PHOTO CALL: John Patrick Shanley's Storefront Church Opens at the Atlantic
By Matthew Blank
John Patrick Shanley directs the world premiere of his Bronx-set Storefront Church, the third play of his trilogy that began with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt. The play — presented by Atlantic Theater Company and formerly titled Sleeping Demon — opened June 11.
The cast includes Bob Dishy, Giancarlo Esposito, Zach Grenier, Ron Cephas Jones, Jordan Lage and Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins.
The opening night marks the relighting of ATC's $8.3 million expansion and renovation of its mainstage, the Linda Gross Theater in Chelsea. (A full public unveiling ceremony will happen in the future.) Storefront Church was first announced to end on June 24; week was added on June 11, taking the play to July 1.
ATC bills the play by Bronx native Shanley, as "the final installment of the trilogy called 'Church and State,' which began with Doubt. The story concerns a Bronx borough President (Esposito) who is forced by the mortgage crisis into a confrontation with a local minister (Cephas Jones). The question they confront is one that faces us all. What is the relationship between spiritual experience and social action?"
"It involves a mortgage crisis and — more directly, really — a spiritual crisis of which the borough president and the minister are two sides," the playwright said in a spring Playbill magazine interview, "and this, I think, will bring the play to the conclusion that I would have hoped for."
A walk through the old neighborhood inspired the play. "I kept seeing these storefront churches," he said. "I thought it's just such an interesting idea to take a candy store or a laundromat and say, 'Okay, this is going to be a church, and I'm going to name it whatever the heck I think a church should be named, and I'm going to preach whatever I think this church should espouse and hope to get some parishioners and make a go of it.'"
Tony nominee Bob Dishy has appeared in 17 Broadway productions and recently starred Off-Broadway in Knickerbocker and Enter Laughing. Atlantic member Esposito returns to the New York stage following starring on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; he recently starred in AMC's award-winning television series "Breaking Bad." Grenier returns to Atlantic following starring in the critically acclaimed production of Gabriel; he received a Tony nomination for his performance in 33 Variations; Cephas Jones appeared in Signature Theatre Company's production of Katori Hall's play Hurt Village Off-Broadway; Pinkins received Tony and Olivier award nominations and Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Obie, Lortel, Audelco, Garland and Los Angeles Drama Critics awards for her starring title role performance in the musical Caroline, or Change. She also starred in Hurt Village.
The design team for Storefront Church includes scenic designer Takeshi Kata, costume designer Alejo Vietti, lighting designer Matthew Richards and sound designer Bart Fasbender.
Shanley's plays include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Savage in Limbo, Italian American Reconciliation, Welcome to the Moon, Four Dogs and a Bone, Cellini, Dirty Story, Defiance and Pirate. He won the Academy Award for his Original Screenplay for "Moonstruck."
Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross is located at 336 W. 20th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues).
Storefront Church plays Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.
All tickets are $65 and available by calling Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (ticketcentral.com) or at the Atlantic Stage 2 box office at 330 West 16th Street.
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