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Tony Nominee Jennifer Westfeldt Joins MTC's THE EXPLORERS CLUB; Full Cast Announced!

Lynne Meadow (Artistic Director), Barry Grove (Executive Producer), and Mandy Greenfield (Artistic Producer) have announced full casting for the world premiere of The Explorers Club, the new play by Tony Award nominee Nell Benjamin, directed by Marc Bruni.

The cast of The Explorers Club features Brian Avers (Rock 'n' Roll), Max Baker (Cyrano DeBergerac), Steven Boyer (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), Arnie Burton (Peter and the Starcatcher), Carson Elrod (All in the Timing), David Furr (The Importance of Being Earnest), Tony Award nominee John McMartin (Into The Woods), Drama Desk Award winner Lorenzo Pisoni (Humor Abuse at MTC), and Tony Award nominee Jennifer Westfeldt (Friends With Kids, Wonderful Town).

The limited engagement will begin rehearsals tomorrow April 30, begins previews on Tuesday, May 28, and opens Thursday, June 20 at MTC at New York City Center - Stage I (131 West 55th Street).

THE EXPLORERS CLUB is a new madcap comedy from Tony-nominated writer Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde) and director Marc Bruni (Ordinary Days, Old Jews Telling Jokes).

London, 1879. The prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: their acting president (Lorenzo Pisoni) wants to admit a womanJennifer Westfeldt), and their bartender is terrible. True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire, and how do you make such a decision without a decent drink? Grab your safety goggles for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen and the occasional airship.

The creative team for The Explorers Club features: Donyale Werle (scenic design), Anita Yavich (costume design), Philip S. Rosenberg (lighting design), Darron L West(sound design), Laurence O'Keefe (original music), Tom Watson (hair & wig design), Angelina Avallone (makeup design).

THE EXPLORERS CLUB is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. Lead support for The Explorers Club is provided by MTC's Producing Fund Partner, Andrew Martin-Weber. Production support provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of the MTC/Sloan Science Theatre Initiative.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Lynne Meadow and Executive Producer Barry Grove, MTC has become one of the country's most prominent and prestigious theatre companies. Over the past three decades, MTC productions have earned a total of 18 Tony Awards and six Pulitzer Prizes, an accomplishment unparalleled by a New York theatrical institution. MTC has a Broadway home at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and two Off-Broadway theatres at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). Since January 2011, Mandy Greenfield (Artistic Producer) has taken the lead in programming and execution at MTC's Off-Broadway home. Renowned MTC productions include Venus in Fur; Master Class; Good People; The Whipping Man; Time Stands Still; The Royal Family; Ruined; The American Plan; Come Back, Little Sheba; Blackbird; Translations; Shining City; Rabbit Hole; Doubt; Proof; The Tale of the Allergist's Wife; Love! Valour! Compassion!; A Small Family Business;Sylvia; Putting It Together; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Crimes of the Heart; and Ain't Misbehavin.'

For more information on MTC, visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.

Tickets for The Explorers Club are available via the New York City Center Box Office (131 West 55th Street), CityTix (212-581-1212) and www.nycitycenter.org. Tickets for The Explorers Club are $85.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE:

MONDAY, MAY 27 - SUNDAY, JUNE 9: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday at 7 PM, Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.
MONDAY, JUNE 10 - SUNDAY, JUNE 16: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
MONDAY, JUNE 17 - SUNDAY, JUNE 23 (WEEK OF OPENING): Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday at 7 PM, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. Please note there are only seven performances on sale to the public this week.
MONDAY, JUNE 24 - SUNDAY, JUNE 30: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
MONDAY, JULY 1 - SUNDAY, JULY 7 (WEEK OF JULY 4): Monday through Wednesday at 7 PM, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM. Please note the production will be dark on Thursday, July 4 of this week.
MONDAY, JULY 8 - SUNDAY, JULY 21: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.

Nell Benjamin (Playwright) co-wrote the score to Legally Blonde The Musical with composer Laurence O'Keefe, for which they received a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk nomination. Benjamin's disturbingly free adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, called Pirates! (or Gilbert and Sullivan plunder'd) ran at the Goodspeed Opera House, the Paper Mill Playhouse and the Huntington Theatre and will be playing at the MUNY this July. She wrote lyrics for Sarah, Plain and Tall, originally developed by TheatreworksUSA. Sarah played Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel Theater and at Dallas Theater Center in 2009. Benjamin and O'Keefe were nominated for a 2005 Drama Desk for Best Book of a Musical for Cam Jansen (also developed by Theatreworks USA) and won an L.A. Ovation award for their first collaboration, The Mice. They are currently working on an opera which will premiere at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts on May 3. Her work for television includes the last and weirdest season of "Unhappily Ever After," Animal Planet's "Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca," and the new "Electric Company." Benjamin is also working on a musical adaptation of Because Of Winn Dixie with composer Duncan Sheik. She holds an M.Phil. from University of Dublin, Trinity College and a B.A. from Harvard University. She received the 2003 Kleban Foundation Award for lyrics and a 2003 Jonathan Larson Foundation Grant.

