Christopher Durang’s newest comedy opens Saturday in Princeton

The Cast: (clockwise from top left) Jenn Harris, Rachel Nicks, Kristine Nielsen, Robert Sella, Nicholas Podany, and John Pankow.
The cast (clockwise from top left) Jenn Harris, Rachel Nicks, Kristine Nielsen, Robert Sella, Nicholas Podany and John Pankow.

Christopher Durang’s newest comedy, “Turning Off the Morning News,” is in preview at McCarter Theatre in Princeton. It’s the playwright’s third play commissioned by McCarter and closes the 2017/18 season. Opening night is May 12.

His last work here, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” moved to Broadway, resulting in his first Tony Award for Best Play in 2013. Really? It took that long?

It was directed by McCarter’s artistic director and resident playwright Emily Mann who also helms this play, described as “a decidedly dark and daring comedy taking hilarious aim at today’s absurd and dangerous world.”

Wait. There’s more: “Morning News” introduces Durang’s newest group of eccentric characters (no surprise there) happily living a “normal” suburban life.

“Things are good for Cliff and Salena. Their neighbors across the street, however, are peculiar at best — and at worst, stark-raving mad.”

The cast includes Jenn Harris (2013 NYC revival of “All In the Timing”) as Rosalind; Rachel Nicks (“Skeleton Crew” at The Old Globe) as Salena; Kristine Nielsen (Tony Award nominee and
Outer Critics Circle Award for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”) as Polly; recent Juilliard Drama Division graduate Nicholas Podany as Timmy; John Pankow (Ira Buchman in the long-running NBC comedy “Mad About You”) as Jimmy, and Broadway veteran Robert Sella (“My Fair Lady,” “Cabaret,”  “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) as Clifford.

Working with  Durang

“Chris is an absolutely unique voice in the American theatre,” Mann said. “He is able to take on disturbing questions and issues that in another writer’s hands would take the form of tragedy and spin it into comedy.

“This is his own particular alchemy, his singular sense of humor and extraordinary craft as a playwright and a theater maker,” she added. “I am honored that McCarter is an artistic home for Chris, and it is an exciting event to bring his newest play to life here.

“At its heart, ‘Turning Off the Morning News’ explores the absurdity of our modern world, she continued. “A fierce exposure of the ways that our personal and societal anxieties can bring out the
worst in us, it also gently reveals the antidote—reaching out beyond ourselves to find connection with others.”

More about Christopher Durang, click here.

Christopher Durang graduated from Harvard and Yale School of Drama. His plays include “A History of the American Film” (Tony Award nomination); “The Actor’s Nightmare”; “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You” (Obie award); “Beyond Therapy”; “Baby with

Emily Mann and Christopher Durang at the 2013 Tony Awards. Durang won the Best Play Tony for "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,. The play premiered at McCarter Theatre in Princeton in 2012 and was directed by Mann. (PHOTO: Shevett Studios)
Emily Mann and Christopher Durang at the 2013 Tony Awards. Durang won the Best Play Tony for “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” which premiered at McCarter Theatre in Princeton in 2012 directed by Mann. (PHOTO: Shevett Studios)

the Bathwater”; “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” (Obie award, Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award); “Laughing Wild”; “Durang/Durang” (an evening of six plays); “Betty’s Summer Vacation” (Obie award); “Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge”; “Why”; “Torture is Wrong,” “The People Who Loved Them,” and “Miss Witherspoon,”  2006 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Drama was a premiere here.

The “Turning Off the Morning News” tech team includes  Tony Award winners Beowulf Boritt (set and projections) and Jeff Croiter (lighting) along with Obie Award-winners Jennifer von Mayrhauser (costumes) and Mark Bennett (original music and sound).


About the Director

Emily Mann has overseen more than 150 productions as artistic director and resident playwright of McCarter Theatre Center, which was awarded the 1994 Regional Theatre Tony Award.

Her directing credits at McCarter credits include Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express”; her co-adaptation with Pierre Laville of Tennessee Williams’ “Baby Doll”; Rachel Bonds’ “Five Mile Lake”; Danai Gurira’s “The Convert”; Sarah Treem’s”The How and the Why”; Christopher Durang’s “Miss Witherspoon”; and Edward Albee’s “Me, Myself & I.”

