Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Jason Dirden, Wendell B. Franklin, Lynda Gravatt, Nikiya Mathis and Adesola Osakalumi set for World Premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s SKELETON CREW at Atlantic Theater Company, Jan. 6 – Feb. 14

Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) is presenting the world premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s play Skeleton Crew, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Skeleton Crew will begin previews Wednesday, January 6, officially open Tuesday, January 19 and play a limited engagement through Sunday, February 14, 2016 Off Broadway at Atlantic Stage 2 (330 West 16 Street).

Atlantic Theater Company’s Neil Pepe is flanked by Nikiya Mathis and Jason Dirden attend the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards on November 16, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

Atlantic Theater Company’s Neil Pepe is flanked by Nikiya Mathis and Jason Dirden attend the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards on November 16, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast features Jason Dirden (A Raisin in the Sun, FencesThe Piano Lesson),  Wendell B. Franklin (Speak Truth to PowerThe Desire, Brothers from the Bottom), Lynda Gravatt (Cat on a Hot Tin RoofKing Hedley II45 Seconds from Broadway,  The Hummingbird’s Tour), Nikiya Mathis (Milk Like SugarFidelisSeedThe Brother Sister Plays trilogy) and Adesola Osakalumi (Fela!Equus,  Eyewitness Blues and Jam on the Groove).

In Dominique Morisseau’s third play in her Detroit trilogy, a makeshift family of workers at the last exporting auto plant in the city navigate the possibility of foreclosure. Power dynamics shift and they are pushed to the limits of survival. When the line between blue collar and white collar gets blurred, how far over the lines are they willing to step?

Skeleton Crew will feature scenic design by Michael Carnahan, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Rui Rita, original music and sound design by Rob Kaplowitz, choreography by Adesola Osakalumi and casting by Caparelliotis Casting.

JASON DIRDEN (Dez). Broadway: A Raisin In The SunFences. Off-Broadway and Regional: The Piano LessonThe First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theater), Stickfly (Huntington Theater), Every Tongue Confess (Arena Stage),Seven GuitarsTopdog/Underdog (Two River Theater).

WENDELL B. FRANKLIN (Reggie). Theatre credits include Duke Solinas in A Comedy of Errors and Helicanus in Pericles at Illinois Shakespeare Festival; Lyons in Fences at Arkansas Repertory Theatre; Macon in Gee’s Bend at Cleveland Play House; Walter Lee in A Raisin in the Sun at Virginia Stage Company and Weston Playhouse Theatre Company; Willie in Master Harold… and the Boys at the Weston Playhouse; Jerome Kisembe in Ruined at La Jolla Playhouse, Huntington Theatre Company and Berkeley Repertory Theatre; The Desire and Brothers from the Bottom at the Billie Holiday Theatre; Speak Truth to Power at the Culture Project; and workshops of Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew at The Lark and Sundance Theatre Lab.

LYNDA GRAVATT (Faye). Broadway: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with James Earl Jones), Doubt (standby), King Hedley II (u/s Ruby), 45 Seconds from Broadway. Off Broadway: The Hummingbird’s Tour (Theatre at St. Clements), The Little Foxes (NYTW), Zooman and the SignKing Hedley II (Signature), Crowns(Second Stage), Miss Witherspoon (Playwrights Horizons), Intimate Apparel(Roundabout), The Old SettlerDividing the Estate (Primary Stages). Regional:Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (Arena Stage, Huntington), A Raisin in the Sun(Chautauqua, Westport Country Playhouse, Geva Theatre, Hartford Stage), Polk County (McCarter, Berkeley Rep), Crowns (Arena Stage), The Young Man from Atlanta (Huntington, Alley).Television: “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “The Good Wife,” “30 Rock,” all the “Law & Orders,” “One Life to Live,” “As The World Turns,” “All My Children.” Film: The Delivery ManBounty HunterI Hate Valentine’s DayWho Killed Atlanta’s Children?. Three Audelco Awards, Helen Hayes Award, Connecticut Critics Circle Award. Graduate of Howard University. Proud Member of Actors Equity.

