Kate Walsh & More to Star in JORDANS World Premiere at The Public Theater

Performances begin in the LuEsther Hall with a Free Preview on Thursday, April 11

By: Mar. 04, 2024
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Kate Walsh & More to Star in JORDANS World Premiere at The Public Theater
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The Public Theater has revealed the complete cast for the world premiere of JORDANS written by Ife Olujobi and directed by Obie Award winner Whitney White (Jaja’s African Hair Braiding). Performances begin in the LuEsther Hall with a Joseph Papp Free Preview on Thursday, April 11 and run through Sunday, May 5. The production officially opens on Wednesday, April 24. 

A funny, imaginative new play by Ife Olujobi, JORDANS is a exploration of assimilation, racial capitalism, success, and survival. At an overwhelmingly white workplace where appearance is everything, a long-suffering receptionist finds herself in personal, professional, and psychic jeopardy when her ruthless boss hires a hip new employee in an effort to improve the company’s image and “culture.” Suddenly, the two young, Black social climbers are forced together and torn apart by their race, ambition, and otherworldly circumstances. JORDANS is a story of identity mistaken, power subverted, and rage unleashed. Don’t miss this bold new play directed by Obie Award winner Whitney White about the true cost of “diversity” in the workplace.

“Being in the 2018-19 Emerging Writers Group at The Public was my introduction to the world of New York theater, and the place where I first started calling myself a playwright while I was working on the first drafts of JORDANS,” shares playwright Ife Olujobi. “I am excited to be bringing this play to life at the theater where it started alongside an incredible director, Whitney White, and a very talented cast.”

The cast of JORDANS includes Brontë England-Nelson (Emma and others), Quinn M. Johnson (Understudy), Devin Kessler (Understudy), Naomi Lorrain (Jordan), Brian Muller (Fletcher and others), Toby Onwumere (1.Jordan), Matthew Russell (Fletcher and others), Ryan Spahn (Ryan and others), Meg Steedle (Maggie and others), Kai Tshikosi (Understudy), and Kate Walsh (Hailey). Additional understudies will be announced at a later date.

The production includes scenic design by Matt Saunders, costume design by Qween Jean, lighting design by Cha See, sound design by Fan Zhang, hair and wig design by Nikiya Mathis, special effects design by Lillis Meeh, prop management by Claire M. Kavanah, intimacy direction by Kelsey Rainwater, and fight direction by UNKLE DAVE’S FIGHT HOUSE. Nissy Aya serves as the production dramaturg, with Rachel Denise April as production stage manager and Eloia Peterson as stage manager.

The Public Theater has been incredibly influential on both my education and professional career,” shares director Whitney White. “As an alum of the Under the Radar festival, I couldn’t be more excited to be returning now to direct Ife Olujobi’s brilliant play JORDANS. I look forward to sharing our collaboration and this world premiere with The Public Theater’s audience and beyond.”

Running through March 24 is the world premiere of Tony Award winner Itamar Moses’ THE ALLY, a provocative new play directed by Drama Desk Award winner Lila Neugebauer and featuring Josh Radnor about the vanishing line between the personal and the political. Pulitzer Prize winner and writer-in-residence Suzan-Lori Parks returns with SALLY & TOM, an edgy dramedy about art, history, and politics, directed by Steve H. Broadnax III. While The Delacorte Theater is closed for a significant revitalization, The Public will bring free Shakespeare to parks and plazas around the city and screens around the country through GO PUBLIC! Mobile Unit’s bilingual musical adaptation of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS will return for a free encore tour of the five boroughs. This joyful adaptation in English and Spanish by Rebecca Martinez and Julian Mesri combines the classic Shakespearean comedy’s story of mistaken identity to life through Latin American-inspired music. Free Shakespeare in the Park’s acclaimed production of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, will screen at parks around New York City in special evening events. This filmed version by THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, along with their recordings of 2023’s HAMLET, 2022’s RICHARD III, and 2021’s MERRY WIVES, will also be made available for streaming at home, free of charge, to audiences nationwide.

The Library serves food and drink beginning at 5:00 p.m. and closing at midnight. The Library is closed on Mondays.