Marc Bruni (Director). Old Jews Telling Jokes (Westside), Pipe Dream (Encores!), Fanny (Encores!), Ordinary Days (Roundabout), In the Mood (Berkshire Theatre Festival),Spelling Bee (Paper Mill/PTC), Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Paper Mill), Such Good Friends (NYMF Award), High Spirits (York Mufti), Glimpses of the Moon (Oak Room) and for the St. Louis MUNY: The Music Man, Sound of Music (Kevin Kline nominations), Legally Blonde, My One and Only, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Associate on 15 Broadway shows including Nice Work If You Can Get It and Anything Goes.

Brian Avers (Professor Cope). Broadway: Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, directed by Trevor Nunn; Martin McDonagh's The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Off-Broadway/Regional: Edgar in King Lear at The Public Theater with Kevin Kline; Don/Franklin in Itamar Moses' Completeness at Playwrights Horizons; and Max Garrett in Gina Gionfriddo's Becky Shaw at South Coast Repertory, both directed by Pam MacKinnon; lead roles in Art, Black Comedy, and The Violet Hour at Barrington Stage. Film: Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia, In Lieu of Flowers, and Gigantic, opposite Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel. Television: "Golden Boy," "Blue Bloods," "Castle," "The Closer," "Medium," "Person of Interest," "Life on Mars," "Numb3rs," "Law & Order," and recurring character Mike Renko on "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles." Avers' first feature film as director, The Weekend (starring fellow explorer Carson Elrod), is scheduled to release this summer. MFA: NYU; recipient of the AV Global Fellowship in the Arts.

Max Baker (Sir Bernard Humphries) was recently seen on Broadway as LeBret in Cyrano DeBergerac with Douglas Hodge, also as Raganeau in Cyrano DeBergerac with Kevin Kline. He was in Jerusalem (Broadway and West End) and Mother Courage (Public Theater). Off-Broadway: Abigail's Party, Comedians, Howard Katz, Goose-pimples, What the Butler Saw. Film: Newlyweds; Pirates of the Caribbean II; Constantine; The Island; Life, or Something Like It; Nice Guy Johnny; The Time Machine. Television: "Chicago Fire," "Medium," "Law & Order," "NYPD Blue," "3rd Rock." Baker is also a playwright and founding member of indie band eelwax jesus.

Steven Boyer (Professor Walling). Broadway: I'm Not Rappaport. Recent Off-Broadway: Modern Terrorism (Second Stage); Hand to God (Obie Award, Ensemble Studio Theatre); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Encores!); Motel Cherry (Clubbed Thumb); The Ugly One (Soho Rep); School for Lies (Classic Stage Company); The Coward (LCT3);Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson (The Public). TV/Film: upcoming Martin Scorcese film The Wolf of Wall Street, "Louie," "Person of Interest," "Law & Order," "Ed," Did You Hear About The Morgans?, The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best. Training: Julliard. Member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Boyer also stars in a new independent sitcom pilot from Emily Chadick Weiss, "The Share." Learn more at www.TheShareSitcom.com.

Arnie Burton (Beebe/An Irish Assassin). Broadway: Peter and the Starcatcher, The 39 Steps, A Free Man of Color, Amadeus. Off-Broadway: The Temperamentals (Drama Desk Award, ensemble), Peter and the Starcatcher (NYTW), The Merchant of Venice/The Jew of Malta (TFANA), Mere Mortals (Primary Stages and commercial run), The Last Sunday in June (Rattlestick and commercial run), The Venetian Twins, The Cherry Orchard (Pearl Theatre). UK: The Merchant of Venice (RSC, Stratford). Regional highlights include I Am My Own Wife (Kevin Kline Award for Best Actor, St Louis, Helen Hayes nomination Best Actor, D.C.); All in the Timing (Geffen Playhouse, L.A); The Santaland Diaries, The Seagull, The Taming of the Shrew (Old Globe); The Mystery of Irma Vep (Berkeley Rep). Also the Alley Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Huntington, Berkshire Theatre Festival. Television: "Frasier," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "White Collar," "Blue Bloods," "Life on Mars," "6 Degrees," "Hope and Faith," "Caroline in the City." Film: The Invention of Lying, Igby Goes Down, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Game 6.

Carson Elrod (Luigi). Broadway: Peter and the Starcatcher, Reckless, Noises Off. Off-Broadway: All in the Timing (59E59), Comic Potential, House and Garden (MTC),Measure For Measure, All's Well That Ends Well (NYSF), Cavedweller (NYTW), Oliver Twist (TFNA), Waiting For Godot (NYFringe). Regional: Yale Rep, Shakespeare Theatre D.C. (Battis Award Winner), Williamstown Theatre Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, Center Theatre Group, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, Shakespeare and Company. Television: "30 Rock," "Law & Order: CI." Film: Kissing Jessica Stein, The Wedding Crashers. Princess Grace Award winner. AEA since 2000. BA - KU. MFA - NYU Grad Acting.

