Barrington Stage’s musical “Southern Comfort” set for NY’s Public Theater

Annette O'Toole as Robert Eades in Southern Comfort.

Annette O’Toole as Robert Eades in Southern Comfort.

Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy will reprise their roles as Robert Eads and Lola Cola, respectively, for the new musical Southern Comfort at New York’s Public Theater. Southern Comfort tells the true story of a group of transgender friends living life on their own terms in the back hills of rural Georgia.

The transgender musical had its world premiere in July of 2013 at the St. Germain stage of Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA. [Read our review} It was part of the BSC Musical Theatre Lab (William Finn Artistic Producer) which has the role of mentoring new musicals onto the stage. As in the Berkshires, the production is being directed by Thomas Caruso with book and lyrics by Dan Collins and music by Julianne Wick Davis. This production was conceived for the stage by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso.

Tony-winning lyricist/composer of Falsettos William Finn calls Southern Comfort, “remarkable,” with a score that “mines the country’s heart, and unveils, along its way, surprising pathways to a new world.”

Southern Comfort begins previews on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 and will run through Sunday, March 27 in The Public’s Anspacher Theater, with an official press opening on Monday, March 7. Public Theater Member tickets and single tickets are available now.

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Joining Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy in the cast are Lizzie Hagstedt (Storyteller Musician, Bass); Jeffrey Kuhn (Jackson); Elizabeth Ward Land (Storyteller Musician, Djembe); David M. Lutken (Storyteller Musician, Guitar); Morgan Morse (Musician); Robin Skye (Melanie); and Joel Waggoner (Storyteller Musician, Violin). Donnie Cianciotto and Aneesh Sheth complete the cast after an open call to the transgender community and a nationwide search for submissions.

Based on Kate Davis’ 2001 Sundance Award-winning documentary, Southern Comfort is acourageous, heart-soaring musical that tells the true story of a group of transgender friends living life on their own terms in the back hills of rural Georgia. Winner of the prestigious Jonathan Larson Award, this folk and bluegrass-inspired musical is a celebration of redefining family and choosing love over every obstacle.

This affecting folk-bluegrass musical by Julianne Wick Davis and Dan Collins makes a heartfelt bid to shift
perceptions.” – David Rooney, The New York Times

Public Theater Member tickets are available now. Single tickets, starting at $50, can be accessed by calling (212) 967-7555, www.publictheater.org, or in person at the Taub Box Office at The Public Theater at Astor Place at 425 Lafayette Street. The Library at The Public is open nightly for food and drinks, beginning at 5:00 p.m., and Joe’s Pub at The Public continues to offer some of the best music in the city.

Continuing The Public’s mission to make great theater accessible to all, The Public’s First Performance “Free for All” returns; in partnership with TodayTix, New York’s premiere theater ticket app, free tickets to the first preview on Tuesday, February 23 will be available beginning February 16, via TodayTix mobile lottery.

Southern Comfort will feature scenic design by James J. Fenton; costume design by Patricia E. Doherty; lighting design by Ed McCarthy; sound design by Andrew Keister; hair design by David Brian Brown; and choreography by Ryan Kasprzak.

JULIANNE WICK DAVIS (Music). Her credits include Southern Comfort with book and lyrics by Dan Collins, based on the Sundance award-winning documentary by Kate Davis. She received the 2012 Jonathan Larson Award for Southern Comfort which had a production at Barrington Stage Company in 2013, preceded by the NAMT 2012 Festival of New Musicals, and a developmental reading at Playwrights Horizons in 2010. Southern Comfort’s developmental production at CAP 21 in 2011 received a GLAAD Media Award. Wick Davis also wrote the music and lyrics for When We Met with a book by Dan Collins, presented at the 2012 O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference, York NEO Development Series reading in 2013, and which had a developmental production at CAP 21 in 2014. She also wrote the music for the new musical Trevor, with book and lyrics by Dan Collins for URock Productions, based on the Oscar-winning film short. She is a York Theatre’s NEO 9 emerging writer, a 2011 Dramatist Guild Fellow, and a 2015 Sundance Fellow at UCross. Wick Davis has an M.F.A. from NYU’s Tisch Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

DAN COLLINS (Book and Lyrics). With composer Julianne Wick Davis, Collins wrote the book and lyrics for Southern Comfort; Wood; and Trevor (based on the Academy Award-winning short film and currently in development with URock Theatricals). In collaboration with Sally Wilfert and Michael Winther, Collins wrote book to Wick Davis’ music and lyrics for When We Met (The Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theater Conference; CAP 21 Theatre Company). He was selected along with Wick Davis as a Dramatist Guild Fellow as well as for TheatreWorks Palo Alto’s Writer’s Retreat, and he is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant and a GLAAD Media Award in connection with his work on Southern Comfort. Collins received his M.F.A in Musical Theater Writing at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and his B.F.A. in Playwriting at The Theater School of DePaul University.

