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Theatre News: Rachel Dratch and Only Make Believe, Pascale Armand and WP Theater and Urban Stages and Joe Iconis

Theatre News: Rachel Dratch and Only Make Believe, Pascale Armand and WP Theater and Urban Stages and Joe Iconis









Only Make Believe is thrilled to announce that Bethenny Frankel will be honored with the Sir Ian McKellen Award for her global philanthropic work for families in crisis through her B Strong Disaster Relief charity as well as Tony Winning playwright / lyricist/ composer Joe DiPietro with the Founder’s Award for his for tireless commitment to OMB for 19 years and OMB’s first partner facility The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation at NYU Langone with the OMB Star Award  at  “Make Believe On Broadway” on Monday, November 5th at the Schoenfeld Theatre hosted by the hilarious Rachel Dratch.  Added to the starry night are performances by Tony nominee Montego Glover, Grammy & Tony winner and Bon Jovi member David Bryan, Tony winner Michael McGrath, Tony nominee Marc Kudisch, Diana the musical’s Jeanna deWaal, Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart, Tony nominee Chad Kimball, Fun’s Nate Russe, Tony winner Judy Kaye, Tony nominee Brad Oscar and many more in a tribute to Joe DiPietro’s multi award winning career.

Only Make Believe (OMB) is a non-profit organization that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities. They are dedicated to the principle that freeing a child’s imagination is a valuable part of the healing process. OMB has served over 64,000 chronically ill and disabled children since 1999 and has performed in over 55 hospitals and care facilities in the NYC and DC Metro areas. Only Make Believe is free of charge to hospitals and has been bringing interactive theatre to children in need for over 19 years. Their vision is to bring joy and inspiration to as many chronically ill children as possible, across the United States and around the world.

OMB’s gala last year honoring Josh Groban and hosted by Cecily Strong was a huge success and the charity raised over $1 Million in 2017.

Tickets for this star-studded event are now on sale to the public and can be purchased at





WP Theater (formerly known as Women’s Project Theater), under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Lisa McNulty and Managing Director Michael Sag, has announced that Tony Award Nominee & Obie Award Winner Pascale Armand (Eclipsed, The Trip to Bountiful) will star in the world premiere of Natural Shocks. Written by Lauren Gunderson and directed by May Adrales (Vietgone), the show will play a limited engagement from Sunday, October 28 through Sunday, November 25, with opening night set for Thursday, November 8.

Natural Shocks marks the highly-anticipated New York return of Lauren Gunderson, the most-produced female playwright in America today, starring one of the finest interpreters of modern playwriting. A dynamic performer on stage and screen, Armand’s extensive resume includes many of the most acclaimed plays of the past decade including Eclipsed, An Octoroon, Ruined, and Belleville. She made her Broadway debut in The Trip to Bountiful with Cicely Tyson, was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in the history-making Broadway production of Eclipsed by Danai Gurira, and has portrayed Shakespeare’s Rosaline in Love’s Labor’s Lost, Marina in Pericles, Ophelia in Hamlet, and Celia in As You Like It. Her film and television credits include “The Blacklist”, “America Odyssey”, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”.

Natural Shocks is a darkly hilarious solo tour-de-force where an unnamed woman is forced into her basement when she finds herself in the path of a tornado. Trapped there, she spills over into confession, regret, long-held secrets, and giddy new love. But as the storm approaches, she becomes less and less sure where safety lies — and how best to defy the danger that awaits.

Tickets for Natural Shocks are on sale now via or by calling (212)352-3101. The Performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday-Thursday at 7PM, Friday at 8PM, Saturday at 2 & 8PM, and Sunday at 3PM. The performance on October 28 is at 7PM. On November 3 there is no 2PM performance. There are additional performances on November 4 and November 25 at 7PM. There is no performance on November 22.


Urban  Stages,  under the direction of founding  artistic director, Frances  Hill, announces its  35th season, beginning with  The Urban Stages Retrospective (October 11- November 10) followed by the 10th annual award-winning cabaret series Winter Rhythms (December 12-23) and will conclude with a New York Premiere of a play TBD in March/April, 2019. For more information visit

“I am so proud of the work that we have been able to present over the past thirty-five years. Our work features unique diverse voices and have been recognized by the voting committees of  Obies, Drama Desk, Audelco, and Pulitzer Prize awards. We look forward to continuing to bring new plays and playwrights to New York City to tell their stories.”

  • Urban Stages Founding Artistic Director, Frances Hill.

The Urban Stages’ Retrospective (October 11- November 10) will feature ten plays from the past three decades. In addition, there will be a special musical evening celebrating selections from past Urban Stages’ musicals on November 5 and two family-friendly shows that have toured schools and libraries via Urban Stages’ Outreach.

