Ivey and Burke's Faith Is Shaken in Comic Disputation, Opening March 3 | Playbill

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News Ivey and Burke's Faith Is Shaken in Comic Disputation, Opening March 3 The Savannah Disputation, Evan Smith's comic conversation about competing Christian faiths and its followers, opens in its New York City premiere March 3 at Playwrights Horizons.
Dana Ivey, Kellie Overbey, Marylouise Burke and Reed Birney
Dana Ivey, Kellie Overbey, Marylouise Burke and Reed Birney Photo by Joan Marcus

Dana Ivey, Reed Birney, Marylouise Burke and Kellie Overbey star in the parlor-set play about Catholic siblings (Burke and Ivey) who are confronted with a proselytizing evangelical named Melissa (Kellie Overbey) who tells the sisters they're not Christians. The sisters' parish priest, Father Murphy (Reed Birney), in invited to supper to unknowingly hash things out with the fundamentalist, and all three women have their faith shaken in the evening.

Previews began Feb. 6 at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater. Performances continue to March 15.

After Psych and The Uneasy Chair, this is Smith's third fully produced play at the not-for-profit devoted to writers. Smith also penned Remedial English (Young Playwrights Festival at Playwrights Horizons) and Servicemen (The New Group).

Walter Bobbie (Chicago) directs the play about a susceptible Catholic spinster Margaret (Marylouise Burke) who politely admits door-to-door Pentecostal missionary into her home. Margaret's "seemingly-solid faith starts to waver — much to the chagrin of her feisty sister Mary (Dana Ivey)," according to Playwrights Horizons, and "before long, the God-fearing sisters have ambushed their steadfast 'guest' with the aid of an unsuspecting local priest, setting the scene for a smackdown of truly biblical proportions."

Given its small cast, quirky characters and the topicality of the idea of which religion is the one "true" religion, the crowd-pleasing Savannah Disputation would seem to be poised for a wide life in regional theatres. *

The production team includes scenic designer John Lee Beatty, costume designer David C. Woolard, lighting designer Kenneth Posner and sound designer Tony Meola.

Ivey is a five-time Tony Award nominee and three-time Obie Award winner (Driving Miss Daisy, Sunday in the Park with George and Smith's The Uneasy Chair at Playwrights Horizons, plus The Rivals, Butley). Birney is an Obie Award winner (The Butterfly Collection, Pen and Gemini at Playwrights Horizons; the recent hit Blasted; Bug; "Gossip Girl"). Drama Desk Award winner Marylouise Burke appeared in Fuddy Meers, Kimberly Akimbo, Is He Dead? and the Broadway revival of Into the Woods. Overbey was featured in Betty's Summer Vacation at Playwrights Horizons, The Coast of Utopia, Good Boys and True.

Production stage manager is Robyn Henry.

Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater is located at 16 W. 42nd Street.

The performance schedule for The Savannah Disputation is Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. There will be an additional Monday night performance on March 2 at 8 PM.

Tickets are $65. Tickets may be purchased online via TicketCentral.com, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (noon-8 PM daily), or in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues) or visit playwrightshorizons.com.


The Savannah Disputation had its world premiere at Writers' Theatre in Glencoe, IL.

Kellie Overbey, Dana Ivey, Reed Birney and Marylouise Burke
Kellie Overbey, Dana Ivey, Reed Birney and Marylouise Burke

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