The DCJCC's Theater J announce the world premiere production of Our Suburb, a new play by Darrah Cloud

The DCJCC’s Theater J announces the world premiere production of Our Suburb, a new play by Darrah Cloud. An homage to the classic American play Our Town by Thornton Wilder, Our Suburb opens with two families preparing for Christmas and Hanukkah, and two teenagers fall into an interfaith romance. Drawing a sometimes warm, sometimes stark, unyieldingly honest portrait of love and family, the play, which updates its setting from Grovers Corner New Hampshire to Skokie, Illinois circa 1977, is set against the threat of a familiar yet surprising enemy.

Our Suburb will be brought to life by director Judith Ivey, four-time Tony Award-nominee (most recently in 2013 for The Heiress) and two-time winner for her performances in Steaming and Hurlyburly. Ivey’s extensive directing resume includes credits at Second Stage in New York, Pasadena Playhouse, the Cherry Lane Theatre, the Falcon Theatre in Los Angeles and the Aspen Comedy Festival. She also previously appeared on the Theater J stage as Ann Landers in the one-woman show The Lady with All the Answers at a one-night-only benefit performance in 2012.

“What motivates me to direct is having a front-row seat to watch… all these [amazing] artists coming together,” Ivey says.

Our Suburb, first presented at Theater J as a reading in 2011, is set in suburban Illinois in 1977, when the Nazis threatened to march on Skokie. Two families find themselves absorbed in a growing menace that turns into heartbreak, surprise and headlines involving the whole community. With structural nods to Our Town – including following two families over the years, a division into three sections about different aspects of life and the employment of meta-theatrical devices acknowledging how minimalist design and maximalist imaginative leaps – Our Suburb presents a fresh, up-to-the-minute take on Wilder’s classic. Beneath its sparkling humor, the play asks big questions – what’s really happening on the other side of our fence? Are our loved ones happy with the choices they’ve made? How can we learn to live with our own regrets? Typically kept beneath the surface, Our Suburb lets these simmering thoughts boil over into a messy yet elegant, all-too-human tale of interconnected lives.

“In the 20th century, the suburb replaced Grover’s Corners, and what does this mean?” says playwright Darrah Cloud, who grew-up in Skokie, Ill. “Was it really a safe, boring place? What center held it? Did it even have a center? I always thought Skokie was center-less, “there-less,” until I started to think about writing this play and realized what an enormous world we embodied just by living across the street from each other in a place that felt disconnected from everything else. And how much I was a part of it by being someone who, despite every intent, loved it.”

Cloud’s other plays include The House Across the Street, Joan the Girl of Arc, What’s Bugging Greg?, The Stick Wife, Dream House, Braille Garden, and The Sirens. Her musicals, written with composer Kim D. Sherman, include Heartland, The Boxcar Children, Honor Song for Crazy Horse, and O Pioneers! and Makeover. She has also had more than 10 movies-of-the-week produced on CBS and NBC.

“It’s a thrill to be welcoming Darrah Cloud and Judith Ivey to our theater for this spirited collaboration on a new play during this holiday season,” says Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth. “I take a lot of pride in having introduced Judy to Darrah and to Darrah’s wonderfully personal, universally relevant play. As it turns out, it’s been a match made in heaven, between playwright and director – two Illinois natives – and between play and theater as well. The play’s interfaith romance, heartbreak and time-travel all speak to elements we roundly embrace as part of Theater J’s mission and sense of theatrical style. There’s humor and magic realism. There’s bridge-building, Holocaust awareness, and the promotion of civil liberties and social justice. There’s a celebration of family and the emergence of a youthful artistic impulse. This rich new play really contains everything that’s important to us, including a reference for its inspiring source material. It’s just a great project on which to have brought in a world-class artist like Judith Ivey. This is a most joyful undertaking!”

