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Monday, 09 May 2011 17:16

New Musical THE SHAGGS to Begin Previews Off-Broadway This Thu, May 12








Opening Night set for Tuesday, June 7
Limited Engagement through Sunday, July 3

     Previews begin this Thursday, May 12 at 8PM for the Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director, Tim Sanford; Managing Director, Leslie Marcus) and New York Theatre Workshop (Artistic Director, James C. Nicola; Managing Director, William Russo) co-production of THE SHAGGS: PHILOSOPHY OF THE WORLD, a new musical with book by Joy Gregory; music by Gunnar Madsen; lyrics by Ms. Gregory and Mr. Madsen; and story by Ms. Gregory, Mr. Madsen and John Langs.  Directed by Mr. Langs, the co-production by the two non-profit theaters has an official Opening Night set for Tuesday, June 7 at 7PM.  The limited engagement will play through Sunday, July 3 at Playwrights Horizons Mainstage Theater (416 West 42nd Street).

     The cast of THE SHAGGS features Tony Award nominee and Obie Award winner Peter Friedman (Ragtime, PH’s Circle Mirror Transformation, After the Revolution and The Heidi Chronicles), Kevin Cahoon (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Lortel nomination for Roundabout’s The Foreigner, front man for the band Kevin Cahoon and Ghetto Cowboy),  Annie Golden (Assassins and People Be Heard at PH, Broadway’s Xanadu and The Full Monty, Jeannie in the film Hair), Steve Routman (on Broadway in La Bête and Broadway, Off-Broadway in The Fantasticks and Shmulnik’s Waltz), Emily Walton (PH’s Saved, on Broadway in August: Osage County) and, making their New York City stage debuts, Jamey Hood, Cory Michael Smith and Sarah Sokolovic.

    Set in Fremont, New Hampshire in the late ‘60s, THE SHAGGS is based on the true story of a working class dad (Mr. Friedman) who has a vision of rock n’ roll destiny for his three talentless daughters (Ms. Hood, Ms. Sokolovic and Ms. Walton), convinced they’re his family’s one-way ticket out of hardship and obscurity.  But the girls have ideas of their own – and as their father’s ambition turns to obsession, the price of familial obligation becomes all too clear.

     The production features choreography by Ken Roht, scenic design by Mimi Lien, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Geoff Korf and sound design by Darron L West.  Orchestrations and vocal arrangements are by Gunnar Madsen and musical direction is by Aaron Gandy.  Production Stage Manager is Lori Lundquist.

     With THE SHAGGS, Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) continue their commitment to developing unique and ground-breaking new musicals.  At Playwrights Horizons, these include Grey Gardens, James Joyce’s The Dead, Floyd Collins, Assassins, Once on This Island and Sunday in the Park with George, and at NYTW these include Rent; The Seven; Bright Lights, Big City; and Songs From an Unmade Bed.  This production marks the first time the two award-winning theaters have co-produced together.

     The performance schedule for THE SHAGGS is Tuesdays at 7PM, Wednesdays through Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 2:30 PM & 8PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM.  Single tickets, $75, may be purchased online via, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily), or in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues).  There will be an added performance on Monday, June 6 at 8PM.

     Three special performances of THE SHAGGS will offer PLAYTIME! at Playwrights Horizons, a new program offering affordable, professional childcare while patrons see a show.  Playtime! is free to Playwrights Horizons subscribers and available to non-subscribers for a flat fee of $15 per child.  PLAYTIME!care will be offered during the following three matinee performances: Sunday, May 22 at 2:30 PM; Saturday, June 4 at 2:30 PM; and Saturday, June 11 at 2:30 PM.  You must reserve childcare at the time you book your performance tickets (both through Ticket Central), and no fewer than 10 days prior to your desired performance.  The Playtime! program is made possible with generous funds from the Theater Subdistrict Council (TSC).  

     Reflecting Playwrights Horizons’ ongoing commitment to making its productions more affordable to younger audiences, the theater company will offer HOTtix, $25 rush tickets, subject to availability, day of performance only, starting one hour before showtime to patrons aged 30 and under. Proof of age required. One ticket per person, per purchase. STUDENT RUSH, $15 rush tickets, subject to availability, day of performance only, starting one hour before curtain to full-time graduate and undergraduate students. One ticket per person, per purchase. Valid student ID required.