All were given their World or New York premieres by Urban Stages, and went on to larger venues (regionally and internationally), award recognition and/or publication. These staged readings will feature many original cast and creative team members. The shows include Chungmi Kim’s Comfort Women, last season’s hit play A Deal by Zhu Yi, HONKY by Greg Kalleres, Pulitzer Prize finalist Bulrusher by Eisa Davis,  Jim Lehrer’s Chili Quick een, Minor Demons by Bruce Graham, The Sweepers by John Picardi, Fear Itself by Eugene Lee, Coyote On A Fence by Bruce Graham and The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion by Stephen Massicotte. Participating in The Retrospective are Reed Birney, Paul Sparks, Bill Bowers, Terence Archie, Antoinette LaVecchia, Carole Healey, Tina Chen and others.

The Retrospective will also feature family friendly shows from Urban Stages’ award-winning Outreach Program. Outreach brings original plays to libraries and schools throughout all five boroughs in hundreds of events annually. During the retrospective the Art of the Mime by Internationally renowned mime/performer Bill Bowers and The Peanut Prince written and starring Terence Archie (Broadway’s Rocky)

Tickets for the Urban Stages Retrospective are FREE, but reservations are strongly suggested by visiting and will take place at 7pm (unless otherwise noted) at  Urban Stages Theatre (259 West 30 Street)

The Urban Stages Retrospective will begin with Comfort Women on October 11, 2018  and will end with The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion on November 10, 2018. For complete schedule and dates please visit

COMFORT WOMEN by Chungmi Kim | directed by Frances Hill

Thursday, October 11 at 7pm

“Effective drama comes alive with strong performances.” -New York Times, Nov 8 2004

The Japanese Imperial Forces abducted thousands of young women during World War II and forced them into sex slavery.  Chungmi Kim’s powerful lyrical play depicts the collision of the past and present when a young Korean NYU student and her grandmother meet two of these ‘comfort women’ during the 1994 UN protests.

Comfort Women world premiered in 2004 and received subsequent productions around Canada and Korea including a performance at the Korean House of Representatives. There have been over 250 performances of Comfort Women since it premiered at Urban Stages.

Starring original members Tina Chen, Jade Wu and Jo Yang with Soomi Kim and Wei-Yi Lin.

THE SWEEPERS by John Picardi | directed by Frances Hill

Tuesday,  October 15 at 7pm

“Humorous. Gripping! Mr. Picardi renders his characters timeless.” -New York Times, April 9 2002

Bella, Mary, and Dotty have been friends and next-door neighbors in Boston’s North End Italian neighborhood since childhood. Husbands and sons are away fighting, and World War II impacts the neighborhood, exerting unsettling pressure to assimilate and change with the times on those who cherish traditions, values, and cultural heritage. Against this backdrop, Bella’s son is about to marry into an affluent Italian American family with connections to Beacon Hill. Secrets are revealed, lies are bared, and truths are told as the war winds down and powerful emotions strain life-long friendships. “Often humorous…gripping. Mr. Picardi renders his characters timeless.” – The New York Times

The Sweepers was originally produced in 2001 and transferred to Capital Rep and regional theaters.

Starring original cast members Carole Healey and Antoinette Lavecchia with Rebecca Knowles, Katherine Leask and Sam Vita.

COYOTE ON A FENCE by Bruce Graham | directed by Kim T. Sharp

Date TBA

“Provocative theater that stirs the mind” – New York Times, April 14 2000

Illiterate but likable, Bobby Reyburn is a funny young guy who loves to do impressions. He’s also a member of the Aryan nation, a racist predator convicted of a horrific crime. John Brennan is educated and arrogant, a serious writer who may only be guilty of doing society a favor. As each awaits his fate on death row, one evokes sympathy, the other derision. In vivid scenes, COYOTE ON A FENCE explores the disturbing question: Can one be innocent though proven guilty?

Coyote on a Fence received two Drama Desk nominations and an OBIE Award nominations and was originally presented 2000.

Starring original cast member Paul Sparks with Christopher Daftsios, Lee Sellars and C. Kelly Wright

A DEAL By Zhu Yi | directed by Ana Margineanu.

Saturday, October 20 at 7pm

“a play that was crying to be written, its subject matter now front and center” – Theaterpizzazz, Nov 20 2017

A DEAL is a dark comedy that features a Chinese family’s home buying journey in New York in winter 2015, a time of increased real estate property ownership by overseas Chinese and a sharp decline in the value of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar. It reveals the ideological conflicts between the East and the West in contemporary society by tracking a little stream of the global cash flow.

