October 23 – November 23, 2014
LONG BRANCH, NJ – Monday, September 29, 2014 – New Jersey Repertory Company, located at 179 Broadway in Long Branch, is proud to present the World Premiere of Angels and Ministers of Grace by Elaine Smith on October 23 through November 23, 2014.
A poignant and compelling story of a close-knit, yet eccentric family’s struggle to overcome life’s ups and downs, Angels and Ministers of Grace captures the struggles that confront families today throughout the heartland and urban centers of America, and reveals in bold relief the forces that threaten to destroy the American dream. It is a classic in the making.
The cast includes Dana Benningfield, James Earley, Maureen Silliman, and David Van Pelt and is directed by Marc Geller. Angels and Ministers of Grace begins preview performances on Thursday, October 23 and celebrates its opening night on Saturday, October 25 at New Jersey Repertory Company (179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ). The play runs through Sunday, November 23. Tickets may be purchased by calling 732-229-3166 or online at www.njrep.org.
The production team includes: Jessica Parks (Set Design & Props), Jill Nagle (Lighting Design), Merek Royce Press (Sound Design), Patricia E. Doherty (Costume Design), Michael Carroll (Technical Director), and Jennifer Tardibuono (Stage Manager).
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Elaine Smith (Playwright) Elaine Smith is an actor, director, and accidental playwright. Other works include The Looking Glass (adapted from Edith Wharton’s short story and produced in August 2013 by The Wharton Salon) and short plays Liar’s Poker (Finalist – 2010 Heideman Award), Picture Perfect, She Hung Up, Cararapace, and Ten Minute Life (recently produced at 10 By 10 in the Triangle by the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC). In the wake of a temporary insanity known as Ten Plays in Ten Days, works-in-progress include short pieces Strange Flowers of Reason, Handiwork, Darkness, Agit-Prop 8, Walls, Fishing, Quis Custodiet, and two full-length plays, Powerplay and Three Mile Limit. Angels and Ministers of Grace has been previously read at Abingdon Theatre Company, the Barter Theatre (second place, Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights), Berkshire Theatre Festival, BoarsHead Theater, Penobscot Theatre Northern Writes Festival, and Theatre Resources Unlimited’s TRU Voices Reading Series. It has been a finalist for the Ashland New Plays Festival, a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference, a semi-finalist for the Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nominee, a finalist for the Eudora Welty New Play Series, and won Honorable Mention in the 76th Competition. Wearing her actor and director hats, Elaine has worked at Abingdon Theatre Company, New Dramatists, Lincoln Center Institute, Women’s Projects & Productions, and Immigrants’ Theatre Project, among other venues. She has been a script reader for the Princess Grace Awards and for WPP, has a Master’s in Theatre from the University of Denver and a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Delaware. She is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, LPTW and the Dramatist’s Guild. Elaine is eternally grateful for the representation of Ron Gwiazda and Amy Wagner of Abrams Artists and for the encouragement of actress Linda Hamilton whose generous participation and fine work in an early reading of this play kicked her into gear. Gratitude is also owed for the support of an army of other angels too numerous to mention here who can be found listed at AngelsAndMinisters.com.
Marc Geller (Director) For NJ Rep,Marc Gellerhas directed Noir, Middlemen and Donna Orbits The Moon. Other directing credits include: Two-headed at the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Souvenir at Stageworks/Hudson and the world premieres of the off- Broadway shows Ascension (Lion Theatre), Acts of Love (Kirk Theatre) and Adjoining Trances (Beckett Theatre) all in NYC. Other New York directing credits include: the world premieres of The Fabulous Kane Sisters in Box Office Poison (Cherry Lane Theatre), Dammerung (Lion Theatre), More Than This (urban stages) and the first New York revival of Unidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love (Judith Anderson Theatre). Marc has also been seen as an actor at NJ Rep, playing Sidney Web in Engaging Shaw, a role he also played in the NYC premiere. His next job will be appearing as the Ghost of Marley in A Christmas Carol (for the 2nd year) at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, Ma. He can currently be seen on the Onion, channeling the dead, as psychic medium Kenneth Quinn. Marc is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actor’s Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.
