Mercedes Ruehl to star in McCarter Theatre's THE HOW AND THE WHY 1/7

By: Dec. 09, 2010

McCarter Theatre (Emily Mann, Artistic Director; Timothy J. Shields, Managing Director) is pleased to announce that Academy Award, Tony and Obie Award winner Mercedes Ruehl will star in the two-character world premiere of Sarah Treem's The How and The Why. Directed by Emily Mann, the cast will also feature New Jersey native Bess Rous. Previews begin January 7 and the production runs through February 13. (Press Opening Friday, January 14).

Mercedes Ruehl is the recipient of the McCarter Theatre Sallie B. Goodman Prize, a one-of-a-kind prize in the American theater to reward distinguished artists choosing to create in the not-for-profit theater. The Prize, established in Sallie's memory by her husband Jerry Goodman, is designed to attract and involve the world's finest directors, performers, choreographers, and writers in the work of McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ.

Evolution and emotion collide in Sarah Treem's thought-provoking and sharp new play about science, family, and survival of the fittest. On the eve of a prestigious conference, an up-and-coming evolutionary biologist wrestles for the truth with an established leader in the field. This intimate and keenly perceptive play explores the difficult choices women of every generation face.

Mercedes Ruehl is an Academy Award-winning stage and film actress. She received a Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Helen Hayes awards for her role in Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers. Her other Broadway credits include The American Plan; The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (Outer Critics Circle Award, Tony nomination); The Rose Tattoo; Shadowbox (Tony nomination); and I'm Not Rappaport. Off-Broadway includes The Occupant; Woman Before a Glass (Obie Award);Other People's Money (Clarence Derwent Award); The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Obie Award); Coming of Age in Soho; The Vagina Monologues; and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Guthrie Theatre. Previously at McCarter, she played Masha in the 1983 production of The Three Sisters. On film, Ms. Ruehl first came to prominence in Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob. She earned an Academy Award, Golden Globe, L.A. and Chicago Film Critics Society awards for her role in The Fisher King opposite Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams. Her other film credits include The Warriors, Big, Last Action Hero, What's Cooking, For Rosanna, The Minus Man. Numerous television credits: HBO's Indictment: The McMartin Trial and Gia, Hallmark's The Lost Child, Court T.V.'s Guilt by Association, Showtime's North Shore Fish, CBS's Loving Leah, Lifetime's television film A Girl Like Me. Most recently, Ms. Ruehl completed an acclaimed run in The Old Vic Theatre's revival of Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue, opposite Jeff Goldblum, on London's West End.

Bess Rous has appeared Off-Broadway in From Riverdale to Riverhead at Studio Dante, and Open House at The New York International Fringe Festival and The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row. Her film and television credits include What Just Happened, The Hungry Ghosts Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men (Recurring), Gossip Girl (Recurring), Law & Order (Seasons 15 and 20), Army Wives, New Amsterdam, Third Watch, Damage Control and Loving Leah (CBS/Hallmark). At the age of 15, the Short Hills, NJ native moved away from her parents to train as an ice dancer at the prestigious Ice Skating Science Development in Newark, Delaware and was a competitive ice dancer for 14 years. She later pursued her acting career and is a graduate of The Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and The London Academy of Theatre.

Playwright Sarah Treem is the only writer to have written and produced all three seasons of the acclaimed HBO series, In Treatment, for which she won a WGA award and was nominated for a Humanitas award. She is also a writer/producer for the Mark Wahlberg/Stephen Levinson produced HBO series How to Make it in America and is currently adapting Samantha Peale's novel The American Painter Emma Dial for HBO with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Ziff. Her full-length plays include Empty Sky; Against the Wall; Mirror, Mirror; A Feminine Ending and Human Voices. A Feminine Ending received its world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in fall 2007, was subsequently produced at South Coast Repertory and Portland Center Stage in 2008, and is published by Samuel French, which has also published Mirror, Mirror. She has been commissioned by South Coast Repertory and Playwrights Horizons, and she is a current fellow at the Lark Playwrights' Workshop. Sarah has taught playwriting at Yale University, where she earned her B.A. and M.F.A.

Emily Mann's directing credits include the world premiere of Edward Albee's Me, Myself & I; Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics (also on Broadway); A Seagull in the Hamptons (also adapted); the world premiere of Christopher Durang's Miss Witherspoon (also at Playwrights' Horizons); Uncle Vanya (also adapted); All Over (also at The Roundabout; 2003 Obie Award for Directing); and The Cherry Orchard (also adapted). Her plays include Mrs. Packard (2007 Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award); Execution of Justice (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations, Helen Hayes, HBO awards); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Greensboro (A Requiem); and Annulla, An Autobiography. Ms. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; NAACP Award; Peabody and Christopher Awards and WGA nomination for her screenplay). A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, she is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its Council.

The How and The Why is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays award.


Tickets start at $20. To reserve by phone, call (609) 258-2787; toll-free at (888) 278-7932; online at; or at the McCarter Theatre Ticket Office at 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ.


The How and The Why will play the Berlind Theatre of McCarter Theatre Center Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30pm; Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm; with Saturday matinee at 3pm and Sundays at 2pm. Additional performances will be held on Sundays, January 23 and February 6 at 7:30pm.

McCarter Theatre CENTER

Tony Award-winning McCarter Theatre Center, located in Princeton, New Jersey, is recognized as one of the foremost performing arts centers in this country to serve as both a professional producing theater and a major presenter of the performing arts. McCarter achieves this distinction by commissioning, developing and producing ambitious new works that infuse the national and international repertoire with fresh vitality, while also creating provocative and original productions of classic plays and modern masterpieces. Beginning with the world premiere of Thornton Wilder's Our Town in 1938, McCarter Theatre has consistently launched significant productions whose impact is felt long after the closing performance. Ultimately, McCarter strives to create work that engages in the questions of our time, producing stories that resonate across cultural divides and fostering dialogue between world events and the work on our stages.