BIOS:

IFEOLUWA (IFE) OLUJOBI 

(Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based Nigerian American playwright, filmmaker, and editor from Columbia, Maryland. JORDANS is their Off-Broadway debut. Her work has been presented at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Ars Nova, the Bushwick Starr, Manhattan Theatre Club, The Lark, and more. They received a special commendation from the 2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and a 2021 Steinberg Playwright Award and were an inaugural Project Number One artist-in-residence at Soho Rep. Currently, they are a Creatives Rebuild New York artist-in-residence at The Public Theater. They received their BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. 

Whitney White 

she/her (Director) has previously directed Macbeth in Stride in the Under the Radar festival. Broadway credits include Jaja’s African Hair Braiding. London credits include The Secret Life of Bees (The Almeida). Off-Broadway credits include Soft (MCC), On Sugarland (NYTW), What to Send Up When it Goes Down (The Public, ART, Woolly Mammoth), Our Dear Dead Drug Lord(Second Stage, WP Theatre), For All The Women Who Thought They Were Mad (Soho Rep), and A Human Being of a Sort (Williamsburg). Writing and composition credits include Macbeth in Stride (American Repertory Theatre) and Semblance (NYTW). Awards include Herb Alpert, Jerome Fellowship, and Rolex Arts Initiative. TV writing credits include Boots Riley’s “I’m a Virgo” (Amazon, Media Res).

BRONTË ENGLAND-NELSON

 (Emma and others). Broadway credits include The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (James Earl Jones Theatre), Three Tall Women (understudy, Golden Theatre). Other New York credits include The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (BAM), Acolyte (59E59), and McCourt (The Chain). England-Nelson has also performed at The Public, Rattlestick, and La MaMa. Regional credits include Detroit Red (ArtsEmerson), Cadillac Crew (Yale Rep), Kleptocracy (Arena Stage), and Henry IV, Part I (Santa Cruz Shakespeare). Television credits include “Blindspot” (NBC), “FBI: Most Wanted” (CBS), “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC). She has a BA from UC Santa Cruz and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

QUINN M. JOHNSON 

he/him (Understudy). Regional credits include Clyde’s, Godspeed (Denver Center of Performing Arts); Clyde’s (Studio Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, Merchant of Venice, Our Town (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Short North Stage).International credits include The Bacchae (International Festival of Greek Drama); Mother Courage and Her Children, The Changeling, and The Revenger’s Tragedy (RADA). Johnson has been featured in “FBI.” He received a degree from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Devin Kessler 

(Understudy). Based in New York City, Devin Kessler is a recent graduate of  the Grad Acting program at NYU ('23). Her credits include School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play(Hangar Theater); Aida (Axelrod Performing Arts Center); Mirror Mirror (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Pipeline, Three Sisters, and The Tempest (NYU) . 

Naomi Lorrain

 (Jordan) is an actor and playwright. Theater credits include Daphne (Lincoln Center Theater); LA Race (Page 73/WP); Mark It Down, Song for a Future Generation (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Behind The Sheet (Ensemble Studio Theatre, AUDELCO Award Nomination); and What to Send Up When It Goes Down (The Movement Theatre Company). TV includes “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix), “Elementary” (CBS), “The Good Fight” (CBS All Access), and “Madam Secretary” (CBS All Access). Lorrain is a member of the 2023 Writers Group. She was also a 2021 National Playwrights Conference Finalist at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. She also moonlights as a Research Assistant at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Lorrain has an MFA from NYU and a BA from Yale. www.naomilorrain.com  

Brian Muller 

(Fletcher and others) is thrilled to be making his Public debut! He recently starred in the Ed Burns written/produced/directed series “Bridge and Tunnel,” which just ended a two-season run on EPIX. Other credits include the feature Dating & New York, as well as various roles on “The Deuce,” “Madam Secretary,” “The Good Wife,” “Chicago PD,” “Elementary,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Code,” and “Instinct.” He also co-hosts The Red Flags, a comedy podcast about Formula 1.

