Photo Flash: First Look at Melissa Gilbert in World Premiere of IF ONLY

The american vicarious will present the world premiere of Thomas Klingenstein's If Only. This limited Off-Broadway engagement will begin performances tonight, Saturday August 19th and continue through September 17th only, at the Cherry Lane Theater (38 Commerce Street, off Seventh Avenue, one block south of Bleecker Street). The performance runs 80 minutes.

Christopher McElroen directs a cast that features Melissa Gilbert, Mark Kenneth Smaltz, Richmond Hoxie, and Korinne Tetlow. If Only has scenic design by William Boles; costume design by Kimberly Manning; lighting design by Becca Jeffords; and sound design by Andy Evan Cohen; and properties design by Carrie Mossman. Casting by Stephanie Klapper.

Developed at The Lark Playwriting Center, If Only is a new four-character play by Thomas Klingenstein that explores a love and a racial equality that might have been. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln came to New York City where he befriended a well-educated ex-slave, and a young, spirited woman from New York's social class. In the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln brought them together. A romantic relationship ensued but one that neither could acknowledge. Now, thirty-six years later they meet again. They long for each other. For what might have been had Lincoln lived. His assassination changed forever their fate and the fate of a nation.

Melissa Gilbert joined the cast of "Little House on the Prairie" in the summer of 1973. Melissa's other series credits include "Stand By Your Man," "Sweet Justice" which she executive produced, and "Secrets and Lies " as well as over fifty television movies and feature films. Her company, HalfpiNT Productions, produced several, including the Emmy award-winning "The Miracle Worker." Melissa made her stage debut as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. A member of the legendary Actor's Studio, Melissa's other theater credits include Laura in Glass Menagerie, Elma Duckworth in Bus Stop, Melissa Gardner in Love Letters, and Rose White in A Shayna Maidel, for which she won Outer Critic's Circle and Theater World awards. Melissa created the role of Ma in Little House on the Prairie: The Musical. Most recently Melissa played M'Lynn in Steel Magnolias. Melissa made her television directing debut with the ABC after school special "Me and My Hormones," and later co-produced the A&E documentary "Child Stars: Their Story." Gilbert was one ofHollywood Reporter's "Women of the Year" for three consecutive years, was honored with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's Lifetime Achievement Award and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the age of 21. In 2015 Melissa and her husband Timothy Busfield co-starred, co-wrote and co-produced the multi-award winning short film "One Smart Fellow." In 2016 Melissa became the Democratic nominee for The US House of Representatives in Michigan's 8th District. She had to drop out of the race to undergo her third spinal fusion surgery from which she has completely recovered.

Thomas Klingenstein is a New York-based playwright whose work has been presented at The Lark, Theatre Lab NYC, Atlantic Theatre Studios and The New York Historical Society. His play Douglass premiered at Theatre Wit in Chicago in 2016.

Christopher McElroen is the Artistic Director of the american vicarious. Most recently, Christopher developed and directed Piedmont Blues: A Search for Salvation in collaboration with four-time Grammy Award nominee, Gerald Clayton. Piedmont Blues, which premiered at Duke Performances in December 2016, tours internationally through 2018. Christopher received a 2012 Jeff Award nomination and a 2013 Helen Hayes Award for his direction of the world premiere stage adaptation of Ralph Ellison's iconic novelInvisible Man. With visual artist Paul Chan and Creative Time, Christopher co-produced and directed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a community development through the arts initiative that staged Samuel Beckett's classic outdoors in the Lower Ninth Ward and Gentilly communities of post-Katrina New Orleans. The New York Times named the project as one of the top ten national art events of 2007. The archives from the production have been acquired for the Permanent Collection of The Museum of Modern Art. Christopher had the honor of directing the world-premiere of 51st (dream) State, the final work of poet, musician, and activist Sekou Sundiata. a multimedia exploration of American empire that premiered at The Brooklyn Academy Of Music's Next Wave Festival before touring internationally. Christopher co-founded the acclaimed Classical Theatre of Harlem. His work has been recognized with the American Theatre Wing Award (Outstanding Artistic Achievement), Drama Desk Award (Artistic Achievement), Edwin Booth Award (Outstanding Contribution to NYC Theater), Lucille Lortel Award (Outstanding Body of Work), two Obie Awards (Sustained Achievement and Excellence in Theatre), and a Helen Hayes Award (Outstanding Direction).

Performances for If Only will be Wednesday through Saturday evenings at7PM, with matinees on Sundays at 3PM. Special Wednesday Matinee onAugust 23rd and September 6th at 2pm. All performances are at the Cherry Lane Theater (38 Commerce Street).

Tickets for If Only are $55.00 (including $2.00 theater restoration fee) and can be purchased online at cherrylanetheatre.org, by phone toll free at 866/811-4111 or in person at the Cherry Lane Box Office.

For more information, visit www.cherrylanetheatre.org

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg




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