MOON Honors U.S. Women's Space Quest

1ST PREVIEW FOR OFF-BWAY PREMIERE OF "THEY PROMISED HER THE MOON" TO HONOR START OF ABORTED WOMEN'S SPACE PROGRAM TRUE STORY OF "ALMOST-FIRST" FEMALE ASTRONAUT BEGINS MAY 12 Tickets to the first preview on May 12 of Miranda Theatre Company's Off-Broadway premiere of "They Promised Her the Moon," will be specially priced at $19.59. 1959 was the year a fledgling Women's Space program took off and could have sent the first woman in space, if only NASA brass and future Senator John Glenn hadn't scuttled the program.

Laurel Ollstein's probing drama based on the true story of an astronaut who had all the right stuff, but never got her chance to be the first woman in space, features Amanda Quaid and Andrus Nichols as the distinguished female aviators Jerrie Cobb and Jackie Cochran. The under-heralded story of the women's testing program, created by Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace, who also ran the testing for the official Mercury 7 program, shows that many of the 13 women he tested were highly qualified, both physically and mentally, to fly. Jerrie Cobb -- the group's leading candidate -- actually out-tested her male counterparts in Mercury 7 group (led by John Glenn, Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard).

Though she was shining in the press, and was being discussed as a space candidate, she would be denied the chance to be the first woman in space. The play includes actual testimony by Glenn, who questioned the qualifications of women as astronauts later the same year he became the first American to orbit the earth (1962).

"They Promised Her the Moon" is directed by Valentina Fratti. The show's limited three-week engagement at Theatre at St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street, runs from Friday May 12 through Saturday May 27. The opening is set for Monday May 15 at 7pm.

Also featured in the 6-character play are John Russell Anthony, Edmund Lewis, Patricia Randell, and John Leonard Thompson.

The production design team includes Graham Kindred (scenic and lighting design), Tristan Raines (costume design) and Margaret Montagna (sound design). Jennifer Harmon is the choreographer. Ernie Fimbres is the production stage manager.

Russia put the first woman in space two years later; it would take another 20 years for the U.S. to give Sally Ride her mission. Cobb is still alive today and now lives in Texas.

Quaid has appeared on Broadway in "Equus" and in numerous Off-Broadway productions at Playwrights Horizons, The Public, CSC, Signature, LCT3, Red Bull, The Atlantic, Irish Rep and Culture Project. She is on the faculty of HB Studio.

Nichols is best known for her roles in Bedlam productions ("Sense and Sensibility," "Saint Joan," and "Hamlet") and for her award-winning work in Ivo Van Hove's "A View from the Bridge," which inspired Ben Brantley to claim, "I'm beginning to think she can do anything."

The L.A.-based Ollstein teaches writing at UCLA and has had her work produced in festivals from New York to Singapore. Her play "Esther's Moustache" had its world premiere at New Jersey Rep in 2012.

Fratti, who directed the NY Times Critics' Pick "Catch the Butcher" at the Cherry Lane, is the artistic director of Miranda Theatre Co. which produces new plays that offer insight into the world in which we live. Her other credits include "Snow Orchid" and "Apartment 3A."

Laurel Ollstein's "They Promised Her the Moon" runs from Friday May 12 at 8pm to Saturday May 27 at 8pm at Theatre at St. Clement's, 423 West 46th Street. The Off-Broadway opening is set for Mon May 15 at 7pm. Performances are Monday and Wednesday at 7pm; Thurs, Friday, Saturday at 8pm; and Sunday at 3pm and 7pm. For tickets, which are $35 ($19.59 on May 12), call Ticket Central at 212/279-4200, or visit www.mirandatheatrecompany.com.


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