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Neighborhood Playhouse to Present WAITING FOR LEFTY Reading in September


Directed by Shannon McMahon Lichte, the cast (subject to change) includes Ali Ahmed, Audrey Arnold, Tyler Clinton, Ian Duff, Steven He, Allison Mackie, and more.

Neighborhood Playhouse to Present WAITING FOR LEFTY Reading in September

The famed Neighborhood Playhouse will host a special event on Monday, September 20 to celebrate the re-opening of the school for in-person classes and unveil the first phase of capital improvements made over the last year to its iconic facility at 340 East 54th Street. The Playhouse will open its red doors for a "Red Door Reading" to welcome a group of alumni, students, faculty, and board members for a reading of Odets' provocative one-act play Waiting for Lefty, directed and performed by Playhouse Alumni.

Directed by Shannon McMahon Lichte, the cast (subject to change) includes Ali Ahmed, Audrey Arnold, Tyler Clinton, Ian Duff, Steven He, Allison Mackie, Matt McCoy, Nicola Rossi, Aria Shahghasemi, Todd Susman and Christina Toth.

First directed by Sanford Meisner in 1935 and produced by The Group Theatre, Waiting for Lefty was Odets' first play to be produced and launched Odets' career. Centered around a meeting of cab drivers who are planning a labor strike, the play brought a fierce new political consciousness to the American Stage.

"We are overjoyed to open our red doors again and welcome students, faculty, and alumni back to The Playhouse this fall," said Executive Director Pamela Moller Kareman. "It feels especially fitting to celebrate the return to our artistic home with a reading of Clifford Odets' iconic American play, Waiting for Lefty, performed by a diverse cast of alumni."

"I am thrilled to celebrate the re-opening of The Neighborhood Playhouse with this reading of Waiting for Lefty, especially with the knowledge that Sanford Meisner directed the original production in 1935," said Director Shannon McMahon Lichte. "Many of the themes of this play are as relevant today as they were 85 years ago. It addresses the concepts of fair pay, the struggles of extreme poverty, and those who finally rise up to fight the injustice of their times. We are proud to present this beautiful play as a celebration of our beloved teacher, and his work that continues each day here behind the red doors on East 54th Street."

Due to the pandemic, The Neighborhood Playhouse closed its doors in March 2020. After transitioning to fully remote classes, showcases, and productions, Playhouse leadership took bold and immediate steps to address much needed and long delayed repairs of the facility while the building was closed. Phase One of a multi-phased project to repair and renovate The Playhouse facility was planned with the ambitious timeline of completion by September 2021 to welcome students back for in-person instruction. This first phase of the project resulted in new windows, roof, and façade and updates to the HVAC system for the East 54th Street building that has been The Playhouse home since 1947.

The Playhouse was able to undertake this crucial capital project thanks to an extraordinary gift of $500,000 made in the form of a bequest from alumni William Paulson who passed away in 2019. Paulson's gift represents the largest donation from an alumnus in Playhouse history.

The successful completion of this project was made possible thanks to the guidance and generous philanthropic donations from members of The Playhouse Board of Directors: Doris Blum Gorelick, Michael McCulley, Shannon McMahon Lichte, Heather Randall and the Tony Randall Theatrical Fund, Steven Rogers, and Thomas Stewart; a special gift from the family of Playhouse alumna Joanne Woodward; and with dedicated funds from The Playhouse's capital reserves.

Building on the momentum of the last year, plans are underway to launch a wider-reaching campaign to raise the funds needed for the next phase of building improvements including the renovation of The Rita Morgenthau Theatre at The Neighborhood Playhouse.

"The completion of the Phase One construction project during this incredibly challenging time is a testament to the board and alumni's commitment to and confidence in The Playhouse's future," said Kareman. "This remarkable group of donors has helped lay the groundwork for our future success. The completion of Phase One of the renovation represents only the beginning of our work. As stewards of The Playhouse building and our legacy, it is our great honor and responsibility to ensure that the building is continually maintained and upgraded to a level worthy of the work happening within. The Playhouse must now look forward to what comes next."

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