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Arena Stage's THE ORIGINALIST Comes to 59E59 Theaters


Arena Stage's THE ORIGINALIST Comes to 59E59 Theaters

59E59 Theaters (Val Day, Artistic Director; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) is thrilled to welcome the NYC premiere of THE ORIGINALIST written by John Strand and directed by Molly Smith. Produced by Middle Finger Production, LLC [Beth Newburger, Executive Producer] and Arena Stage and part of 59E59's Subscription Series, THE ORIGINALIST begins performances on Saturday, July 14 for a limited engagement through Sunday, August 19. The performance schedule is Tuesday - Friday at 7 PM;Saturday & Sunday at 2 PM & 7 PM. Performances are at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison). Single tickets are $25 - $70 ($25 - $49 for 59E59 Members). Tickets are available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or online at

Four-time Helen Hayes Award winner Edward Gero (whose performance was called "unimpeachable at every turn" by the Washington Post) returns to his masterful performance as controversial Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, when Washington, DC's renowned Arena Stage brings John Strand's THE ORIGINALIST to 59E59 Theaters.

When a bright, liberal, Harvard Law School graduate embarks on a nerve-wracking clerkship with the conservative Justice, she discovers him to be both an infuriating sparring partner and an unexpected mentor. How will their relationship affect one of the most incendiary cases ever to reach the nation's highest court?

This provocative play, which "avidly interrogates our political practices" (Washington Post), arrives in New York during a particularly combative political moment.

Tracy Ifeachor, a classically trained British actor best known in the US for her roles in the CW hit showsLegends of Tomorrow and The Originals, joins THE ORIGINALIST as Cat, Justice Scalia's law clerk and sparring partner. Brett Mack (Asolo Rep, Chautauqua Theatre) rounds out the cast.

The design team includes Misha Kachman (set designer); Joseph P. Salasovich (costume designer);Colin K. Bills (lighting designer); and Eric Shimelonis (sound designer). The Production Stage Manager is Susan R. White.

John Strand's (playwright) Arena Stage commissions include Snow Child, The Originalist, The Miser, Lovers and Executioners (MacArthur Award) and Tom Walker. Recent works include the book and lyrics for Hat! A Vaudeville (South Coast Repertory); Lincolnesque (Old Globe); Lorenzaccio (Shakespeare Theatre Company); and the book for the musical The Highest Yellow (Signature Theatre). Additional plays are The Diaries (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Otabenga (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Three Nights in Tehran (Signature Theatre); and The Cockburn Rituals (Woolly Mammoth). Strand spent 10 years in Paris, where he worked as a journalist and drama critic, and directed NYU's Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. His novel Commieland was published by Kiwai Media, Paris in 2013. He is currently at work on a new play about President Teddy Roosevelt for Arena Stage and on the film adaptation of The Originalist.

Molly Smith (director) has served as Artistic Director of Arena Stage since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include Snow Child, Sovereignty, Carousel, The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Orpheus Descending, Legacy of Light, Cabaret, South Pacific, Agamemnon and His Daughters, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive. She most recently directed Our Town at Canada's Shaw Festival. Her directorial work has also been seen at The Old Globe, Court Theatre, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto's Tarragon Theatre, Montreal's Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 35 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including How I Learned to Drive; Passion Play, a cycle; Next to Normal; and Dear Evan Hansen. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University.

Edward Gero's (Antonin Scalia) Arena Stage credits include Benjamin Hubbard in The Little Foxes and Mark Rothko in Red. He is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner and 15-time nominee. Regional credits include The Originalist (Asolo Repertory, Pasadena Playhouse); Red and Gloucester in King Lear(Goodman); Nixon's Nixon and Night Alive (Round House); Sweeney Todd (Signature Theatre); Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Ford's Theatre); and American Buffalo, Shining City and Skylight (Studio Theatre). In 32 seasons with Shakespeare Theatre Company, his over 70 roles include Helen Hayes turns in Henry IV, Richard II and Macbeth. Film/TV credits include House of Cards, TURN: Washington's Spies, Die Hard 2, Striking Distance and narrations for Discovery Channel and PBS. He is a Ten Chimneys 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellow and associate professor of theater at George Mason University.

Tracy Ifeachor (Cat) most recently appeared on stage in the two-hander revival of Alpha Beta. Tracy started with The Royal Shakespeare Company and was rewarded with a nomination for the prestigious Ian Charleson Award for an outstanding performance in a classical role for her performance of Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like It. Graduating from the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama on a full scholarship, Tracy went on to play Beneatha in the sold-out production of A Raisin in the Sun at The Royal Exchange. Tracy's television credits include Lydia in ABC's hit series Quantico, Greg Berlanti'sLegends of Tomorrow, Aya in The Originals, and the female lead in NBC's Crossbones opposite John Malkovich, as well as the HBO/Cinemax series Strike Back and Dr. Who.

Brett Mack (Brad) is honored to make his 59E59 debut. Past regional theater credits include The Great Society (Asolo Repertory); Mezzulah 1946 and The Muckle Man (Pittsburgh City Theatre); Leveling Up and The Tempest (The Hippodrome Theatre); Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre); and The Illusion (Chautauqua Theatre). Brett is a M.F.A. graduate from Florida State University. He can be seen in season two of Scandal on ABC. Brett is grateful to be a part of the team behind The Originalist and would also like to thank his family for their constant support.

Beth Newburger (Executive Producer) is an entrepreneur who has founded and sold several businesses and is currently heading Richlynd Federal and Epoch Communications. She is known for her work as director of communications for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Prior to joining the National Trust, she was appointed by President Clinton to co-chair the Presidential Women's History Commission and vice-chair the bi-partisan Congressional Women's Progress Commission. She also served in both Clinton administrations as associate administrator of the general services administration and outreach coordinator for the White House Office of Women's Initiatives and Outreach. Before entering public service, Beth was the founder and CEO of Corabi International Telemetrics, Inc., the company that invented and marketed the patented telepathology process that allows physicians to make diagnoses from a remote location. She was also the founder/president of Owlcat/Digital Research, Inc., the company that developed the first computer-based test preparation products for the SATs. Newburger Schwartz has also served as publisher of Washington Woman Magazine, chairman/CEO of Health Street, Inc., marketing manager of The Washington Post and the director of advertising for the New Republic Magazine. Newburger Schwartz is a former chairman and currently a trustee of the National Children's Museum and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. In addition to Arena Stage, she also serves on the boards of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, President's Council of Cornell Women, ApolloPacs and Boat Owners Association of the United States. The Cornell University graduate shared her love of theater and the arts with her late husband, Richard Schwartz, the founder of BoatUS and an extraordinary philanthropist.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Director Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the Americanspirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays and impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.

Photo: Edward Gero in The Originalist

Photo by C. Stanley Photogarphy

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