Broadway credits include: “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Anna in the Tropics”, “Execution of Justice,” “Having Our Say.”

Her plays include: “Having Our Say,’ adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth; “Execution of Justice”; “Still Life”; “Annulla, An Autobiography”; “Greensboro (A Requiem); “Meshugah”; “Mrs. Packard”, and “Hoodwinked (A Primer on Radical Islamism”).

Her adaptations: “Baby Doll,” “Scenes from a Marriage,” “Uncle Vanya,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “A Seagull in the Hamptons”, “The House of Bernarda Alba,” and “Antigone.”

Mann currently is writing a play with Gloria Steinem scheduled to premiere in the fall of 2018, and a stage adaptation of Władysław Szpilman’s The Pianist. Awards: Peabody, Hull Warriner,
NAACP, OBIEs, Guggenheim fellowship; Tony®, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; a Princeton University Honorary Doctorate of Arts, a Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwrights’ Award,and the Margo Jones Award given to a “citizen-of-the-theatre who has demonstrated a lifetime
commitment to the encouragement of the living theatre everywhere.”

Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce in Christopher Durang's “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce in Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
ABOUT THE ACTORS

Jenn Harris (Rosalind) is a NY-based actress/writer/producer. Her web series New York Is Dead, which she co-wrote, starred in and produced premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2017 and
won Best Comedy at the NYTVF. She won a Lortel & Theatre World Award for Modern Orthodox,starred as Clarice Starling in Silence! The Musical, was in the revival of All in the Timing and many
more off and off-beat productions in NYC and regionally. Film: Gayby (SXSW 2012), Fits and Starts,Better Living Through Chemistry, Confessions of a Shopaholic. TV: High Maintenance, 30 Rock, Blacklist, Younger, Eastsiders, Difficult People. Her podcast with Jeff Hiller, Touche Podcast, chats about “fighting your way to the middle.”

Rachel Nicks (Salena) is excited to be making her McCarter debut. She has appeared in SkeletonCrew (The Old Globe). Her Off Broadway credits include War (LCT3), And I and Silence (Signature
Theatre), The Good Negro (The Public). Her television appearances include The Affair, Nurse Jackie,Grey’s Anatomy, and Crossing Jordan. She was also in the films Ball Don’t Lie and Life Support on
HBO. Ms. Nicks is a graduate of The Juilliard School. www.RachelNicks.com @RachelENicks

Kristine Nielsen (Polly) Broadway: Present Laughter, You Can’t Take It With You, Vanya and Soniaand Masha and Spike (Tony Award® nomination, Outer Critics Circle Award); Bloody, Bloody Andrew
Jackson; Spring Awakening; The Greenbird; Jackie; The Iceman Cometh.  Off-Broadway: Hir; WhyTorture Is Wrong, And The People Who Love Them; How I Spent Last Summer; Omnium Gatherum;
Our Leading Lady; Betty’s Summer Vacation (Obie Award); Dog Opera (Obie Award). Regional workat Williamstown, Guthrie, McCarter, Old Globe, Long Wharf, Yale Rep, The Alley, and The Goodman
Theatre. Film and TV includes: Theresa Rebeck’s Trouble, Happyish, Elementary, Morning Glory, TheSavages, Small Time Crooks, Political Animals, NBC’s Sound of Music Live!, and most recently,
Amazon’s Zelda. Graduate of Northwestern and the Yale School of Drama.

John Pankow (Jimmy) John most recently appeared in Peter Parnell’s Dada Woof Papa Hot atLincoln Center Theater. Broadway credits include Amadeus, The Iceman Cometh, Cymbeline, Serious
Money and Twelve Angry Men. John appeared in the Off-Broadway premieres of Christopher Durang’sWhy Torture is Wrong, and The People Who Love Them; John Patrick Shanley’s Italian American
Reconciliation; David Mamet’s Keep Your Pantheon; Kenny Lonergan’s Medieval Play; Peter Hedges’Baby Anger; Israel Horovitz’ North Shore Fish; Brian Friel’s Aristocrats; and Caryl Churchill’s Cloud
Nine. Mr. Pankow played Ira Buchman in the long-running NBC comedy Mad About You, as wellas television exec Merc Lapidus on Showtime’s Episodes. Feature films include Morning Glory, Putzel,
Mortal Thoughts, Married Young, The Secret of My Success, and To Live and Die in L.A.

