THE ANIMAL KINGDOM US Premiere Extends At Connelly Theater Upstairs

The production will now run until February 17.

By: Feb. 05, 2024
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM US Premiere Extends At Connelly Theater Upstairs
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The U.S. premiere of The Animal Kingdom, a new play by British playwright Ruby Thomas in her American debut, produced and directed by Jack Serio (Uncle Vanya in private loft, This Beautiful Future), will extend its run at the Connelly Theater Upstairs (220 E 4th St, Manhattan) to February 17, 2024. Tickets to this intimate production, for just 50 people a night, are now on sale at

The cast for The Animal Kingdom includes Tony-winner David Cromer (Uncle Vanya in private loft, The Waverly Gallery, Our Town), Tasha Lawrence (A Doll's House, dir. Jamie Lloyd; The Whale), Lily McInerny (Camp Siegfried), Uly Schlesinger (This Beautiful Future, HBO Max's “Genera+ion”), and Obie-winner Calvin Leon Smith (Fat Ham, Amazon Prime's “The Underground Railroad”).

In The Animal Kingdom, Sam is struggling. Sam's family doesn't understand. But then they barely understand themselves. Now, trapped in a stuffy inpatient clinic undergoing family therapy, they must find new ways to communicate with each other. The Animal Kingdom is an observation of family dynamics told with wit and compassion that peels back the emotional layers of group therapy.

The production reunites director Jack Serio with actor and director David Cromer following their collaboration on the critically acclaimed, sold-out, hyper-intimate staging of Uncle Vanya in a private loft this summer, which landed on Best of 2023 lists in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The Animal Kingdom also marks the second time that Serio has introduced New York audiences to a new theatrical voice out of the U.K., the first being Rita Kalnejais with This Beautiful Future, a New York Times critic's pick.

Playwright Ruby Thomas, 32, remarked, “In writing this play, it occurred to me that therapy and theatre have lots in common; both are driven by drama and conflict, both are about trying to piece together a narrative, both are arguably exercises in empathy, and both are live—we are all effectively trapped in that room for an hour, facing something. It's my hope that audiences walk away feeling a little bit more open to the idea that although we are all fundamentally different ‘animals' - and sometimes it can feel impossible to listen or communicate across that divide - it is always a worthwhile act to try.”

Director Jack Serio, 27, said, “Since first seeing Ruby's play in London almost two years ago, I have been on a mission to bring it to New York. Rarely have I ever felt so seen by a piece of writing. The play speaks with refreshing honesty to issues of mental health, queerness, and how hard it can be to communicate with people who love you. The Connelly Theater Upstairs' intimate and immersive environment is the perfect home for this production where audience members will feel like flies on the wall. I'm thrilled to explore this piece with our remarkable American company and introduce New York audiences to the singular talent that is Ruby Thomas.”

The creative team for The Animal Kingdom includes Wilson Chin (scenic design), Ricky Reynoso (costume design), Stacey Derosier (lighting design), Christopher Darbassie (sound design), Frederick Krepps (production stage manager), and Christian Rene Palomares (general manager). David Manella at Loeb & Loeb LLP serves as Production Counsel.

Performances of The Animal Kingdom will now take place through February 17, 2024, at the Connelly Theater Upstairs, located at 220 E 4th St in Manhattan. Performances take place Tuesday – Sunday at 7:30pm with an additional performance at 2:30pm on February 11. The running time is 80 minutes with no intermission. Tickets, which are $49 for general admission and $79 for reserved seating, can be purchased at Standard ticketing fees apply. Pending availability, $40 in-person waitlist tickets will be available.

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About the Artists

Ruby Thomas (playwright) is an actor and writer. Her previous work for theatre includes Either, The Animal Kingdom, and Linck & Mülhahn (a finalist for the George Devine Award 2022 and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2023) at Hampstead Theatre. In 2020 she wrote and performed a piece for the Royal Court's Living Newspaper. She was on attachment at Hampstead Theatre with the Channel 4 Playwrights' Scheme 2020 and received a Jerwood Commission from the Royal Court in 2021. She was also part of the invitation Writers' Group at the Royal Court (2018/19) and Soho Theatre Writers' Lab (2016/17). She is developing plays for Hampstead, the Royal Court, and Annapurna and a musical for Birmingham Rep. For television, she is developing original projects with Mam Tor, Origin, and Fearless Minds and writing an episode of “A Good Girl's Guide to Murder” produced by Moonage for the BBC.

