Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: Laila Robins, Sean Dugan, C.J. Wilson, Peter Francis James, Bill Irwin, Maggie Lacey and Tricia Paoluccio at Signature Theatre Company’s revival of Edward Albee’s The Lady From Dubuque

Edward Albee. Photo by Lia Chang

Edward Albee. Photo by Lia Chang

Last night, I saw an alumni night preview performance of Signature Theatre’s (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) riveting revival of Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, directed by David Esbjornson, and featuring Tony Award winner Jane Alexander in the title role, with Catherine Curtin (Love, Janis) as Lucinda, Michael Hayden (Festen, Cabaret) as Sam, Peter Francis James (The Merchant of Venice) as Oscar, Tricia Paoluccio (A Strange and Separate People) as Carol, Laila Robins (Frozen) as Jo, Thomas Jay Ryan (In the Next Room or the vibrator play) as Edgar and C.J. Wilson (Festen, Henry IV) as Fred.

The Lady from Dubuque castmembers Laila Robins, C.J. Wilson, Tricia Paoluccio and Peter Francis James. Photo by Lia Chang

The Lady from Dubuque castmembers Laila Robins, C.J. Wilson, Tricia Paoluccio and Peter Francis James. Photo by Lia Chang

The production began preview perfomances on February 14, with a March 5 opening night, and has been extended through April 1, 2012 as the inaugural production in The End Stage Theatre at the Company’s dazzling new Frank Gehry-designed home The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between Dyer and 10th Avenues).

Laila Robins and Sean Dugan. Photo by Lia Chang

Laila Robins and Sean Dugan. Photo by Lia Chang

After the performance, there was a delightful cocktail and dessert reception with the castmembers in the cafe. Thanks to James Houghton, Erika Mallin, Allison Bressi and the entire staff of Signature Theatre for a lovely evening at the theater in their new home.

In The Lady from Dubuque, Sam and Jo are entertaining their friends during a late night party with a round of Twenty Questions and another round of drinks. When an unexpected guest and her mysterious companion arrive, the question “Who are you?” gains a whole new and desperate meaning.

The design team includes John Arnone (Scenic Design), Elizabeth Hope Clancy (Costume Design), David Lander (Lighting Design), John Gromada (Sound Design) and Rick Sordelet (Fight Direction). The production stage manager is David H. Lurie and the stage manager is Andrew C. Gottlieb. Casting is by Telsey + Company.

Peter Francis James and Gordana Rashovich. Photo by Lia Chang

Peter Francis James and Gordana Rashovich. Photo by Lia Chang

Tickets to all productions of Signature’s inaugural season at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $25, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable and accessible tickets to every Signature production for the next 20 years.

Tickets and season subscriptions can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212-244-7529 or online at www.signaturetheatre.org.

Laila Robins, C.J. Wilson and Tricia Paoluccio. Photo by Lia Chang

Laila Robins, C.J. Wilson and Tricia Paoluccio. Photo by Lia Chang

Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by a lead gift from The Pershing Square Foundation with supplemental support from the Ford Foundation, Margot Adams, Time Warner Inc., the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

About SIGNATURE THEATRE
Founded in 1991 by James Houghton, Signature Theatre exists to honor and celebrate the playwright. Signature makes an extended commitment to a playwright’s body of work, and during this journey, the writer is engaged in every aspect of the creative process. Signature is the first theatre company to devote an entire season to the work of a single playwright, including re-examinations of past writings as well as New York and world premieres. By championing in-depth explorations of a living playwright’s body of work, the Company delivers an intimate and immersive journey into the playwright’s singular vision.

Bill Irwin and Lia Chang. Photo by Christine Lin

Bill Irwin and Lia Chang. Photo by Christine Lin

Signature has presented entire seasons of the work of Edward Albee, Lee Blessing, Horton Foote, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Bill Irwin, Adrienne Kennedy, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Charles Mee, Arthur Miller, the Negro Ensemble Company, Sam Shepard, Paula Vogel, August Wilson and Lanford Wilson. Signature remains deeply committed to season-long residencies, and during the company’s tenth and fifteenth anniversaries, Signature introduced the Legacy Program. The Legacy Program invites past Playwrights-in-Residence back to Signature through two series: the Signature Series, which presents “signature,” or more well-known works; and the Premiere Series, which presents New York and world premieres.

Playwright Sam Shepard and director Joe Chaikin in rehearsal for Signature Theatre's production of Chicago at 42nd Rehearsal Studios in September 1996.  Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Sam Shepard and director Joe Chaikin in rehearsal for Signature Theatre’s production of Chicago at 42nd Rehearsal Studios in September 1996. Photo by Lia Chang

I am a proud alumni of the Signature Theatre Company, having appeared in Sam Shepard’s Chicago, directed by Joe Chaikin at The Public in Signature Theatre’s Sam Shepard season in 1996. A selection of my rehearsal photographs taken during that production are in Signature Theatre Company’s limited edition book, “Signature Theatre Company The First 20 Years: A Celebration,” which features a treasure trove of rehearsal, portrait and production images of the plays produced during the first 20 years of The Company.

