BLOW BY BLOW Debuts At Midtown International Theatre Festival 7/21-25

BLOW by BLOW, a new play by Jean Bergantini Grillo based on the spirited life and tragic death of British style icon Isabella Blow, has been selected to premiere at next month's 11th Annual Midtown InterNational Theatre Festival. Performances are set for Wednesday, July 21, at 6 pm; Saturday, July 24, at 7 pm; and Sunday, July 25, at 1 pm, at the Jewel Box Theatre, 130 W. 29th Street. Tickets, price at just $15 ($12 for students and seniors) are available at or 866-811-4111.

Jen Forcino, who helmed the Athena Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Sam Shepard's True West earlier this year, will direct the show about the outlandishly dressed, provocative, foul-mouthed, fearsome but still lovable Isabella Blow. Costume designer Susan Voelker, who worked with Forcino on True West, will create several designs in the spirit of Blow's fashion sensibility - including recreations of famed Philip Treacy headpieces.

Born into an aristocratic family, Isabella Blow reinvented herself into a demanding muse, artistic force -- and confirmed bitch. As editor of British Vogue, she discovered Alexander McQueen, Philip Tracey and other designers, became renowned for her wild attire and unique hats, but couldn't conquer the demons overtaking her soul. She took her own life at age 48 in 2007, three years before McQueen met a similar fate.

"Isabella hid so much personal pain behind her costume of fashion," explains Forcino. "BLOW by BLOW not only showcases Blow's dashing wardrobe, but also brings out the wit, humor and humanity of this woman who was ultimately destroyed by her desperate need to feel beautiful."

The July performances mark the first full productions for BLOW by BLOW, following a several script readings at the HB Studio Theatre, where Jean Grillo received the Virginia Woods Playwriting Scholarship in 2004. Grillo's other plays include That Afternoon at Frank Campbell's, The Route and Off to the Races, which last year was selected for inclusion in HB's "Waiting Room Plays" Short Play Month Long Festival. Two 10-minute plays written by Grillo have also been staged by the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Culture*Park Short Plays Marathon.

In addition to Shepard's True West, Jen Forcino's directing credits include Tennessee Williams' Hello, From Bertha, Anton Chekhov's The Bear and Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. She started her career as an actor at the St. Croix Festival Theatre in Wisconsin, with roles including Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa and Petunia in Happiest of the Three, and now coaches actors in scene study and monologue. Also an accomplished writer, Forcino was theatre critic for the Brooklynville newspaper.

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