Playwrights Horizons' THE WHALE, Starring Cassie Beck, Shuler Hensley and More, Opens Tonight, 11/5

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Playwrights Horizons' production The Whale, the New York premiere of a new play by Obie Award winner Samuel D. Hunter (A Bright New Boise), is directed by Davis McCallum (February House, A Bright New Boise, the upcoming Water By the Spoonful at Second Stage) and opens tonight, November 5 at 7PM at Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater (416 West 42nd Street).

Due to the overwhelming response to Playwrights Horizons' 2012/2013 season, all productions will now play longer runs to accommodate the larger subscription base. The limited engagement of The Whale, originally announced through Sunday, November 18, will now play through Sunday, December 2.

The Cast of The Whale features Theatre World Award winner Cassie Beck (The Drunken City and Prayer for My Enemy at PH, The Norman Conquests), Reyna de Courcy (Burning), Tony Award and Obie Award winner Shuler Hensley (Oklahoma!, Sweet and Sad, Young Frankenstein), Tasha Lawrence (Wilder, Wilder, Wilder; Good People) and Cory Michael Smith (The Shaggs at PH, the current Cock).

On the outskirts of Mormon Country, Idaho, a six-hundred pound recluse (Mr. Hensley) hides away in his apartment eating himself to death. Desperate to reconnect with his long-estranged daughter (Ms. de Courcy), he reaches out to her, only to find a viciously sharp-tongued and wildly unhappy teen. Big-hearted and fiercely funny, The Whale tells the story of a man's last chance at redemption, and of finding beauty in the most unexpected places.

Writing in The Denver Post on the World Premiere of The Whale at Denver Center Theatre in January, Ray Mark Rinaldi called it, "A rich night of theater. Very much a play of today and audiences ready to engage the times should understand its rewards."

The production features scenic design by Mimi Lien, costume design by Jessica Pabst, lighting design by Jane Cox and sound design by Fitz Patton. Production Stage Manager is Alaina Taylor.

The performance schedule for The Whale is Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2 & 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 & 7PM, with an additional Wednesday matinee performance on November 21 at 2PM. Single tickets, $60 with some premium seats available at $72, may be purchased online via www.TicketCentral.com, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily), or in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues).

A ticketing initiative created in 2007 as part of Playwrights Horizons' Arts Access program, LIVEforFIVE makes a limited number of $5 tickets available for the first preview performance of each Playwrights Horizons production through a lottery via The Company's website (www.PlaywrightsHorizons.org).

Reflecting Playwrights Horizons' ongoing commitment to making its productions more affordable to younger audiences, the theater company will offer HOTtix, $25 rush tickets, subject to availability, day of performance only, starting one hour before showtime to patrons aged 30 and under. Proof of age required. One ticket per person, per purchase.

LIVEforFIVE and HOTtix are two of Playwrights Horizons' popular Arts Access initiatives, which allow the institution to reach out to those who may not be able to afford the cost of a full-price theater ticket. This program is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Membership packages to Playwrights Horizons' 2012/2013 season are now available: Membership ($55 membership fee + one ticket at $40 or less for each show, as desired); 30&Under Membership ($20 membership fee + one $20 ticket for each show, as desired); and Student Membership ($10 membership fee + one $10 ticket for each show, as desired). In addition to discounts on all season attractions, members receive priority booking and seating, ticket exchange privileges, parking and dining discounts, and exclusive mailings of Playwrights Horizons Bulletins. Packages are available at www.TicketCentral.com.

Currently playing on Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theatre (now through October 7, with two additional weeks added October 16-28), is the theater company's highly-acclaimed, sold out production of DETROIT, the New York premiere of a new play by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie Award winner Lisa D'Amour, directed by Obie Award winner Anne Kauffman and featuring two-time Tony Award winner John Cullum, Darren Pettie, Oscar and two-time Tony Award nominee Amy Ryan, Emmy Award nominee David Schwimmer and Drama Desk Award nominee Sarah Sokolovic.

