Friends of Bill W.: New Drama about AA Founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob Comes to Off-Broadway

News   Friends of Bill W.: New Drama about AA Founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob Comes to Off-Broadway The first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous founders is played out in the new drama Bill W. and Dr. Bob, which will head to Off-Broadway's New World Stages Feb. 16, 2007.

Penned by Stephen Bergman and Janet Surrey, the new work will officially open March 5, 2007, at New World Stages, Stage 2. Tickets are currently on sale through Aug. 19.

Fresh from its sold-out run in Boston, Bill W. and Dr. Bob depicts the relationship between Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, "two hopeless drunks whose sometimes stormy friendship . . . led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous," as show materials describe.

After being diagnosed as an incurable alcoholic, failed stockbroker Wilson thought the way to fully recover — after previous attempts — was to speak with a fellow alcoholic. During a trip to Akron, Wilson called a clergyman and asked for the name of a local alcoholic to speak to, which led him to respected surgeon Smith. They met the night of May 12, 1935, in the living room of Akron matron Henrietta Sieberling and spoke for six hours straight. This was the first AA meeting and within a month, the support group was founded.

"You really capture them. You did a terrific job bringing them to life, and bringing back that time," said former Congressman John Sieberling — son of Henrietta —when scenes from the drama were presented on the front lawn of Sieberling's home on AA Founders Day, June 9, 2006. "I knew those guys, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. They'd come to the house after that first meeting and I used to hear them talk all the time."

Rick Lombardo, who staged the Boston run at New Repertory Theatre earlier this year, returns to direct for the Off-Broadway engagement. The returning original cast includes Robert Krakovski (as Bill W.), Patrick Husted (Dr. Bob), Rachel Harker (Lois Wilson), Kathleen Doyle (Anne Smith) with Marc Carver and Deanna Dunmyer. The design team features Anita Fuchs (scenic), Jane Alois Stein (costume), Daniel Meeker (lighting) and Lombardo (sound). Incidental music is composed by Ray Kennedy.

The Off-Broadway run of Bill W. and Dr. Bob is produced by Bradford S. Lovette, Dr. Michael and Judith Weinberg, Milton McKenzie, Evelyn Freed and New Repertory Theatre. A release notes "presentation does not imply affiliation with nor approval or endorsement from Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc."

Tickets to Bill W. and Dr. Bob at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting the theatre box office. For more information, visit billwanddrbob.com.

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