TOBY ONWUMERE 

(1.Jordan) is proud to be making his Public Theater debut in JORDANS. He will next be seen in the feature film The Instigators directed by Doug Liman, as well as Das Licht directed by Tom Tykwer. Other feature credits include A Good Person directed by Zach Braff and The Matrix Resurrections directed by Lana Wachowski. TV credits include “Sense8,” “Reasonable Doubt,” and “Empire.” Onwumere received his BFA from the University of Evansville. He has an MFA from UCSD.

Matthew Russell 

he/him (Tyler and others) previously performed at The Public in Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge (ERS) and Free Shakespeare in the Park’s Much Ado About Nothing. Broadway credits include The Inheritance. Off-Broadway credits include Help. Regional credits include The Tempest, By the Queen, Hand to God, Taming of the Shrew, The Grapes of Wrath, Cymbeline, and The Seagull. Film credits include Working Man, Some Freaks, Twist, and Man & Witch. TV credits include “Westworld.” Russell has performed with Elevator Repair Service and the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble. He received his MFA from Brown/Trinity Rep.

Ryan Spahn 

he/him (Ryan and others). Off-Broadway credits include Merry Me (NYTW); Good Enemy (Audible); Jane Anger (New Ohio); Mr. Toole, How To Load A Musket (59E59); Daniel's Husband (Westside); Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow, Moscow (MCC); Summer & Smoke (CSC); Still at Risk (TFANC); Exit Strategy (Primary Stages); and Gloria (Vineyard). TV credits include “Zero Day” (upcoming), “AHS: Delicate,” “Succession,” “Modern Love,” “The Bite,” “Chicago P.D.”, “The Blacklist.” Spahn co-wrote the film He’s Way More Famous Than You while getting his BFA from Juilliard.

MEG STEEDLE 

(Maggie and others) is making her Public debut. Theater credits include world premieres of David Ives' The Heir Apparent (Shakespeare Theatre) and Ken Ludwig's Fox on the Fairway directed by John Rando (Signature Theatre). TV credits include HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”(SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series), “Mr. Mercedes” (Peacock), and “Mysteries of Laura” (NBC). Steedle received a Cine Golden Eagle Award for Narrative Short Film (2018) and was a 2019 finalist for Screencraft Film Fund (Pop Screen, an original musical film). meg-steedle.com

KAI TSHIKOSI 

(Understudy). Theater credits at Trinity Rep include Sweeney Todd, black odyssey, The Prince of Providence (understudy), and By the Queen (assistant director). Brown/Trinity Rep MFA credits include The Book of Lucy; Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play; Angels in America; Much Ado About Nothing; Bathhouse.ppt; and On the Y-Axis. Selected regional credits include Romeo and Juliet(Huntington Theater Company); Romeo and Juliet (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); black odyssey boston (Front Porch Theater Collective/Central Square Theater); Macbeth, Equivocation, The Tempest (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); Franklin (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Colossal (Company One); and Cyclops: A Satyr Play (OBERON/ART). Tshikosi has an MFA in Acting from Brown/Trinity Rep. Other: Tshikosi is proud to reprise his role as the best son of the best mama in the whole universe. tshikosi.com. IG: @thesupremekai.

Kate Walsh 

(Hailey) is widely known for playing Dr. Addison Montgomery on the ABC dramas “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Her theater credits include Mary Stuart (Perth International Theatre Festival); The Other Place (Fremantle Theatre Company); If I Forget (Roundabout; Drama Desk and Drama League Award nominations); Dusk Rings a Bell (Atlantic); Born Guilty, Moon Under Miami, and Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare Rep). Other TV credits include “Emily in Paris” (Madeline Wheeler), “Sprung” (Paula Tackleberry), “The Umbrella Academy” (The Handler), and “13 Reasons Why” (Olivia Baker). Film credits include Honest Thief, Almost Love, Sometime Other Than Now, Girl’s Trip, #RealityHigh, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Angel’s Crest, and Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. Walsh has had additional series regular roles on “The Mike O’Malley Show, “The Mind of a Married Man,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Bad Judge,” “Fargo,” and “Legion.” Walsh is also the founder of the award-winning lifestyle beauty company, Boyfriend®.




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