Thursday, March 31, 2016

Works by Israel Horovitz, Peter Kellogg & Stephen Weiner highlight New Works Initiative

By Charlie Nork, Individual Giving Manager
& Samantha Goober, Artistic & Management Associate

The month of February was a busy one for the Playhouse’s New Works Initiative, which was created to develop new plays and musicals through workshops and reading opportunities.

During the week of February 22nd, the Initiative’s inaugural project, a new play by Israel Horovitz titled Out of the Mouths of Babes, came to the Playhouse's Sheffer Studio in the Lucille Lortel White Barn. Actors Estelle Parsons, Judith Ivey, Francesca Choy-Kee and Angelina Fiordellisi, along with director Barnet Kellman and Mr. Horovitz, spent the first half of the week working on the text and staging a reading to be performed for an audience. On Wednesday, these four very talented ladies performed a reading in an open rehearsal setting in the Sheffer for a group of our New Works Circle members and special guests. After hearing his play read for an audience, Mr. Horovitz went home that night to make some more changes to the script.

The Out of the Mouths of Babes team.
Director Barnet Kellman, playwright Israel Horovitz,
Judith Ivey, Angelina Fiordellisi, Estelle Parsons
& Francesca Choy-Key.
The next day, the group moved into the Jason Robards Theater for a public reading of Babes that night. The play was a hit, with much adoration from the audience, and much appreciation from Mr. Horovitz: “The response to both readings of Babes was so helpful… and gave us all a major shot of confidence with the project.” Out of the Mouths of Babes will be playing a full production at New York’s Cherry Lane Theater this June.

The following Monday, February 29th, another exciting new work made its way to the Playhouse. After spending the prior week rehearsing in New York, director John Rando brought a company of ten talented Broadway actors to the Sheffer Studio for a performance of a new musical adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1776 play The Rivals, with book & lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by Stephen Weiner. After a brief final rehearsal, about 75 New Works Circle members and invited guests filled the Sheffer studio to experience a lively and hilarious fresh take on the play. After watching the cast’s talent ooze from the studio and hearing the audience’s laughter fill the room, Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Weiner were incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to work on their show, and thanked the New Works Circle for making that possible.

In just two short weeks, the Playhouse was brightened by two new and exciting pieces of theater. We are excited for the projects lying ahead for our New Works Circle & Initiative. If you are interested in becoming a member of our New Works Circle or would like more information on the project, please contact Artistic & Management Associate Samantha Goober at sgoober@westportplayhouse.org or (203) 571–1141.

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