PHOTO CALL: Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Tilly, Charles Busch and Rosie O’Donnell at Women Behind Bars Benefit

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09 May 2012

The New Group's one-night-only benefit reading of Tom Eyen's Women Behind Bars, featuring Cynthia Nixon, Natasha Lyonne, Charles Busch and Rosie O’Donnell, was held May 7 at the Acorn Theatre.

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).

View the Entire Photo Gallery
Josh Hamilton and Charles Busch
Photo by Tracy Ketcher

"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.