New Show about J.D. Salinger Debuts at Theater for the New City

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New Show about J.D. Salinger Debuts at Theater for the New City

Theater for the New City Executive Director Crystal Field is presenting "A Life In The Rye," a new play that looks at J.D. Salinger's life and the impact that "The Catcher In The Rye" had on him, his fans, fanatics obsessed with the book and the world.

The play is a riveting production inspired by the life of an author who wrote a novel that remains topical and read 100 years since his birth.

The show, written by Claude Solnik and directed by Joe John Battista, is slated to run Nov. 7-24 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. Tickets are $18 and $15 for seniors and students.

The play, produced by Two Tough Broads, debuts during the centennial of J.D. Salinger's birth at a time when his works are first being released in electronic form and an exhibit based on his life is being presented at The New York Public Library..

Tom Martin plays J.D. Salinger after the publication of "The Catcher in the Rye," who interacts with his younger self, played by Willem Long, as the play presents a dialogue between dueling Salingers.

We follow teh author from his family life as a young man selling his first short story to The New Yorker, as Tony del Bono plays his father and Thami Moscovici plays his mother.

The play also looks at the women in Salinger's life and how he impacted their lives and they impacted his, including Oona O'Neill, Eugene O'Neill's daughter, played by Janel Koloski, who captures both O'Neill's look and some of what must of been her spirit.

Oona would eventually move to Hollywood - and further- but only after becoming the model for Sally Hayes in "The Catcher in the Rye."

Alexandra Laliberte plays Jeanne Miller and Sylvia, Olivia Osol plays Claire and Vilma Hodo plays Bette. And Annalisa Plumb plays Joyce, a student who lived with Salinger and then went on to become a well-known and accomplished writer in her own right.

Chris Johnson plays Whit Burnett, Hemingway, Shawn, Salinger's agent and Giroux, a litany of literary legends, while Harry Bainbridge plays Chapman and the doctor.

The play also looks at how Salinger went from World War II to massive celebrity, as Holden Caulfield became a kind of Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn for his generation - and his creator rebelled against the pressure to provide more of the same.

"A Life in the Rye" tells the story of the young man who became a huge success and then lived a reclusive life - as fascinating as that of any character he created," Solnik said.

The play also looks at possible reasons that Salinger retreated from society after writing a novel that continues to inspire not just a readership, but a following, today.

Wendy Tonken provides costumes for this version of Salinger's life on stage, while Allison Hohman is production stage manager as well as lighting and sound designer.

John Constantine and Vilma Hodo are assistant stage managers, while John Constantine is production assistant.

"This play isn't meant to be simply a biography," Solnik added. "It tells the story of a young man who became a celebrity - and watched a character he created be embraced as the symbol of a generation."

"A Life in the Rye" looks at those who loved the book, as well as those who alluded to it after they committed assassinations, attempting to claim its principal character's desperation as their inspiration.

A Life in the Rye, Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave (9th-10th Sts.)., NY, NY. Nov. 7-24. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m. $18/$15 seniors and students. 212-254-1109,

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