Elderly Men Play Mah Jongg in World Premiere, Directed by Medoff, Dec. 5-14 in NYC

News   Elderly Men Play Mah Jongg in World Premiere, Directed by Medoff, Dec. 5-14 in NYC
The world premiere of Richard Atkins' senior male-bonding play, The Men of Mah Jongg, directed by Tony Award winner Mark Medoff and co-produced by Electric Theatre Company in Scranton, PA, and Queens Theatre in the Park, begins its New York City leg Dec. 5.
Playwright Richard Atkins
Playwright Richard Atkins

Performances continue to Dec. 14. The play bowed in Pennsylvania Nov. 5-23. The cast — Michael Collins, John Fitzgibbon, Evan Thompson and Joe Jamrog — transfers.

According to production notes, "The Men of Mah Jongg follows the lives of four elderly men whose wives and female companions have died, are dying, or have drifted away, leaving them starved for emotional support. Each deals with the hole in their lives in different ways, until Sid, whose reaction to his wife's passing was to become housebound, discovers his wife's mah jongg set, and convinces them to try the game. Through their conspiring to keep as secret that they have begun to play a traditionally female game, they begin to open up in other ways, and find that they can offer one another hope and nourishment."

Atkins is a playwright, accomplished pianist (formerly with Guy Lombardo), actor and composer. He is working on another new play, DeliKateSSen, and on a screenplay based on the book "Child of the Twentieth Convoy," which tells the story of the only deportation train to Auschwitz that was successfully hijacked by the resistance, saving 200 lives.

Director Medoff is a Tony Award-winning playwright (Children of a Lesser God), Oscar-nominated screenwriter, stage and screen director and a professor in various theatre programs. This is his fourth project with Electric Theatre Company. He also penned Broadway's Prymate and Off-Broadway's When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?

The creative team includes scenic designer Charles Townsend Wittreich Jr., lighting designer Chris Davis, properties mistress Liz Feller, sound designer Conor McGuigan and costumer Debra Otte. Marybeth Langdon is stage manager. Atkins and Medoff have been working and reworking the script for production through meetings, consultations and readings, both public and private. Medoff proposed the play to ETC's producing artistic director David Zarko in late 2007, and a public reading was held in April 2008. When the reading was well received, the play was immediately scheduled as the second show in ETC's 17th season.

"The timing turned out to be perfect," Zarko stated. "Queens had a slot open in early December right after we completed the run in Scranton. The odds of that working are so slim, so we all jumped right in and got it going."

Queens Theatre in the Park is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in Queens, NY. For tickets and details, call (718) 760-0064 or visit queenstheatre.org.

The <i>Men of Mah Jongg</i>: John FitzGibbon, Joe Jamrog, Evan Thompson, and Michael Collins
The Men of Mah Jongg: John FitzGibbon, Joe Jamrog, Evan Thompson, and Michael Collins
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