Two old friends try to write a new chapter in Bookends (Studio 3)

January 15, 2007

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre continues its 2006-2007 Independence Studio on 3 season with the world premiere of Bookends. Joining the first-ever Philadelphia New Play Festival, The Walnut welcomes award-winning playwright M. J. Feely's story about two men looking to rebuild a friendship shattered by their testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Bookends runs from February 6 - February 25, 2007. Tickets are $28 and are now available at 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234. Tickets are also available at WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.

Bookends begins in the dangerous chill of the 1950's Congressional hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Jake Kale and Matt Burke, a popular, successful American director/writer team, have fallen under zealous scrutiny. What they choose to reveal on the stand will have a devastating impact on their careers and their lifelong friendship. Thirteen years later, the rift between them is clear - they haven't spoken to each other since the hearings. When they are suddenly reunited on a new project, they struggle to piece their relationship back together. How much was Jake willing to reveal on the stand? Is he at fault for the heartbreaking aftermath? Can Jake and Matt write a new chapter and heal old wounds, or are memories all they have left?

The Philadelphia New Play Festival is a project created by The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, which looks to celebrate the vibrancy and excellence of new play activity throughout the region. Festival activities, to include world premiere productions, second productions of new plays in development, workshops, readings and seminars, will catalyze involvement from audiences and professionals from the Philadelphia region and elsewhere.

Ohio native M. J. Feely is a promising new playwright, recognized by the American College Theatre Festival, winning the second place David Library Award for Best Play on American History and UCLA's Donald Davis Award for Best Play. Feely entered Bookends, his latest work, in the Dayton Playhouse's FutureFest competition. Now living in Los Angeles, Feely was pleased to see Bookends succeed in the competition. Now, Philadelphia will experience the world premiere of Bookends at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3.

Three acclaimed actors grace the Studio stage for Bookends. Warren Kelley, veteran of over 150 different productions, arrives from New York to play Jake Kale. The Artistic Director of River Rep Theatre Company in New York City, Warren graduated from Temple University, and has been seen previously on the Studio 3 stage in The Gift. Greg Wood returns to the Walnut to play Matt Burke, after turns in Finian's Rainbow and The Constant Wife. He's also been seen on "Law and Order," and was featured in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense. Ellen Tobie plays Nora Burke, coming back to the Walnut after previous roles here in The Philadelphia Story and Brighton Beach Memoirs. She boasts an extensive career, in both regional theatre and on and Off-Broadway. Audiences may have seen Ellen on TV in "Law and Order," and "Sex and the City."

The artistic team displays a wide range of talent and international experience. Tom Markus, whose history with the Walnut stretches back to an appearance in The Taming of the Shrew (produced in the Walnut Street Theatre Company's first season), returns to the Walnut to direct Bookends. He also appeared here in last season's Enigma Variations. Tom is a well traveled theatre veteran, to say the least. He has served as an actor, director and writer in London, Paris, Cyprus, Egypt, and Australia. Longtime collaborator Linda Sarver joins him, taking on both the Set and Costume Design. Linda designed for Enigma Variations, as well as the Walnut's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She also has extensive experience as a dramaturg and a writer, having co-authored both A Novel Approach to Theatre and Another Opening, Another Show with Tom Markus. Linda also has a wealth of international experience, having designed in Hong Kong, Toronto, and Cairo. Shelley Hicklin lends her Lighting Design to the Walnut once again, her previous work including Natural History, Forrest: A Riot of Dreams, and The Fantasticks. Versatile artist Christopher Colucci completes the team as Sound Designer, adding to his varied career as a designer, composer, and musical performer for such venues as People's Light and The Arden.