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Photo Flash: Padua Playwrights Presents the NYC Premiere MAYAKOVSKY AND STALIN


Two love stories. Two suicides. Padua Playwrights presents the NYC premiere of Mayakovsky and Stalin, written and directed by legendary poet/playwright Murray Mednick (Theatre Genesis) opening at the Cherry Lane Theatre for a four-week run beginning Oct. 17.

Mednick's newest work is a dramatic character study incorporating historical footage and photos to explore two distantly connected relationships: that of Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and his married lover and "muse," Lilya Brik, and of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his wife Nadya.

According to Mednick, "The play traces the parallel stories of these two couples. Lilya was a B actress who convinced Stalin, after Mayakovsky's suicide, to restore Mayakovsky to the canon of accepted Soviet poets. Nadya committed suicide during a state dinner, renouncing both her husband and his policies. It's about the repercussions of power, about the push and pull between secularism and religion."

Daniel Dorr and Maury Sterling (best known as "Max" on Showtime's Homeland) head the cast in the two title roles. Laura Liguori plays Lilya, Mayakovsky's married, Jewish lover and muse, while Lili's husband, Osip - a Jewish scholar, literary critic, film director and publisher who encouraged his wife's affair while remaining the poet's most trusted adviser - is played by Andy Hirsch. Nadya, Stalin's disillusioned, mentally unstable second wife, is portrayed by Jennifer Cannon. Also in the cast are Alexis Boozer Sterling as Lili's sister and Mayakovsky's former lover, Elsa; Michelle Azar as the maid, Masha; and Max Faugno in the role of the "chorus."

Like all of Mednick's work, Mayakovsky and Stalin is driven by poetic impulse rather than by linear story-telling.

In his review of the Los Angeles production, Anthony Byrnes of NPR affiliate station KCRW said, "With a Mednick play, you feel like you're being invited into the playwright's mind... It's like one of those dreams you have when you're grappling with a big question: not always clear but terribly vivid... let go and let Mednick's words wash over you."

The creative team for Mayakovsky and Stalin includes scenic and projections designer Hana Kim, lighting designer Pablo Santiago, costume designer Shon Le Blanc, composer and sound designer John Zalewski, graphic designer George McWilliams and casting director Raul Clayton Staggs. The stage manager is Danny Crisp, and Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produces for Padua Playwrights.

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