World Premiered In 2017 | Toured China in Mandarin

Starring original cast members Michi Barall, Pun Bandhu, Don Castro, Wei-Yi Lin, Seth Moore and Charlotte Purser

FEAR ITSELF by Eugene Lee | directed by Trezana Beverley

Monday, October 22 at 7pm

In a small Texas town, Cornelius is a figure of bravery and masculinity. Except that time he froze up and didn’t try to save his wife as she died screaming in a fire. His son, Harry Lee, is set to follow in his footsteps as a star football player. Secretly, Harry Lee writes poems. Unique and sensitive poems that long to know what really happened on the night of his mother’s death.

Fear Itself was originally presented in 1997 and was the winner of the AUDELCO Award for Best production

Starring original cast member Count Stovall with Michael Chenevert and Marie Thomas.

HONKY by Greg Kalleres | directed by Luke Harlan

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 7pm

“It keeps you laughing from start to finish.” -New York Times Critics’ Pick, March 15, 2013

A black teenager is shot for his “Sky Max” shoes. Sales triple among white teens. Are ghetto-glorifying commercials to blame or the CEO that only sees dollar signs? Either way, a new cure for racism promises to solve everything and advertises, “If you don’t think you need it, you’re probably a racist!” The NY Times Critic’s Pick, HONKY is a darkly comedic look at five people, white and black, as they navigate the murky waters of advertising, race, romance and basketball shoes.

Originally presented 2013. Had multiple regional productions  and a PBS Broadcast.

Starring original cast Scott Barrow, Philip Callen, Dave Droxler, Anthony Gaskins and Reynaldo Piniella, Delance Minefee with C. Kelly Wright

BULRUSHER by Eisa Davis | director Trezana Beverley

Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 7pm

“Eisa Davis can’t help herself, she’s made giddy by language. She tickles the ears of her listeners…”
-New York Times, March 16, 2006

This poetic, evocative play by Eisa Davis is set at the dawn of the Civil Rights movement, in 1955, the year Emmett Till was murdered. In a small town in California, a young African-American girl begins to understand what race means when a stranger from Alabama arrives. Set in a brothel in the real town of Boonville, with its own unique homespun language (Boontling), BULRUSHER tests our assumptions about race, sexuality and love.

Bulrusher was originally presented in 2006 and was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist .

Starring original cast members Robert Beitzel, Charlotte Colavin, and Guiesseppe Jones with Christopher Daftsios.

ART OF MIME created and starring Bill Bowers – Family Show

Sunday, October 28, 2018 at 2pm

Bill Bowers, mime extraordinaire, will present his popular Art of Mime workshop. Bill premiered his one man show Beyond Words at Urban Stages, which went on to win prizes at multiple festivals and have successful runs at subsequent theaters. In this family-friendly workshop, which tours in libraries throughout NYC, Bill will demonstrate the mime moves that made him rise to the top of his craft, and get the whole family playing along too.

CHILI QUEEN by Jim Lehrer | directed Frances Hill

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 at 7pm

“Dialogue and performances that transcend the stereotypical” -New York Times, Nov 26 1986

Set in a small town in Texas, Chili Queen Is probably the first incident of FAKE news.  A cashless cowboy claims he gave his waitress a $20 bill. She swears it was a $10. Before long, guns are drawn, the sheriff is involved, helicopters fly overhead and everyone is on the nightly news. Written by former PBS newscaster Jim Lehrer, Chili Queen takes a minor spat and puts us in the center of a media event if not the truth.

Premiered in 1986 | Transferred to Kennedy Center and regional venues

Starring Christopher Daftsios and C. Kelly Wright


Monday, November 5, 2018 at 7pm

A celebration of Urban Stages’ 35 years of premiering new musicals. A night starring Trezana Beverley, Josh Tower, C. Kelly Wright, Cheryl Stern, Barbara Rosenblat and many others.

Songs from:

Langston in Harlem: Lyrics by Langston Hughes. Music by Walter Marks

27 Rue de Fleurs: Book and lyrics by Ted Sod. Music and lyrics by Lisa Koch

Mabel Madness: Written by Trezana Beverley. Original songs by Barry Levitt and Peter Napolitano.

ReWrite: Music, Lyrics and Book by Joe Iconis.

MINOR DEMONS by Bruce Graham | directed by Kim T. Sharp.

Wednesday, November 7 at 7pm

“A truly gripping evening in the theater!” – New York Post | March 20 1997

After years as a high-power and corrupt lawyer for the mob, Deke Winters returns to his small hometown to reclaim his life and live a decent life. That is until the case of a fifteen-year-old murderer falls into his hands. A procedural error means that Deke can get his client off easy even though he is clearly guilty of his horrible crimes. A lie will keep his dangerous client out of society. Yet lying in the court of law is what destroyed Deke’s life in the first place and what he tried to get away from when he moved back home.

