Janeane Garofalo Joins New Group's RUSSIAN TRANSPORT

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Set in the Russian-Jewish enclave of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, Russian Transport is a deeply personal, emotionally charged tale of an immigrant couple, their two assimilated teenagers and the fierce and fiery upheaval they experience when sexy, mysterious Uncle Boris from the old country comes to stay with them for his shot at the American dream. Part family drama, part heart-pounding thriller, this debut from Erika Sheffer captures the complex and conflicting layers of striving, joy, pain and terror of one very particular immigrant experience.

Russian Transport marks the Off-Broadway debut of playwright Erika Sheffer. Her other plays include The Drowning Side and short pieces Engaging Dynamic Guest Experience, Likes to Scratch and Something in Your Stomach. Sheffer’s work has received readings at Naked Angels, Primary Stages, The Woodshed Collective and Personal Space Theatrics in association with The Actors Studio. She has performed original pieces at Upright Citizens Brigade and Dixon Place. She will be developing her newest play through a fellowship from SPACE on Ryder Farm this summer. Erika Sheffer founded The Jam Band Writers Group, is a founding member of the 15th Floor Playwrights Collective, and an alumna of The Movement Theatre Company’s 2010 New Works/Moving Up Writers Group. Sheffer has been a finalist for The Estrogenius Festival as well as a Juilliard fellowship. B.F.A in drama from Syracuse University.

Actress and Comedian Janeane Garofalo has been an American institution since she burst on the scene in 1992. In addition to acting in film and television, Janeane is an outspoken activist, spoken word performer and stand-up comedy entertainer known and respected around the country, and the world. As well, she was instrumental in the successful launching of the first liberal radio network, Air America Radio, where she hosted her own talk show, "The Majority Report." A lightning rod for controversy, Janeane's well informed opinions and unflinching honesty have inspired laughs, as well as striking a chord with the left, right and everyone in between. She is a noted peace activist. Janeane has had many memorable and critically acclaimed roles in films such as "The Truth About Cats and Dogs," "Steal This Movie," "Copland," "Reality Bites," and "Duane Hopwood," as well as for her specific brand of sharp wit and comedy shown in her roles in "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion," "Bye Bye Love," "Mystery Men," "Clay Pigeons," "The Minus Man" and "The Cable Guy," directed by her friend Ben Stiller. Ben and Janeane also co-authored the best seller "Feel This Book," (Ballantine May 1999). Janeane was also a cast member of the Emmy Award-winning Ben Stiller Show. Janeane played the role of Paula, the acerbic talent booker, on "The Larry Sanders Show," for which she received an Emmy nomination in 1997 and two Cable Ace nominations. During the fall of '94 she joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live." Some of Janeane's other television work includes two specials for HBO, the series finale of "Mad About You" and the critically lauded, final season of NBC's "The West Wing," where she played Democratic campaign strategist Louise Thornton. In 2007, Janeane's voice was featured in the Disney/Pixar animated comedy Ratatouille, and can be seen in Stella writer/director David Wain's ensemble comedy, "The Ten." Janeane's recent productions include the Lifetime movie "Girl's Best Friend" and as a recurring character on the 2009 season of "24." Janeane lives in New York and Los Angeles. 

Director Scott Elliott is the founding Artistic Director of The New Group, where in the 2010-11 season he helmed the recent revival of Wallace Shawn’s Marie and Bruce and the world premiere of Tommy Nohilly’s Blood From A Stone, which received an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play. In the 2009-10 season, Elliott directed the new musical The Kid, based on the book by Dan Savage The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant. The Kid received numerous honors including an Outer Critics Circle Award (Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical) as well as Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominations (Outstanding Musical). With The New Group, he has produced over 47 plays, 22 of which he directed, including Groundswell, Rafta, Rafta…, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Hurlyburly, Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Fever, and 5 plays by Mike Leigh: Two Thousand Years, Abigail’s Party, Smelling a Rat, Goose-Pimples and Ecstasy. Broadway credits include Present Laughter, Barefoot in the Park, and 3 plays produced by The Roundabout: The Threepenny Opera, The Women and Three Sisters. He is also a film director and screenwriter.

Last season The New Group (Scott Elliott, Artistic Director; Geoff Rich, Executive Director) presented the world premiere of Tommy Nohilly’s Blood From A Stone featuring Ethan Hawke (Obie winner), the revival of Wallace Shawn’s Marie and Bruce starring Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley, and One Arm (co-production with Tectonic Theater Project) based on an unproduced screenplay by Tennessee Williams, adapted for the stage and directed by Moisés Kaufman. In 2009-10, The New Group presented the extended run of Kenneth Lonergan’s The Starry Messenger featuring Matthew Broderick, the sold-out revival of Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind directed by Ethan Hawke, and the world premiere of the new musical The Kid. Other recent productions include Ian Bruce’s Groundswell, Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, Ayub Khan-Din’s Rafta, Rafta…, Jonathan Marc Sherman’s Things We Want, Jay Presson Allen’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Bernard Weinraub’s The Accomplices. Additional standouts include David Rabe’s Hurlyburly, Mike Leigh’s Two Thousand Years, Abigail’s Party, Smelling a Rat, Goose-Pimples and Ecstasy, Wallace Shawn’s The Fever and Aunt Dan and Lemon, Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth and Kevin Elyot’s Mouth to Mouth and My Night With Reg. The New Group is a recipient of the 2004 Tony® Award for Best Musical (Avenue Q). The New Group and Artistic Director Scott Elliott were honored with a Special 2010-11 Drama Desk Award “for presenting contemporary new voices, and for uncompromisingly raw and powerful productions.”

All productions play at The New Group @ Theatre Row (The Acorn Theatre / 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Aves). Tickets may be arranged through www.telecharge.com or (212) 239-6200. Tickets are $60.00 plus $1.25 restoration fee. For more info, visit www.thenewgroup.org.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

Photo Credit: Walter McBride/WM Photos

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