Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Gary Wilmes and Scott Shepherd Set for Elevator Repair Service’s GATZ at The Public, March 14-May 6

Gary Wilmes. Photo by Lia Chang

Gary Wilmes. Photo by Lia Chang

Chinglish‘s Gary Wilmes and Scott Shepherd (Blood Knot, Hamlet) return to The Public Theater (Artistic Director Oskar Eustis; Executive Director Patrick Willingham) in Elevator Repair Service’s GATZ, the award-winning, critically lauded theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, directed by John Collins, with previews beginning on Wednesday, March 14 and running through Sunday, May 6, for 28 performances only in the Newman Theater. Single tickets, beginning at $160, are on sale now. (Extended through May 13.)
GATZ was created and developed by the Elevator Repair Service ensemble, which includes Laurena Allan (Myrtle), Frank Boyd (George), Jim Fletcher (Jim), Ross Fletcher (Henry C. Gatz), Mike Iveson (Ewing), Vin Knight (Chester),Annie McNamara (Catherine), Kate Scelsa (Lucille), Scott Shepherd (Nick), Susie Sokol (Jordan), Victoria Vazquez (Daisy), Ben Williams (Michaelis), and Gary Wilmes (Tom).
BLOOD KNOT's Colman Domingo, dialect coach Barbara Rubin and Scott Shepherd at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 13, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

BLOOD KNOT's Colman Domingo, dialect coach Barbara Rubin and Scott Shepherd at The Pershing Square Signature Center in New York on February 13, 2012. Photo by Lia Chang

One morning in the office of a mysterious small business, an employee finds a copy of The Great Gatsby in the clutter of his desk. He starts to read it out loud and doesn’t stop. At first his coworkers hardly notice. But after a series of strange coincidences, it’s no longer clear whether he’s reading the book or the book is transforming him. GATZ is a theatrical and literary tour de force, not a retelling of the Gatsby story but an enactment of the novel itself. Over the course of a single 6 1/2 hour production, Fitzgerald’s American masterpiece is delivered word for word, startlingly brought to life by a low-rent office staff in the midst of their inscrutable business operations.

GATZ’s Associate Director is Steve Bodow and features scenic design by Louisa Thompson, costume design by Colleen Werthmann, lighting design by Mark Barton, and sound design by Ben Williams.

JOHN COLLINS (Director) founded Elevator Repair Service with his first production, Mr. Antipyrine, Fire Extinguisher. In the 20 years since, he has directed or co-directed all of the company’s shows. From 1993 to 2006 he worked for The Wooster Group as a sound designer, receiving two Drama Desk nominations and two Bessie Awards. As a lighting designer, he won a Bessie Award for his design of Elevator Repair Service’s Room Tone. John is the recipient of a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Drama and Performance Art, the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Director and the 2010 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for GATZ.

STEVE BODOW (Associate Director) is an ERS co-founder. Along with John Collins, Steve was Artistic Director of the Company from 1996-2004, co-directing pieces including Language Instruction, Total Fictional Lie, Cab Legs, Highway to Tomorrow, and Room Tone. Steve is Co-Executive Producer and former Head Writer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” where he recently won his ninth Emmy.

LAURENA ALLAN (Myrtle) has performed extensively in downtown New York. She performed internationally as Wife in Richard Maxwell’s House and is the creator of “Laurena’s Pancake Party.”

FRANK BOYD (George) has appeared with Elevator Repair Service in The Select (The Sun Also Rises), and Shuffle. New York credits include Architecting at The Public Theater; and Particularly in the Heartland. Film & TV credits include B.U.S.T, Dogs Lie, Yakima, and “Guiding Light.”

JIM FLETCHER (Jim) performed in Elevator Repair Service’s The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928) (tour). He has performed in many Richard Maxwell productions and with the New York City Players. He also works with the English theater group Forced Entertainment. He appears in the feature film Bass Ackwards, directed by Linas Phillips, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

ROSS FLETCHER (Henry C. Gatz) is a cardiologist and the Chief of Staff of Washington, D.C.’s VA Medical Center. Gatz is his first show with Elevator Repair Service.

MIKE IVESON (Ewing) previously appeared in the Elevator Repair Service productions of The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Shuffle and The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928). His other credits include Richard Maxwell’s Ode to the Man Who Kneels, Sarah Michelson’s Dover Beach, Sibyl Kempson’s Crime or Emergency, and Erin Courtney’s Black Cat Lost.

VIN KNIGHT (Chester) appeared in the Elevator Repair Service productions of The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Shuffle, The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928), and No Great Society. His other credits include The Temperamentals with Barrow Group, and over two dozen productions with the adobe theater company and performances at Clubbed Thumb, Andhow!, Soho Rep, HERE, New Georges and Theatreworks USA.

ANNIE MCNAMARA (Catherine) appeared in Elevator Repair Service’s The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928). Her recent credits in New York include That Pretty Pretty, or, The Rape Play; The Flea and the Professor; Nurses in New England with Half Straddle; God’s Ear and A Map of Virtue.

KATE SCELSA (Lucille) appeared in Elevator Repair Service’s The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Shuffle, The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928), and Show of Shows. Her New York stage appearances include City Council; Can I Help You; Say Uncle! at the Soho Playhouse; and Light Keepers, an ongoing collaboration with puppet artist Amanda Villalobos.

