Photo Flash: Opening Night Of The SCREWTAPE LETTERS

THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, the provocative and wickedly funny theatrical adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel about spiritual warfare from a demon's point of view, has opened a new block of tickets on sale for performances through September 5 at The Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd Street, New York.
 
THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS was a hit at Chicago's Mercury Theatre where it ran for six months.  It was also a success at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. where it played for ten sold out weeks.  This fall it embarked on a national tour delighting capacity houses in San Francisco, Phoenix, Louisville, Chattanooga, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston and Austin.
 
Critics described THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS as "Smart, Sizzling Entertainment…Wonderfully Clever!!" (Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times).  "Very Smart…Richly Rewarding…Exuberant Theatricality!" (Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune), "One Hell of a Good Show." (Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal)  "Sly, Funny…The Devil is an Equal Opportunity Entertainer" (Celia Wren, Washington Post) and "Pure Genius…an Outstanding Piece of Work," (John J. Miller, National Review).  

The book's success as a piercing insight into humanity's bent toward evil is due to Lewis' lucid capacity to make his readers squirm in self recognition.  When first published in 1942, it brought immediate fame to this little-known Oxford don, including the cover of Time Magazine. 
 
THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS is still one Lewis' most influential works, along with such other classics as The Chronicles of Narnia (including The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe), The Great Divorce and Mere Christianity.
 
Lewis dedicated it to his close friend J. R. R. Tolkien who had expressed to Lewis that delving too deeply into the craft of evil would have consequences.  Lewis admitted as much when he wrote "Though I had never written anything more easily, I never wrote with less enjoyment . . . though it was easy to twist one's mind into the diabolical attitude, it was not fun, or not for long. The work into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst, and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness, and geniality had to be excluded."
Adapting this novel to the stage, Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean, focused tightly on the novel's arc of how to entice the mind of a human "patient" toward damnation. In this invertEd Moral universe set in an office in hell, God is called the "Enemy" and the devil is referred to as "Our Father below." 
 
As His Abysmal Sublimity Screwtape, Max McLean, the 2009 recipient of Chicago's Jeff Award for Solo Performance, creates a "master of the universe" character, all too familiar to New Yorkers, whose rhetorical flourishes mesmerize while he persuades. 

At his feet is the creature-demon, Toadpipe, played by Karen Eleanor Wight, who transforms into the paragons of vice Screwtape conjures with a flick of his fingers.  Ms. Wight received the 2008 D.C. Theatre Scene Award for Best Actress for role as Toadpipe. The actors' combined skills wheedle their unsuspecting soul down the "soft, gentle path to hell."

Scenic Design is by Cameron Anderson, Costumes by Michael Bevins, Lighting Design by Jesse Klug, and Original Music and Sound Design by John Gromada.
 
The performance schedule for THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS is as follows: Mondays  and Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesday Matinee at 2pm, Fridays at 8pm , Saturdays 4pm and 8pm at and Sundays at 3pm and 7 p.m.  Day-Of, Student Rush Tickets are available for $27, cash only, at the Box Office.  Valid ID must be presented.  To purchase tickets, call 212.239.6200 or visit www.telecharge.com. More information is available at www.ScrewtapeOnStage.com.  For groups of 10 or more call 866.476.8707.

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