Acclaimed Director Cromer Will Play Stage Manager in Off-Broadway Our Town

News   Acclaimed Director Cromer Will Play Stage Manager in Off-Broadway Our Town Actor-director David Cromer will again play the character of the Stage Manager when the acclaimed Chicago production of Our Town makes its New York City debut Feb. 17 at Barrow Street Theatre.

The official Off-Broadway opening is Feb. 26. The production marks the launch of a collaboration between Jean Doumanian Productions and Barrow Street Theatre (Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter).

Cromer's staging, with conceptual surprises spiking the experience, had two engagements in Chicago in 2008. Full casting for the New York City run has not been announced.

The Chicago-based director's visually arresting production of the musical Adding Machine was acclaimed in Chicago (in 2007) and Off-Broadway (2008). Cromer will also direct the upcoming Broadway double bill of Neil Simon's related coming-of-age plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, in 2009-10.

According to the producing partners of Our Town, the production will require a complete redesign of the theatre space. The physical production, as indicated in the script by Thornton Wilder, is bare-bones and highly presentational. Our Town won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938 and is one of the best-known American plays of the 20th century. It charts the range of human experience in a tale of two families in small-town Grover's Corners, NH, "just across the Massachusetts line," between 1901-13.

The action famously "takes place in, among and around the audience, creating an intimacy between actors and audience and a powerful encounter with the play's searching questions about family, community and mortality," according to the producers. Our Town will feature set design and props by Michele Spadaro, and lighting design by Heather Gilbert.

Jean Doumanian Productions and Barrow Street Theatre recently announced a creative partnership to bring innovative works and artists to Off-Broadway. The two companies are currently collaborating on "Barrow Street Fortnight2," a three-week celebration of new improv, sketch comedy, music and solo shows, currently running at the downtown venue.

Film and theatre producer Doumanian said in a statement, "This production of Our Town is an intimate, original staging of what is arguably America's most popular play and we are thrilled to bring it to New York. David Cromer has given us a timely rendering of a classic work that will continue to speak to new audiences.

"I am particularly delighted to launch my company's collaboration with Barrow Street Theatre — one that Scott (Morfee), Tom (Wirtshafter) and I know will help make possible a whole new wave of exciting work for Off-Broadway."

Cromer's production of Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith's musical Adding Machine (Minetta Lane Theatre) was also produced by Barrow Street Theatre's Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter. For it, Cromer won Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards as Best Director. Adding Machine received four Obie Awards and Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel awards as Best Musical.

A respected Chicago theatre artist, Cromer most recently staged praised productions of William Inge's Picnic at Writers' Theatre, and the premiere of Celebrity Row by Itamar Moses at American Theater Company, in addition to Our Town, which he directed for Hypocrites Theater Company.

Jean Doumanian Productions is currently a lead producer on the Broadway production of Tracy Letts' Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning August: Osage County, for which the company is also producing the feature film adaptation. The company's previous Broadway credits include Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, Michael Frayn's Democracy, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune and Amour, and Off-Broadway's Fuddy Meers, Bat Boy the Musical, Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight, Dinah Was and Death Defying Acts.

Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter have been producing together since 2001, and operating Barrow Street Theater since 2003. Their collaborations have included award-winning productions of Bug by Tracy Letts, Orson's Shadow by Austin Pendleton, Nilaja Sun's No Child…, The Civilians' Gone Missing and the musical Adding Machine.

The performance schedule for Our Town will be Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 PM & 8 PM, Sunday at 3 PM & 7 PM. Tickets are available through smarttix (212) 868-4444, www.smarttix.com, or at the Barrow Street Theatre box office (open at 1 PM daily).

Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street at Seventh Avenue South in the heart of Greenwich Village.

For more information, visit ourtownoffbroadway.com or barrowstreettheatre.com.

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