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TBTB to Host Gala Celebrating THE UNEXPECTED GUEST & Founding Artistic Director, 4/19

Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) celebrates the 35-year legacy of its Founding Artistic Director Ike Schambelan and the opening night of its current production, Agatha Christie's rarely seen 1958 thriller THE UNEXPECTED GUEST, with a gala benefit on Sunday, April 19. The performance begins at 6:00pm at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre (410 West 42nd Street). A reception with the cast, TBTB members, and special guests follows the performance, at 8:30pm, at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street).

Agatha Christie's THE UNEXPECTED GUEST represents the posthumous work of TBTB's Founding Artistic Director Ike Schambelan, who selected the director, cast, designers and production staff for this Off-Broadway run. Mr. Schambelan passed away on February 3, 2015.

THE UNEXPECTED GUEST launches TBTB's 2014-2015 Season, with Off-Broadway performances, April 11-May 10. Victoria Rauch-Lichterman directs the production for Theater Breaking Through Barriers, the critically acclaimed theatre company dedicated to advancing artists with disabilities and changing the image of people with disabilities from dependence to independence.

In THE UNEXPECTED GUEST, on a dark and foggy evening a lost stranger seeks refuge in a nearby country estate only to discover that he has stumbled onto the scene of a murder. Agatha Christie's delicious tour-de-force features a dizzying array of twists and turns. Audiences are truly kept guessing until the very end.

The cast features company core members and newcomers to TBTB, including Scott Barton, Melanie Boland, Christopher Imbrosciano, Anthony Lopez, Lawrence Merritt, Anne Marie Morelli, Pamela Sabaugh, David Rosar Stearns, and Nicholas Viselli.

The production features set and lighting design by Bert Scott; costume design by Amanda Jenks; sound design by Sam Crawford; props by Charles Bowden. Production Manager is Sherri Kotimsky and Production Stage Manager is Kate Croasdale.

Ike Schambelan founded TBTB in 1979 and was proud to have built in into the only Off-Broadway theater company that advances acceptance of disabled theater artists by showing them doing first class work. He directed many productions, but the work that gave him his greatest satisfaction was directing Shakespeare.

"I have two deep artistic ambitions-to change the way the world does Shakespeare and to increase the acceptance of people with disabilities," said Schambelan. "Doing Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice, it's been wonderful to feel the company take my ideas and leap forward with them, to see their own powers grow through working on Shakespeare and to feel my increasing sureness about my approach. The universality of the plays makes the use of actors with disabilities absolutely right."

Among the other productions Schamblen directed during the 35+ years in which he created and ran TBTB were Ms. Christie's The Unexpected Guest, George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance, Brecht on Brecht, Ted Hughes' adaptation of Seneca's Oedipus, and A. R. Gurney's The Middle Ages and The Cocktail Hour. He directed world premieres of new plays and revues about blindness, including Whattaya Blind?!, Blinks, and Blind Spots, as well as The Rules of Charity and A Nervous Smile, two New York premieres of the work of vital disabled playwright, John Belluso. From 2011 through 2014, Schambelan created TBTB's short-play festival in which he commissioned some of this country's most prominent playwrights, including Bekah Brunstetter, Bruce Graham, John Guare, A. R. Gurney, David Henry Hwang, Samuel D. Hunter, and Neil LaBute, to write short plays dealing with disability. He also wrote several plays, produced by TBTB: two one-acts, Gus and In the Bin; and one full-length, When I'm 64.

Apart from TBTB, Schambelan also directed at Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, The New Dramatists, Equity Library Theatre, The Long Wharf Theatre, The Pittsburgh Public Theater and the George Street Playhouse. He was the Artistic Director of the Touring/Children's Theatre at Long Wharf, the Woodstock Playhouse and the Austen Riggs Theatre.
Nicholas Viselli is TBTB's interim Artistic Director.

Tickets for the Gala Reception on Sunday, April 19 at Playwrights Horizons (416 West 42nd Street) are $120 (performance and reception); $75 (reception only); and $45 (6pm performance only). For reception tickets, visit

Performances of Agatha Christie's THE UNEXPECTED GUEST run at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues), April 11-May 10: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; Sunday at 3pm. (There are no 3pm matinees on April 11 or 19.) Tickets are $45. For reservations, call 212-239-6200 or visit

For additional information, visit

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