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Page, Jellison, Etc. Star in York's Mary Lincoln Musical

The York Theatre Company has announced a new musical, Asylum: The Strange Case of Mary Lincoln, beginning performances September 5th at The Theatre at Saint Peter's (54th Street just East of Lexington Avenue). Opening night is set for Thursday, September 14th. This limited engagement is scheduled through October 1st only.  

Asylum: The Strange Case of Mary Lincoln has a book by June Bingham and music and lyrics by Carmel Owen.  Fabrizio Melano will direct, with musical direction and arrangements by Bob Goldstone. Asylum will have set design by James Morgan, costume design by Sarah Conly, and lighting design by Chris Robinson. The musical was developed in The York Theatre Company's Developmental Reading Series, and The Women's Project.

Carolann Page (Music Is, Candide) will head the cast in the role of Mary Lincoln. Also featured in the cast are Bertilla Baker (Titanic), Edwin Cahill, John Jellison (All Shook Up, Caroline, or Change), Joy Lynn Matthews (The Music Man, Marie Christine) and Daniel Spiotta.

"Ten years after the assassination of President Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, Mary Todd Lincoln faces off against her late husband's former political allies and her only remaining son as they attempt to have her committed to an asylum for her erratic behavior.  Witness the greatest challenge of her life as she fights those she trusted most, the country that once loved her, and the ghosts of a haunted past to keep alive the love that she and her husband shared," state press notes.

Composer/lyricist Carmel Owen met book writer June Bingham some years ago at an ASCAP workshop.   They began their collaboration by researching everything they could about Mary Lincoln, but as Owen recalls, "despite her biography, the asylum period was a mystery.  It took years of research and the help of people at the Columbia Law Library as well as trips to Springfield and Chicago's Cook County Court to define what truly happened. Along the way, we wondered at times if we really had a play with dramatic conflict.  Did Mary's son just do his filial duty by committing her, or was there more to it?  We discovered there was a lot more to it.  And that is our play," says Owen.

"The York Theatre Company is the only theater in New York City – and one of very few in the world – dedicated to developing and fully producing new musicals, and preserving neglected, notable shows from the past.  For more than three decades, York's intimate, imaginative style of producing both original and neglected classic musicals has resulted in critical acclaim and recognition from artists and audiences alike."

This spring, a special Drama Desk Award was presented to the York for its "vital contributions to theater by developing and presenting new musicals." Last year, York saw three productions move to commercial productions: The Musical of Musicals (the Musical!) -- to a successful run off-Broadway at New World Stages, as well as in the West End and numerous regional theaters; Souvenir -- to Broadway's Lyceum Theatre, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Judy Kaye; and Stephen Schwartz's Captain Louie -- which moved off-Broadway to The Little Shubert. This past year, York also received an Outer Critics Circle nomination; a Drama League citation and 4 Drama Desk Award nominations. 

Some 25 cast recordings from York Theatre Company productions are now available on CD, and commercial transfers of such York productions as The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!), Souvenir, Jolson & Company, Sweeney Todd, and Pacific Overtures have all showcased the importance of the York and its programs. 

The York Theatre Company is located at Saint Peter's Theatre in Citigroup Center at 619 Lexington Avenue (Enter on 54th Street, just East of Lexington Avenue; E or V trains to Lexington Avenue Station or #6 train to 51st Street). Tickets are $45 and are available at  or by calling 212-868-4444.

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