Michelle Carter’s “How to Pray” in its New York Premiere at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre

Upstate audiences are in for a rare treat as Michelle Carter’s award-winning comedy “How to Pray” receives its second production ever September 14-24 at Catskill’s Bridge Street Theatre.

Winner of the Susan Glaspell Contest for “Best New Play” and a PEN USA Award for Drama, this hilarious and thrillingly theatrical play received its world premiere at the Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown, NJ in a production which featured actor Steven Patterson as a Cat, a Dog, a Ninety-Year-Old Cancer Patient, and a Karaoke-singing Pre-Op Transsexual Soup Kitchen Worker. “It’s one of the most beautifully written and challenging roles I’ve ever had a chance to play,” says Patterson, “and it’s a true joy getting the chance to re-visit it again in this new production, the play’s New York premiere”

When a young married couple find themselves unable to conceive a child, the husband’s sister Faith, a young single woman who works as a volunteer coordinator for a “Meals On Wheels” type program and who has never wanted children of her own, reluctantly agrees to act as a surrogate. When complications ensue, she finds herself in an ethical and moral quandary for which prayer seems to be the only way out. But she finds she has no idea how to pray. Or to whom. Plenty of others seem to have their own answers to the question of how she should live her life. But in the end, could it be that the relentlessly optimistic dog she’s rescued from a shelter is the only one that can teach her what really matters?

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Michelle Carter’s initial inspiration for the play was her uncomfortable reaction to Jason Reitman’s 2007 film “Juno”. “In trying to figure out why I found the movie so dishonest and manipulative, I found myself thinking about ways in which women are being sold a bill of goods – not just by movies, but generally – about how they should live and what kinds of experiences they should find deep and fulfilling.” As for the wildly theatrical style in which the play is written, she adds, “I think the kind of plays I Iove most are ones that can ONLY live on the stage. You can go to a play that’s like a little movie or TV show episode and think, ‘That was nice, but why did I have to shower and drive across town and pay X amount of dollars to have an experience I could have had at home with a streaming service?’ My intention for ‘How to Pray’ – and for all my plays, I guess – is to give audiences an experience that they could only have sitting with other live human beings in one space, together. That experience, for me, can be transcendent in a way that few others can. I guess I’m just interested in exploring how theatre can do things that other arts and media can’t.”

Ms. Carter will be in residence at the theatre during the final week of rehearsals and will be in the audience for the play’s September 14th preview and its opening night on September 15th.

Appearing with Mr. Patterson in the cast are NYC actors Susan Slotoroff as Faith and Morgan Hooper as Brother, Lover, Kid, NewMommy.com, Man at a Dog Park, and Clergyman, with a cameo appearance (on video) as Alexis by Bridge Street Theatre favorite Roxanne Fay. The production is directed and designed by John Sowle, with costumes by Michelle Rogers, and sound by Carmen Borgia. The Production Stage Manager is Caedmon Holland.

Painfully funny and genuinely thought-provoking, How to Pray will be presented on the Bridge Street Theatre Mainstage Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2 pm from September 14-24. The Thursday September 14 preview and the Sunday September 17 matinee are both “Pay-What-You-Will” performances. Advance tickets are available for $22 at BrownPaperTickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Tickets can also be purchased at the door prior to each performance (on a space available basis) for $25. Students age 21 and under are always $10. The theatre is located at 44 West Bridge Street in the Village of Catskill, NY. You’ll be discussing this one for weeks on end.

Events at Bridge Street Theatre are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by Public Funds from the Greene County Legislature through the Cultural Fund administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

For more information, visit the theatre online at BridgeSt.org.

Performance Calendar:
Bridge Street Theatre presents
HOW TO PRAY
by Michelle Carter
with Susan Slotoroff, Morgan Hooper, and Steven Patterson
Directed and Designed by John Sowle
Costumes by Michelle Rogers
Sound by Carmen Borgia
Production Manager: Caedmon Holland
September 14 – 24, 2017
Bridge Street Theatre Mainstage
44 West Bridge Street, Catskill, NY

Thursday September 14 @ 7:30pm (“Pay What You Will” preview)
Friday September 15 @ 7:30pm (Opening Night)
Saturday September 16 @ 7:30pm
Sunday September 17 @ 2:00pm (“Pay What You Will” performance)
Thursday September 21 @ 7:30pm
Friday September 22 @ 7:30pm
Saturday September 23 @ 7:30pm
Sunday September 24 @ 2:00pm (Closing Performance)

Tickets:

Advance tickets available at http://howtopray.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006
General Admission $22, $10 for students age 21 and under
Tickets can also be purchased at the door prior to each performance (on a space available basis) for $25, $10 for students age 21 and under.

