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One Night Only Reading Of CHURCH & STATE Will Benefit Sandy Hook Promise, Safer Country & Brady Campaign

The 75-minute reading will be followed by an interactive talkback with politicians, activists and the creative team on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.

One Night Only Reading Of CHURCH & STATE Will Benefit Sandy Hook Promise, Safer Country & Brady Campaign

In response to the recent massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde, producer and director Charlotte Cohn will present a free one-night-only reading of Church & State, the award-winning play by Jason Odell Williams, to benefit Sandy Hook Promise, Safer Country, and the Brady Campaign. The 75-minute reading will be followed by an interactive talkback with politicians, activists and the creative team on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at 8PM at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue (30 W. 68th St. - between Columbus Ave. & Central Park West). Although tickets are FREE, you must register here.

The reading will feature Rob Nagle as Senator Charles Whitmore, reprising the role he played Off-Broadway and in L.A., earning him an Ovation Award nomination for "Best Actor." He will be joined by the reuniting Berkshire Theatre Group production cast members Judy Jerome as Sara Whitmore, Keira Naughton as Alex Klein, and Andy Talen in multiple supporting roles.

In Church & State, a Republican Senator sets his re-election campaign into a tailspin after his off-the-cuff remarks signal a possible change of heart about the Second Amendment (and God) following an elementary school shooting in his hometown. As his devoutly Christian wife and liberal Jewish campaign manager try to contain the damage, this look at how religion influences politics and how politics has become a religion is simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting.

Originally developed with artistic director Ralph Meranto and JCC CenterStage, Church & State was produced as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere in 2016 at The Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles and JCC CenterStage in Rochester before debuting Off-Broadway at New World Stages in 2017. The play has since had 65 productions across 34 states. It was named "Best Play" at the 2018 Henry Awards and was twice a "Best New Play" nominee (Off-Broadway Alliance, L.A. Ovations Awards). The Los Angeles Times praised it as "gripping entertainment," and "simply superb," while The Huffington Post called it "powerful, humorous and highly contemporary," and NPR declared, "I wish every member of Congress would see it!"

Donations of all sizes are encouraged before or after the event and will be divided among the excellent gun safety organizations Sandy Hook Promise, Safer Country, and the Brady Campaign.

If you cannot attend the reading, please consider donating to these wonderful organizations.


Rob Nagle (Senator Charles Whitmore) is beyond proud to reconnect with Senator Charles Whitmore, a role he originated at the Skylight Theatre in 2016, and then played Off-Broadway at New World Stages in 2017. Theater credits for other productions include Pasadena Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Portland Center Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Centerstage, The Old Globe, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Boston Court Pasadena, Fountain Theatre and Antaeus Theatre Company. Film credits include: Alien Vacation, Blonde, The 11th Green, To Hell and Gone, Bad Samaritan, Fishing Naked and New Year's Eve. Television credits include: "Batwoman," "Mom," "Dynasty,"" NCIS: New Orleans," "Little Fires Everywhere," "Modern Family," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "The Librarians," "Grey's Anatomy," "Criminal Minds" and "Mad Men." Education: Northwestern University. @nagdoggie

Judy Jerome (Sara Whitmore) is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio. Favorite stage roles include Lisa in Collected Stories, Flora in 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, and Sara Whitmore in Church & State. She just wrapped the indie film Four Seasons. Proud member of SAG/AFTRA and Actor's Equity.

Keira Naughton (Alex Klein) Broadway: The Rivals (LTC), Dance of Death, Three Sisters, All My Sons (Roundabout). Off Broadway: These Paper Bullets, The Jammer (Atlantic Theater Co.), Hunting and Gathering, Lucy and Tesla's Letters, Indoor/Outdoor, The American Clock. Regional: Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration's Company, Old Globe, McCarter, Geffen Playhouse, Arena Stage among others. TV: "The Exorcis"t on Fox, "3 Lbs," "Body of Proof," "Law & Order SVU," "Sex and the City," "All My Children." Film: Blair Witch 2, Cradle Will Rock. Keira has directed plays at Berkshire Theater Group, Chester Theater, 92nd St. Y Lyrics and Lyricists. She is a singer and songwriter in the band The Petersons. MFA from NYU.

Andy Talen (Tom/Marshall/News Anchor) New York: Sleep No More, Blue Man Group, Endlings (NYTW), Church & State (New World Stages), The Tempest, Iphigenia 2.0 (CSC), The Fallen (Abington Theatre), The Two Reds (CTH), Regional: Madison Repertory Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Shakespeare & Company: Love's Labor's Lost, Mother Courage, Richard III, Winters' Tale, Julius Caesar. Television: "Alma's Way" (PBS), "The Guilded Age" (HBO), "A Crime To Remember." Video Game Characters: Red Dead Redemption II, Grand Theft Auto V. MFA Columbia University. Instagram: @andysgottalen

Charlotte Cohn (Producer/Director) was born in Denmark and raised in Israel where she served in the Israeli Army as a commanding officer. She was the lead producer of The NY Times critics' pick Handle With Care and the award winning Church & State, both written by her husband, Jason Odell Williams. Directing highlights include Best Friends at JAZZ at Lincoln Center and Church & State at Berkshire Theatre Group. Acting highlights include La Boheme and Coram Boy on Broadway. Charlotte is an Ovation Award Winner and was nominated for the Bay Area Critics' Circle Award for her performance as 'Hallelujah Lil' in Happy End at A.C.T. She is currently writing a musical with her husband about her father's escape from Denmark to Sweden during WWII.

Jason Odell Williams (Playwright) has been nominated for an Emmy Award, an Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play, and an L.A. Ovation Award for Best Original Play. His plays Church & State and Handle with Care were both produced Off-Broadway, are published by DPS, have won a Henry Award and a Theatre Bay Area Award for Best Play respectively, and have collectively been produced over 100 times across the country. His work has been named a Semi-Finalist for the Thomas Wolfe Playwriting Competition and twice been named a Semi-Finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Festival. On television, Jason's work as a writer and producer has been seen on National Geographic, the History Channel, Discovery, and Netflix. Jason is currently writing a new musical with his wife and long-time collaborator, Charlotte Cohn.


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