Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

May 28-June 22: Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73 Productions Presents NY Premiere of Cori Thomas’s When January Feels Like Summer

Cori Thomas. Photo by Christine Jean Chambers

Cori Thomas. Photo by Christine Jean Chambers

Cori Thomas’s raw, edgy and funny play about the many flavors of desire, When January Feels Like Summer, featuring Debargo Sanyal, Dion Graham, Mahira Kakkar, Maurice Williams and J. Mallory McCree, begins previews May 28 for its New York premiere in a co-production of Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73 Productions directed by Daniella Topol.

When January Feels Like Summer at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street, Wednesday, opens Thursday, June 5, at 7:00pm (for a run currently scheduled through June 22).

When January Feels Like Summer follows five diverse Central Harlem residents as they collide during one strangely warm winter, when a feeling of change hums in the air. Through everyday encounters on the subway and in corner bodegas a pair of teenagers becomes unexpected heroes, an immigrant accountant embraces transformation, and two lonely souls begin to stumble toward each other.

“Any and every New Yorker knows that living here means the strange, surprising, and sometimes magical exchange between strangers,” said Ms. Topol. “Our production will capture this energy as five racially and sexually diverse characters collide into and out of one another’s lives in comedic and moving ways.”

“We are thrilled to collaborate on the New York premiere of Cori Thomas, a playwright whose work both of our theaters have developed — and loved — for years,” said William Cardin, Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre and Asher Richelli and Liz Jones, Executive Directors of Page 73. “When January Feels Like Summer is a funny, magical and deeply affecting story about New York City today and people discovering themselves and each other in unexpected and surprising ways. We can’t wait to share it with our New York audiences.

Cori Thomas is a playwright and actress who lives in New York City. Her plays include: When January Feels Like Summer (World Premiere City Theatre Co., Pittsburgh); Pa’s Hat (Pillsbury House Theatre, MN); My Secret Language of Wishes (Various theaters and University productions including Mixed Blood, MN); The Princess, The Breast, and, The Lizard; The Unusual Love Life of Bedbugs and Other Creatures; Waking Up; His Daddy; our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Ms. Thomas’s plays have been developed and produced at Sundance Theatre Lab, Goodman Theatre, City Theatre Company (Pittsburgh), Page 73, Playwrights Horizons, Lark Play Development Center, The Ensemble Studio Theatre, Going To The River, Pillsbury House Theatre, Mixed Blood Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Passage Theatre, The Playwrights Realm, New Federal Theatre, New Georges, The Black Rep (St. Louis), The New Black Fest, and Queens Theatre in the Park. She has been commissioned by South Coast Rep Theatre, EST/Sloan Foundation, NYSCA/Page 73, NYSCA/EST and Pillsbury House Theatre.

Sets are by Jason Simms, lights by Austin R. Smith, costumes by Sydney Maresca and sound by Shane Rettig. Eileen Lalley is production stage manager.

Box Office
When January Feels Like Summer performs Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 7:00pm and Mondays at 7:00pm. Matinees are Saturdays at 2:00pm and Sundays at 5:00pm. The final performance is currently scheduled for June 22.

Reserved seats are $40, general admission seats are $30 ($20 student/seniors) and Saturday and Sunday matinees are $10. Advance general admission tickets bought before the first preview (May 28) are $15. To order tickets call 866.811.4111 or click here.

The Ensemble Studio Theatre, William Carden, Artistic Director, Paul Slee, Executive Director, was founded in the belief that extraordinary support yields extraordinary work. We are a dynamic and expanding company of artists committed to the discovery and nurturing of new voices and the continued support and growth of artists throughout their creative lives. Through our unique collaborative process we develop and produce original, provocative, and authentic new plays that engage and challenge our audience and audiences across the country.

When January Feels Like Summer is the third production this season on the Ensemble Studio Theatre mainstage, following the extended run of their critically-acclaimed Year of the Rooster by Eric Dufault for which Bobby Moreno received a Drama Desk nomination, the critically-acclaimed Fast Company by Carla Ching.