Dana Benningfield (Miriam) Dana is thrilled to be returning to the NJ Rep stage. Previous NJ Rep credits include: Mike Folie’s Lemonade, Gino DiIorio’s Winterizing the Summer House (world premiere), Moise Kaufman’s The Laramie Project (“Best New Jersey Premiere” – Star-Ledger), Sandra Perlman’s In Search of Red River Dog, and Mark Dunn’s North Fork (nominated “Best Featured Actress” by the Star-Ledger). She has also had the pleasure of directing two NJ Rep main stage productions: Vincent Sessa’s A Child’s Guide to Innocence and Charlie Schulman’s Character Assassins. Select New York credits: Ross Howard’s Picture Ourselves in Latvia (U.S. Premiere, published by Samuel French, produced by New Light Theatre Project), Victor Bumbalo’s Questa (New York premiere – Wings Theatre), Responsible Parties by Jeffrey Sweet (Miranda Theatre), A Room in the Middle by Vladimir Zelevinsky (Metropolitan Playhouse) as well as numerous script-in-hand readings at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 78th Street Theatre Lab, Boomerang Theatre Company, Lark Theatre Company and MCC Playwright’s Coalition. Additional regional credits: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (BAMA Theatre Co/NJ State Theatre), Richard III, Henry VI-Part A & B, To Kill A Mockingbird, Twelfth Night, Dr. Faustus, Trojan Women, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Treasure Island (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Erik Gernand’s The Beautiful Dark (Premiere Stages), Richard II and Love’s Labours Lost (Virginia Shakespeare Festival); Tom Sawyer (Dallas Theatre Center); Russell Davis’ Song of Grendelyn (Playwrights Theatre of NJ). Film/TV: Docs and Robbers, Bust (with Dan Lauria), Redrum (Investigation Discovery Channel). www.danabenningfield.com.
Maureen Silliman (Arletta) Broadway: Shenandoah, I Remember Mama. Is There Life After High School? Off Broadway: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (NY Shakespeare Festival) Reckless, Blue Window. (Also West Coast – LA Drama Critics and Dramalogue Awards) Marathon Dancing (Anne Bogart, Director). Tours: The Gingerbread Lady, Marigolds (with Shelley Winters – NJ Drama Critics Award), Fiddler on the Roof (Golde opposite Theodore Bikel). Regional: Papermill Playhouse (Rags), Cincinnati Playhouse (Pure Confidence — Acclaim Award), Two River Theater (The Glass Menagerie, The Real Thing, Beauty Queen of Leenane, Uncle Vanya), Shakespeare Theater of NJ (I Capture the Castle, To Kill a Mockingbird) La Jolla (Zhivago), Coconut Grove Playhouse (No Way to Treat a Lady, The Rothschilds), Huntington Theater (Company, A Christmas Carol), Ensemble Theatre Company (Ghosts) Theaterworks (Pride’s Crossing). Film & Television: Blue Window (PBS), Dixie: Changing Habits (CBS), Childhood’s End, Reckless, Law and Order, The Andros Targets, Feds, and two years as Pam Chandler on Guiding Light. Maureen won a MAC Award for the CD “Pictures in the Hall”.
James Earley (Frank)James Patrick Earley is originally from the Philadelphia area and now resides in Brooklyn, NY. James was last seen in NJ Rep’s October 1962. Other NJ credits include: Grapes of Wrath (Uncle John), Much Ado About Nothing (Watchman), A Midwinter Night’s Dream (Snug the Lion), The Crucible (Herrick), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Freddy), and An American Daughter (Tucker). NY credits include: The Woman Standing on the Moon (David), Sparkling Object (Nolan), and Yesterday (Terence). LA credits include: The Actor’s Life (James), Agua Dulce (Mike) and Don’t Dress For Dinner (George). Film and TV credits include: Return to Lonesome Dove, Ally Mcbeal, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Arrest and Trial, Panther, The Wicked Do Prosper and Dennis. Look for him in an upcoming comedy pilot called Don’t Know Jack.
David Van Pelt (Jimmy Ray)NY Theatre: The Mint (Katie Roche, Rutherford and Son, 2001 and 2012 productions; The Daughter In Law) Abingdon (Many readings, staged readings, workshops and main stage productions including Jan Buttram’s Zona, and Texas Homos, Melvin Bernhardt, dir), Understudy for the Peach in The Melting Pot/ Kevin Spacey produced Cobb at the Lucille Lortel, TNC (Gint), Currican (The Borderland w/Larry Lau), Actor’s Playhouse (Girl’s Town). Member of the once renowned Circle Rep Lab. Regional: Aspen Music Festival (Claudius and the Ghost in Hamlet, Quinton Gordon, dir.; John Mauceri, conductor), New Jersey Rep (Angels and Ministers of Grace Defend Us, w/ Linda Hamilton), Pittsburgh Public (Cobb, The School for Wives), Stamford Theater Works (Red Barber in National Pastime), Actor’s Theatre of Louisville (Humana Festival’s Mystery of Attraction, Richard Corley, dir.; Dracula in Dracula; Marley, A Christmas Carol), Romulus Linney’s Heathen Valley for Baylor University’s Horton Foote Festival and Appalachian Summer Festival (Jim Houghton, dir.), Pete Gint in Romulus Linney’s Gint, Romulus Linney, dir., International Ibsen Festival, Oslo, Norway), Old Globe, Denver Center, Long Wharf (Tony Kushner, dir.), Huntington (Eric Simonson, dir.), Wisconsin Shakespeare. National Broadway Tour: A Few Good Men (Don Scardino, dir. W/Michael O’Keefe and Paul Winfield. Television: Law and Order. Commercial: National KFC and AT&T. University of North Carolina School of the Arts.