Jack Serio (director) most recently directed the critically acclaimed production of Uncle Vanya staged in a Flatiron loft. Before that, he directed the U.S. premiere of Rita Kalnejais' This Beautiful Future at The Cherry Lane Theater. A New York Times Critic's Pick, the production transferred off-Broadway after a twice-extended, sold-out run at Theaterlab. His production of On Set With Theda Bara written by Joey Merlo and starring David Greenspan will return this winter, co-produced by Transport Group and Lucille Lortel Theatre at The Brick in Williamsburg. His work has been seen at Playwrights Horizons, Ars Nova, Clubbed Thumb, 59e59, Cherry Lane, Theaterlab, The Brick, Theater for the New City, and The Pearl Theater Company. He is the Development Associate for Aasif Mandvi's Fat Mama Productions, a member of the 2019 Lincoln Center Directors Lab and the 2019-2021 SDC Foundation Observership Class. BFA: NYU. 

About the Cast

David Cromer most recently played the title role in Uncle Vanya directed by Jack Serio for OHenry Productions. On Broadway, David played Howard Fine in The Waverly Gallery and Carl Lindner in A Raisin in the Sun. Off-Broadway he appeared as the Stage Manager in Our Town at the Barrow Street Theatre, the Huntington in Boston, and the Almeida in London. Roles in his native Chicago include Ned Weeks in The Normal Heart (Timeline), Louis Ironson in Angels in America, Parts 1 & 2 (The Journeymen), and Edmund Tyrone in Long Day's Journey into Night (Goodman Theatre) among others. His directing credits on and off Broadway include Prayer for the French Republic, Camp Siegfried, A Case for the Existence of God, The Sound Inside, The Band's Visit, The Treasurer, The House of Blue Leaves, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Nikolai and the Others, The Effect, When the Rain Stops Falling, Tribes, Adding Machine, Our Town, and Orson's Shadow.

Tasha Lawrence Broadway: A Doll's House; Wilder, Wilder, Wilder; Good People; Proof (National Tour). Off-Broadway: Sam Hunter plays: The Whale (Drama Desk nomination, Playwrights Horizons); The Few (Rattlestick); A Great Wilderness (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Dominique Morriseau's Pipeline (Lincoln Center); Steven Levenson's If I Forget (Roundabout); Lucy Thurber's Asheville (Cherry Lane); Daisy Foote's Bhutan (Cherry Lane). Regional: Lucas Hnath's Doll's House Part 2 (Theatreworks, Hartford); John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's Lifespan of a Fact (Theatreworks, Hartford); Deborah Laufer's Rooted (Cincinnati Playhouse); Jen Silverman's The Roommate (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Long Wharf); Theresa Rebeck's Bad Dates (City Theatre); Keith Reddin's Human Error (City Theatre); Dangerous Liaisons (Huntington Theatre); Harold Pinter's Betrayal (Northern Stage). TV/Film: “FBI Most Wanted,” “High Maintenance,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Law & Order” (classic, “Criminal Intent,” “SVU”), “Third Watch,” “Deadline,” “Kevin Hill,” “The Line” (Actra Gemini nomination), John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, Pooka, Hangnail, Sanctioning Evil, The Looming Tower.

Lily McInerny has quickly cemented herself as a star on the rise. She made her professional acting debut starring in Jamie Dack's feature film Palm Trees and Power Lines for which she has received a 2023 “Breakthrough Performance” Independent Spirit Award Nomination. The film premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and later screened at the 2022 Deauville Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize. For her performance, Vogue hailed Lily as one of five breakout actors to watch. She next stars in the film adaptation of Françoise Sagan's classic novel Bonjour Tristesse. The film was directed by director-on-the-rise Durga Chew-Bose and also stars Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny and European Film Award Winner Claes Bang. On television, Lily had a pivotal role in Hulu's zeitgeist show Tell Me Lies. That same month, she made her New York stage debut starring in Bess Wohl's off-Broadway play, Camp Siegfried, directed by David Cromer for the Second Stage Theater. Robert Hofler of The Wrap heralded her as “impressive” and Melissa Rose Bernardo of Time Out New York lauded her as a “triumph.”

Uly Schlesinger hails from Providence, RI. He is most well-known for his series regular role of Nathan in Lena Dunham's “Genera+ion” (HBOMax). One may also recognize him from his large supporting role opposite Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening in Jerry & Marge Go Large (dir. David Frankel) and his Guest Star roles on CBS's “Evil,” Apple TV+'s “Invasion,” NBC's “Chicago Med,” “The Sinner,” and more. On the stage, Schlesinger most recently starred as Otto in This Beautiful Future at Cherry Lane Theatre, directed by Jack Serio, and has been cast in several projects at MTC.

Calvin Leon Smith co-starred in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fat Ham on Broadway, following an acclaimed run at The Public Theater. Television credits include: Barry Jenkins' award-winning Amazon series “The Underground Railroad,” HBO's “The Deuce” and acclaimed series “High Maintenance.” Other theater credits include Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat with The Public Theater's Mobile Unit and On The Grounds Of Belonging at the Long Wharf Theatre; several plays with The Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Clarence Brown Theatre; and Macbeth at Shakespeare on the Sound. On film, Calvin has appeared in Benny & James (Cannes Film Festival premiere),