Shirley Jo Finney to Direct Wendy Graf's CLOSELY RELATED KEYS at Lounge Theatre, Begin. 2/22

Shirley Jo Finney to Direct Wendy Graf's CLOSELY RELATED KEYS at Lounge Theatre, Begin. 2/22

Home. Identity. Secrets and lies. An African-American attorney with a career on the rise is shocked to discover she has an Iraqi half-sister in Wendy Graf's newest play, a hard-hitting drama about family conflict and clashing cultures. Directed by Shirley Jo Finney, the world premiere of Closely Related Keys opens Feb. 22 at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood.

Starring L.A Weekly and NAACP Award-winner Diarra Kilpatrick (In the Red and Brown Water at the Fountain, The Royale at Kirk Douglas), Simone Missick (the road weeps the well runs dry at LATC, In the Red and Brown Water), Brent Jennings (Slaughter City at Son of Semele, Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Berkeley Rep), Jeff Lorch (A View From The Bridge at PRT, Modigliani at Open Fist) and Adam Meir (UK tour of The Pillowman), Closely Related Keys examines the walls we erect in our current climate of racial, religious, moral and political polarization.

Julia Dolan (Kilpatrick) is an up-and-coming corporate attorney whose carefully constructed life begins to crumble when she learns she has a half-sister (Missick) - a Muslim who has fled Iraq. Neyla plays the violin and wants to audition for Julliard - but is there more to her story?

"It's about love and loyalty, secrets and lies, and how the past, never being dead, just hovers around waiting to smack us upside the head," says Graf. "It's about picking up the broken pieces to imperfectly assemble a new family and future."

The play's title is taken from a musical expression meaning "to share many common tones."

"What I love about this piece is that it puts a fresh spin on racial relations that's very different from what we usually see in plays about the African American experience," says Finney. "Each of the five characters has a unique voice with a very distinctive point of view. These people, like all of us, are trying to navigate a world that has become interconnected and multicultural on every level."

Set design for Closely Related Keys is by Hana Kim; lighting design is by Donny Jackson; original music and sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Naila Aladdin Sanders; and the production stage manager is Kathleen Jaffe. Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produces.

Wendy Graf is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced throughout the country. Recent plays include No Word In Guyanese for Me (2012 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding L.A. Theater, Bitter Lemons "Top Rated" show); Behind the Gates; Lessons (directed by Gordon Davidson); Leipzig (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nomination, Back Stage Garland Award, Dorothy Silver Playwriting Competition finalist); The Book of Esther (San Fernando Valley Artistic Director Award nomination for Best Play, ASK Theater Projects Grant Award); Bethany/Bakol (Attic Theater One-Act Winner, produced September 2009); The Cross and the Saber; Shanghai Ghetto; L.A. Tales; Zeno's Paradox; and her newest, All American Girl. Recent award-winning one-acts: Sophie/Alexander/Lisboa; Ashes to Ashes; A Hollywood Fable; Lester and Schloss; and Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.

Shirley Jo Finney has been honored with Ovation, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Garland, LA Weekly and NAACP awards for her directing work. Most recently, she received her second Ovation - the 2013 Best Director award for her work on In the Red and Brown Water at the Fountain Theatre. Other Fountain credits include acclaimed productions of The Ballad of Emmett Till, Yellowman, Central Avenue and From the Mississippi Delta. In November, she directed Marcus Gardley's the road weeps the well runs dry in a rolling world premiere at LATC. Her work has been seen at the McCarter Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Goodman Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, L.A.s Theater Works, Crossroads Theater Company, Actors Theater of Louisville Humana Festival, Mark Taper Forum, American College Theatre Festival, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the State Theater in Pretoria, South Africa, where she helmed a critically acclaimed production of the South African opera, Winnie, based on the life of political icon Winnie Mandela. For television, she directed several episodes of Moesha, and she garnered the International Black Filmmakers 'Best Director' Award for her short film, Remember Me. She is the recipient of the African American Film Marketplace Award of Achievement for Outstanding Performance and Achievement and leader in Entertainment.

Closely Related Keys opens for press on Feb. 22 and continues through March 30 (dark March 2). Performances take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. There will be two preview performances on Thursday, Feb. 20 and Friday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 on Fridays and Sundays, and $30 on Saturdays; previews are $15. The Lounge Theatre is located at 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood CA 90038. To purchase tickets, call (323) 960-7774 or go to www.plays411.com/relatedkeys.

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