Page 73 Productions, under the leadership of Executive Directors Liz Jones and Asher Richelli, Producing Director Michael Walkup, and Associate Director Rachel Karpf, produces and develops the work of early-career playwrights who have yet to receive a professional New York production. Page 73’s writers have gone on to win the Pulitzer Prize, the Drama Desk Award, the OBIE Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and many more. Page 73’s world and New York premiere productions include the recent New York premiere of Grounded by George Brant; Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes (2007 Pulitzer finalist); 1001 by Jason Grote; Sixty Miles to Silver Lake by Dan LeFranc (2010 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award); Creature by Heidi Schreck; Jack’s Precious Moment by Samuel D. Hunter; Edgewise by Eliza Clark; Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig; and Sleeping Rough by Kara Manning. Page 73’s slate of development programs includes the prestigious P73 Playwriting Fellowship, offering a $10,000 grant and a yearlong artistic home to one early-career writer, as well as the Interstate 73 writers group and an annual Summer Residency. Plays developed in these programs include the recent acclaimed world premieres of Meghan Kennedy’s Too Much, Too Much, Too Many at Roundabout Underground and Dorothy Fortenberry’s Partners at the 2014 Humana Festival of New American Plays.

When January Feels Like Summer is Page 73’s second production this season, following their critically-acclaimed Grounded by George Brant for which Hannah Cabell just received a Drama Desk nomination.

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Crafting a Career
Branden Jacob-Jenkins’ Appropriate, Lisa Kron’s Fun Home, Sonya Tayeh, Emmanuel Brown, Mia Katigbak, K. Todd Freeman, John Earl Jelks Among 2014 OBIE Award Winners
Jun. 4-29: Tony Award–winner BD Wong, Sab Shimono, Julyana Soelistyo, Stan Egi, Orville Mendoza, Paolo Montalban and More Set for A.C.T.’s U.S. Premiere of Orphan of Zhao, a co-production with La Jolla Playhouse 
June 22 – July 27: Blair Underwood, Richard Thomas and Kristen Connolly Lead the Cast of The Old Globe’s Othello, helmed by Barry Edelstein 
June 4: Garth Kravits, Lena Hall, Lesli Margherita, Wesley Taylor and More Strip Down with The Skivvies at 54 Below 
May 31 – June 22: Annette O’Toole Leads Cast of Wendy Wasserstein’s “Third” Helmed by Michael Cumpsty at Two River Theater Company 
June 5-7: National Asian Artists Project To Present All-Asian Production of OLIVER! Featuring Raul Aranas, Anthea Neri, Bonale Zohn Fambrini, Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, Cindy Cheung, Scott Watanabe, Virginia Wing, David Shih and More 
May 28 – June 29: Lisa Joyce, Henry Kelemen and CJ Wilson Join Mary McCann in Atlantic Theater Company’s OUR NEW GIRL
Jun. 23: The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall Features Chapman Roberts, Norm Lewis, André De Shields, Chuck Cooper, Brandon Victor Dixon and More
CICADA and THE ROAD TO FAME Takes Top Honors at the 30th Anniversary Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Asian American Federation Celebrates Cao K. O with Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Former City Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Ron Kim and More
Photos: The George Gee Swing Orchestra at SWING46; Launches Indiegogo Campaign for New CD, Swing Makes You Happy
May 12: Tony Award Nominee Norm Lewis Debuts as ‘The Phantom’ and Sierra Boggess Returns as Christine in Phantom of The Opera
Photos: André Braugher, Ami Brabson, Christine Toy Johnson, Antoinette LaVecchia, Richard Topol, Victor Williams, Nikkole Salter, Elizabeth Van Dyke at Oni Faida Lampley’s Tough Titty at the Paradise Factory
Photos: Harriet Harris, John Tartaglia, Christine Toy Johnson, Alan Muraoka, James Saito and More celebrate Ann Harada’s Debut at Lincoln Center in the American Songbook Series 
Lucille Lortel Awards for Here Lies Love, Fun Home, The Open House, Good Person of Szechwan A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder Leads 2014 Tony Award Nominations; Bryan Cranston, LaTanya Richardson, Neil Patrick Harris, Mark Rylance, Audra McDonald, Leigh Silverman among nominees
Signature Theatre to Be Honored with the 2014 Regional Theatre Tony Award
Photos: Late Night with Holy Land’s Jojo Gonzalez
Photos: Bryan Cranston, Peter Jay Fernandez, Roslyn Ruff, Tamara Tunie, Leslie Uggams, Ruben Santiago-Hudson Celebrate All The Way Opening Night
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Photos: Backstage and Opening Night of Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
Q & A with Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play’s Garth Kravits
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York.  She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 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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