Our Suburb brings together an ensemble cast of nine including returning comic veterans Michael Willis as Mr. Edelman, Ricky’s father, (Theater J’s The Odd Couple, and Detroit at Woolly Mammoth Theatre where he’s been a company member for 30 years, and Kathryn Kelley as Thornton’s mother (Theater J’s Central Park West/Riverside Drive, and Women in Mind at Round House Theatre where she was a company member for 20 years. It also features Theater J newcomers Sarah Taurchini and Joshua Dick, portraying Thornton and Ricky, the two teenagers who fall in love; Barbara Pinolini as Mrs. Edelman,Ricky’s mother; and James J. Johnson as L.C. Minor. Other returning Theater J veterans include Barbara Rappaport (Honey Brown Eyes) as Ricky’s grandmother, Mrs. Witcoff; Jim Jorgensen (Born Guilty and A Bad Friend) as Mr. Major, Thornton’s father; and Jjana Valentiner (The History of Invulnerability) as the Stage Manager.

The design team for Our Suburb includes scenic, props and projection designer Samina Vieth (recent Theater J credits include Andy and the Shadows, Apples from the Desert, Our Class and The Whipping Man), lighting designer Dan Covey (recent Theater J credits include Apples from the Desert, The History of Invulnerability, After the Fall and Imagining Madoff), sound designer Eric Shimelonis (most recently featured as the composer and sound designer of The Argument at Theater J), and costume designer Deb Sivigny (recent Theater J credits include The Hampton Years, The History of Invulnerability, Imaging Madoff).

Our Suburb runs Dec. 19, 2013 – Jan. 12, 2014 at Theater J in the Washington DCJCC’s Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater. Press night is Sunday, Dec. 22 at 7:30 pm. The performance on Thursday, Dec. 19 is a pay-what-you-can preview. Performances on Friday, Dec. 20, Saturday, Dec. 21 and the matinee on Sunday, Dec. 22 are $30 previews. On Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7:30 pm the show will have open-captioning for the hearing impaired. There will be a special noon matinee on Friday, Dec. 10 Tickets are available starting at $35 at theaterj.org or (800) 494-8497.

Weekly post-show discussions will accompany the run of Our Suburb, providing a forum for audience and community members to discuss a plurality the issues presented in the play.

OUR SUBURB FACT SHEET

WRITTEN BY: Darrah Cloud
DIRECTED BY: Judith Ivey
SCENIC, PROPS & PROJECTIONS DESIGNER: Samina Vieth
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Dan Covey
COSTUME DESIGNER: Deb Sivigny
SOUND DESIGNER: Eric Shimelonis
PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER: Erin Patrick
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: Kara Sparling, Madison Bahr

FEATURING: Michael Willis, Barbara Pinolini, Joshua Dick, Barbara Rappaport, Kathryn Kelley, Jim Jorgensen, Sarah Taurchini, James J. Johnson, Jjana Valentiner
PRESS NIGHT: Sunday, Dec. 22 at 7:30 pm

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: December 19, 2013 – January 12, 2014

THEATER J INFORMATION:

LOCATION: The Washington DC Jewish Community Center’s Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at 1529 16th Street NW in Washington, DC, 4 blocks east of Dupont Circle.

PARKING & METRO: Limited parking in the Washington DCJCC lot; additional parking available at Colonial Parking, 1616 P Street NW; limited street parking. Dupont Circle Station RED line.

TICKETS: Starting at $35. Box Office Tickets (800) 494-8497 or boxofficetickets.com.
For discounts for groups of 10+ call (202) 777-3214 or email Molly@theaterj.org


Theater J is a program of the Washington DCJCC. It produces thought-provoking, publicly engaged, personal, passionate and entertaining plays and musicals that celebrate the distinctive urban voice and social vision that are part of the Jewish cultural legacy. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s premiere playwrights theaters, Theater J presents cutting edge contemporary work alongside spirited revivals and is a nurturing home for the development and production of new work by major writers and emerging artists exploring many of the pressing moral and political issues of our time. Dedicated first to a pursuit of artistic excellence, Theater J takes its dialogues beyond the stage, offering an array of innovative public discussion forums and outreach programs which explore the theatrical, psychological and social elements of our art. We frequently partner with those of other faiths and communities, stressing the importance of interchange among a great variety of people wishing to take part in frank, humane conversations about conflict and culture.