Photo Flash: First Look at DEAD MAN'S CELL PHONE, Opening Tonight at ICT

An incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man, with a lot of loose ends. Richard Israeldirects Dead Man's Cell Phone, a wildly imaginative and off-center romantic comedy by MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient Sarah Ruhl, opening tonight, June 7 at International City Theatre (ICT) in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the production below!

A lonely woman is forced to confront her assumptions about morality, redemption and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world as she steps into the life of a dead man by taking his cell phone calls. What starts as a moment of frustration quickly turns into a bond of curious loyalty when Jean finds herself caught in the middle of another man's tangled web of relationships and family. Acting as his mouthpiece, Jean soon discovers different types of connections that go beyond the physical, tapping into the psychological, the emotional and even...the afterlife.

Winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play, Dead Man's Cell Phone was first presented in 2007 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington D.C. before going to New York City, where it opened at Playwrights Horizons starring Mary Louise Parker.

The ICT production stars Alina Phelan as Jean (All in the Timing at ICT; Garland Award winner for her portrayal of Hamlet in Hamlet: The First Quarto and Ovation nominee for Family Planning, both for Theatre of Note), Trent Dawson (Broadway's The Herbal Bed; Off Broadway productions of Vine, The Memorandum, Macbeth, Brothers in Crime; three Emmy Nominations for his role as Henry Coleman on As the World Turns), Susan Diol (You Never Can Tell at Circle in the Square with Uta Hagan and Victor Garber; Opera Comique at the Kennedy Center with Eli Wallach; a member of the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and The Road Theater Company), Heather Roberts (Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Ark Theatre; Twelfth Night at A Noise Within) and Eileen T-Kaye (previously seen at ICT in Death Defying Acts, Black Comedy, On the Twentieth Century, Cabaret and The Threepenny Opera; at the Geffen in Coney Island Christmas; at The Theatre @ Boston Court in The Government Inspector; and in Ivanov for Evidence Room/Odyssey Theatre).

Set design for Dead Man's Cell Phone is by D Martin Bookwalter; lighting design is by Jeremy Pivnick; costume design is by Kim DeShazo; sound design is by Dave Mickey; hair and wigs are by Anthony Gagliardi; props are by Patty and Gordon Briles; production stage manager is Michael Frank; and casting is by Michael Donovan Casting.

Though Sarah Ruhl originally intended to be a poet, she fell in love with playwriting after studying with playwright Paula Vogel at Brown University. Many of her plays mix the mundane with the mythical and supernatural, exploring the delicate line between life and death. She is known for her retellings and adaptations of classic stories and for bringing a clear feminist voice to the Contemporary Stage. Her other plays include In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) (Glickman Prize, 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist); The Clean House (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist), In Demeter in the City(nominated for nine NAACP awards); Eurydice; Melancholy Play; Orlando; a new version of Chekhov's Three Sisters; and Passion Play (Kentucky Center Fourth Forum Freedom Award). Her plays have premiered at the Lyceum Theater on Broadway, and have been produced off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater, Playwrights Horizons and Second Stage. Regionally they've been seen at Berkeley Repertory Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, The Goodman Theater, Cornerstone Theater, Arena Stage, Wooly Mammoth, Cincinnati Playhouse and the Piven Theater Workshop in Chicago, as well as being produced at many other theaters across the country and around the world.

Richard Israel returns to International City Theatre, where he directed Leading Ladies last season. Other credits include Avenue Q for DOMA Theatre Company; Once Upon A Mattress for Cabrillo Music Theatre; Falsettos for the Third Street Theatre; Gypsy for West Coast Ensemble (LA Weekly Award nominations for Directing and Outstanding Musical); the world premiere of Having It All at the NoHo Arts Center (7 Ovation Award Nominations); Meet Me In St. Louis for Musical Theatre West; A Christmas Carol for the Norris Theatre; Bell, Book and Candle for The Colony Theatre; and the critically acclaimed West Coast premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins, the Los Angeles premiere of Big - The Musical, Assassins (LA Weekly Award nominations for Direction and Outstanding Musical, LADCC Award for Musical Ensemble) and Floyd Collins - all for Hollywood's West Coast Ensemble Theatre. For the Musical Theatre Guild, he has directed High Fidelity, One Touch Of Venus, High Spirits and Violet as well as staged readings of Dani Girl and Rocket Science for the Festival Of New American Musicals. Richard is the artistic director for West Coast Ensemble Theatre and the recipient of a Career Achievement Award for Directing from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Richard Israel returns to International City Theatre, where he directed Leading Ladies last season. Other credits include Avenue Q for DOMA Theatre Company; Once Upon A Mattress for Cabrillo Music Theatre; Falsettos for the Third Street Theatre; Gypsy for West Coast Ensemble (LA Weekly Award nominations for Directing and Outstanding Musical); the world premiere of Having It All at the NoHo Arts Center (7 Ovation Award Nominations); Meet Me In St. Louis for Musical Theatre West; A Christmas Carol for the Norris Theatre; Bell, Book and Candle for The Colony Theatre; and the critically acclaimed West Coast premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins, the Los Angeles premiere of Big - The Musical, Assassins (LA Weekly Award nominations for Direction and Outstanding Musical, LADCC Award for Musical Ensemble) and Floyd Collins - all for Hollywood's West Coast Ensemble Theatre. For the Musical Theatre Guild, he has directed High Fidelity, One Touch Of Venus, High Spirits and Violet as well as staged readings of Dani Girl and Rocket Science for the Festival Of New American Musicals. Richard is the artistic director for West Coast Ensemble Theatre and the recipient of a Career Achievement Award for Directing from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

Dead Man's Cell Phone runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 pm and Sundays @ 2 pm, June 7-30. Tickets are $38 on Thursdays and $45 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, except opening night which is $50 and includes a reception with the actors following the performance. International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 300 E. Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call the ICT Box Office at 562-436-4610 or www.InternationalCityTheatre.com.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Mapes



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