U.S. Premiere of COMMUNION Opens Tonight at Urban Stages

Urban Stages will kick off its 33rd season with the American Premiere of the award-winning drama Communion by celebrated Obie Award- winning, Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor, who will direct the production.

This limited engagement will run at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) now through October 30th, 2016 with Opening Night set for tonight, October 6th.

The talented Communion cast includes: Erica Bradshaw (TV: "Orange is the New Black," "Law & Order: SVU"), Stephanie Cozart (NYC: Lost In Yonkers), Jackie Hansen (NYC: Shatter. TV: "Deadly Sins").

The design and production team for Communion includes Deborah Constantine (Lighting Design), Frank Oliva (Set Design), Gail Cooper Hecht (Costume Design), Tony Crawford (Technical Director), Ashley Jansen (Assistant to the Director), Krystle Henninger (Production Stage Manager), Alayna Graziani (Assistant Stage Manager), Associate Producer Peter Napolitano, Development & Literary Director Antoinette Mullins and Company Manager/Financial Administrator Olga Devyatisilnaya.

In Communion, Leda's Born-Again daughter shouts a painful truth: "People don't have mothers like you." The distance between Leda and her daughter is filled with silence and anger. Upon the advice of a therapist dealing with her own host of troubles, Leda tries to bridge that distance and prepare her daughter for the calamity just ahead. Communion explores the dark places of relations and what is needed to repair a familial bond under the pressures of religion, recovery and a ticking clock. It asks whether or not some bonds are too damaged to mend.

Urban Stages also gave MacIvor's Marion Bridge its American Premiere, which was subsequently turned adapted into a film. Communion originally premiered at Canada's Tarragon Theatre.

Daniel MacIvor, (playwright/ director) Five-time nominee (and one-time winner) of the Governor General's Award and two-time winner of the Chalmers Award for best new Canadian play, Daniel MacIvor is one of Canada's most innovative playwrights. The broad appeal of his work has garnered a degree of popular success far beyond the range usually associated with experimental theatre. Part of this success is attributable to MacIvor's skill and charm as a performer of his own work. He has toured widely in productions of his plays, setting a high standard for those who subsequently have attempted to produce his idiosyncratic work. MacIvor's breakthrough as a playwright came with See Bob Run(1986), a one-woman play written for actor Caroline Gillis. In 1987 MacIvor was invited to join the Playwrights' Unit at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre, through which he developed his play Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, which received a full production at the Tarragon in 1988. Some of the highlights of MacIvor's work include Never Swim Alone (1991), one of MacIvor's most produced plays, in which the aggression and competitiveness between two businessmen is channeled through a bizarre contest moderated by a girl who the men had met one summer when they were teenagers; four one-man shows created with frequent collaborator, director-playwright Daniel Brooks (House, 1992; Here Lies Henry, 1995; Monster, 1998; and Cul-de-sac, 2002); and one of MacIvor's most popular plays, Marion Bridge (1998), about three sisters reunited by their dying mother, A Beautiful View (2006), which examines the love relationship of two women. MacIvor's recent plays include His Greatness, first produced at Factory Theatre (2011), about two days late in the life of American playwright Tennessee Williams; The Best Brothers, first produced at Stratford (2012) and subsequently at Tarragon (2013), about two brothers coming to terms with the death of their mother, who was crushed to death by a drunk drag queen at Toronto's Gay Pride Parade; Was Spring, also produced at Tarragon (2012); and Arigato Tokyo, produced at Buddies and Bad Times Theatre (2013), which uses elements of classical Japanese Noh Theatre to tell a modern love story. His New York credits include: In 1998, MacIvor won the award for overall excellence at the New York International Fringe Festival for his play Never Swim Alone. In 2002, his play In On It earned him a GLAAD award and a Village Voice Obie Award. In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre, which is a Canadian theatre award that recognizes Canadians for their work in the areas of design, direction and playwriting in Canada.

URBAN STAGES (Producer) is an award-winning, not-for-profit, Off-Broadway Theatre Company founded in 1984 by current Artistic Director Frances Hill. For over 30 years, Urban Stages has produced dozens of world, American and NYC premieres including Pulitzer Prize Finalist Bulrusher (2007) by Eisa Davis. We have been honored with awards, nominations and recognition from the Drama Desk, Obie Awards, Audelco, Outer Critics Circle and much more. For instance, our world premiere of the musical Langston In Harlem by Walter Marks (music and book) and Kent Gash (book and direction) garnered a Drama Desk Nomination, a Joe A. Calloway award and 4 Audelco awards including Best Musical Production of 2010. More recently, Unseamly by Oren Safdie (2015) was a NY Times Critics Pick, Jim Brochu Character Man (2014) was nominated for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle award for Best Solo performance and Honky (2013) by Greg Kalleres saw a regional run at San Diego Rep and was televised nationally on PBS in late 2015. After production, most plays move on to larger venues. Men On The Verge Of A Hispanic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes and Minor Demons by Bruce Graham both moved to commercial theatres. Chili Queen, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1989). My Occasion Of Sin (2012) by Monica Bauer won critical acclaim when it moved to Detroit Rep. Bill Bowers has toured the United States and the world with his two Urban Stages premieres blending mime and theatre - Beyond Words (2012) and Under A Montana Moon (2002)! Some Urban Stages premieres have even been developed into film and television projects such as Scar by Murray Mednick, Conversations With The Goddesses by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary by Alexandra Viets. In addition to plays and musicals, annually we hold a music festival - Winter Rhythms - that features famous and up-and-coming Cabaret, musicians, lyricists and other music artists. In 2016, Winter Rhythms was honored with the Bistro Award for Outstanding Series, and in 2015, it received the Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series MAC Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs.

Frances Hill (Founding Artistic Director) began her theatrical career in California as an actress. Since 1983, Ms. Hill has overseen more than 600 staged readings/workshops and 90 productions of new works for the stage. She has directed over 30 workshops and productions. Her favorite directing credits include: Gino DiIorio's Apostasy, Roma Greth's Our Summer Days, Jim Lehrer's Chili Queen, (directed at Urban Stages and Kennedy Center), John Picardi's Seven Rabbits on a Pole and The Sweepers (directed at Urban Stages and Capital Rep); Comfort Women by Chugmi Kim (Urban Stages 2004), 27 Rue De Fleurs and My Occasion of Sin. Two of her plays have been produced, Our Bench and Life Lines. Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, Playwrights' Preview Productions/Urban Stages have moved two plays into commercial Off-Broadway successes. Minor Demons opened the new Century Center Theater and Men on the Verge of His-Panic Breakdown won an Outer Critic's Circle Award while playing to capacity audiences at the 47th Street Theater. Urban Stages' African American Poets as Playwrights won eight Audelco Nominations and Coyote On a Fence received two Drama Desk nominations and a Pilgrim's Project Award. Eisa Davis's Bulrusher was one of three nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. 2010 production of Langston in Harlem won several drama desk nominations, a John Calloway award, and several Audelco nominations including a win for best music production of the year (2010), along with several other awards.

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