PHOTO CALL: Michael Shannon, Austin Pendleton, Blythe Danner, Abigail Breslin and More Celebrate Stonewall Drama Hit the Wall
By Matthew Blank
The New York premiere of Ike Holter's rock-propelled gay rights drama Hit the Wall, set in the early hours of the Stonewall Riots, opened March 10 at the Barrow Street Theatre – just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn where the play is set.
Hit the Wall played a critically acclaimed premiere run at Chicago's Steppenwolf Garage Theatre last winter. Eric Hoff, who staged the Chicago premiere, directs the Off-Broadway production that began previews Feb. 19. The production has original music and music supervision by Dan Lipton.
Hit the Wall gives another side to the story of the birth of the gay rights movement outside New York City's Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969. The play, which was shaped and populated by the artist collective The Inconvenience, was a Chicago hit. A live band is featured. Critics embraced the gritty and gutsy take that promises stories from cultural revolutionaries who claimed, "I was there."
"These are full, fresh, new characters — black, Latino, white. There's a lot of good age-ranges here, too. As a writer, I'm interested in voices from the margins, finally giving them the spotlight. In other plays or films, they'd just be side characters," Holter told Playbill.com.
He continued, "I like merging fight scenes with dance numbers, back and forth. We have a live rock band. There's fast dialogue, there's nudity, there's all this other stuff, but, by the end of the day, I want audiences to care about these people who'd endured enough."
Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter, who also produced the Barrow Street's recent production of Tribes, are producing Hit the Wall.
Original Chicago cast members Rania Salem Manganaro and Arturo Soria are joined by Nick Bailey, Jessica Dickey (The Amish Project), Ben Diskant, Nathan Lee Graham (Wig Out, Priscilla), Matthew Greer (Seminar), Gregory Haney (Bring It On, Wicked), Sean Allan Krill (On A Clear Day You Can See Forever), Ray Rizzo, Carolyn Michelle Smith (WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!) and Indigo Street.
Here's how it's billed: "It's the early hours of June 28, 1969 when a routine police raid on The Stonewall Inn, a popular underground gay bar in Greenwich Village, sparks a full-scale riot. Violent protests and street demonstrations continued for the next several days in what became known as The Stonewall Riots, thrusting a group of unlikely revolutionaries onto the frontlines of history and igniting one of the most influential social and political movements of the 20th Century. Hit the Wall focuses on that wild and enigmatic first night of the riots, placing the audience just on the periphery of the conflict. With an imaginative and theatrical blend of history and mythology, Hit the Wall shines a contemporary light on the legacy of Stonewall."
The design team includes Lauren Helpern (set design), David Hyman (costume design), Keith Parham (lighting design), Daniel Kluger and Brandon Wolcott (sound design) and J. David Brimmer (fight director).
The full Off-Broadway producing team includes Morfee, Doumanian, Wirtshafter, Patrick Daly, Burnt Umber, Roger E. Kass, Starry Night Entertainment, BarLor Productions, Christian Chadd Taylor, Marc and Lisa Biales.
For tickets visit Smarttix.com. The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street.
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