New York Premiere Of BABETTE'S FEAST Will Begin An Open-Ended Off-Broadway Engagement

New York Premiere Of BABETTE'S FEAST Will Begin An Open-Ended Off-Broadway EngagementBased on the short story by Isak Dinesen (and made famous by the 1987 Academy Award-winning film), Babette's Feast will begin performances Wednesday March 14th at the Theatre at Saint Clement's (423 West 46th Street, between Ninth & Tenth Avenues) for an open-ended Off-Broadway engagement. Opening Night is set for Sunday March 25th (5pm). The performance runs 90 minutes with no intermission.

Julia Beardsley O'Brien/Spikenard & Marigold and Mark Rodgers & Caroline Lucas/More Partnerships, in association with Jennifer Carolyn King & Timothy Fredel/Rugged Elegance Foundation, The Cook Trust, The Gardner Family, Scott & Kerry Hasenbalg/Redemptive Ventures, and Demi & Dave Kiersznowski/Common Good will present the Off-Broadway premiere.

This new theatrical adaptation of Babette's Feast premiered in January at Portland Stage Company in Portland, Maine to rave reviews and standing ovations. Conceived and developed by Abigail Killeen and written by Rose Courtney based on the beloved Dinesen short story, the play is an adaptation of the story of Babette, a French refugee, who finds asylum in a pious Norwegian village. With boundless generosity, she throws a lavish feast that becomes an agent of transformative grace. Babette's Feast is a bundle of exciting contradictions: stark and lush, stunning and austere, mysterious and comic. Further, it is timely with a twist: Babette's Feast highlights the plight of a refugee seeking asylum, who through her munificence creates a lavish feast that becomes an abundant experience of forgiveness and connection, healing the fractured community. Babette's Feast shows how embracing the stranger changes a community for the better - an important message for today.

Babette's Feast will be directed by Karin Coonrod, recently hailed by Ben Brantley in The New York Times for her production of The Merchant of Venice: "This experimental director has a knack for transforming high concepts into accessible theater."

Michelle Hurst, best known for her role as Miss Claudette on "Orange is the New Black," will star as Babette, and will be joined by Juliana Francis Kelly, Abigail Killeen, Jo Mei, Elliot Nye, Steven Skybell, Sorab Wadia, Sturgis Warner, and Jeorge Bennett Watson. Babette's Feast will have scenic and lighting design by Tony Award winner Christopher Akerlind (Indecent, Rocky, The Light in the Piazza, Seven Guitars), with costume design by Oana Botez, sound design by Kate Marvin, and original music by Gina Leishman.

Rose Courtney is a playwright and actor whose work has been seen at Keen Company, Cherry Lane Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lark Theatre Company, George Street Playhouse, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Dorset Theatre Festival, and HERE Arts Center, among others. She was educated at Vassar College and received her theatre training at RADA, the Eugene O'Neill Center's National Theatre Institute and New Actors Workshop. She was an original member of Project 400 Theatre Group, where she collaborated on many new theatre pieces under
the direction of Diane Paulus. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Rose resides in NYC.

Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen was born at her family's estate near the town of Rungsted, Denmark in 1885. An imaginative and artistic child, she attended the Royal Academy in Copenhagen and also studied in England, Switzerland, Italy, and France. Blixen wrote in English and then translated her stories into her native Danish, resulting in unusually beautiful prose which emphasized her self-declamation as a fortaellerske - an oral storyteller. In 1914 she married Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke and traveled to Kenya where they started a coffee plantation. The marriage was difficult and the couple eventually divorced. While in Kenya she met Denys Finch Hatten and the two maintained a romance until his death in an airplane accident in 1931. Soon afterwards Blixen returned to Denmark and began to write in earnest. She was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and her memoir Out of Africa as well as Babette's Feast have been adapted into Academy Award-winning films. She continued to write until her death at the age of 77 in 1962.

