John Earl Jelks. Photo by Lia Chang

John Earl Jelks Joins Debra Messing, Enrico Colantoni, Crystal Finn, Susannah Flood, and Christopher Livingston in Roundabout Theatre Company’s New York Premiere of Noah Haidle’s BIRTHDAY CANDLES, Mar. 18-May 29

Roundabout Theatre Company is presenting the New York premiere of Birthday Candles by Noah Haidle, directed by Vivienne Benesch. Birthday Candles begins preview performances on Friday, March 18, 2022 and open officially on Sunday, April 10, 2022. This is a limited engagement through Sunday, May 29, 2022 at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway (227 West 42nd Street).

John Earl Jelks. Photo by Lia Chang
John Earl Jelks. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award nominee John Earl Jelks as “Matt/William” joins Emmy Award winner Debra Messing as “Ernestine,” Enrico Colantoni as “Kenneth,” Crystal Finn as “Joan/Alex/Beth,” Susannah Flood as “Alice/Madeline/Ernie,” and Christopher Livingston as “Billy/John.

An award-winning television star, Debra Messing was last seen on Broadway in John Patrick Shanley’s play Outside Mullingar opposite Brían F. O’Byrne. Enrico Colantoni makes his Broadway debut this season; he most recently appeared in HBO Max’s “Station Eleven” and Nat Geo’s “The Hot Zone: Anthrax” and opposite Tom Hanks in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” John Earl Jelks was last seen on Broadway in Sweat by Lynn Nottage and received a Tony Award nomination for his work in Radio Golf by August Wilson. Roundabout Theatre Company welcomes the return of Crystal Finn who has appeared in the Roundabout Underground productions of Kingdom Come and Bobbie Clearly, and Christopher Livingston who appeared in the Underground production of Something Clean. Susannah Flood returns to Roundabout after most recently appearing in The Cherry Orchard on Broadway.

Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) returns to the stage as Ernestine Ashworth, who spends her 17th birthday agonizing over her insignificance in the universe. Soon enough, it’s her 18th birthday. Even sooner, her 41st. Her 70th. Her 101st. Five generations, dozens of goldfish, an infinity of dreams, one cake baked over a century. What makes a lifetime…into a life? A writer of “freewheeling ambition” (Charles Isherwood, The New York Times), Noah Haidle makes his Broadway debut with a poignant new play as fearless in scope as it is tremendous in heart.

Roundabout is thrilled to present a new Noah Haidle play following their collaboration on his black comedy Mr. Marmalade (2005) starring Mamie Gummer and Michael C. Hall. Birthday Candles was commissioned and previously produced by Detroit Public Theatre in the spring of 2018 and received the first 2019 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award citation. Ms. Benesch is the Producing Artistic Director of PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC and, as an actress, was seen in Roundabout’s 2004 production of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall.

The design team will include Christine Jones (Sets), Toni-Leslie James (Costumes), Jen Schriever (Lights), John Gromada (Sound) and Kate Hopgood (Original Music).

Tickets for Birthday Candles are on sale by calling 212.719.1300, online at roundabouttheatre.org, in person at a Roundabout box office. Ticket prices range from $39-$139. For groups of 10 or more please call 212-719-9393 x 365 or email groupsales@roundabouttheatre.org.

Birthday Candles will play Tuesday through Saturday evening at 8:00PM with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00PM and Sunday matinees at 3:00PM.

Lia Chang
Lia Chang

Lia Chang loves to tell stories – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, a performing arts photographer and an award-winning filmmaker. A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. She stars in and is the Executive Producer for the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet, and was featured as Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago, and has worked extensively Off-BroadwayPhoto archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com

All text, graphics, articles & photographs:© 2000-2022 Lia Chang Multimedia, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com 

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