After Four Cancelled Performances, Pain and the Itch Back on Track

News   After Four Cancelled Performances, Pain and the Itch Back on Track The New York premiere of Bruce Norris' The Pain and the Itch is expected to be back on schedule Sept. 12 after four cancelled performances due to illness in the cast.

Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell was battling illness, prompting the cancellation of performances Sept. 7-8 at Playwrights Horizons. Shows resumed for the Sept. 9 matinee, but it was decided that the Saturday evening performance Sept. 9 and matinee Sept. 10 would be cancelled in order to allow Houdyshell some additional rest. Performances resumed Sunday night Sept. 10.

The dark comedy is still on track to open Sept. 21.

Where was the understudy? The not-for-profit Off-Broadway PH doesn't have understudies; Actors' Equity contracts for Off-Broadway limited engagements don't require understudies until week six.

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An award-winning success at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, the play made its New York City debut Sept. 1 with original cast member Houdyshell, who won a Jeff Award for her Windy City performance. The first performance at Playwrights Horizons was a pay-what-you-can show at the respected not-for-profit devoted to writers and new works.

Houdyshell was a 2006 Tony Award nominee for Well.

In The Pain and the Itch she plays a grandmother in denial about the dysfunction in her family. Obie Award winner Christopher Evan Welch plays her son and Mia Barron plays her daughter-in-law.

Steppenwolf veteran Anna D. Shapiro again directs the play, with a New York cast that includes Tony nominee Reg Rogers, Aya Cash, Peter Jay Fernandez and Ada-Marie L. Gutierrez and Vivien Kells (who alternate in the role of the young daughter).

The work plays the Mainstage Theater of Playwrights Horizons on West 42nd Street.

The original production of The Pain and the Itch earned the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work.

"With a young daughter in serious need of attention and a ravenous creature possibly prowling the upstairs bedrooms, what begins as an average Thanksgiving for one privileged family unravels into an exposé of disastrous choices and less-than-altruistic motives," according to Playwrights Horizons. "The Pain and the Itch is a scathing satire of the politics of class and race, a controversial, painfully human examination of denial and its consequences."

Norris is a fixture of Chicago's theatre community. He has an ongoing collaboration with Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where many of his works have been commissioned and produced, including The Infidel, Purple Heart, We All Went Down to Amsterdam, The Unmentionables and The Pain and the Itch. He is also an actor with extensive credits, having worked on Broadway (An American Daughter, Wrong Mountain, Biloxi Blues), Off-Broadway (Plunge at Playwrights Horizons, What the Butler Saw), and on film and television ("The Sixth Sense," "Law & Order").

This production marks Norris' New York debut as a playwright.

Performances for the limited engagement will continue through Oct. 8.

The creative team includes scenic designer Dan Ostling (who designed the original production at Steppenwolf), costume designer Jennifer von Mayrhauser, lighting designer Donald Holder and sound designer by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (who also designed the Steppenwolf production). Production stage manager will be Susie Cordon.

The performance schedule will be Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $65.

For more information, visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.

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