Following DETROIT and The Whale, Playwrights Horizons' 2012/2013 season will continue with THE GREAT GOD PAN, the World Premiere of a new play by Amy Herzog, directed by Carolyn Cantor and featuring Becky Ann Baker, Tony Award nominee Peter Friedman, Sarah Goldberg, Keith Nobbs, Jeremy Strong, Joyce Van Patten and Erin Wilhelmi; THE FLICK, the World Premiere of a new play by Obie Award winner Annie Baker, directed by Obie Award winner Sam Gold; THE CALL, the World Premiere of a new play by Tanya Barfield, directed by Obie Award winner Leigh Silverman; and FAR FROM HEAVEN, the World Premiere of a new musical featuring a book by Tony Award winner & two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Richard Greenberg, music by Tony Award nominee Scott Frankel, lyrics by Tony Award nominee Michael Korie and directed by three-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif, featuring four-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara. The musical is based on the Focus Features / Vulcan Productions motion picture Far From Heaven, written and directed by Todd Haynes.

BIOGRAPHIES

Samuel D. Hunter's (Playwright) recent plays include A Bright New Boise (2011 Obie Award for playwriting, 2011 Drama Desk nomination for Best Play; original production by Partial Comfort Productions in NYC, recent production at Woolly Mammoth), The Whale (The Denver Center), A Permanent Image (commissioned and produced by Boise Contemporary Theater), Jack's Precious Moment (Page 73 Productions), Five Genocides (Clubbed Thumb), Norway (Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis; Boise Contemporary Theater), I Am Montana (Arcola Theatre, London; Mortar Theater, Chicago). He has active commissions from MTC/Sloan, Seattle Rep and South Coast Rep. His plays have been developed at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PlayPenn, Ojai Playwrights Conference, the Lark Playwrights Workshop, Juilliard, LAByrinth, Rattlestick, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference and 24Seven Lab. Internationally, his work has been translated into Spanish and presented in Mexico City and Monterrey, and he has worked in the West Bank with Ashtar Theatre of Ramallah and Ayyam al-Masrah of Hebron. At Ashtar, he co-wrote The Era of Whales which was performed in Ramallah and Istanbul. Awards: 2011 Sky Cooper Prize, 2008-2009 PONY Fellowship from the Lark and two Lincoln Center Le Compte du Nuoy Awards. He is a core member of the Playwrights Center, a member of Partial Comfort Productions and an alum of Ars Nova's Playgroup. He's taught at Fordham, Rutgers and Marymount and holds degrees in playwriting from NYU, The Iowa Playwrights Workshop and Juilliard.

Davis McCallum (Director) directed the World Premiere of Quiara Alegria Hudes's Pulitzer Prize-winning Water By the Spoonful at Hartford Stage Company, which will have its New York debut at Second Stage this December. Other New York: Gabriel Kahane and Seth Bockley's February House (The Public); Samuel D. Hunter's A Bright New Boise (Partial Comfort, Drama Desk nomination) and Five Genocides (Clubbed Thumb); Michael Mitnick's Sex Lives of Our Parents (Second Stage); Gregory S. Moss's punkplay (Clubbed Thumb); Charles Mee's Queens Boulevard (Signature Theater); Hudes's Elliot: A Soldier's Fugue (P73, Pulitzer Prize finalist); Henry V (New Victory); Jane Eyre, The Tempest and The Turn Of The Screw (The Acting Company). Regional: The Guthrie, The Old Globe, Humana, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Williamstown, Alliance Theater Company, Chautauqua Theater Company, the O'Neill, Playmakers Rep, Two River, New York Stage & Film, others. Other: Drama League Fellowship (2001), Phil Killian Fellowship (2003), NEA/TCG Career Development Program (2007), Boris Sagal Fellowship (2010), Princess Grace Honoree (2011). He has taught directing at Princeton University and the New School for Drama. He trained at LAMDA and studied at Princeton and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Cassie Beck (Liz) previously appeared at Playwrights Horizons in The Drunken City (2008 Theatre World Award) and Prayer for My Enemy. Broadway: The Norman Conquests. Other Off-Broadway: Happy Hour, Oohrah! (Atlantic), Smudge (Women's Project). Regional: The Three Sisters (Williamstown), Prelude to a Kiss (Huntington), Elemeno Pea (South Coast Rep, Humana Festival 2011), The Cherry Sisters Revisited (Humana Festival 2010), the world premiere of Haunting of Winchester (San Jose Rep), Communicating Doors (Marin Theatre Company), All My Sons, Living Out Be Aggressive (TheatreWorks, Palo Alto).

