Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Brandon J. Dirden, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Andrew Hovelson and Charles Weldon Set for World Premiere of YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at Two River Theater, April 11-May 3

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, is presenting the World Premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The production will run April 11-May 3, 2015, with the opening night on April 17, 2015. Single tickets starting at $20 are now available from 732.345.1400 or tworivertheater.orgYour Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine is sponsored by lead sponsor WBGO Jazz 88.3FM and WBGO.org.

Brandon J. Dirden and Merritt Janson will star as Zeke and Judith in Two River’s commissioned world-premiere drama about America’s relationship to race—and the power of hope and possibility in all of our lives. Zeke is a highly educated, once-homeless man who describes himself as a “walking outburst.”  Judith, a self-described “seeker of knowledge,” is a writer who decides that his life would make a great feature for The New York Times Magazine. As the story progresses and their worlds collide, Zeke and Judith discover the price of history, sacrifice, and legacy.

Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) most recently appeared on Broadway as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. opposite Bryan Cranston’s LBJ in All the Way. His other New York theater credits include Clybourne Park and The Piano Lesson; at Two River Theater, he starred in Jitney and Topdog/Underdog. His television credits include The Americans and The Good Wife.

Merritt Janson (Judith) was most recently seen in Theatre for a New Audience’s production of Tamburlaine the Great and The Last Will with Abingdon Theatre Company. She has appeared in numerous productions with Shakespeare & Company, American Repertory Theatre, and the Moscow Art Theatre.

Also featured in the cast are Andrew Hovelson (Broadway’s Lucky Guy and An Enemy of the People) as Randall, Judith’s boyfriend; Charles Weldon (Broadway’s The River Niger and Big Time Buck White with Mohammed Ali and Stir Crazy opposite Richard Pryor) as Zebedee, a recluse who has chosen to live for the past 40 years in a book-lined room under Grand Central Station; and Roslyn Ruff (Two Trains Running at Two River Theater, Lortel Award winner for The Piano Lesson at Signature Theatre, All the Way on Broadway) as Janeece, Judith’s best friend.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s directing credits include August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running at Two River Theater and The Piano Lesson for Signature Theatre. He won an Obie Award and critical acclaim for his solo show Lackawanna Blues, and his screenplay for the HBO adaptation received the Humanitas Prize and other honors. As an actor, his credits include August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, for which he received the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play; August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned at Signature Theatre; and the feature film Selma.

The creative team for Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine includes scenic designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Driscoll Otto, and sound designer Robert Kaplowitz. The production will feature original music by Bill Sims Jr. The fight director is Thomas Schall, the casting is by Heidi Griffiths and the production stage manager is Laura Wilson.

photo_1 Click here to RSVP. photo_6 Click here to RSVP.

Two River Theater is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division within the Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Monmouth University, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, Investors Bank, Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Brookdale Community College, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, William T. Morris Foundation, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at the Atrium at Navesink Harbor, , and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.

Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, creates great American theater performed by award-winning artists. We produce American and world masterpieces, and new plays and musicals. Two River Theater offers new-play commissions and artistic development activities that support the most adventurous artists in the American theater; invites its audience to be part of the creative process through readings and open rehearsals; and cultivates students and young people to participate in innovative arts-education programs and become a new generation of theatergoers. Founded in 1994 by Joan and Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz, Two River Theater is easily accessible by car, train, or bus, with great restaurants and shopping within walking distance of the theater. For more information, visit tworivertheater.org or call 732.345.1400.  

