The play by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie Award winner Adam Rapp features Heather Goldenhersh, a Tony Award nominee for Doubt — and a TV star since the bow of the 2006 sitcom "The Class" — returning to her roots at PH, where she appeared in Freedomland, Goodnight Children Everywhere and Psych.
Directed by Edge co-founder and artistic director Carolyn Cantor (Orange Flower Water, Rapp's Stone Cold Dead Serious), the production opens March 28 and continues to April 15 at Playwrights Horizons' intimate Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 W. 42nd Street.
From the author of Red Light Winter, Essential Self-Defense is described this way by the producing partners: "When a disgruntled misfit (Paul Sparks) takes a job as an attack dummy in a women's self-defense class, he finds himself mysteriously drawn to the repressed bookworm (Heather Goldenhersh) who's beating on him. But all's not well on the mean Midwestern streets of Bloggs: with local children vanishing at an alarming rate, our hero, his lady friend and a motley assortment of poets, butchers and punk librarians prepare to battle the darkness on the edge of town."
The play is billed as "a grim fairy tale with generous helpings of rock 'n' roll karaoke…" The cast will also feature Cheryl Lynn Bowers (The Underpants at Classic Stage Company, Hotel Universe for Blue Light Theatre) as Sorrell, Guy Boyd (Sex and Longing on Broadway, People Be Heard at Playwrights Horizons) as Chuck the Barber, Michael Chernus (the film "Winter Passing," directed by Adam Rapp; Living Room in Africa for Edge Theater) as Isaak Glinka, Joel Marsh Garland (M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water," The Unknown for NYMF) as Klieg the Butcher, Lucas Papaelias ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Cellini at Second Stage) as Todd, Ray Rizzo (Finer Noble Gases for Rattlestick's Adam Rapp Festival of 2004, Essential Self-Defense for Cape Cod Theatre Project) as Bob Beard, and Paul Sparks (Landscape of the Body at Signature Theatre, Orange Water Flower and Blackbird for Edge Theater) as Yul.
Playwrights Horizons' artistic director Tim Sanford and Edge's artistic director Carolyn Cantor explained the unique collaboration between the two troupes.
"Essential Self Defense is a huge play, with a large cast, several locations, and a rock band, so it would have been a daunting proposition to tackle it on our own," Sanford told Playbill.com. "But because Adam is Edge's resident playwright and because I have loved everything they have produced, it seemed to make perfect sense to ask them to do it together."
Cantor said, "While we were really excited about Essential Self-Defense from the moment Adam showed us the play, it would have been very daunting for Edge to undertake this project alone. When Playwrights Horizons approached us about doing it as a co-production, it seemed to be an ideal scenario. In addition to sharing resources, Edge benefits from their knowledge, experience, and infrastructure...and at the same time we get to help bring a different energy and perhaps a younger audience to Playwrights."
The production features scenic design by Edge's David Korins, costume design by Miranda Hoffman, lighting design by Ben Stanton, sound design by Eric Shim and original music and lyrics by Ray Rizzo, Adam Rapp and Lucas Papaelias. The production stage manager will be Charles M. Turner, III.
Adam Rapp is the resident playwright for Edge Theater. His plays include Red Light Winter (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Obie Award), Blackbird (two Drama Desk nominations), Stone Cold Dead Serious, Nocturne, Ghosts in the Cottonwoods, Animals and Plants, Finer Noble Gases, Faster, Trueblinka, Dreams of the Salthorse and Gompers. His plays have been collected in "Stone Cold Dead Serious and Other Plays" and he has written seven novels. He wrote and directed his first feature film, "Winter Passing," starring Ed Harris, Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel, for Focus Features. He is also the recipient of two Lincoln Center le Compte de Nuoy Awards; a fellowship to the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France; the 1999 Princess Grace Award for Playwriting; a 2000 Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays; a 2000 Suite Residency with Mabou Mines; the 2001 Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights; Boston's Elliot Norton Award; and was short-listed for the 2003 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.
The performance schedule for Essential Self-Defense will be Tuesdays through Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2 and 7 PM. Tickets are $50.
For ticket information to all Playwrights Horizons productions, call (212) 279-4200, noon to 8 PM daily, or visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.
Pay What You Can Night for the production will be the first preview, March 15 at 7:30 PM, with tickets being offered through a lottery system. Names will be taken at the Ticket Central box office (416 West 42nd Street) in person on the day of the performance between 2 PM and 6:30 PM. A drawing for 25 tickets will take place at 6:30 PM. Participants must be present with ID at the time names are drawn in order to be eligible for the lottery. Two tickets per person, cash only, subject to availability, $5 suggested donation.
For more information about Edge Theater, visit www.edgetheater.org.