Theater for the New City to Open SKYBOX One Week Late, 11/15

Theater for the New City was originally scheduled to present the premiere run of "Skybox" November 8 to December 2 in its Cino Theater. Due to production delays caused by Hurricane Sandy, the show will now open November 15 (one week later) and run through December 2. Critics are invited on or after November 15.

If "Adam's Rib" and "Moneyball" mated and begat a play, it might be "Skybox," a comedy of class warfare and the battle of the sexes that is set in the luxury box of a major league baseball park. The play, written by Walt Stepp and directed by Lissa Moira, is the successor to their collaboration on "Siren's Heart: Norma Jean and Marilyn in Purgatory," a play by Stepp which started at Theater for the New City and is now running Off-Broadway at the Actors Temple Theatre.

In the play, a one-percenter named Richard Gunn, owner of a struggling Major League Baseball team, is caught canoodling with a young woman in the team's skybox by the Channel 8 Skycam. Being wealthy and influential, he's able to contain the news break, but not the accident that the young woman--his smart talking personal assistant, Kelly--has lost her diaphragm case among the cushions of the couch in the skybox. Her search for the item activates the suspicions of Richard's trophy wife, Rachel. The loyal stadium facilities manager stands ready to take the fall for his boss, but Rachel incites a confrontation that could bring down the whole ball club.

The play lashes out wittily at the chutzpah of of the moneyed class. Acerbic observations of two of the stadium staff, an Hispanic man and a Black woman, cast the hypocrisy of the owner into sharp relief as they taunt the old gent for his affair with "Baby Doll." A sex farce could ensue, but doesn't as the wife and mistress ironically bond and turn the tables on the smitten billionaire. Surprisingly, a genuine friendship and affection has developed between Richard and the would-be gold-digger that richly complicates the usual farce equation. When the rich couple are reconciled at the end, the trophy wife assumes a new dignity thanks to the reformed "other woman," who has also opened Richard's eyes a bit to what wealth has done to him; nevertheless he remains unreformed.

Walt Stepp (playwright) is author of "Siren's Heart: Norma Jean and Marilyn in Purgatory" (2011), which began at Theatre for the New City and is currently playing at the Actors Temple Theatre on W. 47th St. It imagines Norma Jean Mortensen in Purgatory as a happier and healthier woman than she was in real life, wondering who was the woman was who played Marilyn Monroe. Stepp is also author of "Why We Shot Jack" (2006), which tells the story of the JFK assassination from the view of congressional conspirators; "View From K-Street Steakhouse" (2007), about the weird psychology of Washington lobbyists; "Mark Twain's Blues: a play with Twainsongs" (2008), which imagines the author communing with Huck and Jim; "Only Love Will Do (2009), a gay/straight romantic comedy; and "Lotte Latina and the Dominos - A Watergate Musical," which conjoins the Fanne Foxe-Wilbur Mills Affair with the Watergate Trials. Stepp was raised on the Navajo Reservation in northern New Mexico and Arizona. He has taught English at Nassau Community College for the last thirty years or so. Beside TNC, his plays have been produced by Altered Stages and Broadway Tomorrow.

Lissa Moira (Director and Dramaturg) is a playwright, screenwriter, director, artist and poet. She is two-time Jerome Foundation grantee and OOBR Award-winning actress. She directed and was dramaturg of Walt Stepp's "Siren's Heart, Norma Jean and Marilyn in Purgatory," which enjoyed a seven-week run at TNC in 2011 and is now in its fourth month Off-Broadway at the Actors Temple starring Louisa Bradshaw. Her play, "Time It Is" (1998), made the final ten in the Chesterfield Paramount screenwriting competition (from over 5,000 submissions worldwide). She co-wrote "Dead Canaries" (2002), a feature film with Charles Durning, Dan Lauria, D. Wallace-Stone and Joe Higgins. Her direction of "Cocaine Dreams" at the Kraine in 2002 was described by the NY Post (Chip Deffaa) as "inspired." At TNC, she spearheaded "The Crysalis," a play development project that included over 40 directors, writers and actors. She directed her play, "Before God Was Invented," which received a nomination for a Susan Brownell-Smith Award in 2007, and its musical adptation at TNC in 2010. She has also directed a series of plays she co-wrote with Richard West. These include the long running hits "Sexual Psychobabble" (1994-1996) and "The Best Sex of the XX Century Sale" (1996-1998), both of which ran for 18 months. Their Dada Noir musical comedy, "Who Murdered Love" (TNC, 2008) was also produced by the 2012 Fringe NYC. Moira says, "I would like to thank Crystal Field for her continuing faith in me, both as a writer and director, and for allowing me to have the opportunity both to direct and to present my own new works. Walt Stepp's play, 'Only Love Will Do,' started in The Chrysalis at TNC, and this brought him to TNC. So the theater has been an indispensable launching pad for both of us."




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