Jenny Schwartz's IOWA Opens Tonight at Playwrights Horizons

The Playwrights Horizons world premiere of IOWA, a new musical play written by Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist Jenny Schwartz (God's Ear, Somewhere Fun), music by Todd Almond (Stage Kiss at PH, Kansas City Choir Boy, The Tempest, On the Levee) and lyrics by Mr. Almond and Ms. Schwartz, opens tonight, April 13, 2015.

Directed by two-time Obie Award winner Ken Rus Schmoll (Red Dog Howls, Middletown, What Once We Felt; next season's Antlia Pneumatica at PH), the musical play is the fifth production of the theater company's 2014-2015 Season. The limited engagement will play through Sunday evening, May 10 at Playwrights Horizons' Peter Jay Sharp Theater (416 West 42nd Street).

The cast of IOWA features Cindy Cheung (The Great Immensity, Middletown, Speak Up Connie), April Matthis (On the Levee, The Sound and the Fury, Lear, Hollow Roots), Annie McNamara (GATZ; God's Ear; The Sound and the Fury; That Pretty, Pretty...; Blue Jasmine), Karyn Quackenbush (Annie Get Your Gun; Blood Brothers; Imaginary Friends; Love, Loss and What I Wore), Carolina Sanchez (2014 Westminster College of the Arts graduate in her New York debut), Lee Sellars (Talk Radio, West Side Story, A Time to Kill, The Alchemist), Jill Shackner (Landscape of the Body, LES MISERABLES) and Kolette Tetlow (Once).

Mom (Ms. Quackenbush) found her soul-mate on Facebook, and he (Mr. Sellars) lives in Iowa. So Becca (Ms. Shackner) says goodbye to her beloved math teacher (Mr. Sellars), bulimic best friend (Ms. Sanchez), neighborhood pony (Mr. Sellars) and her mildly deficient teenage life, and she follows her wayward mother to a new, uncharted beginning. But in this fanciful, absurdist and intoxicating musical play from the imagination of Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond, nothing can prepare them for what they'll find.

The production features scenic design by Dane Laffrey, costume design by Arnulfo Maldonado, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau and sound design by Daniel Kluger. Musical direction is by J. Oconer Navarro. Production Stage Manager is Richard A. Hodge.

The performance schedule for IOWA is Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2 & 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 & 7PM. Single tickets, $60-75, may be purchased online via and, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily) and in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues). The evening performance on Thursday, April 16 at 7:30 PM will be a special performance for those age 30 and under.


Jenny Schwartz (Playwright/Lyrics). Plays include God's Ear, Somewhere Fun, Cause for Alarm and 41-derful. Jenny directed 41-derful for Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks 2014. Somewhere Fun premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in 2013, directed by Anne Kauffman. God's Ear was produced in New York by New Georges and the Vineyard Theatre, also directed by Anne Kauffman. God's Ear has been produced nationally and internationally from Lisbon, Portugal to Boise, Idaho to Sydney, Australia. With Todd Almond, Jenny was the 2012 recipient of the Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre to support the development of Iowa at New Dramatists. Iowa was also developed at Sundance Theatre Institute Theatre Lab at Mass / MoCA. Other awards and honors include the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Benjamin H. Danks Award in Drama, a Kesselring honor, two grants from Lincoln Center's Lecomte Du Nuoy Foundation, and Soho Rep's Dorothy Streslin Playwriting Fellowship. God's Ear and Somewhere Fun were both finalists for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Jenny chairs the Soho Rep Writer / Director Lab with Ken Rus Schmoll and teaches playwriting at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School / NYU Tisch. She received an MFA in Theatre Directing from Columbia University, is a graduate of Juilliard's playwriting program and is a member of both The Clubbed Thumb Writers Group and New Dramatists.

Todd Almond (Music/Lyrics) is a composer, lyricist and playwright. Previously at Playwrights Horizons, he wrote the music for (and performed in) Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss. He most recently wrote and performed in his theatricalized concept album Kansas City Choir Boy, co-starring Courtney Love, as part of the Prototype Festival at HERE. He also recently collaborated with director Lear deBessonet on an adaptation of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theatre for the Public Theater's Public Works program; Todd wrote music and lyrics, and played Ariel in this production, which featured a cast of 200 people, and received rave reviews. Todd's musicals include the book of Girlfriend (using new arrangements of Matthew Sweet's eponymous cult album) which premiered at Berkeley Rep and subsequently at Actors Theatre of Louisville; a musical version of Sarah Ruhl's Melancholy Play with 13P; music and lyrics for We Have Always Lived In The Castle (adapted from the Shirley Jackson novel) with Adam Bock at Yale Repertory Theatre; On The Levee with Marcus Gardley and Lear deBessonet at LCT3; and his own musical adaptation of The Odyssey at the Old Globe under Lear deBessonet's direction. He was the music director/arranger for Laura Benanti's acclaimed solo show at 54 Below (NYC); and for Sherie Rene Scott's lauded Piece of Meat also at 54 Below, and at the Hippodrome (London).

Ken Rus Schmoll (Director) is a two-time Obie Award-winning director. This season, he directs the world premiere of Iowa by Jenny Schwartz and Todd Almond at Playwrights Horizons. Ken most recently directed Ayad Akhtar's play The Invisible Hand at New York Theatre Workshop. Last season, Ken also directed the world premiere of Jordan Harrison's play The Grown-Up at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, as well as George Brant's play Grounded at Walkerspace. Ken's previous works include Death Tax (Humana Festival); Not What Happened (BAM Next Wave); Red Dog Howls (New York Theatre Workshop); Luther, Telethon, Amazons and Their Men, Demon Baby (Clubbed Thumb); A Map of Virtue, Mark Smith, Aphrodisiac, The Internationalist (13P); Telephone (Foundry Theatre); Middletown, The Internationalist (Vineyard Theatre); What Once We Felt (LCT3); Hello Failure (PS 122); Jenny Schwartz's play Cause for Alarm (NY Fringe Festival), and many others. Ken is an affiliated artist with Clubbed Thumb, a Sundance Theatre Institute alum, and co-chair of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab.

