Mary-Louise Parker joins star ensemble cast in MCC's ESCAPE

MCC THEATER will present "ESCAPE: 6 WAYS TO GET AWAY," a star-studded benefit reading of new, one-act plays written by some of the leading voices in American theater today: Jon Robin Baitz (Ten Unknowns), John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation), Peter Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape), Neil LaBute (Fat Pig), Tim Blake Nelson (The Grey Zone) and Wendy Wasserstein (The Heidi Chronicles). "ESCAPE" will be held on Monday, January 31, 7:30pm at Broadway's CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE THEATER (1633 Broadway at West 50th Street, NYC). Tickets for "ESCAPE" are $125 for single tickets, and $200 for priority seating and private champagne reception with cast and creative team. Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200.

"ESCAPE" will star* (in alphabetical order): Josh Lucas (Film: An Unfinished Life, Sweet Home Alabama, Secondhand Lions; Broadway: forthcoming revival of The Glass Menagerie); Audra McDonald (4-time Tony Award-winner: A Raisin in the Sun, Ragtime, Master Class, Carousel); Julianna Margulies (Emmy Award-winner, "ER." Other TV: "Scrubs," TNT's "The Grid." Theater: Ten Unknowns, MCC's Intrigue With Faye); Amanda Peet (Film: Syriana, Something's Gotta Give, The Whole Nine Yards. Theater: Autobahn for MCC) and Mary-Louise Parker (2-time Tony Award-winner: Proof, Prelude to a Kiss. Other Broadway: Reckless. Emmy Award-winner, "Angels in America."). *NOTE: ADDITIONAL CELEBRITY CASTING TO BE ANNOUNCED.

The benefit staged reading, under the umbrella title "ESCAPE" will be directed by: Doug Hughes (Tony-nominee, Frozen; Doubt); Erica Gould (A Brave New World; The Witches' Triptych) and John Rando (Tony-winner, Urinetown; The Dinner Party).

"ESCAPE" is a collection of six new one-acts, based on the individual playwright's interpretation of this theme. Plays include:

My Beautiful Goddamn City by Jon Robin Baitz, directed by John Rando: As the presidential election nears, two sisters debate the future of the country; one sister contemplates fleeing rather than facing the next four years.

Madagascar by John Guare, directed by Doug Hughes: The heir to a prominent American family just might get everything his family wants. Or, everything his wife wants. Or, is it everything he wants? A darkly funny he said, she said fantasia. Who is to be believed?

A New Kind of George, written and directed by Peter Hedges: Two soccer moms anxiously await the arrival of a new kind of favored son.

Stand-Up by Neil LaBute, directed by Erica Gould: a would-be comic takes the stage for the first time.

and the will becomes again a garden by Tim Blake Nelson, directed by Doug Hughes: An estranged family gathers to address its dying father. A tiny glimpse into the complex freedom of letting go.

An excerpt from Miami, book by Wendy Wasserstein, music by Jack Feldman, lyrics by Bruce Sussman, directed by John Rando: In 1959, hundreds of New York snowbirds flock to Miami Beach; one of the annual highlights is catching Miss Kitty Katz's world famous lounge act.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Casting by Bernard Telsey Casting. Lighting Design by Paul Whitaker. Sound Design by Jill BC Du Boff. Production Manager is B.D. White.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for "ESCAPE" are $125 for single tickets, and $200 for priority seating and private champagne reception with cast and creative team. Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or online at (www.ticketcentral.com). The evening's proceeds will benefit MCC Theater and its literary and education and outreach programs.

PLAYWRIGHT BIOGRAPHIES (in alphabetical order)

Jon Robin Baitz (Playwright). His works include Chinese Friends, Ten Unknowns, Mizlansky/Zilinsky or Schmucks, A Fair Country, The Film Society, The Substance of Fire, The End of the Day and Three Hotels. Screenplays include The Substance of Fire and People I Know. Mr. Baitz is a 1999 Guggenheim fellow. His newest play, The Paris Letter will premiere at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre this spring.

JOHN GUARE (Playwright) received the Obie, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and Tony nominations for House of Blue Leaves and Six Degrees of Separation. Six Degrees also won the Olivier Award for Best Play. He won a Tony for his libretto to Two Gentlemen of Verona, which also won the Tony as Best Musical of 1972. His screenplay for Louis Malle's Atlantic City earned him an Oscar nomination. Signature Theatre devoted its 1998-99 season to his work, including the premiere of Lake Hollywood and presented A Few Stout Individuals in May 2002. He's a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Theatre Hall of Fame, co-edits the Lincoln Center Theater Review and is a council member of The Dramatists Guild.

