LADYSITTING Extends at Arden Theatre Company

Ladysitting opens January 24 and now runs through March 3,

By: Jan. 19, 2024
LADYSITTING Extends at  Arden Theatre Company
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 Philadelphia-based Arden Theatre Company announced the extension of its third production of the 2023/24 season, the world premiere of Ladysitting. Ladysitting is written by Lorene Cary, acclaimed Philadelphia-based author and playwright, University of Pennsylvania senior lecturer, and advocate. The 90-minute show takes place in the intimate 175-seat Arcadia Stage and previews begin January 18. Ladysitting opens January 24 and now runs through March 3, with an additional eight performances added, due to ticket sales. The show is directed by Zuhairah McGill and features Tony Award winner Trezana Beverley along with Melanye Finister, David Ingram, Brian Anthony Wilson, and Monet Debose.  

The show marks the second world premiere play written by Cary to take place on the Arcadia Stage at the Arden; My General Tubman premiered in January 2020, playing to sold-out houses, and was twice extended. Cary and the Arden have shown that teaming up leads to great success.

Ladysitting, based on the 2019 memoir, explores the life and last year of Cary’s grandmother, Nana Jackson (Trezana Beverley) – a fiercely strong and independent woman now reliant on Lorene (Melanye Finister) and other family members for her care. Ladysitting captures the ruptures, love, and forgiveness that can occur in a family as Cary chronicles the stories of five generations of their African American ancestors and bears witness to her grandmother’s 101 vibrant years of life. Throughout the story, Lorene tries to keep up with the demands of caretaking. However, she soon realizes that she and her entire family are consumed with Nana’s care while still navigating their own lives and responsibilities.

“We are thrilled to be producing the world premiere of Lorene Cary’s Ladysitting, a play based on Lorene’s beautiful memoir,” says Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen. “We were finishing an extraordinary run of Lorene’s My General Tubman when we had to close in March 2020. One of the first artistic decisions I made at that time was to commission Lorene to write this play.  We wanted to look to the future, and investing in this great Philadelphia artist and this story set in Philadelphia was the perfect way to do it.”

Cary is an accomplished author and activist who has spent decades amplifying the stories and experiences of Black protagonists. Her first memoir, Black Ice (1992), details Cary’s experience attending an elite, formerly all-white, all-male New Hampshire boarding school. Black Ice became a 1992 American Library Association Notable Book. Cary then went on to write The Price of a Child (1995), a novel set in pre-Civil War Philadelphia about the Underground Railroad for which The New York Times hailed Cary as “a powerful storyteller, frankly sensual, mortally funny, and gifted with an ear for the pounce of real speech.” The City of Philadelphia selected the book as the first for the inaugural One Book, One

Philadelphia program in 2003. She then wrote Pride (1998), chronicling the journey of four black women, lifelong friends, turning 40. Her third book, If Sons, Then Heirs (2012), is a uniquely American story of the consequences of past decisions on present realities through the narrative of a Black family in Philadelphia rediscovering their roots in South Carolina.

The all-star cast bringing Ladysitting to life includes television, film, and Tony Award-winning stage performer Trezana Beverley (Nana). Trezana’s Tony Award was for Best Featured Actress in a Play as the “Lady in Red” in the 1977 original Broadway production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Melanye Finister (Lorene) is no stranger to the Arden, as previous Arden credits include Backing Track (Mel), Romeo and Juliet (Lady Capulet), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania, Queen of the Fairies). Brian Anthony Wilson (Angel of Life and Death) is a seasoned television and theatre professional and a 2019 Barrymore Award winner (Outstanding Supporting Performance in a Play) for his role of Solly in Gem of the Ocean at the Arden. Additional Arden credits include The Piano Lesson (Avery), Fences (Lyons), and Charlotte’s Web (Homer Zuckerman/Sheep). David Ingram (Bob) has been seen in numerous Arden productions, including Clybourne Park (Russ/Dan), The Pavilion (Peter), Merrily We Roll Along (Joe Josephson), Coyote on a Fence (Sam Fried), and Death of a Salesman (Howard Wagner). Monet Debose (Zoe) is a Philadelphia actor whose theatre credits include works at the Arden Theatre Company, Theatre in the X, Azuka Theatre, Bryn Mawr College, and Community College of Philadelphia.

The production is directed by Zuhairah McGill, who won the 2023 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Choreography for a Play for The Royale at Lantern Theatre, which also received the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Production of a Play.  Her extensive acting credits include Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean at the Arden and, most recently, as Rabby in Wilma Theatre’s Fat Ham.  Zuhairah has appeared locally at Theatre Horizon, Hedgerow Theatre, Quintessence Theatre, and People’s Light, among others.  Zuhairah is the Producing Artistic Director of First World Theatre Ensemble and is the recipient of the 2023 Lunt-Fontanne Award.

The production design team includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (Set Designer), Thom Weaver (Lighting Designer), Leigh Paradise (Costume Designer), Jairous L. Parker (Sound Designer), Morgan Charece Hall (Assistant Director), Alec E. Ferrell (Stage Manager), and Meili Huang (Assistant Stage Manager/Arden Professional Apprentice).

Single tickets begin at $30, with discounts available for students, groups of 10, seniors, children and teens. Tickets are available online at, by phone at 215.922.1122, or at the box office at Arden Theatre Company at 40 N. 2nd Street.