S. Epatha Merkerson, Howard McGillin, Jose Llana and More Join Cast of Actors Fund's Our Town Benefit
By Kenneth Jones
S. Epatha Merkerson, Howard McGillin, Jerry Dixon, Wally Dunn, Philip Hoffman, Jose Llana and Tyrah Skye Odoms are the latest names added to the cast of the Actors Fund's March 4 benefit reading of Thornton Wilder's landmark play Our Town, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning work.
Peter Flynn will direct the 7:30 PM reading at the Gerald R. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College. Proceeds from the reading benefit the programs and services of The Actors Fund.
Merkerson ("Law & Order," Come Back, Little Sheba) and Tony winners Blythe Danner (Follies, Butterflies Are Free) and B.D. Wong (M. Butterfly, Pacific Overtures) will share the role of the Stage Manager, who guides the audience through the lives of the residents of Grover's Corners.
The cast will also feature Martin Moran (All the Rage, Spamalot) as Simon Stimson, Julia Murney (Falling, Wicked) as Mrs. Soames and Leslie Odom, Jr. ("Smash," Leap of Faith) as George Gibbs. Two-time Tony nominee McGillin (Anything Goes, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) will play Mr. Webb, Jerry Dixon (Once on This Island) will be Howie Newsome, Wally Dunn (Gypsy with Bernadette Peters, Spamalot) will play Professor Willard, Philip Hoffman (Into the Woods, A Catered Affair) will play Joe Stoddard, Jose Llana (…Spelling Bee, Flower Drum Song) will be Sam Craig and seven-year-old Tyrah Skye Odoms (Annie) will play Rebecca Gibbs.
As previously reported, Tony Award nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher, The Glass Menagerie) will play Emily Webb, with Rebecca Luker (The Secret Garden, The Music Man) as Mrs. Webb and Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox (Doubt, Chicago) as Mrs. Gibbs.
Wilder's Our Town was most recently revived to acclaim Off-Broadway in 2009 at the Barrow Street Theatre under the direction of David Cromer. It was last revived on Broadway in 2002 at the Booth Theatre. It first premiered on Broadway Feb. 4, 1938, at the Henry Miller's Theatre.
"My uncle loved actors — he was an actor himself, you know — and he was mighty proud to have written a popular large-cast play that provided his fellows with so many jobs! What a great pleasure it is to partner with the Actor's Fund, which Thornton Wilder supported throughout his life, on the occasion of a major milestone in the history of his most famous work," said Wilder's nephew and literary executor, Tappan Wilder, in a statement.
Tickets for the benefit are $75, $100, and $150. For information and to purchase tickets, visit actorsfund.org or call (212) 221-7300, ext. 133.
The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone — performers and those behind the scenes — who works in performing arts and entertainment, helping more than 12,800 people directly each year, and hundreds of thousands online.
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