A HARD RAIN Begins Next Month at Theater for the New City

"A Hard Rain" by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper is set in 1969 Greenwich Village in the sweltering few days before the Stonewall riots. A drag queen and former soldier named Ruby, veteran of ten months' fighting in Vietnam, rocks up in Greenwich Village in high heels and a rage. In a Mafia-run bar greased with smart-talking queers, bribe-happy cops and nervous Wall Street high-flyers, she meets a street kid and will change his world, and ours. The piece debuted in February-March, 2014 at Above the Stag Theatre in London. Theater for the New City will present the play's American premiere, directed by Michael Luggio, January 6 to 25, 2015.

The play exposes the urban landscape that germinated the modern gay liberation movement. It is not set in the infamous Stonewall Inn, but in a neighboring, mob-owned joint that is a pressure cooker of desire, anger and thwarted hope. There, being underground is no longer enough for characters struggling to find new ways to negotiate intimacy and ideas of community. Impactful without being preachy or grave, the play sketches and celebrates the modern roots of queer culture without sidestepping the sort of personal struggles and conflicts within it. In fact, it shows just how integral those conflicts were, and still are, to ushering in change and social progress.

Xandra Leigh Parker plays Angie, a bartender at the Mafia bar where the action is centered. Nick Ryan plays a cop on the take, who takes up with Angie. Teo Rapp-Olsson plays the street kid who would be protected by the veteran/drag queen, played by Carson Alexander. Andrew Schoomaker plays the Wall Streeter who is the drag queen's on-again, off-again squeeze. The mobster who runs the bar is played by Michael Garrahy.

The play premiered at the Above the Stag theater in London in February and March, 2014. Time Out (London) characterized it as "Packed with sharp gags and vibrant characters." The Stage (Paul Vale) called it "A colourful, moving drama." Stephen Bates, writing in The Public Reviews, called it "like an East Coast equivalent to the works of Armistead Maupin." Anna Savva, writing in Whatspeenseen, called it "a play with a deeply political heart and resonance for our times... Not only a play with a distinct cultural voice but one with the true potential of becoming something of a contemporary classic. Wonderfully unapologetic, vibrant characters. A lot of fun." QX Magazine labeled it "A thoroughly involving story." Other reviews were similarly affirming.

Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper (playwrights) began writing together with gay-themed pantomimes. A pantomime is a very popular British Christmas theater tradition of staging musical comedies based on fairytales and legends. They acquired a cult following with six that were produced by Above The Stag Theatre: "Treasure Island - The Curse of the Pearl Necklace," "Jack off the Beanstalk," "Get Aladdin," "Sleeping Beauty - One Little Prick," "Robin Hood - Queen of Thieves" and "Dick Whittington - Another Dick in City Hall." "A Hard Rain" is their first traditional play. It is now published and sold by Nick Hern Books. Bradfield contributes to News Revue, a long-running satirical review at London's Canal Cafe Theatre. The duo are currently working on a new comedy about a closeted gay soccer player.

Michael Luggio (director) founded the New York Theatre Academy, were he produces and directs plays, both as a professional theatrical director and for student projects. He has taught acting and has directed plays at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City, The Third Street Theatre in Los Angeles, Theatre for the New City, The Malisa Theatre Company, The Actors Playhouse, The Center Stage Theatre and The Professional Method Actors Studio in New York City. He is a member of the New York Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, N.A.S.T. (National Association of Schools of Theatre), as well as a volunteer Teacher & Lecturer for W!SE. (Working in support of Education) within the New York City Charter School Programs.

Set design is by Lindsay Van Norman and Mark Marcante. Lighting design is by Mark Marcante. Costume design is by Mimi Maxmen. Assistant costume designer is Leslie Bellamy.

Performances are January 6 to 25, 2015 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E. 10th Street). The performance schedule is Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 3:00 Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 seniors and students (Wed-Sun). Tuesdays are pay what you can. The box office is (212) 254-1109 and tickets can be purchased online at www.theaterforthenewcity.net.



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