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West Coast Ensemble Presents West Coast Premiere of Durang's 'Miss Witherspoon'

West Coast Ensemble presents the West Coast Premiere of Christopher Durang’s MISS WITHERSPOON, directed by Joel Swetow (The Cherry Orchard, Twelfth Night).  MISS WITHERSPOON will preview Sunday, October 26 at 3pm; Wednesday, October 29; Thursday, October 30; and Friday October 31 at 8:00pm and will open on Saturday, November 1 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, December 14 at the new home of West Coast Ensemble - The El Centro Theatre, 800 N. El Centro Ave. in Hollywood.

A master of contemporary absurdism, Christopher Durang takes on religion, spirituality and our quest for something beyond ourselves in this charmingly twisted off-Broadway hit!

SKYLAB IS FALLING!  When a piece of an orbiting space station falls on Veronica, she embarks on a hilarious odyssey through the great beyond, aided by her spirit guide Maryamma.  Named one of the ten best plays of 2005 by Time and Newsday, this raucous comedy takes us on a journey through life, the after-life, and whatever happens in between, as a reluctant traveler discovers that the only thing worse than the world she left behind is having to go back for seconds.


Christopher Durang (Playwright) is a playwright whose plays include A History of the American Film (Tony nomination, Best Book of a Musical, 1978), The Actor’s Nightmare, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Obie award; off-Bway run 1981-83), Beyond Therapy (on Broadway in 1982, with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow), Baby with the Bathwater (Playwrights Horizons, 1983), The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Public Theatre, 1985; Obie award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award), Laughing Wild (Playwrights Horizons, 1987), Durang/Durang (an evening of six plays at Manhattan Theatre Club, 1994, including the Tennessee Williams’ parody, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls), Sex and Longing (Lincoln Center Theatre production at the Cort Theatre, 1996, starring Sigourney Weaver), and Betty’s Summer Vacation (Playwrights Horizons, 1999; Obie award).  His most recent works are Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, which premiered at City Theatre in Pittsburgh in 2002. And the musical Adrift in Macao, with music by Peter Melnick and book and lyrics by Durang, which premiered at New York Stage and Film in summer 2002, and is under option for off-Broadway 2003-04. Durang is also a performer, and acted with E. Katherine Kerr in the N.Y. premiere of Laughing Wild, and with Jean Smart in the L.A. production. He shared in an acting ensemble Obie for The Marriage of Bette and Boo; and with John Augustine and Sherry Anderson has performed his crackpot cabaret Chris Durang and Dawne at the Criterion Center, Caroline’s Comedy Club, Williamstown Summer Cabaret, and the Triad, winning a 1996 Bistro Award. In the early 80s, he and Sigourney Weaver co-wrote and performed in their acclaimed Brecht-Weill parody, Das Lusitania Songspiel, and were both nominated for Drama Desk awards for Best Performer in a Musical. In 1993 he sang in the five person off-Broadway Sondheim revue, Putting It Together, with Julie Andrews at the Manhattan Theatre Club. And he played a singing Congressman in the Encores presentation of Call Me Madam with Tyne Daly at City Center. In movies, he has appeared in The Secret of My Success, Mr. North, The Butcher’s Wife, Housesitter, and The Cowboy Way, among others. He has a B.A. from Harvard College, and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Yale School of Drama. In 1995 he won the prestigious three-year Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award; as part of his grant, he ran a writing workshop for adult children of alcoholics. In 2000 he won the Sidney Kingsley Playwriting Award.

JOEL SWETOW (Director) is a director, coach, actor, and voiceover artist.  Directing projects include critically- acclaimed, award-winning productions of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, Moliere’s “The Learned Ladies”, Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It,” as well as several world premieres.  Next spring, he will direct “The Crucible” at The Actors Co-op here in Los Angeles.

As an actor in television and film, he recurred on “Charmed” for an extended two year arc, guest starred on “Burn Notice” “Alias”, “Judging Amy”, “N.Y.P.D. Blue”, “Stargate”, “Star Trek: Enterprise”, and “Days of Our Lives” and has had major roles in  Clive Barker’s “Lord of Illusions”, “The President’s Man 2”, “Live from Baghdad”, “Return to the Batcave”, “3 Ninjas”, and “Ruby Ridge”, also among many others.  On stage, he has appeared in countless leading roles in N.Y.C., Los Angeles, and regional theatre, including  Estragon in “Waiting For Godot”, the Duke in “Measure for Measure”, Malvolio in “Twelfth Night”, Brutus in “Julius Caesar”, Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice”, Vershinin in “The Three Sisters”, Ned Weeks in “The Normal Heart”, Matt Friedman in “Talley’s Folly”, Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” and the title role in “Tartuffe”.

The cast of MISS WITHERSPOON features Pia Ambardar, Kelly Lloyd, Andrew Morris, Sara J. Stuckey and LeShay Tomlinson

MISS WITHERSPOON has assembled an award-winning design team. The Set design is by Stephen Gifford. The Lighting Design is by Peter Gottlieb. The Costume Design is by E.B. Brooks. The Sound Design is by Rebecca Kessin. The Production is Stage Managed by Erin Beddinger and Produced for WCE by Richard Israel and Ben Campbell

MISS WITHERSPOON will open Saturday, November 1 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, December 14 at The El Centro Theater, 800 N. El Centro Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038.  Preview performances will be Sunday, October 26 at 3pm; Wednesday, October 29; Thursday, October 30; and Friday October 31 at 8:00pm.  Ticket prices are $10 previews, $22 general, $20 student/senior/union.  Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm.  For tickets, please visit www.tix.com or call the West Coast Ensemble Box Office at 323-460-4443.      

Founded in 1981 by Les Hanson, West Coast Ensemble Theatre has been a part of the Los Angeles theatre community for 27 years.  A membership theatre ensemble, WCE is dedicated to presenting high quality theatrical productions which address the social, cultural and artistic needs of the Los Angeles community while providing an artistic home for its membership. Recent award-winning productions include Stephen Sondheim's ASSASSINS, Tim Acito's ZANNA, DON'T!, Jim Geoghan's TWO GENTLEMEN OF CORONA, and Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's FLOYD COLLINS.

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