Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Theatre 167 is presenting the World Premiere of The Church of Why Not at the West End Theatre through March 15

10985616_959450734065007_5999718051495943866_nTheatre 167 is presenting the world premiere of The Church of Why Not, a new play inspired by the believers and skeptics, the Jews, Christians and Muslims, the activists and addicts, and the seekers and lost souls who pass through the doors of a church on the Upper West Side – staged at the very spot that inspired it.

Created through Theatre 167’s deeply collaborative system of collective authorship, The Church of Why Not began preview performances on February 20, 2015 and will continue through March 15, at the West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew,  263 W 86th St in New York. Tickets are available at

As one of New York City’s most diverse and bustling destinations, The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew brings together Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists and more through a dynamic slate of programs and initiatives. In addition to the founding Methodist congregation, the church hosts the Jewish congregation B’nai Jeshurun, an Ethiopian Evangelical congregation, the Arab Youth Orchestra, LGBT Bapti-Metho-Costals, a homeless shelter, soup kitchen and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger. The Church of Why Not tells the story of this vibrant congregation and the people who pass through its doors.

The Church of Why Not is conceived and directed by Ari Laura Kreith and written by Camilo Andres Almonacid, Jenny Lyn Bader and J. Stephen Brantley.

The cast of The Church of Why Not features Elizabeth A. Bell (Overdue, Oswald’s Backyard), J.Stephen Brantley, Brandi Bravo (I Like to Be HereA Snowfall in Berlin), Mariana Cardenas (The Look in Her EyesTell Like It Is), Erin Cherry, Nick Fehlinger (Jackson Heights 3am), Nathaniel Gotbaum, Daniel K. Isaac (Anna Nicole The Opera), Azhar Khan (HBO’s “Veep,” FX’s “Damages,” Sleepwalk With Me), Jon Krupp (MilkLost and Found), Elodie Morss (You are Now the Owner of This Suitcase), Emma Orelove (Our TownRomeo and Juliet), Heather Lee Rogers (The Comedy of Errors), Derick Sherrier, Marshall Spann (The Jackson Heights Trilogy), Trevor St. John-Gilbert (Les MiserablesThis Will All Be Yours), Millie Torchetti (GodspellSmokey Joe’s Café) and Lisann Valentin (FX’s “Rescue Me,” I Like To Be Here).

With scenic design by Bradley Wehrle (Gallery Players, Artistic New Directions), costume design by Jessa-Raye Court (Boomerang Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, NYMF’s Barcode), lighting design by John Salutz, sound design by  Beth Lake (Freud’s Last Session, The Light in the Piazza) and  musical direction by Ben Morss (Sidewalks of New York).  Abbey Bay (The Assembly’s That Poor Dream), is the production stage manager. Bo Frazier (The Dinner Party, Haunting Julia) is the assistant director. Elizabeth A. Bell is the production manager. The costume/set assistant is Tut Herbet. Frankie Wong is the production intern. Public relations services are by John Capo Public Relations.

The title of the play is inspired by a quote from Reverend K. Karpen, who spoke about how his Church has embraced such diverse communities so vigorously. “At other churches, they ask ‘Why?”, said Reverend Karpen. “Here we ask ‘Why not?'”

The Church of Why Not will be performed on Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm and Sundays at 7pm through March 15.

The West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew is located at 263 West 86th Street, half a block from the 86th Street stop on the 1 train.

Best known for creating and producing The Jackson Heights Trilogy, a six hour epic about the Queens, New York neighborhood told in 14 languages, Theatre 167 creates, cultivates and supports new work by artists of wide-ranging backgrounds and beliefs. Experimenting with form and process to create theatrical productions that celebrate a multitude of voices, the company develops and produces works that build bridges between and among the city’s most diverse communities.

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Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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