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Custom Made Theatre Co. Sends Premiere Production of SAM AND DEDE, OR MY DINNER WITH ANDRE THE GIANT to New York

Produced by The Custom Made Theatre Co., Inc., of San Francisco with Executive Producers William and Ruth Isenberg, SAM & DEDE, OR MY DINNER WITH ANDRE THE GIANT begins performances on Thursday, March 9 for a limited engagement through Saturday, April 1 at 59E59 Theaters (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues) in Manhattan. Press opening is Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30 PM.

Moving on from the original San Francisco production are director Leah S. Abrams and the cast, Brendan Averett* as Andre the Giant and Dave Sikula as Samuel Beckett.

Based on an urban legend that turned out to be true! At 12-years old the boy who would grow up to be wrestling icon Andre the Giant was already over 6 feet tall and 240 pounds and he didn't fit on the school bus. Andre's neighbor, as repayment for a favor, offered to drive Andre to school in his truck. That neighbor was Samuel Beckett.

SAM & DEDE, OR MY DINNER WITH ANDRE THE GIANT imagines moments between a boy giant who cannot hide and a writer obsessed with silence. What could they possibly talk about? In this truly original work, DiIorio fashions a world as absurd as a Beckett play itself.

DiIorio's dialogue sparkles with Beckett-style remarks while these two 'giants' of the literary and wrestling worlds converse...intelligent, witty, and bright. - Talkin' Broadway

The original San Francisco design team includes Erik LaDue (set design); Maxx Kurzunski (lighting design); Ryan LeeShort (sound design); Brooke Jennings and Kitty Torres (costume design); and Florence McCafferty (props design). Jon Bailey is the fight choreographer. The Production Stage Manager is Beth Hall.

*Member, Actors Equity Association

Director Leah S. Abrams says, "Sam and Dede was the first play presented as part of our NYC reading series and I was fortunate to direct a few readings, in both San Francisco and NYC as the script evolved, before last season's world premiere."

"Having the opportunity to make the company's Off-Broadway debut with a piece we've been part of developing for four years is precisely what we'd hoped to accomplish with a bi-coastal presence. It is particularly exciting for me that we were able to maintain the original cast and design team while also engaging our NYC company members and a designer from our pre-SF days. We also get to explore the play on a whole new level, having already gone through a successful run. At a time when I think we are all longing for a sense of community and connection, "Sam & Dede" gives us just that in a way we would never expect."

Gino DiIorio (playwright) is a New York City based playwright whose plays have been produced across the US and internationally including New Jersey Rep, Penguin Rep, Urban Stages, Luna Stage, Virginia Stage Company, Seven Angels Theatre, the Arclight Theatre, the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, and the Garter Lane Theatre. His new play Crib was a finalist for the 2014 Laurents Hatcher Award. The Jag received the 2010 Firehouse Theatre's Great American New Play Award and was a finalist in the 2011 Laurents Hatcher Award Competition; it will be produced at NJ Rep in 2017. Gino is a member of the Dramatists' Guild and is a theatre professor/department chair at Clark University.

Leah S. Abrams (director) is the co-founder and executive director of Custom Made Theatre Co. and manages the company's NYC programming. Directing projects for the company include Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn, the world premiere of Sam and Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant, How the World Began (SF Bay Area premiere), and a dozen Beckett shorts including Krapp's Last Tape, Rockaby, Come and Go, and Catastrophe. NYC credits: Sightlines (dir., co-pro.), McGoldrick's Thread (GM), The Last Days of Cleopatra (SM), and Hard Times: An American Musical (PM).

About Custom Made Theatre Co. The Custom Made Theatre Co., in our 18th season of production in San Francisco, is committed to producing plays that awaken our social conscience, focusing on the strength of the ensemble and creating an intimate theatrical experience. Custom Made became the proprietor of the theatre at 533 Sutter St. in August of 2015, and is now in the second season as resident company of the 99-seat, intimate stage which was formerly SF Playhouse. Previously, Custom Made ran the Gough Street Playhouse (attached to Trinity Church @ Bush) and the mainstage at Off-Market Theatres in SOMA.

Awards include the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics' Circle Best Overall Production in the Bay Area, under 100 seats, for In Love and Warcraft in 2015 and The Play about the Bay in 2012. Over the past two seasons, Custom Made has been honored with fourteen Theatre Bay Area Award finalists, and over twenty Critic Circle nominations. Custom Made recently received the SFBATCC's Paine Knickerbocker Award for making a lasting contribution to Bay Area theatre. Recent world premiere productions include Sam and Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant, Of Serpents and Sea Spray, and The Braggart Soldier and Little Brother. Recent regional premieres include In Love and Warcraft, Middletown, Slaughterhouse-Five, Peter/Wendy, and The Pain and the Itch. For a full list of our company history please visit

Custom Made is a member of Theatre Communications Group, National New Play Network (Associate member), and Theatre Bay Area.

About 59E59 Since 2004, The Drama Desk Award-winning 59E59 Theaters has been dedicated to bringing the best new work from around the country and across the world to premiere in New York. Conveniently located in the heart of Midtown, just east of Central Park, this Off Broadway destination is a spectacular, modern theater complex boasting three spaces and presenting live performances six days a week, 50 weeks a year. Committed to bringing innovative, invigorating, never-before-seen work to New York audiences, 59E59 Theaters provides a space for emerging and established not-for-profit theater companies to reach new audiences. We partner with these companies by giving them a highly-subsidized rental rate as well as production, marketing and press support. They also get to keep 100% of the box office net sales.

Photo: Dave Sikula as Samuel Beckett and Brandan Averett as Andre the Giant. Photo Credit: Jay Yamada.

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