THOMAS CARUSO (Director and Co-Conceiver) has directed Southern Comfort by Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis at Barrington Stage and CAP21, winner of a GLAAD Award and Jonathan Larson Award; and Academia Nuts at NYMF, which received the Best New Musical and Excellence in Direction Awards. He has also directed numerous new plays and musicals at Bay Street, Rattlestick, The Play Company, EST, SPF, New York Stage & Film, Penguin Rep, Studio Arena Theatre, 59E59, Gloucester Stage, Adirondack Theatre Festival and TheatreWorks. As an Associate Director, his Broadway credits include Matilda, Ghost, Follies, Bombay Dreams and Mamma Mia! He also staged the national tours of Matilda and Ghost, and recently directed the West End show, Dynamo: Seeing Is Believing. For his direction of the film Zombie, based on the novella by Joyce Carol Oates, he was awarded a California Film Award for Best Direction.

ROBERT DuSOLD (Co-Conceiver) conceived the transfer of Kate Davis’ Sundance Award-winning documentary Southern Comfort to the stage. As an actor, DuSold’s Broadway and national tour credits include principal roles in Mamma Mia, The Producers, Chicago, Jekyll and Hyde, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Showboat, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Miserables, and Evita. He has appeared Off- Broadway in The Anniversary at 59 E 59, Mimi le Duck at New World Stages, and The Audience for the Transport Group. Regionally he has appeared in The Music Man at the Guthrie, The Sound of Music and Guys and Dolls at Papermill Playhouse, Sunday in the Park at the Arena Stage, Sweeney Todd at Connecticut Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival, The O’Neill Festival and others. He is featured in the hit animated musical Anastasia, as well as the recordings of Sondheim: An Evening in Celebration at Carnegie Hall and A Gala Concert for Harold Prince. DuSold is also featured in the book, Making it on Broadway: Actors Tales of Climbing to the Top.

DONNIE CIANCIOTTO (Sam) studied at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and spent the last five years in Phoenix and Tucson working as the Artistic Director of Musical Mayhem Cabaret, Arizona’s “Under Rehearsed and Over Dramatic Musical Comedy Troupe.” He was recently the subject of an award-winning documentary short titled “Donnie” which highlighted his experiences as a transgender man.

LIZZIE HAGSTEDT (Storyteller, Bass) has appeared in previous productions of Southern Comfort at CAP21 and Barrington Stage. Other credits include the national tour of Sweeney Todd, and regional productions of Taming of the Shrew, A Marvelous Party, and Quilters. She is a composer in the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and the Circle Songbook, and currently working on several new musicals.

JEFFREY KUHN (Jackson) has appeared on Broadway in The 39 Steps (Clown 1), Assassins (Zangara), Spamalot (Bedevere), Wicked (Boq), The Lion King (Zazu), and the original Ragtime. His Off-Broadway credits include John Guare’s 3 Kinds of Exile (Atlantic) and the tour of The Who’s Tommy (Cousin Kevin). Regional highlights include An Enemy of the People (Centerstage); Next Fall (St. Louis Rep); Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare Theatre); I Am My Own Wife (Stageworks), Sea of Tranquility (Old Globe), Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Antony & Cleopatra, and many others (Canada’s Stratford Festival).

ELIZABETH WARD LAND (Storyteller Musician, Djembe) has appeared on Broadway in Amazing Grace, Scandalous, Memphis, all three versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Passion, and City of Angels. Her additional credits include the national tours of Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Les Miserables, Prisoner of Second Avenue, Singin’ In The Rain and Off-Broadway in The Green Heart, Hello Again, Chess. Regionally, she has appeared at the Old Globe, Goodspeed, TheatreWorks, Alliance, Sacramento Music Circus, Pasadena Playhouse, Asolo Rep., and Barrington Stage. Her film and television credits include Young Adult; Boy Meets Girl; “The Blacklist”; “Madam Secretary”; “Law & Order: SVU”; “Boardwalk Empire”; “10-8”; “The Amanda Show.”

