New Group artistic director Scott Elliott staged the 7 PM benefit of Eyen's 1974 comedy. The Acorn Theatre is located on Theatre Row.
The starry cast featured Charles Busch (The Matron), Halley Feiffer (Mary-Eleanor), Janeane Garofalo (Louise), Nancy Giles (Jo-Jo), Josh Hamilton (the men), Natasha Lyonne (Cheri), Cynthia Nixon (Blanche), Rosie O’Donnell (Gloria), Rhea Perlman (Granny, The Warden), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Guadalupe) and Jennifer Tilly (Ada).
"It’s New Year’s Eve 1952 in The Women’s House of Detention in Greenwich Village," according to press notes. "When the innocent and lovely Mary-Eleanor is framed by her husband and put away, her arrival in the house of detention sparks rivalries that build to increasingly dangerous -- not to say unspeakable and hilarious -- conflicts among her fellow prisoners and the sadistic Matron."
A send-up of the classic genre of 1950s movies set in women's prisons, Women Behind Bars premiered in New York in 1974 at The New York Theatre Ensemble and transferred to Off-Broadway’s The Astor Place Theatre, where it opened in May 1975.