Dark Family Comedy, Pain and the Itch, Makes NYC Debut at Playwrights Horizons

News   Dark Family Comedy, Pain and the Itch, Makes NYC Debut at Playwrights Horizons Bruce Norris' The Pain and the Itch, a tale of family dysfunction that won Chicago's 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, opens Sept. 21 in its New York City premiere.
Ada-Marie L. Gutierrez and Jayne Houdyshell in The Pain and the Itch.
Ada-Marie L. Gutierrez and Jayne Houdyshell in The Pain and the Itch. Photo by Joan Marcus

The Playwrights Horizons production reunites the earlier Steppenwolf Theatre production's star Jayne Houdyshell (who plays a grandmother in denial about family issues) and director Anna D. Shapiro. Tony Award nominee Houdyshell (Well) won a Jeff Award for her work in The Pain and the Itch.

"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."

The dark comedy began previews Sept. 1. 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.

Obie Award winner Christopher Evan Welch plays Houdyshell's son and Mia Barron plays her daughter-in-law.

The cast 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.

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 is Susie Cordon.

The performance schedule is 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.

Reg Rogers, Christopher Evan Welch and Peter Jay Fernandez in <i>The Pain and the Itch</i>
Reg Rogers, Christopher Evan Welch and Peter Jay Fernandez in The Pain and the Itch Photo by Joan Marcus
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