David Furr (Harry Percy) received the 2012 St. Claire Bayfield Award for his performance as Orlando in The Public Theater's critically acclaimed Shakespeare in the Park production of As You Like It. Broadway: Jack Worthing in the Tony nominated revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, Accent on Youth, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Cymbeline, King Lear, The Rivals. National Tour: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Off-Broadway: Equivocation (MTC). David has also appeared at many leading regional theatres across the country. Among his television appearances are "Elementary," "Person of Interest," "The Chicago Code," "The Mentalist," "Private Practice," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "Law & Order: SVU," "The Good Wife," "CSI: Miami" as well as pilots for AMC, Fox, and HBO. Film: Evening, The Importance of Being Earnest in HD, Anche Se E Amore, Non Si Vede (Italian), KillIng Lincoln. Web Series: Jersey Shore Gone Wilde.

John McMartin (Professor Sloane) received Tony Award nominations for Into the Woods, High Society, Show Boat, Sweet Charity, and Don Juan (Drama Desk Award) and is a 2009 inductee to the Theatre Hall of Fame. Other Broadway credits include Anything Goes, A Free Man of Color at LCT, Grey Gardens (Drama Desk nomination), Is He Dead?, Follies (original company), The Great God Brown (Drama Desk Award), Pleasures and Palaces and Artist Descending a Staircase among others. Off-Broadway includes Saturn Returns (Lucille Lortel nomination), Indian Blood, The Visit (with Chita Rivera), Little Mary Sunshine (Theatre World Award), Julius Caesar, The Misanthrope(The Public), High Spirits, The Little Foxes, A Little Night Music, Absurd Person Singular and others. Film credits include No Reservations, Kinsey, The Dish, Who's that Girl, A Thousand Clowns, All the President's Men, Legal Eagles, Blow Out, Sweet Charity, Pennies From Heaven, Native Son to mention a few. Television credits include "Law & Order," "Oz," "Tales of the City," "Frasier," "Sisters," "Murrow," "Separate but Equal," "Coach," "Murder She Wrote," "Citizen Cohn," "The Golden Girls," and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" among many others.

Lorenzo Pisoni (Lucius Fretway) began performing at age two in the Pickle Family Circus. He finished his circus career as the ringmaster in Cirque du Soleil's Mystere. He last appeared at MTC in Golden Age and his one-man show Humor Abuse, for which he won Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Obie Awards. Additional productions followed at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, ACT and Seattle Rep. Other theater credits include Equus, The Devil's Disciple, Election Day, The Great Gatsby,Henry IV, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida, The Gamester (Bay Area Critics Circle Award), Last Dance, The Illusion, Arms and the Man, Clown, Clown, Clown... and Tuesdays with Morrie. Television and film credits include The Adjustment Bureau, Big Momma's: Like Father, Like Son, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," Company Retreat, Journey of Man, See Spot Run, and South of Pico. As a physical comedy consultant he's worked on Harlequin Studies, Taller Than a Dwarf, and See Spot Run.

Jennifer Westfeldt (Phyllida Spotte-Hume/Countess Glamorgan). An actress and filmmaker, Westfeldt most recently wrote, produced, starred in and made her directorial debut in the indie hit Friends With Kids, released by Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions in March of 2012. Friends with Kids was a breakout hit at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, and boasted a stellar cast including Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Chris O'Dowd, Ed Burns, Megan Fox and Jon Hamm. Westfeldt is perhaps best known for co-writing and playing the title role in her first film, the 2002 indie favorite Kissing Jessica Stein, released by Fox Searchlight, for which she received an Indie Spirit Nomination for Best First Screenplay, the Golden Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, and a Special Jury Prize for Writing and Acting at the Los Angeles International Film Festival. The film won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Audience Favorites Award at the Chicago International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Miami Film Festival, Best Feature at the Louisville Jewish Film Festival, and the GLAAD Media Award. Westfeldt'ssecond feature as an actress/scribe, Ira & Abby, marked her first solo screenwriting effort. Ira & Abby won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Jury Prize for Best Feature at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Boston Jewish Film Festival. Additionally, Westfeldt won the Best Actress Award at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival for her performance as Abby. The film was acquired by Magnolia Pictures and was released to critical acclaim in the fall of 2007. A veteran theater actress, Westfeldt has starred in over 25 Off-Broadway and regional productions. She made her Broadway debut in 2004's Wonderful Town, directed by Kathleen Marshall, for which she received a Tony nomination, a Theater World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut, and a Drama League Award. More recent stage work includes the world premiere of Joe Gilford's Finks at the Powerhouse Theater, opposite Josh Radnor and directed by Charlie Stratton; the world premiere of Cusi Cram's A Lifetime Burning at Primary Stages, directed by Pam MacKinnon; Three Sisters at LA Theaterworks; and the world premiere of Stephen Belber's The Power of Duff at the Powerhouse Theater, directed by Peter DuBois and opposite Greg Kinnear. On the small screen, Jennifer recently appeared as Meredith Reed in the final season of Fox's "24." Other television credits include "Grey's Anatomy;" "Notes From the Underbelly" "Children's Hospital;" "Judging Amy;" "Hack;" "Numb3rs;" "Snoops;" and "Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place." Westfeldt divides her time between New York and Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride


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