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Bergl, Kind & Sbarge Join Cast of L.A. Theatre Works' AWAKE AND SING

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L.A. Theatre Works will record the memorable, Tony Award-winning production of Awake and Sing! by top Broadway director Bartlett Sher with an all-star cast that includes the best of Broadway and Hollywood: Mark Ruffalo, Ben Gazzara, Jonathan Hadary and Peter Kybert from the Broadway production, as well as Emily Bergl, Jane Kaczmarek, Richard Kind, Raphael Sbarge, and Peter Smith

L.A. Theatre Works records Clifford Odets' 1935 masterpiece, Awake and Sing!, with Mark Ruffalo, Ben Gazzara, Jonathan Hadary, Peter Kybart (all of whom were in the 2006 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival) and Jane Kaczmarek. Joining the cast will be Richard Kind, Emily Bergl and Raphael Sbarge. Bartlett Sher, Tony Award-winner for his direction of that production, directs five performances at the Skirball Cultural Center, January 13 through 17. All performances will be recorded for broadcast on L.A. Theatre Works' nationally syndicated radio theater series, which airs locally in Southern California on KPCC 89.3 every Saturday from 10 pm - midnight and can be streamed on demand at www.latw.org.

Considered to be Odets' best work, Awake and Sing! compassionately portrays the struggles of a Jewish immigrant family crowded together in a cramped Bronx tenement and laid low by the Great Depression Tragedy, hope and politics are all interwoven to create a powerful work as illuminating and engaging today as it was when first performed in the 1930s.

Awake and Sing! was the first full-length play produced by the legendary Group Theatre, catapulting it to the forefront of the world stage in 1935 and establishing Odets as a champion of the underprivileged. Odets has been characterized as the most distinctive and significant American playwright of the 1930s, and his body of work remains a lasting contribution to the American theater. Born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1906, Odets dropped out of school at 17 to become an actor and was one of the original members of the New York City-based, avant-garde, left-wing ensemble Group Theatre. Founded by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and method-acting guru Lee Strasberg to dramatize the social and political life of their times, The Group Theatre was a response to what they saw as the old-fashioned light entertainment that dominated the theater of the late 1920s. Their vision was of a new theater that would mount original American plays to mirror - and possibly change - the life of their troubled times. Over the course of ten years and twenty productions, they altered the course of American theater forever.

Turning his attention from acting to playwriting, Odets soon came to be regarded as the most gifted of the American social-protest dramatists of the 1930s. His first work for the Group, Waiting for Lefty (1935), a Marxian drama of the awakening and insurgency of the impoverished working classes, aroused immediate international attention. It was followed by Awake and Sing! (1935), his first full-length play. Other plays include Till the Day I Die (1935), Paradise Lost (1935), Golden Boy (1937), and Clash by Night (1942). Odets spent many years in Hollywood writing film scripts. In his later plays he turned from social drama to rather turgid and self-conscious dramas of the individual, such as The Big Knife (1949), The Country Girl (1950) and The Flowering Peach (1954).

For three decades, L.A. Theatre Works has been the leading radio theater company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions. L.A. Theatre Works' radio theater series can be heard locally in Southern California on Saturday from 10pm to midnight on KPCC 89.3 FM, and can also be streamed on demand at http://www.latw.org/. The series can also be heard on the following stations(check local listings for broadcast times): 89.7 WGBH, Boston, MA; 91.5 WBEZ, Chicago, IL; 94.9 KUOW, Seattle, WA; 90.1 WABE, Atlanta, GA; 94.1 KPFA, Berkeley, CA; 91.1 KRCB, North Bay (San Francisco, CA); 89.3 KVPR, Fresno, CA; 89.1 PRX, Bakersfield, CA; and many other stations nationwide.

Performances of Awake and Sing! take place on Wednesday, January 13 at 8 pm; Thursday, January 14 at 8 pm; Friday, January 15 at 8 pm; Saturday, January 16 at 2:30 pm;and Sunday, January 17 at 2 pm. Tickets range from $20.00 to $48.00. L.A. Theatre Works at the Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains (exit Skirball Center Drive). For tickets and information, call the L.A. Theatre Works box office at (310) 827-0889 or go to www.latw.org.

Photo credit: Derek Hutchison


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