SCOTT SHEPHERD (Nick) returns to The Public, where he previously appeared as Nick in GATZ and as the title role in The Wooster Group’s Hamlet. He is currently in Blood Knot at Signature Theatre and his credits with Elevator Repair Service include McGurk: A Cautionary Tale, Shut Up I Tell You (I Said Shut Up I Tell You), Cab Legs, Total Fictional Lie, and No Great Society. He won Bessie and OBIE awards for his performance in The Wooster Group’s Poor Theater. Other Wooster Group credits include The Hairy Ape, North Atlantic, To You, the Birdie! Brace Up!, The Emperor Jones, La Didone, and Vieux Carré. He appears in Hal Hartley’s film Meanwhile.

SUSIE SOKOL (Jordan) has been a member of Elevator Repair Service since 1992 and has appeared in all ERS productions since 1993. She has also collaborated with theater artists Katherine Profeta, Tina Satter and Half Straddle, and Sibyl Kempson.

VICTORIA VAZQUEZ (Daisy) has been a member of ERS since 1996 and has appeared in The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928), Total Fictional Lie, and Cab Legs. Other credits include: Richard Maxwell’s Caveman People Without History, Das Maedchen; The Voices with Forced Entertainment and Young Jean Lee’s, PULLMAN, WA.

BEN WILLIAMS (Michaelis) appeared in Elevator Repair Service’s The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Shuffle, The Sound and the Fury (April Seventh, 1928), and No Great Society. His other recent projects include Walse-Fantasie with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Julia Jarcho’s American Treasure.

GARY WILMES (Tom) recently appeared on Broadway in Chinglish. His Off-Broadway credits include Red Light Winter; Brace Up!; More Lies About Jerzy; House and Boxing 2000 with Richard Maxwell; and Bad Boy Nietzsche and Paradise Hotel with Richard Foreman. He also appeared in the National production of August: Osage County with Steppenwolf at The Sydney Theatre Company. His film and television credits include A Mighty Heart, Afterschool, Salt, “Jon Benjamin Has A Van,” “Blue Bloods,” and “Nurse Jackie.”

ELEVATOR REPAIR SERVICE, a theater ensemble, was founded by director John Collins and a group of actors in 1991. Since that time, ERS has built a body of highly acclaimed work and has appeared on stages in downtown New York and across the U.S. and Europe. ERS’s core artistic mission is to create original works, with a consistent ensemble, that explore and challenge the fundamentals of live performance. ERS shows are built around a broad range of subject matter including literary, dramatic and cinematic forms. They combine elements of hi-tech and lo-tech design, vaudeville, both literary and found text, found objects and discarded furniture, and the group’s own highly developed style of choreography. The company has generated a repertoire that includes 14 original full-length pieces and several short pieces and workshop productions. Their newest piece, The Select (The Sun Also Rises) had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2010, its U.S. premiere at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival in September 2010, and its New York premiere in September 2011 with an extended ten-week run at New York Theatre Workshop. Elevator Repair Service is a member of TCG and A.R.T./New York.

Since its 2006 premiere at the Kunsten Festival des Arts in Brussels, GATZ has been seen on 18 stages, including at the American Repertory Theater (Boston, 2010), Sydney Opera House (2009), Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (2008), Vienna Festival (2007), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, 2006), and The Holland Festival (2006). Awards include Zürcher Theater Spektakel ZKB-Acknowledgement Prize (2006); Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Visiting Production, Outstanding Director – John Collins, and Outstanding Actor – Scott Shepherd (2010); Lortel Awards for Outstanding Alternative Theatrical Experience and an Outstanding Director Award for John Collins (2011); and an Obie Award for Scott Shepherd’s performance as Nick. GATZ also received a Drama Desk nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience; a Drama League nomination for Distinguished Production of a Play and a Distinguished Performance nomination for Scott Shepherd; Lortel nominations for Outstanding Lighting Design and Outstanding Sound design; and an Off-Broadway Alliance Award nomination for Best Theatrical Experience.

THE PUBLIC THEATER (Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director) was founded by Joseph Papp in 1954 and is now one of the nation’s preeminent cultural institutions, producing new plays, musicals and productions of classics at its downtown home and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The Public Theater’s mandate to create a theater for all New Yorkers continues to this day on stage and through extensive outreach programs. Each year, more than 250,000 people attend Public Theater-related productions and events at six downtown stages, including Joe’s Pub, and Shakespeare in the Park. The Public Theater’s productions have won 42 Tony Awards, 158 Obies, 42 Drama Desk Awards and four Pulitzer Prizes. Fifty-four Public Theater productions have moved to Broadway, including Sticks and Bones; That Championship Season; A Chorus Line; For Colored Girls…; The Pirates of Penzance; The Tempest; Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk; The Ride Down Mt. Morgan; Topdog/Underdog; Take Me Out; Caroline, or Change; Passing Strange; the revival of HAIR; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Merchant of Venice.

GATZ runs Wednesday, March 14 through Sunday, May 6. Marathon performance tickets for GATZ begin at $160. Single tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at (212) 967-7555,, or in person at The Public Theater box office.

GATZ will be presented as a marathon theatrical event, with two intermissions and a dinner break, four times per week. Performances begin on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. ERS company members may alternate roles at select performances.

The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street. For more information, visit

Other articles by Lia Chang:
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
Photos: Laila Robins, Sean Dugan, C.J. Wilson, Peter Francis James, Bill Irwin and Tricia Paoluccio at Signature Theatre Company’s revival of Edward Albee’s The Lady From Dubuque
David Henry Hwang to Receive 2012 William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award
Tony award-winning actor BD Wong stars in NBC’s Awake; video preview and interview
David Henry Hwang to Receive 2012 William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award
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 Photo Flash: Library of Congress’ IN REHEARSAL Exhibit
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
Multimedia: Exclusive photos and video of Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas -In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

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

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

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