Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Cori Thomas’s When January Feels Like Summer with Debargo Sanyal, Dion Graham, Mahira Kakkar, Maurice Williams, Carter Redwood, Returns to Ensemble Studio Theatre through October 26, 2014

Mahira Kakkar, Debargo Sanyal. Photo: Gerry Goodstein.

Mahira Kakkar, Debargo Sanyal. Photo: Gerry Goodstein.

Cori Thomas’s critically acclaimed raw, edgy and funny play about the many flavors of desire, New York Times Critics’ Pick When January Feels Like Summer, directed by Daniella Topol, returns Wednesday, October 1 for a month-long run presented by the Ensemble Studio Theatre and Women’s Project Theater at Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street.

Dion Graham, Mahira Kakkar, Maurice Williams, Debargo Sanyal. Photo: Gerry Goodstein.

Dion Graham, Mahira Kakkar, Maurice Williams, Debargo Sanyal. Photo: Gerry Goodstein.

When January Feels Like Summer features Debargo Sanyal (Invasion!, Damages), Dion Graham (Machinal, Lobby Hero, The Wire), Mahira Kakkar (Harper Regan, Hank and Asha), Maurice Williams (In Conflict), and newcomer Carter Redwood. Thomas’s script follows a handful of 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 become 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 captures 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 be able to work with Lisa McNulty and Women’s Project Theater to give Cori’s remarkable play the opportunity to reach a wider audience. Cori is a playwright who so suits the mission of WP and Daniella Topol has a long history there as well,” said William Carden, Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre. “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 couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with the incredible team at EST to bring this beautiful play back to New York audiences,” said new Producing Artistic Director Lisa McNulty. “We fell in love with Cori’s moving, wickedly funny and deeply human snapshot of this city we live in, brought to life in an incredibly skilled production by long-time WP alum Daniella Topol. I can’t think of a more thrilling way to begin our season.”

Cori Thomas. Photo by Christine Jean Chambers

Cori Thomas. Photo by Christine Jean Chambers

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.

Daniella Topol – Director Daniella Topol’s world premiere productions include: Rachel Bonds’s Five Mile Lake (South Coast Rep), Jessica Dickey’s Charles Ives Take Me Home (Rattlestick Theatre) and Row after Row (Women’s Project), Rajiv Joseph’s Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre), Catherine Treischmann’s How the World Began (South Coast Rep/Women’s Project), Lloyd Suh’s Jesus in India (Magic Theatre/MaYi Theatre), Sheila Callaghan’s Lascivious Something (Women’s Project/Cherry Lane), and Dead City (New Georges) as well as the workshop production of Martyna Majok’s Ironbound (Steppenwolf First Look Series).

This production was originally presented by Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73 Productions.

Sets are by Jason Simms, lights by Austin R. Smith, costumes by Sydney Maresca and sound by Shane Rettig. Kate Croasdale is Production Stage Manager.

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 October 26.

Reserved seats are $50, general admission seats are $40 ($32.50 student/seniors). Advance general admission tickets bought before the first preview (October 1st) are $30. To order tickets call 866.811.4111or click

Other articles by 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
Oct. 15: An Evening with Hollywood Legend Nancy Kwan at the New-York Historical Society
Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days
Reg E. Cathey, Ching Valdes-Aran, Joseph Harrington, Tony Torn and More in La MaMa’s The Tempest through November 2, 2014
James Yaegashi, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Ernest Abuba, Tsering Dorjee, Takemi Kitamura, James Saito, Jon Norman Schneider set for Sarah Ruhl’s The Oldest Boy in the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at LCT; Previews Begin October 9, 2014
Oct. 10: Baayork Lee to Receive 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation
Oct. 8 – Nov. 2: Myra Lucretia Taylor, JoJo Gonzalez, Linda Powell, Don Sparks and More set for Long Wharf Theatre’s 50th Season Opening Production of OUR TOWN
The Fortress of Solitude starring André de Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kyle Beltran & More Begins Performances at The Public
Photos: Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion on View through April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Museum of the Moving Image Presents A Tribute to Ruby Dee
Yuri Kochiyama Memorial Service at First Corinthian Baptist Church in New York
Oct. 5: Meet Award Winning Playwright J.E. Franklin at Booksigning for ‘To Break Every Yoke’ at Castillo Theatre
Rome Neal Seriously Injured in Fall; Fundraisers Set at The Five Spot on October 12 and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on November 6
TCG’s SPARK Leadership Program Class of 2014: Victor Maog, Nelson T. Eusebio III, Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr, Snehal Desai, Deena Selenow, Jacob G. Padrón, Jr., Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, Kelvin Dinkins, LaTeshia Dezelle Ellerson, Lisa Portes
Video: Jeremy Lin Pranks Visitors at Madame Tussauds San Francisco
Oct. 8 – 12: 2014 National Asian American Theater Conference & Festival Lineup
Oct. 10-12: Dan Kwong’s WHAT? NO PING-PONG BALLS? with Kenny Endo at Interact Theatre Company as part of 2014 National Asian American Theater Festival and Conference
David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage Appointed to the Playwriting Faculty of Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Program
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall 
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Golden Globe Winner James Shigeta, Veteran of Film and TV, Dies at 85; Excerpts of 2007 A/P/A Institute Q & A with Sukhdev Sandhu 
Photos: Artist Arlan Huang, One Brush Stroke at a Time
Late Night Singing with Garth Kravits at 54 Below with The Skivvies, at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland and Michael Raye’s Soul Gathering 
Photos and Video: Ben Vereen Performs at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream 
Photos and Video: Obba Babatunde and cast members from the original cast of Dreamgirls perform at Carnegie Hall in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream
Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, President Bill Clinton and More Remember Meshach Taylor
Photos: Meshach Taylor Celebrates 67th Birthday with Arlene and Joe Mantegna, Delta Burke, Gerald McRaney, Jean Smart, Dennis Franz, Ernie Hudson, John Heard, Keith Szarabajka, Stuart Gordon, Shadoe Stevens and More
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

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


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Backstage Pass with Lia Chang on