The Runner Stumbles, which hasn't been produced in New York City since its Broadway debut in 1976, is based on the true story of the murder of a young Catholic nun, Sister Mary Janina, who went missing from a convent-school in rural Michigan in 1906. A massive search, lead by the church's priest, Father Bieniawski, and the local police department yielded no results.
After a decade, the young nun's bones were found buried in the rectory of the church. A trial began in 1919, in which a church cover-up of the murder was revealed, as well as a conviction in the bludgeoning death of Sister Janina.
Stitt's drama underwent numerous adaptations until settling on a final version, which was produced on Broadway under the direction of Austin Pendleton in 1976. While Stitt changed the names of his central characters to Sister Rita and Father Rivard, critics were captivated by the true story "who-dunnit."
The production at the Actors Company Theatre, devoted to presenting neglected and rarely produced works, will feature Mark L. Montgomery as Father Rivard and Ashley West as Sister Rita. Joining them will be Cynthia Darlow, Chris Hietikko, James Murtaugh, Julie Jesneck, Jamie Bennett, Christopher Halladay and Christina Bennett Lind.
The design team for The Runner Stumbles includes lighting by Mary Louise Geiger, costumes by David Toser, sound by Daryl Bornstein, sets by Dana Moran Williams and original music by Joseph Trapanese. Scott Alan Evans directs The Runner Stumbles, which will officially open Nov. 4 at the Beckett Theatre, located on Theatre Row at 410 West 42nd Street in Manhattan. Tickets are available by calling (212) 279-4200 or by visiting www.tactnyc.org.