Nicholas Podany (Timmy) is honored to be making his McCarter debut after receiving his BFAfrom the Juilliard Drama Division this year (Group 47). Juilliard: Waiting for Godot (Estragon),
Henry V (Henry), Triumph of Love (Harlequin), and The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Boo). Regional: Big River (Huck). Los Angeles: Ah, Wilderness! (Richard); On Golden Pond (Billy); The Diviners
(Buddy); Hermetically Sealed (Conor); and ‘dentity Crisis (Robert). Film/TV: Hart of Dixie; Writer’sBlock; and The Ballerina, Her Shoemaker, and His Apprentice. He has also composed scores for
films and web series like Standardized, Thicker, and The Ballad of Sheriff Kid McLain. Awards: JohnHouseman Award (Juilliard, co-recipient, for excellence in classical theatre), U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts (semi-finalist). www.nicholaspodany.com

Robert Sella (Clifford) McCarter: The Night Governess. Broadway: Sylvia, My Fair Lady, Cabaret,Sideman, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Robert played Prior in the first national tour of Angels in
America, and starred with Dame Maggie Smith in Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque on the West End. Other favorites include: The Mystery of Irma Vep (Red Bull/Lucille Lortel); Verité (LCT3);
Boys and Girls (Playwrights Horizons); Stuff Happens (Public Theater/NYSF); Design for Living; Don Carlos; Mourning Becomes Electra (Shakespeare Theatre, Washington DC); Chick the Great Osram (Hartford Stage); Amadeus; Private Lives (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). Film/TV: Manchester by the Sea, 1985, Match, Sleepy Hollow, Mindhunter, Deception, In Plain Sight, among others. Robert is a graduate of UCLA and The Juilliard School.

THE TECH CREW

Beowulf Boritt (Set & Projection Designer) McCarter: Murder on the Orient Express, Stones in His Pockets. Broadway: Act One (Tony Award®), The Scottsboro Boys (Tony  nomination), Therese Raquin
(Tony® nomination), Come From Away, Meteor Shower, A Bronx Tale, Prince Of Broadway, Sunday in the Park…, Hand To God, On The Town, Sondheim On Sondheim, …Spelling Bee, Grace, LoveMusik, Rock Of Ages, Chaplin, Bronx Bombers, and The Two And Only. Off-Broadway: 100 shows including The Last Five Years, Sleepwalk With Me, 20th Century Blues, and Miss Julie. He has designed for The NYC Ballet and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and around the world in England, Russia, China, Australia, and Japan. 2007 Obie Award for sustained excellence.

Jennifer von Mayrhauser (Costume Design) has designed many productions with Emily Mann including 20th Century Blues (off-Broadway); Bathing in Moonlight; Five Mile Lake; Proof; A
Delicate Balance; Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Me, Myself & I; A Seagull in the Hamptons; Mrs. Packard; The Birthday Party; All Over; The Cherry Orchard; A Doll’s House; Miss Julie; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Three Sisters; Betsey Brown; The Glass Menagerie; and Execution of Justice. She has designed costumes for many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. She won an Obie for “Sustained Excellence in Costume Design.” Film/TV: The Sinner; FBI; Seal Team; The Slap; Game of Silence; Unforgettable; Law & Order (Emmy nom.); Hateship, Loveship; The Ballad of Jack and Rose; Mystic Pizza; The Hand that Rocks the Cradle; The Real Blonde; Lean on Me; I’m NotRappaport; and others. jennifervonmayrhauser.com