Sam Shepard and the cast of Chicago at The Public Theater in October, 1996. Photo by Lia Chang

Sam Shepard and the cast of Chicago at The Public Theater in October, 1996. Photo by Lia Chang

Signature, its productions and its resident writers have been recognized with a Pulitzer Prize, fourteen Lucille Lortel Awards, sixteen Obie Awards, six Drama Desk Awards and twenty-two AUDELCO Awards, among many other distinctions. The National Theatre Conference recognized the company as the 2003 Outstanding National Theatre of the Year. Check out www.signaturetheatre.org.

Christine Lin, Debargo Sanyal, C.J. Wilson and Nick Choksi. Photo by Lia Chang

Christine Lin, Debargo Sanyal, C.J. Wilson and Nick Choksi. Photo by Lia Chang

About THE PERSHING SQUARE SIGNATURE CENTER
The Pershing Square Signature Center is the new, permanent home of Signature Theatre. Spanning an entire city block at 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, the Frank Gehry-designed The Pershing Square Signature Center features three intimate theatres, a studio theatre, rehearsal studio, and a public café and bookstore and will serve as both a theatre community hub and neighborhood destination. Working hand-in-hand with Signature leadership and architect of record H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture LLC, Gehry’s design has been carefully calibrated to foster interaction among playwrights, artistic collaborators and the public. The Pershing Square Signature Center will allow the 20-year old Company, critically acclaimed for its programs that celebrate the playwright’s body of work, to expand and enhance its programming, introduce new initiatives, and build audiences.

Maggie Lacey, Gordana Rashovich and Julia Gibson. Photo by Lia Chang

Maggie Lacey, Gordana Rashovich and Julia Gibson. Photo by Lia Chang

At The Pershing Square Signature Center, the Company’s expanded programming will include: Residency One, the continuation of Signature’s core program which provides audiences with an immersive exploration of the work of a singular playwright; Residency Five, which provides five-year residencies for multiple playwrights, guaranteeing three full productions of new work over the course of each playwright’s residency; and the Legacy Program, which honors the lifetime achievement of playwrights who have previously been in residence at Signature through the production of a premiere or earlier play. The Pershing Square Signature Center will serve as the artistic home for as many as 9 playwrights at any one time, fostering a dynamic creative community where playwrights will engage directly with audiences and one another.

Lia Chang and C.J. Wilson. Photo by Gordana Rashovich

Lia Chang and C.J. Wilson. Photo by Gordana Rashovich

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist.

In 2010, the Library of Congress established The Lia Chang APA Theater Portfolio in the Asian Pacific American Performing Arts Collection housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian Pacific American Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Broadwayworld.com, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, Smartmoney.com The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

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All text, graphics, articles & photographs: ©2000-2012 Lia Chang Multimedia. 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 lia@backstagepasswithliachang.com.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Yellow Face Reading & Book Signing w/ David Henry Hwang, Kathryn Layng, Francis Jue, w/ guest Edward Albee
Athol Fugard’s Blood Knot, starring Colman Domingo & Scott Shepherd in The Alice Griffith Jewel Box at The Pershing Square Signature Center through March 11, 2012
Tony award-winning actor BD Wong stars in NBC’s Awake; video preview and interview
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Photos: Larry Bryggman, Denise Burse, Peter Jay Fernandez, Tim Hopper, Arliss Howard, Kobi Libii, Mary McCann, Neil Pepe, David Pittu, Steve Rosen, Sheila Tapia, Debra Winger at Atlantic Theatre’s Opening Night of Gabe McKinley’s CQ/CX
broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Working Theater’s CALL ME WALDO
broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: SPEAK UP CONNIE In Rehearsal
broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Chinglish in Rehearsal
broadwayworld.com Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre presents Knock Me A Kiss
Photos & Video: Celebrate Chinese New Year with David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish
Extended through 8/23- “In Rehearsal” Lia Chang Theater Portfolio at Library of Congress Featuring Robert Lee and Leon Ko’s Heading East Starring BD Wong, Thom Sesma as Scar in The Lion King Las Vegas
Photos: “How To Succeed” stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rose Hemingway and John Larroquette at Lord & Taylor for Windows Unveiling
Multimedia: Promises, Promises’ Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at Lord & Taylor Fifth Ave
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet, Tracee Chimo at Opening Night Party of Neil LaBute’s Break of Noon
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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