On Saturday, May 23 at 8pm, LAByrinth Theater Company is presenting a one-night-only virtual benefit reading of Our Lady of 121st Street, the play that led The New York Times to dub Stephen Adly Guirgis “the poet laureate of the angry,” and to declare LAByrinth “perhaps the most exciting troupe in the city.”
This event is free to the public, and donations will be accepted throughout the evening to help the company maintain operations and continue their growth amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The reading will be available to view for 24 hours. To learn more about streaming the reading and to donate, visit www.labtheater.org.
Helmed by Elizabeth Rodriguez* (who understudied the original production), the reading will feature eight members of the original Off-Broadway cast: Elizabeth Canavan*, Liza Colón-Zayas*, Scott Hudson*, Russell G. Jones*, Portia*, Al Roffe*, Felix Solis*, and David Zayas*. Joining them are LAB members Bobby Cannavale*, John Doman*, Laurence Fishburne, and Dierdre Friel. David Deblinger*, who originated the role of Gail in the Center Stage, NY production, is reading stage directions.
The Ortiz Funeral Room is in big trouble: The body of beloved The Ortiz Funeral Room is in big trouble: The body of beloved community activist and nun Sister Rose has been stolen from the viewing room, and waiting for her proper return are some of New York City’s most emotionally charged, life-challenged neighborhood denizens, trying to find a place to put their grief, checkered pasts, and their uncertain futures.
Among the equally hilarious and tragic twelve characters, you’ll meet Rooftop, a chronically unfaithful but otherwise popular Los Angeles DJ, looking to reconcile with the love of his life; Pinky and Edwin, two brothers tragically linked forever; and the outrageously angry Norca, who doesn’t let the fact that she slept with her best friend’s husband deter her from the full expectation of being immediately forgiven of her sin by her best friend, Inez, still in pain fifteen years later. The rest of the crowd in this dark, insightful, and very funny comedy inevitably square off on each other, motivated by rage, pain, and a scary desire to come clean—perhaps for the first time.
Our Lady of 121st Street originally ran in an Off-Broadway production by the LAByrinth Theater at Center Stage/NY and then transferred to the Union Square Theatre from March 6, 2003 to July 27, 2003. Helmed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the cast featured Elizabeth Canavan (Marcia), Liza Colon-Zayas (Norca), David Deblinger (Gail), Melissa Feldman (Sonya), Mark Hammer (Father Lux), Ron Cephas Jones (Rooftop), Russell G. Jones (Flip), Richard Petrocelli (Victor), Portia (Inez), Al Roffe (Pinky), Felix Solis (Balthazar) and David Zayas (Edwin).
The play received: 10 best plays of 2003; Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Best Play nominations. In 2018, Signature Theatre Company presented the revival of Our Lady of 121st Street, helmed by Tony winner Phylicia Rashad in the Irene Diamond Stage. The cast featured Joey Auzenne, Obie Award winner Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Erick Betancourt, Maki Borden, Jimonn Cole, John Doman, Dierdre Friel, Hill Harper, Kevin Isola, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Paola Lázaro, and John Procaccino.
The revival received a 2019 Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Quincy Tyler Bernstine, 2019 Drama Desk Award nomination Outstanding Revival of a Play, a 2019 Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance for Quincy Tyler Bernstine, a 2019 Hewes Design Award nomination for Costume Design for Alexis Forte, a 2019 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play Revival, 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play, 2018 Artios Award nomination for New York Theatre – Comedy or Musical, for David Caparelliotis and Lauren Port, 2018 AUDELCO Award nominations for Lead Actor in a Play for Hill Harper and Lead Actress in a Play for Quincy Tyler Bernstine.
The company will also use the evening to present Stephen Adly Guirgis with the Dave Hogue Award. The Dave Hogue Award is LAByrinth Theater Company’s highest accolade given to a member of our community in honor of their artistic courage and outstanding dedication to LAB. This year, we are thrilled to present The Dave Hogue to Stephen Adly Guirgis. Stephen’s longtime commitment of 25+ years to LAB, his contributions of over a dozen groundbreaking world premiere plays with LAB, his tenure as a past artistic director, his role as a mentor to many younger artists, and as a conduit of meaningful relationships, like Dave Hogue, for LAB makes this year’s distinguished presentation a no-brainer.