Karin Coonrod founded the downtown theater ensemble Arden Party (1987 - '97), and the international Compagnia de' Colombari (2004 - current), based in Orvieto Italy and NYC. Coonrod has directed at the NY Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Theatre for a New Audience, La MaMa, BAM/Next Wave Festival, Classic Stage Company, Peak Performances/ Montclair State University, American Repertory Theater, Folger Theatre, Hartford Stage. Notable productions include Shakespeare's Henry VI, King John, Love's Labour's Lost, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Tempest and The Merchant of Venice; the American premiere of Vitrac's Victor, or Children Take Over; Monteverdi's Orfeo; the world premiere of Visky's I Killed My Mother; her own stage adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's short stories (Everything That Rises Must Converge); Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" (retitled More or Less I Am); and her own texts & beheadings/Elizabeth R. The New York Times called her "prodigiously inventive" and The New York Observer hailed her "clear-eyed imaginative intelligence." She was artist-in-residence at The Public Theater/NYSF, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Fordham, University of Iowa, and California Institute of the Arts and is on the faculty of Yale School of Drama.

Born in Brooklyn, Michelle Hurst has had an extensive career in theatre, film and television, playing everything from judges, lawyers, and doctors to irate mothers, ghostly slaves, and Henry James. Ms. Hurst's film credits in feature and independent films include Jean of the Joneses, Airheads, Sherrybaby, The Night We Never Met, Smoke and Frances Ha. Theatre has always been her first love and she has performed at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre, NYSF/The Public Theater, Soho Rep, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, among others. She has also performed a one-person play, In This Place..., at the Downtown Arts Center (Lexington, KY), 651 ARTS and The Irondale Ensemble Project (Brooklyn), The Kitchen Theatre (Ithaca NY), and The Painted Bride Theatre (Philadelphia PA). Her television credits include major roles on BBC1's "Last Tango in Halifax," "Broad City," "The Good Wife," "Blue Bloods," multiple episodes of all three "Law & Order" shows, and "Sex and the City." Soon she will be seen in Chris Piazza's film short Baby, Won't You Please Come Home, as a former jazz singer battling Alzheimer's and ruthless realtors. Michelle is probably most recognized for her portrayal of Miss Claudette Pelage on the award-winning Netflix series, "Orange is the New Black."

Abigail Killeen is an Affiliate Artist at Portland Stage. Other shows at Portland Stage include Brighton Beach Memoirs (Blanche), Love/Sick (Meg/Celia/Sam), and A Christmas Carol (Ghosts/Mrs. Cratchit). For Portland Stage's Studio Series she co-produced and performed in the solo show The Amish Project. This is Abigail's third show with Karin Coonrod; previous work includes a tour of Flannery O'Conner's Everything That Rises Must Converge and The Merchant of Venice with Peak Performances. New York credits include the NY International Fringe (Moritz von Stuelpenagel, dir.) and Naked Angels (David Dalton, dir.) Abigail teaches acting at Bowdoin College, and is a member of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers.

Juliana Francis Kelly is an OBIE Award winning actor, writer and doll maker who has originated roles for many great theater artists in the US, Asia and Europe, including the late Reza Abdoh (as a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Dar A Luz company), Richard Foreman, Anne Bogart, Young Jean Lee, Lear deBessonet, Charlotte Brathwaite, Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper, and Normandy Sherwood, among others. She has performed for military audiences across the US with The Theater of War. Recent work includes Karin Coonrod's text & beheadings/Elizabeth R at the Folger Shakespeare Library and Brooklyn Academy Of Music, and The Return of Tragedy by French filmmaker Bertrand Mandico. She has appeared in films for Hal Hartley, Marie Losier with Guy Maddin, and David Michalek. Ms. Kelly's own plays have been produced in New York, London, Athens, and Kiel, Germany, and translated into four languages, and she builds mixed media dolls, one of whom resides in the American Museum of Natural History's Discovery Room.

Jo Mei's theater credits include Fingersmith (ART), World of Extreme Happiness (MTC), King of Hell's Palace (Goodman Theatre), You for Me for You (Woolly Mammoth Theater). Jo has developed new works at The Public Theater, Center Theatre Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, Ma-Yi, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. TV credits include Nicki (Freeform), "Bones," and "The Good Wife." Jo stars in and co-wrote the award-winning film A Picture of You; other film credits include Who We Are Now, Adult World, The Grief of Other, Revenge of the Green Dragons. www.jomei.com

Elliot Nye is a relatively new actor based out of Portland, Maine making his NY debut. Recent credits include The Ballad of Daphnis and Chloe (Kerr and Co.), Romeo and Juliet (Camden Shakespeare Festival), Little Boy, Love Goat (Stage Rage), Much Ado About Nothing (Fenix Theatre), Lady Windermere's Fan (Sarah Lawrence College), and Macbeth (Sarah Lawrence College). Elliot is currently studying at Sarah Lawrence College, having spent this past fall semester studying with the National Theatre Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Center for the Arts.