Cindy Cheung (Liz). Playwrights Horizons debut. Off-Broadway: The Great Immensity (The Public), Middletown (Vineyard), Sides: The Fear Is Real (PS 122) and her one-woman show Speak Up Connie (Cherry Lane). Other New York theater: Oliver! (National Asian Artists), The Sugar House at the Edge... (Ma-Yi Theater), The Seagull (NAATCO), Masha No Home (EST), Film/TV: Lady in the Water, Spider-Man 2, "Nurse Jackie," "Homeland."

April Matthis (Nancy Drew). Playwrights Horizons debut. Off-Broadway: On the Levee (LCT3), Lear (Soho Rep), The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928) (NYTW). Other New York theater: Hollow Roots (Under the Radar/The Public); I Bought a Bunker, B**** (EST); Good Heif, Anna Bella Eema (New Georges). Regional: Sans-Culottes in the Promised Land (Humana Festival), Home (North Carolina Stage Company).

Annie McNamara (Cheerleader). Playwrights Horizons debut. Off-Broadway: GATZ (The Public), The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928) (NYTW). Other New York theater: 41-derful, U.S. Drag (Clubbed Thumb), A Map of Virtue (13P), That Pretty Pretty or The Rape Play (Rattlestick), God's Ear (New Georges), Port Authority Throw Down (Working Theater), Film/TV: Blue Jasmine, "Mozart in the Jungle," "The Knick."

Karyn Quackenbush (Sandy). Broadway: Bronx Bombers, Imaginary Friends, Annie Get Your Gun, Blood Brothers. Off-Broadway: Love, Loss and What I Wore; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; The Green Heart, Preppies. National tours: Annie Get Your Gun; Stop the World, I Want to Get Off; Annie. Regional work includes Florence in Chess, Rosamund in The Robber Bridegroom, Petra in A Little Night Music and Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain.

Carolina Sanchez (Amanda). Playwrights Horizons and New York debut. National tour: West Side Story. Regional: Seussical - The Musical (Roxy Performing Arts Center. 2014 graduate of Westminster College of the Arts, where credits included productions of Merrily We Roll Along, A New Brain, The Producers and Rent.

Lee Sellars (Roger/Jim/Mr. Hill/Pony). Playwrights Horizons: Gun-shy. Broadway: Talk Radio, A Time to Kill, West Side Story. Off-Broadway: A Small, Melodramatic Story (The Public), The Alchemist (CSC). Extensive Regional credits including work at La Jolla, Huntington Theatre Company, George Street Playhouse, The Alley, The Guthrie, Berkshire Theatre Festival and Long Wharf. Film/TV: Groundhog Day, "E.R.," "Law & Order," "The Untouchables."

Jill Shackner (Becca). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: LES MISERABLES (Young Cosette during the show's first Broadway run). Off-Broadway: Landscape of the Body (Signature). Other New York credits: Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers & Hammerstein (Radio City Music Hall), Last Dance (York Theatre), Stand Tall (NYMF), A Charity Case (Theatre Row). Film/TV: Staring at the Sun, "The Americans," "The Michael J. Fox Show," "Ed."

Kolette Tetlow (Child/Younger Becca). Playwrights Horizons debut. National tour: Once. Regional: A Musical Christmas Carol (Civic Light Opera), High School Musical, Jr. (New Hazlett Theater). Member of the Children's Festival Choir of Pittsburgh.

Playwrights Horizons is a writer's theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists and to the production of their new work. Under the leadership of artistic director Tim Sanford and managing director Leslie Marcus, the theater company continues to encourage the new work of veteran writers while nurturing an emerging generation of theater artists. In its 44 years, Playwrights Horizons has presented the work of more than 400 writers and has received numerous awards and honors, including a special 2008 Drama Desk Award for "ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work." Notable productions include six Pulitzer Prize winners - Annie Baker's The Flick (2013 Obie Award, 2013 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park (2012 Tony Award, Best Play), Doug Wright's I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play), Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Sunday in the Park with George - as well as Ms. Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation (three 2010 Obie Awards including Best New American Play); Lisa D'Amour's Detroit (2013 Obie Award, Best New American Play); Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale (2013 Lortel Award, Best Play); Kirsten Greenidge's Milk Like Sugar (2012 Obie Award); Robert O'Hara's Bootycandy; Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Sarah Ruhl's Stage Kiss and Dead Man's Cell Phone; Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn; Dan LeFranc's The Big Meal; Amy Herzog's The Great God Pan and After the Revolution; Bathsheba Doran's Kin; Adam Bock's A Small Fire; Edward Albee's Me, Myself & I; Melissa James Gibson's This (2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist); Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie's Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards); Craig Lucas's Prayer For My Enemy and Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play); Adam Rapp's Kindness; Lynn Nottage's Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting); Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero; David Greenspan's She Stoops to Comedy (2003 Obie Award); Kirsten Childs's The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000 Obie Award); Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey's James Joyce's The Dead (2000 Tony Award, Best Book); Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins; William Finn's March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland; Christopher Durang's Betty's Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You; Richard Nelson's Goodnight Children Everywhere; Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Once on This Island; Jon Robin Baitz's The Substance of Fire; Scott McPherson's Marvin's Room; A.R. Gurney's Later Life; Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's Floyd Collins; and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's Violet.

Photo Credit: Jessica Fallon Gordon

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