‘Our Lady of 121st Street’ brings grace with hilarity
Modern, dark comedy in insightful WCSU production
DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts will present “Our Lady of 121st Street”in eight performances from Feb. 24 through March 5, 2017, at the MainStage Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.
Evening performances will be at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24 and 25 and on March 3 and 4. Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. on Feb. 25 and 26 and on March 4 and 5. Tickets may be purchased online at www.eventbrite.com/e/our-lady-of-121st-street-tickets-30459723854 or by calling (203) 837-8732. Student and senior tickets are available at the box office with a valid ID.
Hailed as “a scorching and dark new comedy” by the New York Times, “Our Lady of 121st Street”tells the story of Harlem Catholic school graduates reuniting for the funeral of their former teacher, the community activist Sister Rose. Motivated by rage, grief and a search for meaning, the characters’ comic desperation illuminates the pain of life. The WCSU production is directed by Theatre Arts Professor Sal Trapani.
“The play is ultimately about redemption and salvation,” Trapani said. “In a universal sense, all of us are searching for what’s missing in our lives, for those deep, true connections, for grace.”
The cast includes student actors Justin Pesce (Balthazar), of Waterbury; Zach Federici (Edwin), of Rocky Hill; Emily Gray (Marcia), of Southington; Ally Olynik (Marcia), of East Haven; Emma Giorgio (Sonia), of Ridgefield; Alicia Napolitano (Sonia), of Woodbury; Luis DeJesus (Pinky), of West Haven; Howard Hendrix Powell (Flip), of West Haven; John Mudgett (Lux), of Danbury; Sydney Varick (Inez), of Waterbury; Christina Branfuhr (Norca), of North Haven; Ryan J. Taylor (Gail), of New Fairfield; Nick Raines (Victor), of Brookfield; and DJ Allen (Rooftop), of Danbury.
Allen, who plays Rooftop, said the play has a “phenomenal story line about forgiveness, repentance and brutal honesty. It is a dark comedy, so be warned — we use some choice, colorful words.”
The student technical crew includes Alex Allyn (costume design), of Trumbull; Abby Bueti (set design), of Brewster, New York; Zachary Charles (sound design), of Newtown; Nathan Clift (assistant director), of Trumbull; Amber Levine (assistant director), of Danbury; Claire Gaudette (principal stage manager), of Thomaston; Maya Daley (props), of Danbury; Hayley Moretti (assistant stage manager), of Danbury; Celina Kestecher (assistant stage manager), of Middletown; David Zahacewski (assistant lighting design), of Torrington; Abby Bueti (assistant set designer), of Brewster, New York; and AJ Bacik (assistant technical director), of Waterbury.
Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis is an American writer, director and actor who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play “Between Riverside and Crazy.” A member and former co-artistic director of the LAByrinth Theater Company of New York City, Guirgis’ plays have been produced both off-Broadway and on Broadway and in the United Kingdom. “Our Lady of 121st Street” originally ran in 2003 as an off-Broadway production by the LAByrinth Theater at Center Stage/New York and then moved to the Union Square Theatre. Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Our Lady of 121st Street” received the Lucille Lortel Award nominations for Outstanding Play and Outstanding Director, the 2003 Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for the John Glassner Award, and a Drama Desk Award nomination.
The production contains explicit language throughout the show, and may be considered unsuitable for young children.
Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.