoch's Some People and Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop (USA/Britain); Dael Orlandersmith's Stoop Stories (Studio Theatre, Washington & The Goodman Theatre); numerous solos Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll; Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead by Eric Bogosian (USA/Britain). Recipient of a 1998 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Direction and editor of Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century (TCG).
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BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK will be performed through May 22 on the following schedule: Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday - Saturday at 8pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm.

The following exceptions will be made to the regular performance schedule:

Wednesday, April 6 - no 2pm performance
Sunday, April 10 - 2pm and 7pm performances
Wednesday, April 13 - no 2pm performance
Sunday, April 17 - 2pm and 7pm performances
Monday, May 9 - 6:30pm performance (opening night)
Tuesday, May 10 - no performance

All evening performances Tuesday - Friday the week of May 2nd will begin at 7pm.

Tickets are $75 and may be purchased by phoning 212-246-4422 or 800-766-6048 or online at www.2ST.com.

$30 UNDER 30 YOUTH ADVANCE TICKETS AVAILABLE - patrons age 30 and under may purchase a limited number of specially-priced $30 tickets in advance. Proof of age must be shown at the box office.

A limited number of student rush tickets are $18 and are available one hour prior to curtain.

Group tickets are available by phoning 212-246-4422. Box-office hours are Monday, 10:00am - 6:00pm, Tuesday 10:00am - 7:00pm, Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00am to 8:00pm, and Sunday, 10:00am to 3:00pm.

 

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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