Steven Skybell's Broadway credits include Fiddler on the Roof, Pal Joey, Wicked, The Full Monty, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Cafe Crown, Ah, Wilderness! Off-Broadway: Cymbeline (Delacorte/ Public Theatre), Tamburlaine (TFANA), Antigone in NY (Obie Award, Vineyard Theatre), The Lesson (Atlantic Theatre) What Didn't Happen (Playwrights Horizons). Other: The Chosen (Long Wharf Theater), The Merchant of Venice (Peaks Performances Series), Camelot (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes nomination) Arthur Miller's Broken Glass (Westport, Connecticut Critics Circle nomination), Caucasian Chalk Circle (Yale Rep, Connecticut Critics Circle nomination), Henry V (Shakespeare's Globe, London). TV/Film: "Blue Bloods," "Chicago PD," "666 Park Avenue," "Law and Order(s)," "Sex and The City," Garden Dayze, Simply Irresistible, Cradle Will Rock, Tom and Francie. Faculty: Yale School of Drama, NYU Tisch Grad Acting, Fordham.

Born in Bombay, India, Sorab Wadia has performed internationally as an actor and singer in an eclectic mélange of projects ranging from The Play of Daniel, a medieval music-drama, to the notorious Jihad! The Musical on London's West End. In 2016 he was honored to play Shylock #1 and Gratiano in Karin Coonrod's historic production of The Merchant of Venice performed outdoors in the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, Italy, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Ghetto. 2017 saw a remount of this production at Peak Performances in Montclair, New Jersey, and the premier of Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Sorab tours internationally with The Kite Runner, a one-man adaptation of the novel by Khaled Hosseini, directed by Wynn Handman. He garnered rave reviews for his performance as Ali Hakim on the Broadway tour of Trevor Nunn's production of Oklahoma! Off-Broadway shows include The Tempest (LaMama), Bunty Berman Presents... (New Group) and Nymph Errant (Prospect). TV credits include "Blacklist: Redemption," "Madame Secretary," "Law & Order: SVU," "30 Rock," "Chapelle's Show." Films include The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim, Suburban Girl, and Hiding Divya.

Sturgis Warner is a theater artist based in New York City. He recently returned to acting after many years as a freelance director specializing in new plays and new play development. Acting credits include The Public Theater, Signature, Second Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville/Humana Festival, Atlantic Theatre Company, Naked Angels, La Mama, The Wooster Group and many others. He is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop and is on the Artistic Cabinet of Lark Play Development Center. In addition, he is co-producer of two animated feature films-for adults-written, directed and animated by Signe Baumane: Rocks in My Pockets and My Love Affair with Marriage. www.sturgiswarner.com

Jeorge Bennett Watson is making his Off-Broadway debut. Regional theatre credits include: Wynton in Merrimack Repertory Theatre's The Royale; Orlando Shakespeare Theatre's Antony & Cleopatra; Fences, Pioneer Theatre Company; Fences, Triad Stages; Zooman & the Sign, Arena Players; Stopkiss, Woolly Mammoth Theatre; Topdog/Underdog, Studio Theatre; The Piano Lesson, Arena Stage; Three Sisters After Chekhov, Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble; and New Orleans, Moving Arts (LA). TV/film: Mark Higgins in Netflix' Luke Cage, LMN's "untitled affair project," Det. John Ahern, "Homicide: Life in the Street," "The Wire," "Justified," "Shameless," "Cold Case," and Red Wall Productions' short Saving Father.

Performances will be Monday, Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 7pm, Friday & Saturday evenings at 8pm, with matinees Saturday at 2pm & Sunday at 3pm. Tickets will be from $39.50 - $79.50, with premium tickets available for $99. They may be purchased online at Telecharge.com, by phone at 212/239-6200, or in person at the St. Clement's box office (423 West 46th Street, between Ninth & Tenth Avenues) one hour prior to show time.

For more information, visit www.babettesfeastonstage.com

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