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A.J. Shively to Star in Abingdon's MERTON OF THE MOVIES Concert Reading; Full Cast Announced!

Abingdon Theatre Company presents a concert reading of MERTON OF THE MOVIES -- an uproarious new musical comedy set in the rollicking age of Keystone Cops, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton -- with book by Donald Brenner, music and lyrics by Doug Katsaros, on Monday, December 8 at 7pm at the June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street) in Manhattan. Donald Brenner, whose directorial credits include MARCH MADNESS and the upcoming MALLORCA at Abingdon, will direct.

Based on the bestselling novel by Harry Leon Wilson and the smash Broadway play by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly, MERTON OF THE MOVIES grabs your heart and tickles your funny bone while tripping through Hollywood in the madcap era of silent movies.

MERTON OF THE MOVIES concerns Merton Gill, a naive store clerk from Simsbury, Illinois who arrives in Hollywood in the zany 1920s determined to be a serious motion picture actor. An exuberant starlet and a conniving director hoodwink the innocent lad into unwittingly becoming the silver screen's newest comedy sensation

A.J. Shively, seen on Broadway in LA CAGE AUX FOLLES and recently in the new Steve Martin and Edie Brickell musical BRIGHT STAR at the Old Globe in San Diego, stars as Merton.

Joining Mr. Shively are Loni Ackerman, Joel Briel, Tony Castellanos, Laura Daniel, Janine DiVita, Lara Hayhurst, Patrick John Moran, Jonathan Randell Silver, and Martin Van Treuren.

The reading features Musical Direction by Jeffrey Lodin.

Donald Brenner returns to Abingdon Theatre Company where he directed MARCH MADNESS by Mike Vogel, DECEMBER FOOLS by Sherman Yellen, and a benefit reading of his adaptation of Charles Dickens' GREAT EXPECTATIONS. He recently helmed THE MAPMAKER'S OPERA at The New York Musical Theatre Festival where he previously directed SASQUATCHED! THE MUSICAL and THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING YOU EVER HOID (NYMF Award of Excellence Winner). Other Off-Broadway credits include CRITICAL MASS and A TALE OF TWO CITIES (The Mint Theatre). In October, he directed David Kranes' NEVADA at Nevada Conservatory Theatre. As part of Abingdon's upcoming season, he will direct Sheldon Bull's MALLORCA, beginning May 29, 2015.

Doug Katsaros' work as a Conductor/Musical Director/Arranger/Composer includes shows such as FOOTLOOSE, ROCKY HORROR SHOW, THE TOXIC AVENGER, ALTAR BOYZ (Drama Desk nomination), JUST SO, ABBY'S ISLAND ROSE and A...MY NAME IS ALICE. He has worked with some of the biggest names in music including Cher, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Paul Stanley, Liza Minnelli, Sinead O'Connor, Judy Collins and Bon Jovi. He won an Emmy Award in 2012 for "(Won't You) Join Our Parade," Outstanding Original Song (The 85th Anniversary of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade).

Following developmental workshops at York Theatre Company and the Richmond Shepard Studio, MERTON OF THE MOVIES garnered the MainStreet Musicals Award (selected by Guest Artistic Director John Lithgow). It has received developmental presentations at the MUNY in St. Louis, the Seattle Festival of New Musicals, and the Centre for Education and Theatre in Montreal, where it was recently was brought back for a second presentation.

All actors are appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.

Jan Buttram is Artistic Director and Heather Henderson is Managing Director of Abingdon Theatre Company, currently celebrating its 22nd Season of producing and developing new plays by emerging and established playwrights.

MERTON OF THE MOVIES runs Monday, December 8 at 7pm at Abingdon Theatre Company's June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). Tickets are $20-30; call Ovationtix at 866-811-4111 or visit Follow Abingdon on Twitter @abingdontheatre, Facebook at, and Tumblr at

Photo Credit: Douglas Gates

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