The Talls, a '70s Coming-of-Age Story, Opens Aug. 15 in NYC World Premiere

News   The Talls, a '70s Coming-of-Age Story, Opens Aug. 15 in NYC World Premiere
Second Stage Theatre's Uptown Series launches the world premiere of the Catholic-girl coming-of-age comedy The Talls by Anna Kerrigan, opening Aug. 15 following previews from Aug. 1 at Off-Broadway's McGinn/Cazale Theatre.

Christa Scott-Reed
Christa Scott-Reed Photo by Joan Marcus

Carolyn Cantor directs Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening) as a visitor, Timothee Chalamet (Burning Blue) the youngest son Nicholas, Shannon Esper (Cherry Orchard) as oldest daughter Isabelle, Lauren Holmes (in her Off-Broadway debut) as jock daughter Catherine, Michael Oberholtzer (Incident at Vichy and Raft of The Medusa) as jock son Christian, Peter Rini (Proposals) as patriarch John and Christa Scott-Reed (The Pitman Painters) as mother-with-regrets (and secrets) Anne.

"The Clarke family is dealing with some very tall problems," according to Second Stage. "Just ask 17-year-old Isabelle Clarke [played by Shannon Esper]. Negotiating Catholicism, politics and virginity in the 1970s can make the tallest girl feel really small. A comic drama about coming of age when life's lessons come in all sizes."

The new age of anxiety is dawning in Kerrigan's new Oakland, California-set play in which Isabelle, on the verge of leaving home for college on the East Coast, tests the limits of her own passion — and wonders about her place in the family hierarchy — in an event-filled couple of days. A young campaign manager (Canonico) in her father's bid to become the city comptroller allows Isabelle a chance to express herself with someone who represents both liberation and the murky moral integrity of political leaders of the day.

Shannon Esper
photo by Joan Marcus

The coming election and a tragedy that befalls a cherished family friend expose the cracks in the foundation of the Clarke home. (The title, it seems, refers to the literal physical height of the family members and apparently seeks to be a metaphor for the pressure and expectations of being white and upper middle class in America; the cast is not made up of giants, but they do look tall in relation to purposeful casting of the diminutive Canonico.) The McGinn/Cazale is at Broadway at 76th Street. The production plays to Aug. 27. The creative team for The Talls includes scenic designer Dane Laffrey, costume designer Jenny Mannis, lighting designer Japhy Weideman and sound designer M.L. Dogg.

Kerrigan is a playwright, screenwriter and director based in New York City. She most recently wrote and directed "Five Days Gone," an independent feature film which recently premiered at the 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival where it was awarded the Certificate of Outstanding Achievement for Screenplay. A graduate of Stanford, she joined the Ensemble Studio Theater's Youngblood Playwrights group in 2009. Her plays have been produced in New York and at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Director Cantor's New York directing credits include After the Revolution (Playwrights Horizons), Pumpgirl (Manhattan Theatre Club), In A Dark Dark House (MCC Theater), Something You Did (Primary Stages), Essential Self Defense (Playwrights Horizons) and Orange Flower Water (Time Out NY Ten Best of the Year), among others.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by calling the Second Stage Theatre Box Office at (212) 246-4422 or going online at


Second Stage Theatre Uptown Series was "created as a program to help develop and provide exposure for the voices of a new generation of theatre artists. [It] seeks to develop the skills of emerging playwrights, to provide early-career artists with the support of a major artistic institution, and to create new plays for the American theatre. Each show has a limited rehearsal period, as well as a streamlined budget."

Christopher Burney is associate artistic director and curator of the Uptown series.

The series has helped launch and advance the careers of several up-and-coming playwrights, including Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Good Boys and True, HBO's "Big Love"), Adam Bock (A Small Fire, The Drunken City) and Brooke Berman (Hunting and Gathering).

Currently playing Second Stage's midtown home is the world premiere of Zach Braff's dark comedy All New People.

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