Video: Cast Members Rachel Handler and Christian Prentice on Philadelphia Theatre Company's COST OF LIVING

The production features a cast of four screen and stage actors and runs from February 2 to 18.

By: Feb. 13, 2024
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Watch as cast members Rachel Handler and Christian Prentice talk about bringing playwright Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning dual dialogue of human connection in Cost of Living to Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Directed by Emmy Award-nominated director, choreographer, and PTC resident artist Jeffrey L. Page, the play examines the depth, complexity, emotional, and fiscal aspects of two relationships between disabled and able persons. 

Tony Award-nominated for Best Play of 2023 due in part to its inclusivity and depth of emotional exploration, the show delves into themes of race, class, regret, and disability through the lens of four characters.  PTC presents Cost of Living in collaboration with Art-Reach, a non-profit organization that creates connections between the disability community and the cultural arts and serves as a consulting resource translating these themes for audiences.

n her Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Majok underscores these themes through the protagonists Ani (Rachel Handler), Eddie (Ross Beschler), John (Christian Prentice), and Jess (Cianna Castro) to illustrate a longing for human connection as it confronts the perceptions of persons with disabilities. In Cost of Living, Ani (Handler) is a 42-year-old double amputee and quadriplegic as a result of a terrible accident. Her estranged husband, Eddie (Beschler), is a 40-year-old out-of-work truck driver and recovering alcoholic whose addiction has destroyed relationships. He wishes to make amends and offers to support his disabled ex.  

Additionally, Majok constructs the parallel story of Jess and John. Jess (Castro), a first-generation immigrant and Princeton graduate, is searching for employment to make ends meet while also working multiple bar jobs. She hopes to land a higher-paying gig as a caretaker for John (Prentice), a Princeton Ph.D. living with cerebral palsy. 

Cost of Living’s diverse cast includes Rachel Handler, an avid champion for actors with disabilities following her own accident and recovery journey. She is an award-winning artist with roles in film and television, including CBS’s Blue Bloods (Veteran) and Amazon Studio’s Goliath (Flor). Previous stage credits include Bucks County Playhouse’s The Music Man (Marian), Nicu's Spoon Theater Company's Richard III (Lady Anne), and Margate PAC’s The Sound of Music (Maria). 

Joining Handler as Eddie, Ross Beschler has appeared in several television programs, including Blue Bloods (Alan Marter) and The Jersey Connection (Nick Capper). He’s performed onstage in over five dozen theatre productions, such as Wilma Theater’s Hamlet (Horatio) and Twelfth Night (Duke Orsino). He is also a founding member of the Wilma Theatre’s Hothouse Company, a member of the site-specific performance collective Die-Cast, and a voice and acting teacher at Rowan University.  

Making her PTC debut as Jess is Cianna Castro, a recent Temple University theater graduate with stage credits including Azuka Theater’s All My Mothers Dream in Spanish (Camilla Marie) and EgoPo Classic Theater’s rendition of Langston Hughes’ classic The Ways of White Folks(Mattie).   

A master of film and theatre, Christian Prentice is known for his leading roles in Proximity (Zed), Swarm (Paul), and Made in Cleveland (Sean), and theatre performances in The Blue Man Group (Blue Man), Apollo 11 (Ban Emerson), and 4000 Miles (Leo). 

Polish-born playwright and New Jersey native Martyna Majok received increased acclaim following the expansion of her original 2015 off-Broadway masterwork, John, Who’s Here From Cambridge. The two-character play evolved into the current four-person production, Cost of Living, which had its 2016 world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. In 2017, Williamstown Theatre Club, in collaboration with the Manhattan Theatre Club, produced Cost of Living’s off-Broadway debut, leading to the show’s Broadway premiere in November 2022 at New York City’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Over the course of five years, Cost of Living has earned three Lucille LortelAwards nominations, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, multiple Broadway production awards nominations, and a 2023 Tony Award nomination for Best Play, Best Direction, Best Featured Actor, and Actress. 

Director Jeffrey L. Page leads the Philadelphia premiere of Cost of Living at PTC. He is the resident artist and the director of two hit shows, Choir Boy and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. Page is also the creative director for singer-songwriter Jazmine Sullivan, with works featured on Beyoncé’s “The Formation World Tour,” Mariah Carey’s “Sweet, Sweet Fantasy European Tour,” and Broadway’s Fela! He is the first African-American to be named the Marcus Institute Fellow for Opera Directing at The Juilliard School.  

Scenic Designer Christopher Ash, Costume Designer Tiffany Bacon, Lighting Designer Natalie Robin, Sound Designer Jordan McCree, and Stage Manager Leslie Ann Boyden complete the creative team for Cost of Living.  

PTC’s Cost of Living opens on February 7 and has an estimated runtime of 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Subscriptions to the 2023-24 theater season at PTC and single-tickets for Cost of Living are currently available online, by phone at 215.985.0420x1, and at theSuzanne Roberts Theatre box office starting at $20. Find a detailed lineup of productions this season, rental, partnership, and sponsorship opportunities, and a schedule of community programming on the Philadelphia Theatre Company page. Like and follow PTC on social media@philatheatreco, on Facebook, X, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn