NYC's Abingdon Opens Real-Life Shavian Romance, Engaging Shaw, April 18

News   NYC's Abingdon Opens Real-Life Shavian Romance, Engaging Shaw, April 18
Off-Broadway's Abingdon Theatre Company opens the New York City premiere of John Morogiello's Engaging Shaw, a play about the unlikely but true relationship between playwright George Bernard Shaw and wealthy socialite Charlotte Payne-Townshend, April 18. Previews began April 9 for a run to May 2.
Warren Kelley
Warren Kelley

Jackob G. Hofmann directs the play at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex's Dorothy Strelsin Theatre in Manhattan.

According to Abingdon, "A confirmed bachelor and philanderer, Shaw is a challenge for Ms. Payne-Townshend, who is determined to romance an unromantic man."

The cast features Warren Kelley as Shaw and Claire Warden as Payne-Townshend, with Marc Geller and Jamee Vance as Sidney and Beatrice Webb, respectively, co-founders of the London School of Economics and matchmakers between the playwright and socialite.

Kelley, a busy regional and Off-Broadway actor, appeared in Abingdon's Freudian Slips. Of his preparation for the role of the master Irish playwright Shaw, actor Kelley told, "In addition to everything I could find on the internet, I made my way through Michael Holroyd's 475-page [biography] 'Bernard Shaw I, The Search For Love.' It was uncanny how directly apropos much of it was. Even so, my job is to attempt to create my richest and fullest version of the playwright's Shaw. John Morogiello's play is filled with his three years of research — many of Shaw's actual words and relationships and events based on fact.

"There are so many things that you find in his background and early life that 'release' you as the actor. What fuels someone to want to change the world as Shaw did? That's what the research revealed to me. Does that make it any less scary to portray George Bernard Shaw? The answer would have to be 'no!'" The creative team includes set designer Ken Larson, costume designer Deborah Caney, lighting designer Matthew McCarthy and music designer Larry Spivack.

Shaw (1856-1950) wrote over 50 plays, including Pygmalion, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Major Barbara, Saint Joan and Arms and the Man. Playwright Morogiello's plays include the FringeNYC hit Irish Authors Held Hostage, Stonewall's Bust, Bushwa: A Modern Ubu and Absolute Amy.

The performance schedule for Engaging Shaw is Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. The opening performance April 18 is at 5 PM and is the sole performance Sunday.

The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre is located at 312 West 36th Street. For tickets, call (212) 868-2055 or visit

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