Minor Demons was originally presented in 1997 and received a commercial transfer starring Reed Birney, and was called “A truly gripping evening in the theater!” New York Post; “Play pack a real punch” Daily News.

Starring original Cast members Reed Birney and Kate Konigisor, with Christopher Daftsios and

C.Kelly Wright

THE PEANUT PRINCE written by and starring Terence Archie  – Family Friendly

Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 1pm

What can you do with a peanut? George Washington Carver found over 300 ways to use peanuts, including laundry soap and “peanut orange punch.” Carver was a former slave that spent his life researching on plants. World-famous and beloved, presidents consulted him and even Thomas Edison offered him the equivalent of a million dollars a year to work for him ( Carver said no!). This your rare chance to “meet” him. For ages 8 and up.

Starring Terence Archie (Apollo Creed in Broadway’s Rocky)

THE OXFORD ROOF CLIMBERS REBELLION by Stephen Massicotte | directed by Roger Danforth

Saturday, November 10, 2018 at 7pm

“Excellent! Mr. Massicotte’s riveting play could not be more timely” -New York Times, Oct 27 2007

Two heroes return home from the First World War. Lawrence of Arabia is a leader without an army.  Robert Graves is a poet who can’t forget. Suffering the aftermath of war and foreseeing the dawning of new ones, the Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion, the Benevolent Order of, lays siege to a sleepy university town.  A stand against stands, a dare to end all daring, a doing that protests all doing; the two haunted men – armed with a talent for practical jokes – grasp at love and dare to imagine a new world.

The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion was originally presented in 2007 and transferred to Capital Rep and theaters throughout the US and Canada.

Starring original cast Dylan Chalfy, Buzz Roddy and George Morfogen with Joe Tapper & Annaleigh Ashford

After the Retrospective, this winter, Urban Stages will celebrate the 10th season of its award-winning series WINTER RHYTHMS from December 12 – 23, 2018.  WINTER RHYTHMS brings the talents of well-known and up-and-coming singers, musicians, lyricists and composers to the attention of the New York theater community while performing at Urban Stages Theater. Winner of the 2016 Bistro Award for Outstanding Series and the 2015 Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series MAC Award, proceeds from WINTER RHYTHMS benefit Urban Stages’ acclaimed Outreach Program, which brings over 200 free Outreach plays and workshops to libraries and schools throughout the five boroughs.

In the spring, Urban Stages will premiere a play to be announced.


Urban Stages champions new work by artists of diverse cultural backgrounds and makes these works available to all. Urban Stages is an award-winning, not-for-profit, Off-Broadway Theatre Company founded in 1984 by current Artistic Director Frances Hill. For over 30 years, Urban Stages has produced dozens of world, American and NYC premieres. It’s Off-Broadway stage has been honored with awards and nominations from the Drama Desk, Obie Awards, Audelco, Outer Critics Circle and many more.

Plays produced at Urban Stages often move to large venues, publication and/or receive honors and recognition. Langston In Harlem by Walter Marks (music and book) and Kent Gash (book and direction) garnered a Drama Desk Nomination, a Joe A. Calloway award and 4 Audelco awards including Best Musical Production of 2010. Men On The Verge Of A Hispanic Breakdown by Guillermo Reyes and Minor Demons by Bruce Graham both moved to commercial theatres. Chili Queen, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1989). Honky (2013) by Greg Kalleres saw a regional run at San Diego Rep. My Occasion Of Sin (2012) by Monica Bauers won critical acclaim when it moved to Detroit Rep. Bill Bowers has toured the United States and the world with his two Urban Stages premieres blending mime and theatre – Beyond Words (2012) and Under A Montana Moon (2002)! Jim Brochu Character Man (2014) was nominated for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle award for Best Solo performance.  Some Urban Stages premieres have even been developed into film and television projects such as SCAR by Murray Mednick, Conversations With The Goddesses by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary by Alexandra Viets.

Many of these plays emerge from Urban Stages’ Development Program. The program involves year-round open submissions, staged readings, workshops and a supportive artistic community.

uS Outreach

For 28 years, Urban Stages OUTREACH has brought plays and workshops to all 5 boroughs of NYC in over 200 events a year. There is a repertoire of 20+ multicultural programs, ranging from plays that explore science, plays that spotlight historical figures as well as dance, mime and art workshops. Many of the neighborhoods Outreach travels to (and returns to multiple times) have little to no theatre and arts programming. All Outreach touring programs are admission-free and reach dozens of libraries and non-profit organizations annually. Under the Outreach umbrella are art residencies, including Urban Stages senior center theater groups, and an annual summer theater camp for 10 to 15 year olds.


Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

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