CAST

unnamedSusan Slotoroff (Faith). Credits include: UNNECESSARY FARCE (Billie), I HATE HAMLET (Deirdre), and THE DINING ROOM (Actor 6) at Playhouse on Park; MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET (Ruth),MOON OVER BUFFALO (Roz), and UNNECESSARY FARCE (Billie) at Shadowland Stages; LEND ME A TENOR (Maggie) at Arts Center of Coastal Carolina; THE MEMORY OF WATER (Catherine) at J. City Theatre; and THE FOX ON THE FAIRWAY (Louise) at White Plains Performing Arts Center. Susan played Glinda in WICKED: FOR GOOD at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre in NYC. She can also be seen as Abby on the series “In Between Men”. Susan is the co-founder of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Broadway Run, Run with us! Runwithus@broadwaycares.orgwww.susan-slotoroff.com.

unnamed (1)Morgan Hoope(Man 1) is grateful to be joining Bridge Street Theatre in this, his first season. Off-Broadway: VANITY FAIR (The Pearl Theatre Company). Regional: The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Camden, Maine, and Long Island Shakespeare Festivals. NY Theatre: Resident Actor of “Hamlet Isn’t Dead”, the self-proclaimed 482nd best Shakespearean troupe in New York (possibly even better!). www.morganhooper.com.

unnamed (2)Steven Patterson* (Man 2) Steven has performed regionally and in New York City with theaters such as South Coast Repertory, freeFall Theatre, TheatreWorks, Capital Repertory, Centenary Stage Company, Kaliyga Arts, and the Oregon, Orlando, Tennessee, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Richmond, Utah, and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals. Favorite roles have included Lear in KING LEAR, Jean Genet in BEAUTY, Austin Wiggin in THE SHAGGS: PHILOSOPHY OF THE WORLD, David in POOR SUPER MAN, Judi Boswell in HOW TO PRAY and Jake Sturdy in KILL ME NOW. He currently resides in Catskill, NY where he serves as Associate Director of the Bridge Street Theatre.

ROXANNE FAY (Alexis) is a Florida “native”, having returned to her home state after many years living in New York, Chicago and Hawaii. Her plays have been produced in Chicago, at the United Solo Festival in NYC, and her HOME FIRES BURNING, DREAM CHILD: THE TRIAL OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and UPON THIS ROCK: THE MAGDALENE SPEAKS have been presented here at Bridge Street Theatre. Other roles have included Terry in SIDE MAN (Banyan), Touchstone in AS YOU LIKE IT, Feste in TWELFTH NIGHT, and Beatrice in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Jobsite Theater), Fraulein Schneider in CABARET, Dr. Emma Brookner in THE NORMAL HEART, Juliet’s Nurse/Friar Lawrence in ROMEO AND JULIET, Nurse Ratched in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (freeFall Theatre) and Beatrice in THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS (Bridge Street Theatre). In January, 2018 she will perform as Prospero in Jobsite Theater’s production of THE TEMPEST. http://www.roxannefay.com

Michelle Carter (Playwright) is a two-time recipient of the PEN USA Award in Drama.  She has also received the Susan Glaspell Award, the Ebell Playwright Prize, the PEN West Award, Backstage West’s Garland Award, and a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nomination.  She’s held residencies at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, the Donmar Warehouse in London, the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, and the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown.  Her plays have been produced and developed at the Moscow Art Theater, the Donmar Warehouse, the Playwrights Horizons / Clubbed Thumb SuperLab, Arcola Theatre, Centenary Stage Company, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Abingdon Theatre, Shotgun Players, Aurora Theatre, Magic Theatre, Symmetry Theatre, Just Theater, AlterTheater, the New York Summer Play Festival, and the Grimeborn Opera Festival in London.  Music theater and dance theater projects include: DREAMSPIEL, a Ukulele Opera (libretto, lyrics) with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Arcola Theatre, London; AFTER ALL, Part I, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; THE LUCKY ONE, developed at Shotgun Players; and IRON SHOES, with Kitka, to be produced at Shotgun Players in Spring of 2018.  She has published plays with Dramatic Publishing, many short stories and essays, and a novel with Penguin Books.

John Sowle (Director and Designer) is Artistic and Managing Director of Bridge Street Theatre. He founded Kaliyuga Arts in 1986 with his partner Steven Patterson and has received multiple awards for his directing and design work on their Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York productions. Most recently he designed Bridge Street Theatre’s productions of THE TAVERN, SOUVENIR, and THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS, and directed and designed their productions of THE OFFICIAL ADVENTURES OF KIERON AND JADE, HOLIDAY MEMORIES, FRANKENSTEIN, THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH, THE KILLING & THE LOVE DEATH (late plays of William Inge), and GRINDER’S STAND by Oakley Hall III. John has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from M.I.T and a PhD in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley.

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