     NYTW is pleased make theatre accessible to everyone with its $20 CheapTix Sundays program. A dedicated number of tickets for Sunday evening performances at 7:30 PM can be purchased in person at the NYTW Box Office, 79 East 4th Street or at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street for only $20. Tickets may be purchased in advance, payable in cash only and are available to all audience members.

    HOTtix and STUDENT RUSHare some of Playwrights Horizons’ popular Arts Access initiatives, which allow the institution to reach out to those who may not be able to afford the cost of a full-price theater ticket.  This program is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The McGraw-Hill Companies and the Elroy and Terry Krumholz Foundation.

     A special open captioned performance of THE SHAGGS for theatergoers who are deaf and hard of hearing will be held on the Sunday, June 19 matinee at 2:30 PM.  Funding for this program is provided, in part, by the Theodore H. Barth Foundation and the Theatre Development Fund’s TAP Plus program in cooperation with the New York State Council on the Arts.

How to order tickets for the open captioned performance:

●    Online: log on to

●    Phone: call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily) via Relay Service (800) 421-1220

●    TTY:    call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (noon-8pm daily) via Relay Service (800) 662-1220

●    By fax:   a printable order form may be found online at

    Special Post-Performance Discussions with members of the creative team will take place immediately after the following three performances:  Monday evening, May 18 at 8PM, Sunday matinee, May 22 at 2:30 PM and Friday evening, May 27 at 8PM.

     In addition, following the 7PM  performance on Tuesday, June 14, Irwin Chusid, author of Songs in the Key of Z: The Curious Universe of Outsider Music and one of the driving forces behind the  ‘90s digital reissue of Philosophy of the World, discusses his connection to The Shaggs and provides insight into the true story of the girl-group that inspired the musical. Additional guests to be announced.

     Irwin Chusid is a record producer, radio personality, journalist and music historian. He was the primary force behind the resurgence of interest in pop composers Raymond Scott and Esquivel, and produced the heralded Langley Schools Music Project.  Chusid hosts a weekly free-form radio program on WFMU, has produced dozens of records and concerts and has written for The New York Times, Mojo, New York Press and many other publications. His three volumes of books about artist Jim Flora are published by Fantagraphics.

     THE SHAGGS will be the final production of both Playwrights Horizons’ and NYTW’s 2010/2011 seasons.

     Playwrights Horizons’ season productions are generously supported by The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.  The set and costume design of THE SHAGGS is generously supported by the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.  Playwrights Horizons is supported in part by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.  In addition, Playwrights Horizons receives major support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Time Warner Inc., the Charina Endowment Fund and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.

     New York Theatre Workshop receives public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Lead support for NYTW productions is provided by the Fund for the City of New York/Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, the Tony Randall Theatrical Fund, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation and The Shubert Foundation.


Joy Gregory (Book, Lyrics & Story) is a Los Angeles-based playwright and writer/producer for television. She is a founding member of Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company, where her most recently produced works were The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World and Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession, a co-adaptation with David Schwimmer of the book by Studs Terkel (Jefferson nomination, Best Adaptation). Her television writing credits include “Felicity,” “Swingtown,” “Jericho,” “Joan of Arcadia” and the new series “Switched at Birth” on ABC Family. She is a member of the Los Angeles Dogear Playwrights Collective and once appeared as a corpse in the feature film Blink with Peter Friedman. 

Gunnar Madsen (Music, Lyrics & Story) is a Grammy-nominated composer who has written for the Minnesota Opera, Lincoln Center, NPR and the National Beef Council.  He has performed on PBS, the BBC, “The Tonight Show,” the “Smothers Brothers Show” and on every “Good Morning!” show in the U.S.  He co-founded the internationally acclaimed acapella group The Bobs and for ten years was a driving creative force in their success; provided the singing voice of Sammy Davis Jr. in the HBO film The Rat Pack; licensed his waltzes to HBO’s hit series “Sex and the City”; released 3 CDs for families (Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, Ants in My Pants! and I’m Growing) which have won virtually every top children’s music honor; designed sound and music for the hit video game San Francisco Rush; and appeared in and wrote music for the Vince Vaughan/Jennifer Aniston film The Break Up.

