Playwright Bruce Norris Makes NYC Debut With The Pain and the Itch, Starring Houdyshell

News   Playwright Bruce Norris Makes NYC Debut With The Pain and the Itch, Starring Houdyshell
Bruce Norris' dark comedy, The Pain and the Itch, an award-winning success at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, makes its New York City debut Sept. 1 with original cast member Jayne Houdyshell.
Jayne Houdyshell in the Chicago production of The Pain and the Itch.
Jayne Houdyshell in the Chicago production of The Pain and the Itch. Photo by Michael Brosilow

The first performance at Playwrights Horizons is a pay-what-you-can show at the respected not-for-profit devoted to writers and new works.

Houdyshell, a 2006 Tony Award nominee for Well, won the Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago for her 2005 performance in The Pain and the Itch. In it, 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).

Opening is Sept. 21 at 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

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