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia 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. Other Articles by Lia Chang: Garth Kravits Joins “NEW STANDARDS: Songs For The Stage By Jim Territo” Lineup at 42West on March 25 Brandon J. Dirden, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Andrew Hovelson, Roger Robinson Set for World Premiere of YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at Two River Theater, April 11-May 3 Signature Theatre Company’s Founding Artistic Director James Houghton To Step Down After 2015-16 25th Anniversary Season Photos: David Byrne, Alex Timbers, Jaygee Macapugay, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Adam Guettel, Sarah Saltzberg and More Celebrate Jose Llana’s Lincoln Center American Songbook Debut Photos: In Rehearsal with Jose Llana; Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut Stephen Adly Guirgis’s BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Starring Stephen McKinley Henderson, Victor Almanzar, Elizabeth Canavan, Rosal Colón, Liza Colón-Zayas, Michael Rispoli and Ron Cephas Jones, has performances through March 22 at Second Stage Theatre Photos: “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang at Trestle Gallery through March 27 Photos: Michael Mayer Helmed BROOKLYNITE Featuring Ann Harada, Matt Doyle, Nicolette Robinson, Andrew Call, Nick Cordero and More, Extends through March 29 Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s AN OCTOROON, Starring Maechi Aharanwa, Pascale Armand, Danielle Davenport, Amber Gray, Ian Lassiter, Austin Smith, Haynes Thigpen, and Mary Wiseman, Extends Again Off-Broadway Through March 29 TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents Rajiv Joseph’s THE LAKE EFFECT Starring Adam Poss, Nilanjana Bose, Jason Bowen through March 29 Production Photos: Kimber Lee’s tokyo fish story starring Sab Shimono, Ryun Yu, Lawrence Kao, Jully Lee and Eddie Mui at South Coast Repertory through March 29 Save on Preview Tickets to Lincoln Center’s Revival of THE KING AND I Starring Kelli O’Hara, Ken Watanabe, Ruthie Ann Miles, Ashley Park, Conrad Ricamora, Paul Nakauchi and More OBIE Award-winner Jojo Gonzalez, Jessica Almasy, Marcia DeBonis, Brad Heberlee, Sakina Jaffrey, Erik Lochtefeld and Babak Tafti Set for Ars Nova’s World Premiere of SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS, March 10 – April 11; OBIE Winner Rachel Chavkin to Direct Dallas Summer Musicals to Stage THE KING AND I Starring Rachel York, Alan Ariano, YoonJeong Seong, Tami Swartz and More at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 3/20-4/5 Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27 Photos: Jeanne Sakata, Jeremy Guskin, Angela Sauer, Andrew Ross Wynn, Elyse Mirto and More Set for A Noise Within’s FIGARO, March 1-May 10  Mar. 24: An Evening with Amy Tan at New-York Historical Society Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27 George Takei & Broadway Bound ALLEGIANCE Create Indiegogo Campaign as Endowment for the Japanese American National Museum Photo: Stan Egi, Ellen Crawford, Paige Lindsey White, Bruce Turk, Greg Watanabe and More in Jessica Kubzansky helmed PYGMALION at The Pasadena Playhouse through April 12; PYGMALION Themed Activities Jon Tenney, Tessa Auberjonois, John de Lancie, Emily Ruth James and Kwana Martinez Set for World Premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s MR. WOLF at South Coast Repertory, April 12-May 3 Apr. 13: THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE Original Cast Album Release Party at Joe’s Pub will feature André De Shields, Adam Chanler-Berat, Kevin Mambo, Kyle Beltran, Ken Barnett, Britton Smith, Akron Watson and Juson Williams East West Players’ Honors Paula Madison of Madison Media Management LLC and “Fresh Off The Boat” Executive Producers Nahnatchka Khan and Melvin Mar on April 20 Rebecca Naomi Jones kicks off run as Yitzhak in HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH on April 14 Tony Award® Nominees Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed to star in Rajiv Joseph’s GUARDS AT THE TAJ, helmed by Amy Morton, at Atlantic Theater Company, May 20-June 28 World Premiere Musical HAMILTON Transfers to Broadway; Previews begin July 13 Photos: National Black Theatre Festival 2013; NBTF runs August 3-8, 2015 and will include Act III – A Celebration of Life Reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. The Old Globe Presents World Premiere of Christopher Gattelli Helmed IN YOUR ARMS Featuring Vignettes written by David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage, and Alfred Uhry, September 16 – October 25 Tony Award winner Lea Salonga and Telly Leung Set to Co-star with George Takei in ALLEGIANCE; Previews Begin at the Longacre Theatre on October 6 Photos: John W. Kuo, Jessica Hagedorn, and Neal Katyal Receive AALDEF 2015 Justice in Action Awards Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 is the 2015 Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History  Photos: Francis Jue, Telly Leung, Jennifer Lim, Jo Mei, James Saito, Sue Jin Song, Harriet Harris and More at Opening Night of The World of Extreme Happiness Video: Viola Davis, Charles Dutton, Laurence Fishburne, James Earl Jones, Suzan-Lori Parks, Phylicia Rashad and More Share Stories in American Masters-August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand Documentary THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016 The American Playwriting Foundation Creates The Relentless Award to Honor the late Philip Seymour Hoffman Variety.com: Ken Jeong to Star in ABC Medical Comedy Pilot ‘Dr. Ken’ Photos: Hudson Yang, Randall Park, Eddie Huang, Richard Lui, Lori Tan Chinn and More at #FreshOffTheBoat Viewing Party at The Circle NYC Video and Photos: BD Wong and Russell Wong Guest Star on ‘NCIS: NEW ORLEANS’, Episode 1.13 – The Walking Dead Rajiv Joseph Wins Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for New Play Guards at the Taj; Set for World Premiere at Atlantic Theater Company in May Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee Crafting a Career Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website. All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 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 liachangpr@gmail.com

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