Reyna de Courcy (Ellie). Theater: Burning (New Group), Civilization (All You Can Eat) (Clubbed Thumb), Orange, Hat & Grace (Soho Rep), Snow Day (Drama League); Dreams of the Washer King (Playwrights Realm), Monstrosity (13P), Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (Humana Festival). Television/Film: "Law & Order: SVU," "Blue Bloods," "Bored to Death," "Army Wives," Beach Pillows, Girls Against Boys, Coming Up Roses, The Bounty Hunter, Asbury Park, Mister Green.

Shuler Hensley (Charlie). Broadway: Jud Fry in Oklahoma! (also at The National Theatre and London's West End; Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Olivier Awards), The Monster in Young Frankenstein (also National Tour), Kerchak in Tarzan, Javert in Les Misérables. Off-Broadway: Silence! The Musical, Sweet and Sad (Obie Award), That Hopey Changey Thing, The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Other Credits: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (ALLIANCE THEATRE), All About Us (Westport Playhouse), Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (Hamburg, Germany), The Most Happy Fella (American Songbook/Lincoln Center). Opera: Wozzeck (Curtis Institute Of Music), Regina (Kennedy Center). TV: "Ed," "Deadline," "Gary Powers," "Law & Order: SVU," "Criminal Intent," "The Jury." Film: After.Life; The Legend of Zorro; Van Helsing; Monday Night Mayhem; Someone Like You; The Bread, My Sweet; Opa!.

Tasha Lawrence (Mary). Broadway: Wilder, Wilder, Wilder; Good People. National Tour: Proof. Other Theater: Human Error (City Theatre); Bhutan (Cherry Lane); Dangerous Liaisons (Huntington Theatre); The Pavilion, Suburban Motel (Rattlestick Theatre), Betrayal (Northern Stage), Bad Dates (City Theatre), The Director (Arclight Theatre), June Moon (Drama Department), He She Them (Shubert Theatre/Boston). She originated the role of Mary in the World Premiere of The Whale at Denver Center Theatre Company. Film and Television: Hangnail (Slamdance, 2011), Romance and Cigarettes (dir., John Turturro), all the "Law & Orders," "Third Watch," "Deadline," "Kevin Hill," "Royal Pains," "All My Children," "Loving," "The Line" (Gemini, ACTRA nominations, Best Actress).

Cory Michael Smith (Elder Thomas) previously appeared at Playwrights Horizons originating the role of Kyle in The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World. He also originated the role of Elder Thomas in the world premiere of The Whale at Denver Center Theatre Company. He's currently appearing Off-Broadway in the U.S. premiere of Cock (The Duke on 42nd Street). Regional: Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Tales From Red Vienna, The Huntsmen (Portland Center Stage), The Fantasticks (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Barrington Stage Company). He is a graduate of Otterbein University.

Playwrights Horizons is a writer's theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American Playwrights, composers and lyricists and to the production of their new work. Under the leadership of artistic director Tim Sanford and managing director Leslie Marcus, the theater company continues to encourage the new work of veteran writers while nurturing an emerging generation of theater artists. In its 42 years, Playwrights Horizons has presented the work of more than 375 writers and has received numerous awards and honors, including a special 2008 Drama Desk Award for "ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work." Notable productions include five Pulitzer Prize winners – Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park (2012 Tony Award, Best Play), Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play), Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's SUNDAY IN THE Park with George – as well as Kirsten Greenidge's Milk Like Sugar (2012 Obie Award), Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn; Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal; Amy Herzog's After the Revolution; Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation (three 2010 Obie Awards including Best New American Play); Bathsheba Doran's Kin; Adam Bock's A Small Fire; Edward Albee's Me, Myself & I; Melissa James Gibson's This (2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist); Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie's Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards); Craig Lucas's Prayer For My Enemy and Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play); Adam Rapp's Kindness; Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone; Lynn Nottage's Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting); Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero; David Greenspan's She Stoops to Comedy (2003 Obie Award); Kirsten Childs's The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000 Obie Award); Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey's James Joyce's The Dead; Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins; William Finn's March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland; Christopher Durang's Betty's Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Richard Nelson's Goodnight Children Everywhere; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Once on This Island; Jon Robin Baitz's The Substance of Fire; Scott McPherson's Marvin's Room; A.R. Gurney's Later Life; Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's Floyd Collins; and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's Violet.

Pictured: Shuler Hensley. Photo Credit: Walter McBride / Retna Ltd.

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