Opening is June 2 in the Rose Nagelberg Theatre at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Ave., in Manhattan.
Daniella Topol (Palace of the End in NYC) directs the production, presented Off-Broadway by Stan Raiff/Power Productions (Irena's Vow) in association with the National Aphasia Association.
Baker returns to the New York stage after a 15-year absence. She was last seen there in the 1993 original cast of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women opposite Marian Seldes and Myra Carter.
According to production notes, "Night Sky explores what the noted author and physicist Steven Hawking has called the two remaining mysteries — the brain and the cosmos — as the play looks at what happens to a bright, articulate astronomer, her family and her career when she is struck by a car and loses her ability to speak conventionally, a condition known as 'aphasia.' As she is left to expresses herself in an alternately funny, poetic, confusing and profound hodge-podge of words, astronomer Anna, her daughter, fiancé and colleagues face uncommon challenges of the mind and spirit as they discover new ways to communicate, and what it really means to listen."
Also featured in the cast of Night Sky are Jim Stanek, Tuck Milligan, Lauren Ashley Carter, Dan Domingues and Darlesia Cearcy. The play is "inspired by and dedicated to the memory of the late, revered actor, director, playwright and founder of the Open Theatre, Joseph Chaikin, himself affected with aphasia following a stroke in 1984," according to the producers. "Having recovered sufficiently to continue writing, directing and performing until his death in 2003, Mr. Chaikin commissioned Ms. Yankowitz to write a play that dealt with aphasia."
Since leaving New York, Baker has appeared on several television series including as a regular on "The New Adventures of the Old Christine" opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus, along with roles on "Brothers and Sisters," "Medium," "Cold Case," "Without a Trace," "The O.C.," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Passions," "Gilmore Girls" and "Still Standing."
Yankowitz is a playwright, novelist, lyricist and librettist. Her plays include Phaedra in Delirium (Classic Stage Company/The Women's Project), winner of the QRL poetic play competition; Terminal and 1969 Terminal 1996 (collaborations with Joseph Chaikin's Open Theatre); Slain in Spirit, a gospel-and-blues opera with music by Taj Mahal; Cheri, an opera/music theatre work with Michael Dellaira (finalist for the 2006 Richard Rogers Award and a featured opera at the 2006 Opera America New Works Sampler, to be produced at Long Leaf Opera in 2012); and bookwriter/lyricist of True Romances, a musical fantasia with Elmer Bernstein.
Night Sky will run Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM; Saturdays at 3 PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 3 PM (with an added performance on June 1 at 8 PM and no performance on June 3).
All tickets during previews are $45, and will range $25-$65 after opening. There will be a limited number of $25 Student Rush tickets available for each performance. Tickets go on sale May 1. For reservations, call (212) 352-3101 or visit www.NightSkyThePlay.com.
The month of June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. It is estimated that over one million Americans have aphasia — the sudden inability to communicate, speak, read, write or understand language. Noted figures who have experienced "aphasia" include cinematographer Sven Nykvist, poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, composer Maurice Ravel, ABC-TV reporter Bob Woodruff and Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota.