Annalee Jeffries Heads Cast of OFF THE MAIN ROAD, 4/18

Director Michael Wilson, straight from the Broadway opening of "The Best Man," has lined up a cast of New York veteran and major regional performers for the preview presentation of a "new" William Inge play on April 18.

Wilson helms "Off the Main Road" on Wednesday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m., in the William Inge Theatre at Independence, Kansas. The Inge work will be the opening night event of the 31st Annual William Inge Theatre Festival at the playwright's alma mater Independence Community College.

This domestic drama is set in the early 1960s and features strong and intriguing roles for women, as customary in the manner of Inge's most famous plays.

Annalee Jefferies stars as Mrs. Faye Garrit, an elegant woman desperate in a crumbling marriage. Faye escapes to a rustic Missouri resort, accompanied by her withdrawn daughter (Nicole Lowrance) and disapproving mother (Barbara Dana.)

The daughter, Julia, also faces a major life decision, complicated by meeting the ambitious young man Victor (Asa Walker). They join with the resort's landlady (Cynthia Hyer) to help Faye confront her abusive spouse Manny Garrit, (Robert Clohessy), and his rival Gino (Joseph Gomez).

Annalee Jeffries played 17 seasons with the prestigious Alley Theatre in Houston This included the leads in "A Streetcar Named Desire," the title role in "Hedda Gabler" and Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." In addition, she has performed in numerous productions across the nation and abroad, including Arena Stage, Playwrights Horizons, and Hartford Annalee JeffriesStage.

Robert Clohessy comes to the Inge Festival with several Broadway credits, including "Pal Joey" and "12 Angry Men," and numerous regional stage appearances. On television, he currently has recurring roles on "Bluebloods" and "Boardwalk Empire." He was a regular on "Hill Street Blues," "O'Hara," and "Oz" along with guest starring on 50 other shows and pilots.

Barbara Dana has performed in many Broadway productions including the 1966 production of William Inge's "Where's Daddy?" She has numerous stage and television credits. Barbara, also a published playwright and author, is currently playing Emily Dickinson in William Luce's "The Belle of Amherst" touring the United States and Canada.

Nicole Lowrance's Broadway credits include "Dividing the Estate" and international credits in "The Merchant of Venice" at the Royal Shakespeare Company. In addition to appearances at major theaters across the nation, Lowrance has appeared on television, including "Guiding Light," "Whoopi" and "Law & Order."

Active Kansas City-based actress Cynthia Hyer has appeared in numerous professional productions throughout the region, most recently "Hanky Panky" as part of the Midwest InterNational Theatre Festival. This is her fourth appearance as an actor at the Inge Festival.

Tulsa-based actor Joseph Gomez is a frequent performer at readings for the William Inge Center for the Arts, one of which led him Off-Broadway where he originated the role of Rodney in "That Pretty, Pretty, Or, The Rape Play" at the Rattlestick. He has appeared in major roles at Arkansas Rep and St. Louis Rep, among others.

Asa Walker is a sophomore theater student at Independence Community College, Independence, Kansas. He has acted in play development readings for William Inge Center for the Arts professional playwrights in residence, as well as a number of college productions.

Additional cast members include Independence-based actor Dean Hayse and Independence Community College student Jonathan Clothier, as police officers. The actor in an additional role of Faye's friend Jimmy Woodford is yet to be announced.

Director Michael Wilson is one of the stage's most respected directors, press notes state. Three plays he helmed have been nominated for a Tony Award for the best play of that season. Sought after across the country, he is praised for his work as long-time artistic director of the Hartford Stage.

The story "Off the Main Road" was seen once as "Out on the Outskirts of Town" in a 1964 teleplay broadcast of Bob Hope's Chrysler Theater.

After "Off the Main Road" on April 18, the Inge Festival presents a reading of a new play by Catherine Trieschmann, titled "The Most Deserving." Trieschmann is the winner of the Inge Festival's Otis Guernsey New Voices in the American Theatre Award. On Friday April 20, the focus switches to music at the Gala Dinner, when professionals give renditions of songs from works by David Henry Hwang and Arthur Laurents.

The Inge Festival culminates on April 21 with a multi-media tribute to the works of David Henry Hwang, featuring numerous Broadway stars.

During the daytime, festival visitors enjoy workshops and master classes with the visiting guest artists.

Tickets are available online at, or Monday through Friday from 1:00-5:00 p.m. in Room 123 of the Fine Arts Building at ICC. The ticket office number is (620) 332-5491.

Major supporters of the William Inge Center for the Arts are Independence Community College, and the William Inge Festival Foundation.

The William Inge Center for the Arts is a participant in the New Generations Program, funded by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre.

This program is presented in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes a great nation deserves great art, and the Dramatists Guild Fund.

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