*Denotes LAByrinth Company Member
LAByrinth’s 2019 co-production with Atlantic Theater Company of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven, directed by Artistic Director John Ortiz, Stephen Adly Guirgis’s HALFWAY BITCHES GO STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN garnered three 2020 Outer Critics Circle Honors including Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Liza Colón-Zayas and Outstanding Director of Play for John Ortiz. The production also received 13 award nominations this year and is the most nominated play of this awards season.
-2020 Lucille Lortel Award nominations for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play for Liza Colón-Zayas
-2020 Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actress in a Play for Liza Colón-Zayas, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play for Victor Almanzar and Esteban Andres Cruz, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Kristina Poe and Elizabeth Rodriguez, Outstanding Director for John Ortiz, and Outstanding Fight Choreography for UnkleDave’s Fight House.
-2019-20 Off Broadway Alliance Award Nomination for Best New Play
-2020 Drama League Distinguished Performance Award nominations for Liza Colón-Zayas and Elizabeth Rodriguez
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven features Victor Almanzar (Between Riverside and Crazy), David Anzuelo (Se Llama Cristina), Elizabeth Canavan (Between Riverside and Crazy), Lucille Lortel Award winner Sean Carvajal (Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, King Lear), Patrice Johnson Chevannes (The Homecoming Queen), Molly Collier (Salutations! I’m Creative Dave), Liza Colón-Zayas (Mary Jane, Between Riverside and Crazy), Esteban Andres Cruz (Off-Broadway Debut), Greg Keller (Do You Feel Anger?), Wilemina Olivia-Garcia (Dutch Heart Of Man), Kristina Poe (The Idea of Me), Neil Tyrone Pritchard (The Stowaway), Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange is the New Black,” The Motherf#cker with the Hat), Andrea Syglowski (queens), Benja Kay Thomas (Barbecue), viviana valeria (Off-Broadway Debut), Pernell Walker (Seed), and Kara Young (The New Englanders).
Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Adly Guirgis takes his style to another level in this world premiere play about the harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking inner workings of a women’s halfway house in New York City.
Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven features scenic design by Narelle Sissons, costume design by Alexis Forte, lighting design by Mary Louise Geiger, sound design and original compositions by Elisheba Ittoop, fight direction by UnkleDave’s Fight House, casting by Telsey + Company, and animals by William Berloni.
About LAByrinth Theater Company
Originally known as Latino Actors Base, LAByrinth Theater Company was founded in 1992 by a small group of actors who wanted to push their artistic limits, and tell more inclusive stories that expanded the boundaries of mainstream theater.
Over twenty-five years, that small group of actors has grown to a company of more than a hundred artists. LAByrinth is an ensemble-driven company comprised of actors, designers, directors, musicians, and writers committed to developing and producing new works for the stage, giving voice to new perspectives that are powerful, groundbreaking, and have changed the face of America’s theatrical landscape.
LAB’s journey has taken them from INTAR, to Center Stage NY, to The Public Theater, to the Bank St. Theater and now their newest home, NYC’s oldest continuously running off-broadway theater, the Cherry Lane Theatre.
From LAB’s first two productions in the early 90’s, David Deblinger’s one man show, Nobody’s Home, and Lilian Slugocki’s family drama RoughHouse at INTAR, to multiple Stephen Adly Guirgis world premieres including In Arabia, We’d All be Kings (1999), Jesus Hopped the A Train (2000), and Our Lady of 121st Street (2002) with all three directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman at Center Stage NY, to Brett C. Leonard’s Guinea Pig Solo (2004) and Bob Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating (2007) at The Public Theater, to Melissa Ross’s Thinner Than Water (2011) at the Bank St Theater, to Maggie Bofill’s Devil of Choice (2018) at the Cherry Lane Theatre, and most recently, our co-production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Halfway Bitches Go Straight To Heaven with Atlantic Theater Company, LAByrinth Theater Company has produced over fifty world premieres and developed over 250 new plays.
Stephen Adly Guirgis’s HALFWAY BITCHES GO STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN garnered three 2020 Outer Critics Circle Honors including Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Liza Colón-Zayas and Outstanding Director of Play for John Ortiz
Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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