Jeff Croiter (Lighting Design) McCarter: All the Days, Five Mile Lake, Last of the Boys, Miss Witherspoon, The Birthday Party, Mrs. Packard, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Phaedra Backwards.
Broadway: Bandstand, Falsettos, Holiday Inn, Disaster, Penn and Teller, Something Rotten, Newsies, Mothers and Sons, Peter and the Starcatcher (Tony Award®), A Time to Kill, Soul Doctor, Jekyll
and Hyde, The Anarchist, The Performers, The Pee-wee Herman Show, Next Fall, Kiki and Herb. Regional Theatre credits include: Dallas Theatre Center, The Guthrie Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse,
The Huntington, George Street Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Old Globe Theatre, Goodspeed, Shakespeare Theatre, Trinity Rep, Ahmanson Theatre, Williamstown Theatre
Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Barrington Stage. Recent projects include Jerry Springer the Opera, Tiny Beautiful Things, and Penn & Teller at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Mark Bennett (Original Music and Sound Design) McCarter: All The Days, Antony & Cleopatra, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (also Lincoln Center Theater & Broadway), Proof, Phaedra
Backwards, An Iliad, Candida, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Broadway: Junk; The Coast of Utopia (Drama Desk Award); Driving Miss Daisy; A Streetcar Named Desire (Emily Mann, dir.); Who’s Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?; Henry IV; Lily Tomlin’s The Search…; A View From the Bridge. BAM/Old Vic: original scores for all Bridge Project productions 2009-2012 (Sam Mendes, dir.). Off-Broadway:
An Iliad, Mad Forest (NYTW). Scores for eight Shakespeare productions at The Public (NYC); as well as The Low Road; The Seagull (Mike Nichols, dir.); and Dogeaters. Regional: Over 50
productions including, recently, King Charles III, Salome, Coriolanus (Shakespeare Theatre).  Awards: Obie for An Illiad, Sustained Excellence in Sound Design, 14 Drama Desk nominations.

TICKETS AND PERFORMANCES
Ticket Information and Performance Schedule Turning Off the Morning News runs May 4 – June 3 in the Berlind Theatre. Single tickets range from $25 – $97.50 and are on sale now online at mccarter.org, by phone at (609) 258-2787, or in person
at the McCarter Theatre Center Ticket Office, 91 University Place, Princeton.

The production’s running time is 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Friday                          May 4              8 p.m.
Saturday                      May 5              8 p.m.
Sunday                        May 6              2 p.m.

Tuesday                      May 8              7:30 p.m.
Wednesday                 May 9              7:30 p.m.
Thursday                     May 10            7:30 p.m.
Friday                          May 11            8 p.m.
Saturday                      May 12            2 p.m.
Saturday                      May 12            8 p.m.              Opening Night
Sunday                        May 13            2 p.m.              Dialogue on Drama

Tuesday                      May 15            7:30 p.m.
Wednesday                 May 16            7:30 p.m.         Post-Show Discussion
Thursday                     May 17            7:30 p.m.         Pride Night
Friday                          May 18            8 p.m.
Saturday                      May 19            2 p.m.
Saturday                      May 19            8 p.m.
Sunday                        May 20            2 p.m.              Post-Show Discussion
Sunday                        May 20            7:30 p.m.

Wednesday                 May 23            7:30 p.m.
Thursday                     May 24            7:30 p.m.
Friday                          May 25            8 p.m.
Saturday                      May 26            2 p.m.              Open Captioning
Saturday                      May 26            8 p.m.
Sunday                        May 27            2 p.m.

Tuesday                      May 29            7:30 p.m.
Wednesday                 May 30            7:30 p.m.
Thursday                     May 31            7:30 p.m.
Friday                          June 1             8 p.m.
Saturday                      June 2             2 p.m.              Audio Described, ASL Interpreted
Saturday                      June 2             8 p.m.
Sunday                        June 3             2 p.m.              Closing

SPECIAL EVENTS

Dialogue on Drama – Sunday, May 13
An in-depth post-show interview with a member of the creative team, often the playwright or director, offering audiences a window into the artistic process of bringing a play to life. The interview is followed by questions and reflections from the audience. This is a free event, no RSVP required.

Post-Show Discussions – Wednesday, May 16 and Sunday, May 20
Post-show discussions are interactive conversations facilitated by a member of McCarter’s artistic staff, often featuring cast members. Post-show discussions occur directly following the 7:30 p.m.
performance on Wednesday, May 16 and following the 2 p.m. performance on Sunday, May 20.

Inside Story
Join us 45 minutes before any performance for a talk led by a member of McCarter’s artistic staff. Hear about what inspired the play, its unique creation and style, and much more. All Inside Story
talks will take place in the Berlind Theatre unless otherwise noted in the lobby upon arrival.

PLEASE NOTE: This play contains mature themes and potentially disturbing content, including references to gun violence and domestic abuse. If you have questions or require additional information, please call the Ticket Office at 609.258.2787 or email sales@mccarter.org.

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