Photo Flash: THE HUMANS Opens at Walnut Street Theatre

Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 209th season with Stephen Karam's Tony Award-winning play, THE HUMANS. Directed by Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard, the play, which was the recipient of over 20 Best Play Awards in 2016, begins previews on January 16th, opens on January 24th, and runs through March 4th on the Walnut's Mainstage.

After a sleepless night, Erik Blake brings his family from Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter's new apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the crumbling pre-war duplex, mysterious things start to go bump in the night and family tensions reach a boiling point. American middle class hopes, dreams, and fears are first coaxed - then shoved - into the light in this humorous, hopeful and heart-tugging new play.

Karam was commissioned by the Roundabout Theatre Company to write THE HUMANS after his previous play, Sons of a Prophet, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His plays borrow heavily from his personal life and all share a deep focus on family. With THE HUMANS, Karam challenged himself to write a play in real time on a single set. The entirety of the play is a 90-minute slice of the Blake's family Thanksgiving, allowing Karam to touch on the connections, personalities, and interactions of the family.

THE HUMANS had its world premiere in 2014 at the American Theatre Company in Chicago and was termed a "kind, warm, beautifully observed and deeply moving new play," by Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune. The show then opened Off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company in 2015 before transferring to Broadway in 2016. Both the Broadway and Off-Broadway productions won multiple awards including the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, and the Tony Award for Best Play.

Walnut Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard takes the director's seat for this production. Havard noted, "I am humbled to share this piece with Philadelphia audiences in my 35th year of creating wonderful art here at the Walnut. Truly, this is an opportunity to work with some of the city's finest actors in Stephen Karam's magnificent play, which pays tribute to what makes us all human."

Havard's other Walnut directorial credits include God of Carnage, ART, Someone to Watch Over Me, Skylight, and Driving Miss Daisy. He has spent his life in theatre as an actor, stage manager, director, managing director and producer. Recognized as one of America's leading theatre producers, he is proud to be celebrating his 35th anniversary with the Walnut. Under his leadership, the Walnut became a not-for-profit, self-producing theatre and has gained international recognition as one of America's premier regional theatres.

Walnut veteran Mary Martello will take the stage as the dry-witted but warm and unwavering matriarch, Deirdre Blake. In her almost twenty years on local stages, Martello has been awarded five Barrymore Awards, received a Lunt/Fontanne Fellowship, and has performed in almost twenty-five shows at the Walnut. Most recently, she has been seen as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Mother Superior in Sister Act, Veta Louise Simmons in Harvey, and Mama in Memphis. Deidre's husband, Erik Blake, will be played by Philadelphia actor Greg Wood, whose Walnut credits include Private Lives, Other Desert Cities, God of Carnage, The King & I, Amadeus, Fallen Angels, Born Yesterday, and Finian's Rainbow.

The Blake children, Bridgid and Aimee will be played by Alex Keiper and Jennie Eisenhower. Keiper made her Walnut debut in 2015 in the Walnut Studio 3 production of Proof. She has performed with companies including Arden Theatre, 11th Hour Theatre Company, and Theatre Horizon. In October, Keiper won the 2017 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Musical. Walnut veteran Eisenhower was seen earlier this season as a Protean in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Her other Walnut credits include Forbidden Broadway, An Ideal Husband, The Mousetrap, and South Pacific.

Deidre's mother, Fiona "Momo" Blake will be played by Sharon Alexander (And Then There Were None, Good People, The Producers). Ibrahim Miari makes his Walnut debut as Brigid's soon-to-be social worker boyfriend, Richard Saad. Miari has performed with companies including Philadelphia Fringe Company, Central Square Theatre, and Lau Lapides Company, and in theatres and festivals in Israel, Germany, and Austria. He also self produces a solo show entitled In Between.

Creating the two-story Chinatown apartment of Brigid Blake and Richard Saad-complete with a dilapidated spiral staircase and a dining room table topped with a festive, if not frugal, Thanksgiving spread, is a production team led by set designer Roman Tatarowicz. Tatarowicz's designs have been seen in the Walnut Independence Studio on 3 for shows including Souvenir, Jerry's Girls, and RED. He is joined by Costume Designer Mary Folino, whose work at the Walnut includes Annie and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Shon Causer (It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Arsenic and Old Lace, Driving Miss Daisy) returns as lighting designer, along with award-winning Sound Designer Christopher Colucci (Peter and the Starcatcher, And Then There Were None).

THE HUMANS runs at the Walnut January 16 through March 4. Open captioning will be available for the 7pm performance on Sunday, February 11. This production is sponsored by Frank and Ramona Gwynn. Media Partners are NBC 10, Metro, and 101.1 More FM. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.

Photo Credit: Mark Garvin

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