MATILDA's Alexa Shae Niziak Joins THE MOTHER OF INVENTION at Abingdon

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Abingdon Theatre Company welcomes Alexa Shae Niziak (Matilda, A Christmas Story) to the cast of THE MOTHER OF INVENTION on Tuesday, February 21.

Written by James Lecesne and directed by Artistic Director Tony Speciale, THE MOTHER OF INVENTION runs through February 26 in the June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street).

Previously seen on Broadway in Matilda, A Christmas Story and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Alexa Shae Niziak is set to play Ryder. She joins Concetta Tomei, James Davis, Dan Domingues, Angela Reed and Dale Soules in the world-premiere play, which opened on February 9.

Alexa Shae Niziak replaces Isabella Russo, who originated the role of Ryder and is leaving early to begin work on an NBC pilot.

When Dottie Nerber's son and daughter arrive to pack up the contents of their mother's Florida home, their conflicting memories of her collide. As the siblings unpack family secrets, they must separate fact from fiction and are forced to question the narratives of their own lives. James Lecesne's new full-length play is an unflinching and comedic look at how one family deals with the effects of Alzheimer's. It asks why we tell the stories we do about the people we love, and how we live with those stories after they've been debunked.

The creative team includes Jo Winiarski (Scenic Design), Daisy Long (Lighting Design), Paul Marlow (Costume Design), Christian Frederickson (Sound Design), and Jerry Marsini (Prop Master) and Ryan Bourque (Fight Choreographer). Deidre Works is Production Stage Manager.

James Lecesne's acclaimed solo play, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, received Outer Critic's Circle and Off-Broadway Alliance awards for its run at the Westside Theatre, directed by Tony Speciale, and is currently touring the country. THE MOTHER OF INVENTION was workshopped at New York Stage & Film, starring Linda Lavin and directed by Michael Wilson. Lecesne wrote the screenplay for the short film Trevor, which won an Academy Award and inspired the founding of The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention lifeline for LGBT and questioning youth. Broadway: The Best Man. Off-Broadway: Word of Mouth, presented by Mike Nichols and Elaine May, directed by Eve Ensler (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award); The Boys in the Band; Motherhood Out Loud; One Man Band; and Cloud 9. Television: Armistead Maupin's Further Tales of the City (Emmy nomination), Will & Grace and the ITVS series Vicious, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. Lecesne has written three novels for young adults, including Absolute Brightness, and he was executive producer of the documentary film After the Storm, which follows the lives of 12 young people living in post-Katrina New Orleans.

In October 2015, Tony Speciale joined Abingdon Theatre Company as its Artistic Director. In June 2016, he directed the world premiere of Stet, which he conceived with playwright Kim Davies and actress Joceylyn Kuritsky. He is also the founder of Plastic Theatre-conceiving, co-authoring and directing the world premiere of Unnatural Acts (Classic Stage Company-Drama Desk Award nominee, GLAAD Media Award nominee). NYC: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Dixon Place/Westside Theatre); A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring Bebe Neuwirth, Christina Ricci and Taylor Mac (Classic Stage Company); and Handbook for an American Revolutionary (The Gym at Judson). Regional: The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey (Kirk Douglas Theatre/Bay Street Theater), Barry Manilow's Harmony (ALLIANCE THEATRE/Ahmanson Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Tony served four seasons as Associate Artistic Director at Classic Stage Company, where he helped found and administered The Young Company, CSC's premiere Education and Outreach Program for public high school students. He studied musical theatre at The Boston Conservatory and holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University. He is also the proud recipient of a Princess Grace Theatre Honorarium and a Suzi Bass Award.

Abingdon is dedicated to developing and producing new work by emerging and established American artists. Under the artistic direction of Tony Speciale, the company provides a safe home where playwrights, directors and actors can collaborate within a supportive and nurturing environment. Abingdon Theatre Company searches for stories about the human experience that reflect our social, political, historical and cultural diversity. To date, the company has collaborated with more than 200 playwrights, produced 88 New York and world-premiere plays, presented more than 700 readings, staged over 175 ten-minute plays, and commissioned 6 one-act plays. Notable artists who have worked with Abingdon Theatre Company include Carl Andress, Bryan Batt, Reed Birney, Robert Brustein, Mario Cantone, Maxwell Caulfield, Dick Cavett, John Epperson, Jane Greenwood, Arthur Kopit, Ralph Macchio, Roberta Maxwell, Charles L. Mee, Iddo Netanyahu, Jason O'Connell, Nancy Opel, Austin Pendleton, Sam Pinkleton, Marcia Rodd and Michael Weller. Abingdon's 2014 production of Brian Richard Mori's Hellman v. McCarthy, directed by founding artistic director Jan Buttram, was filmed and presented by WNET as part of its inaugural Theatre Close-Up series. Visit

THE MOTHER OF INVENTION contains nudity. Not recommended for ages under 13. THE MOTHER OF INVENTION runs through February 26: Tuesdays-Saturdays at 7:30PM; plus matinees Saturdays at 2:30PM and Sundays at 2:00PM at Abingdon Theatre Company's June Havoc Theatre (312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues). Tickets are $55. For tickets, visit or call 212-352-3101.

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