DAVID M. LUTKEN (Storyteller Musician, Guitar) has appeared on Broadway in Inherit The Wind, Ring Of Fire, The Civil War, and The Will Rogers Follies. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, The 92nd Street Y, Lincoln Center, Off-Broadway and across the U.S., Great Britain, Europe, the Middle East and China as an actor/musician and musical director. His credits include Dark Of The Moon, Stand By Your Man, Buddy, Bonnie and Clyde, Southern Comfort, and his original show, Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, for which he won the Helen Hayes and the Joseph Jefferson awards for Best Actor.

JEFF McCARTHY (Lola Cola) has appeared in NYC in Chicago, Urinetown, Side Show, Dream True, Sympathetic Magic, Grinch, Smile, Pirate Queen, and Beauty and the Beast. His regional credits include My Fair Lady, The Misanthrope (Guthrie); Kunstler (Hudson Stage); Oliver, You Nero (Arena Stage); All My Sons, Sweeney Todd, Follies (Barrington Stage, associate artist); The Front Page, The Price (Long Wharf); The Underpants (Hartford Stage); Buried Child, Pantagleize (ACT, San Francisco). He has appeared internationally in Iphigenia in Aulis (Athens Theater Center) and Lady Be Good (La Fenice). His film and television credits include “Good Wife,” “Schweitzer” (title role), “Ed,” “Love Monkey,” “Star Trek(s),” “Law and Order(s),” “Designing Women,” “Cheers,” “Heat of the Night,” “Doogie Howzer,” Starting Out in the Evening, Consent, RoboCop 2, Eve of Destruction, Rapid Fire, and Cliffhanger.

MORGAN MORSE (Musician) is a musician, actor and writer from Connecticut currently studying music and theatre at Bennington College. Regional credits include Stand By Your Man (Euple Byrd) and South Pacific (Professor) at the Ivoryton Playhouse, and The Legend of Jim Cullen (Thomas Hubbard) at Heartwood Regional Theatre Company. He has also worked as an accompanist and private guitar/piano teacher, as well as performing as a solo artist and with his band, The Nameless Trio.

ANNETTE O’TOOLE (Robert Eads) has appeared in Hamlet in Bed (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater); Third (Two River Theatre); Southern Comfort (Barrington Stage Company and Cap21); Heresy (The Flea Theater); Kindness (Playwrights Horizons); The Seagull (CSC); The Quality of Life (Arena Stage); Magnolia (The Goodman Theatre); Yankee Wives, and Sun Bearing Down (Old Globe Theatre). Her film and television credits include Women Who Kill, 48 HRS, Smile, Superman III, Cat People, One on One, “11.22.63,” “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Smallville,” “Nash Bridges,” “The Kennedys of Massachusetts” (Emmy, Golden Globe nominations). She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song with Michael McKean for “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” from the movie A Mighty Wind.

ANEESH SHETH (Carly) has previously appeared as Sweetie in the national tour of Bombay Dreams, Kami Sutra on NBC’s “Outsourced,” Aouda in Around the World in 80 Days (Village Theatre), Suraiya in Samsara (Thick House), and Valerie DeRasport in the indie feature, Semi-Secret (Summer 2016). Other credits include LaMama, PlayGround SF, Bay Area Playwrights Foundation and the Asian American Theatre Company (San Francisco). She is the creator/producer of “CRAVE: an Original Series.”

ROBIN SKYE (Melanie) has appeared on Broadway and in the national tours of Parade, Les Miserables (Three companies), Sunset Boulevard, Cyrano-The Musical, The Big Band Years. Her select Off-Broadway credits include The Butter and Egg Man, Cactus Flower, A Doll’s Life, Mata Hari. She has appeared regionally at Williamstown, Barrington Stage, Eugene O’Neill, Goodspeed, Hartford Stage. Her film and television credits include ITHICA (directed by Meg Ryan), Beautiful Creatures, Freedom Writers, Living Out Loud (directed by Richard Lagravenese), “The Affair,” “The Divide,” “The Wire,” “The Tony Awards,” “Third Watch,” numerous soap operas. Skye also co-wrote her debut album House Of Love.

JOEL WAGGONER (Storyteller Musician, Violin) is a musical theater composer, performer, and educator who holds an M.F.A. from NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. His credits include Southern Comfort(Barrington Stage Co., CAP21, NAMT). Waggoner wrote the music for Presto Change- O (Book/Lyrics by Eric Price), commissioned by Barrington Stage Company. Currently, he is serving as the Director of Music for the Pace University Musical Theatre BFA Program. He is a 2012 Dramatist Guild Fellow and 2009 ASCAP Max Dreyfus Award Winner.

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