BENEDICTUS to Play Theater for the New City Beginning 5/30

BENEDICTUS to Play Theater for the New City Beginning 5/30

Theater for the New City, Crystal Field, Executive Director, has announced that the world premiere of Tom Attea's new play, BENEDICTUS, written two years ago, about a pope who resigns, will open on May 30th and run until June 16, 2013, at Theater for the New City (155 First Avenue). Mark Mercante will direct the production, and Arthur Abrams will provide incidental music.

The production recently made headlines nationally and worldwide when the announcement of its scheduled production at Theater for the New City was made shortly after the news of the pending retirement of the real-life pope Benedict.

BENEDICTUS follows Pope Benedictus, who has visions that command him to devote himself to a new calling. Convinced the visions are real, he reveals his intention to resign to influential cardinals, who become alarmed about the consequences and decide his mind must be in decline. They conclude that he must be sent into forced retirement and a new pope must be elected. But what will they do with him? Will Benedictus determine his visions were illusions and return to being the conservative pope he has been - or will he decide they're real and escape to do what his visions have told him he must?

"He writes about this man as a human being with all kinds of inner turmoil and questioning. And that is wonderful," said Crystal Field, executive director at Theater for the New City, in a recent interview with the New York Daily News. "It's really the way we need to see people who have great power."

Lighting Design is by Alexander Bartenieff, Sound Design is by Joy Linschield, Costumes and props are by Lytza Colon, Set design is by Sarah Harris, Production Stage Manager is Tashika Futch, and the Assistant Director is Daniele Hauser.

The cast of BENEDICTUS features Arthur Harold as Benedictus, Jacob Merrik Storms, H. Clark Kee*, Peter Welch, Bob Homeyer, Robert G. McKay*, Jeff El-Eini, Kim Vogels and David "Zen" Mansley.

BENEDICTUS is the 9th collaboration of playwright and lyricist Tom Attea, Director Mark Mercante and composer Arthur Abrams. While BENEDICTUS is a drama of wit with serious intent, seven of the shows the collaborators have done have been musicals.

Tom Attea (playwright). Benedictus is the 10th show Tom has written that has been produced in the publicly funded Off-Broadway theater. The first show, Brief Chronicles of the Time, was a contemporary revue presented by The Actors Studio, where he was a member of The Playwrights Unit for 10 years. The revue was the result of a10-year collaboration with Charles Friedman, the original director of Pins and Needles, Sing Out the News,and the musical version of Street Scene. A previous play, Life Knocks, and seven musicals for which he wrote the book and lyrics have been presented by Theater for the New City. He received a TNC/Jerome Foundation emerging playwright grant and is a member of The Dramatists Guild. He supports his literary work as a freelance copywriter who has written award-winning advertising for Dr Pepper, Grey Poupon, and Jell-O, as well as numerous campaigns for media companies, including "In this city, you need a Voice" for the Village Voice, "There's never been a greater need for understanding" for Time magazine, "Illuminate your world" for The New York Sun, and the advertising that introduced Lifetime Television with "There's nothing like a woman's Lifetime." When the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to two scientists who had merely improved the image, instead of to the physician who discovered the principle on which all MRI images are based, he wrote an advocacy campaign that ran full-page in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and in Europe with his theme, "The shameful wrong that must be righted." Along the way, he has become one of America's most award-winning copywriters - having been awarded 4 Clios in one night, Gold and Silver Lions from Cannes, the Gold Telly, the Gold Mobius, and many other creative awards. He holds a doctor's degree in the sciences and studied composition and orchestration at Juilliard. A long-time humanist, he has had 14 years of Catholic education, including studying theology with the Jesuits.

Director Mark Marcante, a graduate of Kutztown University, has studied and performed Commedia Del Arte with Alessandro Bressanello and Michael Conenna from the T.A.G. Theatre of Venice, Italy. Mr. Marcante has worked and toured with The People's Theater Company, Theater East and The Guthsville Playhouse. Mr. Marcante was the theatrical and technical consultant for the Arts Connection. This is his ninth production with Tom Attea and Arthur Abrams, whom he has collaborated with on It's An Emergency Don't Hurry, Dropping in on the Earth, Life Knocks, Lincoln Plaza, Abstinence, Living in a Musical, The Capitalist Ventriloquist, and Digital Dilemmas. Other shows Mr. Marcante has directed include Rizzante Returns from the War, Benny's Barber Shop, Promises Best Kept, British Music Hall, Strangely Wonderful and One Director Against His Cast, written by Crystal Field, which premiered in Italy.

Arthur Abrams, Composer, began his collaboration with Tom Attea in 1982 at The Actors Studio, when they were both working with Charles Friedman on the revue Brief Chronicles of the Time. Mr. Friedman, noted director of Pins and Needles and Sing Out The News, was also their mentor. Mr. Abrams and Mr. Attea continued their collaboration at TNC, starting with the revues It's An Emergency, Don't Hurry and Dropping In On The Earth, and continuing with the musicals Abstinence, Lincoln Plaza, Living In A Musical, The Capitalist Ventriloquist and Digital Dilemmas. The current play, Benedictus, includes incidental music by Mr. Abrams, who also provided incidental music for Attea's earlier play, Life Knocks. Mark Marcante has been the director of all the team's shows at TNC. Other scores composed by Mr. Abrams for shows at TNC include The Master and Margarita (book and lyrics by Jean Claude Van Italie); The Open Gate, He Saw His Reflection, Jim The Lionhearted, Minus One, Winter Wedding, and currently The Upper Lip (all collaborations with David Willinger); The Further Adventures of Uncle Wiggily, The Windblown Visitors, Sketching Utopia, and The Golden Bear (with books and lyrics by Laurel Hessing); The Iron Heel (book and lyrics by Elizabeth Ruf Maldonado);Ludlow And Broome (book and lyrics by Ruthy Rosen); Unreachable Eden (book and lyrics by Barbara Kahn); and The Axis of Evil Vaudeville Revue (book and lyrics by Martin Bard). He also wrote the music for Jackson Heights, The Musical (book and lyrics by Paul Enger), which premiered at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center. He was pianist, music director and composer for the documentary film The Golden Age of Second Avenue,which was produced by Arthur Cantor, a film about the Yiddish Theater on New York's Lower East Side. The documentary is still shown on PBS. In the film, he accompanies Molly Picon. He was also music director and pianist for the Lambs Club presentation of Yankel in America, starring Theodore Bikel. His awards include a DAAD music fellowship to Mannheim, Germany, a scholarship to the Orff Institute at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and a "Meet the Composer" grant for the score of The Golden Bear. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild.

Performances of BENEDICTUS will be Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM; Sundays at 3 PM from May 30th through June 16th.

Theater for the New City is publicly funded. Tickets to BENEDICTUS are $10 and available by calling 212.254.1109, online at or at the box office prior to each performance. They're also available at SmartTix.

Theater For The New City is located at 155 First Avenue (At 10th Street) in Manhattan.

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