Geva Theatre Center's 40th Anniversary Season continues with The Book Club Play by Karen Zacarías, and directed by Sean Daniels. This delightful comedy about books and the people who read them begins performances on February 19 and runs in the Elaine P. Wilson Mainstage through March 17.
When the members of a devoted book club become the subjects of a documentary filmmaker, a new energy is injected into the club and their intimate discussions of life and literature take on new meaning - with the camera rolling! Add in an unexpected new member and a few questionable titles, and the book club's world goes topsy-turvy. A delightful comedy about life, love, literature and the side-splitting results when friends start reading between the lines.
Whether you credit Oprah or the Kindle, according to salon.com, in 2011 there were over five million members of book clubs in this country. Book clubs have a universal appeal attracting both men and women and including people of all ages and from all walks of life. In line with the social phenomenon that is "book club," Geva has opened up the process of creating The Book Club Play to a cross section of 20 people from the community with "The Cohort Club." Since their first meeting in November 2012, members of the Cohort Club have been involved in some of the early director/designer collaboration and have been privy to the minutiae of how a play is produced at Geva, including the official "meet and greet" of cast and production team, rehearsals, tech and more.
Another unique feature of this production of The Book Club Play is the presence of audience members seated directly on the stage. The director and designers have been collaborating on creating seating for 24 patrons per performance, offering a rare perspective on the show for patrons seated in this area. These tickets have been available to donors and subscribers and are now on sale to the general public.
Mexican-born playwright Karen Zacarías is considered one of the great comedy writers for the theatre today. Her plays include The Sins of Sor Juana, The Barechested Man, Blue Buick in My Driveway, Legacy of Light, Mariela in the Desert, the adaptation of Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents along with a number of musicals in collaboration with composer Debbie Wicks. Her plays have been produced at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, the Goodman, Round House Theater, the Denver Center, Alliance Theater, Imagination Stage, GALA, Berkshire Theater Festival, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, San Jose Rep, and more. She is a playwright-in-residence at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and teaches at Georgetown University. She is the founder of Young Playwrights' Theater, an award-winning theatre company that teaches playwriting in local public schools in Washington, D.C. She is the recipient of the 2010 Steinberg Citation-Best New Play, National Francesca Primus Prize, New Voices Award, National Latino Play Award, Finalist Susan Blackburn and the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play.
The Book Club Play premiered at the Round House in Bethesda, Maryland in 2008 and was performed at the Tony Award-winning Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. in 2011. Geva's will be the third major production of this new comedy.
Geva's production of The Book Club features an ensemble cast of some of the finest new play comedic actors in the business including Jessica Wortham as Ana; Tom Coiner (Geva's production of Perfect Wedding) as Rob; John Gregorio as Will, Kristin Mengelkoch (Geva's productions of Five Course Love, The Music Man, Perfect Wedding and Company) as Jen; Aaron Muñoz as Alex; and Brett Robinson as Lily.
The Book Club Play is directed by Sean Daniels, who directed 44 Plays for 44 Presidents earlier this season, and who will direct Bob in the Fielding Nextstage later this season. Mr. Daniels also serves as Geva's Director of Artistic Engagement/Artist at Large. The design team includes Michael Raiford (scenic design), Amanda Doherty (costume design), Brian Lilienthal (lighting design) and Matt Callahan (sound design).