PETER HEDGES (Playwright) has written several plays including Good As New (MCC Theater, directed by Brian Mertes), Baby Anger (Playwrights Horizons), Imagining Brad (Circle Rep, directed by Joe Mantello), and The Girl in Pink (Atlantic Theater Company, directed by Lisa Peterson). He is a former Revson Fellow at Playwrights Horizons, a core playwright at MCC and a founding member of the Drama Department. Peter's first novel, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, was made into the 1993 film, which he also wrote. Other screenplays include: A Map of the World, About A Boy (Academy Award Nomination) and Pieces of April (writer/director). His second novel, An Ocean in Iowa was published in 1998 by Hyperion Press. Hedges has been involved with MCC for over 17 years, having developed numerous plays and both his novels there.

NEIL LaBUTE (Playwright) received his Master of Fine Arts degree in dramatic writing from New York University and was the recipient of a literary fellowship to study at the Royal Court Theatre. Films include: In the Company of Men (New York Critics' Circle Award for Best First Feature, Filmmakers' Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival), Your Friends and Neighbors, Nurse Betty, Possession and The Shape of Things, a film adaptation of his play by the same title. Plays include: Fat Pig (currently performing at the Lucille Lortel for MCC); The Mercy Seat; The Distance From Here; The Shape of Things; and bash: latter-day plays. Other works include two additional world premieres in the 2004-2005 theatrical season: Union Square, part of "The Downtown Plays" for the Tribeca Theater Festival, and This is How it Goes for The Public Theater in Spring 2005. His first collection of short stories, "Seconds of Pleasure," was published earlier this month by Grove Press.

TIM BLAKE NELSON (Playwright). His Obie award-winning play, The Grey Zone premiered at MCC Theater in 1996, earning an Oppenheimer Award and a second Obie for direction. The play was later adapted into a motion picture under his direction, starring David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino and Natasha Lyonne. As an actor, films include: Bereft, Max and Grace, The Last Shot, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleaded, Wonderland, Holes, A Foreign Affair, Minority Report, Cherish, The Good Girl, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Thin Red Line. As writer and director: The Grey Zone, O, Kansas, Eye of God.

WENDY WASSERSTEIN (Playwright). Plays Include: The Heidi Chronicles (Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics Circle Prize, the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the Tony Award); Isn't It Romantic; The Sisters Rosenzweig (Tony Award); An American Daughter; Old Money and Uncommon Women and Others (Phoenix Theatre). She has written extensively for film, television and opera, and has published collections of essays and works of fiction for children and adults. She serves on the Council of The Dramatist's Guild, the School of American Ballet, WNET/Thirteen and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton. She is the recipient of an NEA Grant, Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. She received her BA from Mount Holyoke College and her MFA in playwriting from Yale School of Drama.

ABOUT MCC THEATER

MCC THEATER is one of New York City's leading Off-Broadway theater companies, committed to presenting New York and World Premieres Off-Broadway each season. Under the artistic direction of Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey and William Cantler, MCC Theater has brought many artists' names into the spotlight in its nineteen-season history. John G. Schultz serves as Executive Director.

When MCC Theater was founded in 1986, its mission was simple: to bring new theatrical voices to theater-going audiences. MCC Theater continues to accomplish this yearly through presentation of its mainstage works; its Literary Program, which actively seeks and develops new and emerging writers; and its Education and Outreach Program, allowing more than 1,200 students yearly to experience theater, increase literacy and discover their own voices in the arts.

Notable highlights from MCC include: the 2004 Tony-winning production of Bryony Lavery's Frozen, Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone, Margaret Edson's Pulitzer prize-winning Wit, Marsha Norman's Trudy Blue, Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living and Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat. Over the years, the dedication to the work of new and emerging artists has earned MCC Theater a variety of awards.

MCC THEATER is currently presenting the critically-acclaimed production of Neil LaBute's FAT PIG. In March, MCC presents WHAT OF THE NIGHT, starring Jane Alexander, directed by Birgitta Trommler. Most recently, MCC presented Bryony Lavery's LAST EASTER, directed by Doug Hughes (closed: Oct. 23, 2004). MCC's 2003-2004 season included Neil LaBute's THE DISTANCE FROM HERE, directed by Michael Greif; the sold-out run (and Tony-winning Broadway transfer) of Bryony Lavery's FROZEN, directed by Doug Hughes; and Eric Coble's BRIGHT IDEAS, directed by John Rando. For more information and a complete MCC production history, visit online at www.MCCTheater.org.

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