John Langs (Direction & Story) has directed productions at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, the Lookingglass Theater Company (Chicago), Circle X Theatre Co. (Los Angeles) Ensemble Studio Theater (NY), Delaware R.E.P. Co., American Players Theatre (WI) and The Seattle Shakespeare Company, where he is an Associate Artist. Some favorite productions include King Lear, Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet (Seattle Footlight Award, Best Production of the Year), Brothers Karamazov (LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, Best Direction and Best Production) and The Adding Machine, for which he received the first ever Gregory Falls Award for direction.  He received a Backstage West Garland Award for his direction of The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World, which moved on to a Joseph Jefferson-nominated production at Lookingglass.

Kevin Cahoon (Charley/Bobby). Broadway: George in The Wedding Singer, Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Ed the hyena in The Lion King (original cast), The Rocky Horror Show, The Who’s Tommy. Off-Broadway: Ellard in The Foreigner (Roundabout, Lortel nomination), Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (also San Francisco, Boston, Edinburgh Festival), Phil in The Wild Party (MTC), Woof in Hair, Peter in Babes in Arms (both for Encores!). Regional: Guthrie, Berkshire Theatre Festival, NY Stage and Film. TV: “Canterbury’s Law,” “Six Degrees,” “Hope & Faith,” “Law & Order,” “Criminal Intent” and AMC’s “The Royale.” Film: The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Sudden Manhattan, The Thing About My Folks, One Night, the documentary Whether You Like It or Not: The True Story of Hedwig. With his New York based band, Kevin Cahoon and Ghetto Cowboy, he has played packed shows at many New York venues such as CBGB’s, Don Hill’s, Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub and Irving Plaza. The band’s award-winning debut album Doll is available from Anchor C Records/Sh-K-Boom. 

Peter Friedman (Austin Wiggin) originated the role of Tateh in the musical Ragtime in Toronto, as well as on Broadway (Outer Critics Circle Award, Tony and Drama Desk nominations). He appeared at Playwrights Horizons earlier this season in After the Revolution and also in Circle Mirror Transformation (Obie, Drama Desk awards) and the original 1988 production of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (Drama Desk nomination, also Broadway).  Other original New York productions include Annie Baker’s Body Awareness (Drama Desk nomination), Simon Gray’s The Common Pursuit (Drama Desk nomination), Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play, C.P. Taylor’s And a Nightingale Sang and Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice. He’s also appeared in New York in Twelve Angry Men (Roundabout), The Tenth Man, The Loman Family Picnic, My Old Lady and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Encores!). His films include Spinning into Butter, Safe, Single White Female and Paycheck. On television he was a performer on “The Muppet Show” and a regular on “Brooklyn Bridge.”

Annie Golden (Annie) was last seen on Broadway and on tour in Xanadu. She created the role of Georgie Bukatinski in The Full Monty and sang the hits of The Shangri-Las and The Ronettes on and Off-Broadway in The Leader of the Pack. At Playwrights Horizons, Annie was Sondheim’s original Squeaky Fromme in Assassins and also appeared in People Be Heard.  Other theater: Ah! Wilderness with Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards, On the Town and Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey). Annie was cast as Jeannie in the movie musical Hair after being discovered at the world famous rock club CBGB’s fronting her band The Shirts. Her other films include Twelve Monkeys, Baby Boom, Brooklyn Rules, Suddenly Seeking Susan and I Love You Phillip Morris opposite Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. TV: “Law & Order: SVU,” “Law & Order,” “Cheers,” “Miami Vice,” “Third Watch,” sang on “Letterman” as a guest soloist with the band and as an annual member of Darlene Love’s Christmas choir.

Jamey Hood (Dot) returns to The Shaggs, having previously been a part of early productions in Los Angeles and Chicago.  Her theater credits include They’re Playing Our Song (Reprise!), Junie B. Jones and Imagine (South Coast Rep.), It’s the Housewives! (Whitefire and 10th Ave. Theatre), The Flu Season and The Brothers Karamozov (Circle X Theatre Company), The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip (Kirk Douglas Theatre), Southwest, Utah and Texas Shakespeare Festivals. 

Steve Routman (Hank et al). Broadway: La Bête (revival), Broadway (George Abbott, dir.). New York: The Fantasticks (Snapple Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost (NYSF); Lingoland (York Theatre); Shmulnik’s Waltz (Jewish Rep). Regional: St. Louis Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, Goodspeed, Berkshire Theatre Festival. TV/Film: “Ed,” “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: SVU,” & “CI,” Occupant, The Pill.

