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By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at Second Stage



Second Stage Theatre has announced that Stephanie J. Block, Daniel Breaker, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Kevin Isola and Karen Olivo will star in the world premiere comedy, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, the new play by Lynn Nottage, directed by Jo Bonney.

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark is Nottage's first play to be produced in New York since she won the Pulitzer Prize for 'Ruined' in 2009. The comedy opens at Second Stage Theatre on 9 May 2011, following previews from 6 Apr, and playing through to 22 May 2011.

In a new comedy from the Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright of 'Ruined,' Lynn Nottage draws upon the screwball films of the 1930's to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark is a seventy year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career. When circumstances collide and both women land roles in the same Southern epic, the story behind the cameras leaves Vera with a surprising and controversial legacy scholars will debate for years to come.

By the Way, Meet Vera Stark will feature scenic design by Neil Patel, lighting design by David Weiner, costume design by ESosa and original music & sound design by John Gromada.

Additional casting will be announced shortly.

Stephanie J. Block (Gloria Mitchell) recently starred on Broadway in '9 to 5: The Musical' as 'Judy Bernly.' Prior to '9 to 5,' Stephanie starred as 'Elphaba' in the Broadway company of 'Wicked' and recorded her debut solo album, 'This Place I Know.' Other Broadway credits include originating the roles of 'Grace O'Malley' in 'The Pirate Queen' and 'Liza Minnelli' in 'The Boy from Oz' (opposite Hugh Jackman). She also starred in the first national touring company of 'Wicked' as 'Elphaba' for which she won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actress and the Carbonell Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Daniel Breaker (Leroy Barksdale/ Herb Forrester) most recently appeared on Broadway as 'Donkey' in 'Shrek the Musical.' His other Broadway credits include 'Passing Strange' (Tony Award nomination), 'Cymbeline' (LCT) and 'Well.' Off-Broadway he starred in 'Passing Strange' (Public), Lynn Nottage's 'Fabulation' (Playwrights Horizons) and 'Pericles' (Red Bull, Culture Project).

Kimberly Hebert Gregory (Lottie/ Carmen Levy-Green) recently starred in 'The Brother/Sister Plays' at The Public Theatre. Gregory's other theatre credits include the first national tour of' The Lion King,' 'Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery' at Chicago Theatre Company (Joseph Jefferson Nomination), 'Amen Corner' at the Goodman Theatre, 'Nickel and Dimed' at the Steppenwolf Theatre, 'Waiting to be Invited' at the Victory Gardens Theater, and 'Julius Caesar' at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Kevin Isola (Maximillian Von Oster/ Brian Blaze) recently appeared in the Transport Group's production of 'The Boys in the Band.' His other New York theatre credits include 'Brooklyn Boy' (MTC, Broadway), 'Trust' (Play Company), 'The World Over' and 'The Water Children' (both for Playwrights Horizons), 'Twelfth Night,' 'Venus' and 'WASP and Other Plays' (NYSF/Public Theatre), 'Everett Beekin' (Lincoln Center) and 'The New Bozena' (Cherry Lane).

Karen Olivo (Anna Mae/ Afua Assata Ejobo), the 2009 Tony Award winner for her portrayal of 'Anita' in 'West Side Story,' also created the role of 'Vanessa' in the Tony Award-winning musical production of 'In the Heights' both on and off Broadway. She also starred in the televised documentary "In the Heights: Chasing Broadway Dreams." Her other Broadway credits include 'Rent' and 'Brooklyn.'

Playwright Lynn Nottage's relationship with Second Stage Theatre dates back to 1995, when the company commissioned and produced Nottage's breakthrough work, 'Crumbs From The Table of Joy,' which has since had over 30 productions around the country. Nottage is also one of Second Stage Theatre's Time Warner Commissioned Playwrights and participated in the company's New Works Festival in 2008. Her other plays include the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Ruined,' which is currently being produced in London's West End; 'Intimate Apparel' (AT&T OnStage Award); 'A Walk Through Time' (a children's musical); 'Mud, River, Stone' (finalist, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize); 'Por'knockers,' 'Poof'! (Heideman Award), and 'Las Meninas' (AT&T OnStage Award).

Director Jo Bonney returns to Second Stage Theatre where she staged Eric Bogosian's 'subUrbia,' Charles Fuller's 'A Soldier's Play' and Lisa Loomer's 'Living Out.' Other credits include Neil LaBute's 'The Break of Noon' (MCC); Culture Clash's 'American Night' (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Darci Picoult's 'Lil's 90th' (Long Wharf Theatre); Suzan-Lori Parks' 'Father Comes Home from the War' (Public Theatre Lab); Naomi Wallace's 'The Hard Weather Boating Party' (The Humana Festival) and 'Fever Chart' (Public Theatre Lab); Michael Weller's 'Beast' (New York Theatre Workshop); Alan Ball's 'All that I Will Ever Be' (NYTW); Will Power's 'The Seven' (NYTW & La Jolla Playhouse) (Lortel Award, Best Musical); Neil LaBute's 'Fat Pig' (MCC & Geffen Playhouse); Some Girl(s) (MCC); Carol Churchill's Top Girls (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Christopher Shinn's 'On the Mountain' (Playwrights Horizons); Nilo Cruz's 'Anna in the Tropics' (Arena Stage), and much more. She is the recipient of a 1998 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Direction.

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