NIKIYA MATHIS (Shanita): Off Broadway: Fidelis (Public Theater); The Brother Sister Plays: In the Red & Brown Water & Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (The Public Theater), Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons); Seed (Classical Theater of Harlem). Regional:  The Blood Quilt (Arena Stage); By The Way Meet Vera Stark  (Alliance Theater); The Mountaintop (Milwaukee Repertory theater);Intimate Apparel (Two River Theater);  Eclipsed (McCarter Theatre); Milk Like Sugar (La Jolla Playhouse); The Brother Sister Plays (McCarter Theater);  The Continuum Company’s Romeo and Juliet (Florence, Italy). Commercials: Diet Coke “Heart Health,” Kraft Macaroni and Cheese “Pregnant,” Nationwide Insurance “Atlanta Falcon’s House.” Television: “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “Madam Secretary,” “Crime.” Film: Compliance (dir. Craig Zobel);Knucklehead (dir. Ben Bowman). BA: Temple University, MFA: NYU Acting Graduate.

ADESOLA OSAKALUMI (Choreographer/Performer) starred in the original Broadway cast, national and international tours of Fela! and Fela! The Concert and the Broadway revival of Equus (Nugget U/S, ensemble). New York/Regional theater includes: In Your Arms (Old Globe Theatre), Ngwino Ubeho (Sundance Theater Lab), Eyewitness Blues (New York Theater Workshop), Jam on the Groove (Minetta Lane Theater, Drama Desk nominee). Film includes: Sex and the City 2Crazy Beats Strong Every TimeThe Accidental HusbandAcross the UniverseEnchanted and Idlewild. As a choreographer for film: School of RockMarci X. Commercials and theater include: Broadway Bares, ESPN, Old Navy, PBS Kids, Halifax Bank, Advil. A New York native, NEA Grant recipient and Bessie Award winner, Adesola was introduced to the performing arts by his family and believes the responsibility of an artist is to enlighten and inspire.

2015 Steinberg Award winner Dominique Morisseau attends the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards on November 16, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

2015 Steinberg Award winner Dominique Morisseau attends the 2015 Steinberg Playwright Awards on November 16, 2015 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU (Playwright) is an alumna of the Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop. Credits include: Skeleton Crew (Sundance; Lark Barebones); Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem/NBT); Sunset Baby (Gate Theater; LAByrinth Theater); Follow Me to Nellie’s (O’Neill; Premiere Stages). She has produced other original works with the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, Penn State University, American Theatre of Harlem and The New Group. Her 3-play cycle, entitled The Detroit Projects includes Detroit ’67Paradise Blue (developed with Voice and Vision, Hansberry Project, NYTW, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Public Theater), and Skeleton Crew. Awards: Steinberg Playwright Award, Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, two-time NAACP Image Award, Primus Prize commendation, Stavis Playwriting Award, Spirit of Detroit Award, U of M Emerging Leader Award, Weissberger Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper New American Play Prize, and the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON (Directormost recently staged the world premieres of Dominique Morriseau’s Paradise Blue at The Williamstown Theater Festival and his own Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at The Two River Theater Co. Other directing credits include The Piano Lesson (OBIE, Lucille Lortel, Joseph A. Callaway, Audelco), The Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage Theater), My Children My AfricaSeven Guitars and The First Breeze of Summerall at The Signature Theater Company. Select Regional theater credits include: A.C.T. San Francisco, The McCarter Theater and The Kennedy Center. His screenplay adaptation of his autobiographical play Lackawanna Blues garnered numerous awards including The Humanitas Prize, National Board of Reviews, NAACP Image Award and The Christopher Award as well as Emmy, Golden Globe and WGA nominations. As an actor, Mr. Santiago-Hudson is the recipient of a Tony Award®, OBIE Award, Clarence Derwent and Helen Hayes Awards among others. Ruben holds a BA from Binghamton University and an MFA from Wayne State University.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Dominique Morisseau receive 2015 Steinberg Awards at the 8th Annual ‘Mimi’ Awards

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Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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