Cory Michael Smith (Kyle) has appeared as Matt in The Fantasticks at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Barrington Stage Company. Cory read the role of Kyle in the Playwrights Horizons reading of The Shaggs and also participated in the pre-Broadway reading of the musical Yank! He is a graduate of Otterbein University where his credits include One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Sarah Sokolovic (Betty) is a recent graduate of Yale School of Drama, where her credits included Jib, Othello, Paradise Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and The French Play. Her regional credits include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Killer Joe, Bash (Bialystock and Bloom); A Month in the County, Translations (Milwaukee Rep.); A...My Name Is Alice (Madison Repertory Theatre); Medea, Homebody/Kabul, Under Milk Wood (Chamber Theatre); The Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline (Milwaukee Shakespeare); The Taming of the Shrew and Cymbeline (Montana Shakespeare in The Park).

Emily Walton (Helen) was last seen at Playwrights Horizons as Tia in the musical Saved. Other Theater credits include the Broadway production of August: Osage County, High School Musical 2 (North Shore Music Theatre), The Sound of Music (Pittsburgh CLO) and the national tour of A Christmas Carol.  She is currently appearing Off-Broadway in Cactus Flower at The Westside Arts Theatre.

Playwrights Horizons, celebrating its 40th Anniversary Season, is a writer’s theater dedicated to the support and development of contemporary American playwrights, composers and lyricists and to the production of their new work. Under the leadership of artistic director Tim Sanford and managing director Leslie Marcus, the theater company continues to encourage the new work of veteran writers while nurturing an emerging generation of theater artists. In its 40 years, Playwrights Horizons has presented the work of more than 375 writers and has received numerous awards and honors, including a special 2008 Drama Desk Award for “ongoing support to generations of theater artists and undiminished commitment to producing new work.”  Notable productions include five Pulitzer Prize winners: Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park (2011 winner), Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife (2004 Tony Award, Best Play), Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Tony Award, Best Play), Alfred Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George – as well as Adam Bock’s A Small Fire, Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation (three 2010 Obie Awards including Best New American Play), Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I, Melissa James Gibson’s This (2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize finalist), Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie’s Grey Gardens (three 2007 Tony Awards), Craig Lucas’s Prayer For My Enemy and  Small Tragedy (2004 Obie Award, Best American Play), Adam Rapp’s Kindness, Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation (2005 Obie Award for Playwriting), Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero, David Greenspan’s She Stoops to Comedy (2003 Obie Award), Kirsten Childs’s The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000 Obie Award), Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey’s James Joyce’s The Dead, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins, William Finn’s March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, Christopher Durang’s Betty’s Summer Vacation and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, Richard Nelson’s Goodnight Children Everywhere, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Once on This Island, Jon Robin Baitz’s The Substance of Fire, Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room, A.R. Gurney’s Later Life, Adam Guettel and Tina Landau’s Floyd Collins and Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet.

New York Theatre Workshop, now celebrating its 28th season, is a leading voice in the world of Off-Broadway and within the theatre community in New York and around the world. NYTW has emerged as a premiere incubator of important new theatre, honoring its mission to explore perspectives on our collective history and respond to the events and institutions that shape our lives. In addition, NYTW is known for its innovative adaptations of classic repertory. Each season, from its home in New York's East Village neighborhood, NYTW presents three to five new productions, over 80 readings, and numerous workshop productions, for over 45,000 audience members. Over the past 27 years, NYTW has developed and produced over 100 new, fully staged works, including Jonathan Larson's Rent, Tony Kushner's Slavs! and Homebody/Kabul, Doug Wright's Quills, Claudia Shear’s Blown Sideways Through Life and Dirty Blonde, Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and Valhalla, and Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest, Far Away, and A Number. The 2002 remounting of Martha Clarke's seminal work Vienna: Lusthaus and subsequent American tour was one of the longest-running productions in NYTW's history.  NYTW supports artists at all stages of their careers by maintaining a series of workshop programs including work-in-progress readings, residencies in and away from New York City, and fellowships for emerging artists of color. In 1991, NYTW received an OBIE Award for Sustained Achievement and in 2000 was designated to be part of the Leading National Theatres Program by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.