By Michael Gioia
16 Jul 2013
After being mounted more than 100 times in 35 states as well as Australia, Canada and England, the new production is directed by Seth Gordon (associate artistic director, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; producer/director, Primary Stages; director of Bill W. and Dr. Bob at the Cleveland Play House in 2010).
Patrick Boll (Mamma Mia!) stars as Bill Wilson opposite Timothy Crowe (resident acting member of Trinity Repertory Company) as Dr. Bob Smith, with Denise Cormier (Bill W. and Dr. Bob at the Cleveland Play House) as Lois Wilson, Deborah Hedwall (The Fall to Earth) as Anne Smith, Daniel Pearce (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as the Man and Liz Wisan (Other Desert Cities) as the Woman.
Here's how the work is billed: "In 1929, Bill Wilson, a famous New York stockbroker, crashes with the stock market, becoming a miserable drunk. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon in Akron, has been an alcoholic for thirty years, often going into the operating room with a hangover. Both are isolated, alone, and on the brink of death. Through an astonishing series of events, the two men are brought together and, realizing that 'the only thing that can keep a drunk sober is telling his story to another drunk,' forge a relationship. They help each other stay sober, and then pass on what they’ve learned to others. Nearly eight decades later, having never promoted itself, AA spans over 170 countries, with an estimated total of over 114,000 groups and more than two million members worldwide. Bill W. and Dr. Bob goes beyond the lives of Bill and Bob and their wives, and looks at how communities can come together to heal themselves and find direction and purpose that can help millions."
Net proceeds from the production go to Hazelden Foundation to support a college tour of Bill W. and Dr. Bob to address the epidemic of binge drinking on campuses, and to patient aid and educational resources for youth and young adults.
"Our hope is that everyone whose life has been touched by addiction — which means almost anyone at all — has an opportunity to experience this play Off-Broadway," said Nick Motu, Hazelden publisher and vice president, in an earlier statement.
Other members of the creative team include costume designer Teresa Snider-Stein, lighting designer Ann Wrightson, set designer Wilson Chin and general manager Roy Gabay Productions.
Aside from Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Shem and Surrey are authors of a nonfiction book "We Have to Talk: Healing Dialogues between Women and Men," winner of the 1999 Paradigm Shift Award of the Boston Interfaith Counseling Service, and a curriculum for middle/high school students, "Making Connections: Building Gender Dialogue and Community in Secondary School."
The Soho Playhouse is located at 15 Vandam Street. For more information and tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or visit BillWAndDrBob.com.