The Reading Series

June 23, 2015

The English Bride by Lucile Lichtblau

Directed by Susan Lyles

Starring Wade P. Wood, Sam Gilstrap, and Susan Lyles

The play is a fictionalized recapitulation of an actual event -- the attempted bombing of an El Al plane in 1986. In that incident, a pregnant and entirely unwitting Irishwoman was found with a suitcase bomb planted by her Middle Eastern fiancé, while she was supposedly en route to their wedding.

The English Bride had its off Broadway production at 59 E59th Street Theaters, Oct. 2013 and rolling world premieres at Theatre Exile, Philadelphia, PA and Centenary Stage, Hackettstown, NJ. It’s west coast premiere was at The Road Theatre, North Hollywood, CA in March and a staged reading at The Workshop Theatre of Nantucket was also in March. It was the winner of the Susan Glaspell Prize and the Israel Baran Award and was a nominee for the ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. See an interview with playwright Lucile Lichtblau talking about The English Bride-produced by Centenary Stage Company


july 15, 2015

The Way Station and South Star by Rebecca Gorman O'Neill

The Mercury Cafe

Directed by Susan Lyles

Starring Madison Kuebler, Peter Nemenoff, J. Heston Gray, Rachel Finley Herring

Way Station is the story of three strangers from different places and times, each pulled out of their travels and dropped off at a mysterious way station.  At this surreal crossroads, no excuse, lie, or self-delusion holds up to scrutiny, and each person must find the strength to face his or her own dark secret, only then may they move on.  

South Star is set seven years in the future, during the second American Civil War, South Star is the story of a survivor, an inspiration, a reluctant hero who wishes she could just stop running.  Stel finds herself in the company of two people – one an apparent victim, and one an apparent predator.  What commences is a figurative game of three-card-Monty; the stakes are Stel’s life.


August 19, 2015

Fata Morgana by Jeni Mahoney

The Mercury Cafe

Directed by Roger Winn

Starring Charis Swartley, Paula Friedland, J Heston Grey, Vicky Serdyuk, and Carol Timblin

For Tori and Jack, life off the grid offers a welcome alternative to the turmoil of life back home… until Morgan shows up seeking sanctuary and offering the promise of long lost hopes for happiness. Having already walked away once, can Jack and Tori hold on to their separate peace, or will they risk it all for a shot at their dreams?


September 21, 2015

Last Chance Liquor by Anne Welsbacher

The BookBar

Directed by Melissa McCarl

Starring Glenna Kelly, Sean Verdu, Becca Fletcher, Marc Collins, Jeffrey Atherton and Suzanna Wellens

Last Chance Liquor is a small, failing liquor store in a small, failing Kansas town near Wichita. Its owner, Ray Stauffer, is a recovering alcoholic whose daughter, Rayette Boulanger, cut off all ties when he and his wife, Lily Boulanger, had a messy divorce during Rayette’s childhood. Now Rayette, a modestly successful actor in Los Angeles, has returned to town to try to persuade her mother to return to the west coast with her for cancer treatment. But Lily has no intention of moving, particularly since her daughter more or less abandoned her family and town decades ago. Among those she left behind was her high school sweetheart, Steve Shepherd, now a councilman and arts entrepreneur.

Rayette, in her 40s and already re-examining the life she has chosen, is thrown into further uncertainty at seeing Steve again after all these years. She is frustrated by her mother’s refusal to cooperate with Rayette’s delayed efforts to play the daughter. She is further angered at having to interact with her father after their long estrangement—particularly when she learns that Alice Leaf, the woman he had an affair with, is about to move in with her mother.

But when Eddie Dallinger shows up claiming to be the son that Rayette had as a teenager and gave up for adoption at birth—a son her family and Steve didn’t even know existed—Rayette’s world turns upside down.

October 20, 2015

Cabaret Kalisz by Christie Winn

Directed by Libby Arnold


Christy Kuzick, Paula Freidland, Vicky Serdyuk, Mindi Kessler, Meredith Young, Christine Davidson, Christy Newhoff


Six women struggle to survive a Nazi labor camp during WW II. Cabaret Kalisz examines the human spirit and the essence of hope. Each woman has a story, a memory, and a reason to persist. Natalia, the youngest, chooses to believe that her stay at the camp, a barn on a farm in the middle of Germany, is temporary. She is aided in her beliefs by a young German boy, a rebel, who teaches her American songs and sneaks bread under the barn door. Natalia’s idealism is infectious as she tells tales about the cabaret in Kalisz and re-enacts better days. Her naiveté gets the better of her when the SS finds out about her friendship with the boy. Sonia tries to recreate Natalia’s optimism but is haunted by her own guilt from the events at Babi Yar. When the soldiers come to take them, each women deals with her impeding death in her own unique way.


November 16, 2015

Cafe Max

Lost Creatures by Melissa McCarl

Directed by Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski

Starring Billie McBride, Mark Collins, and Erica Sarzin-Borillo

Lost Creatures follows the evening in May of 1978 when British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan met his long time cinematic idol Louise Brooks.  He travels to her dingy little apartment in Rochester, NY where she has sequestered herself for many years.  He is there ostensibly to write a profile on Brooks for the New Yorker, but he discovers that they are kindred spirits, and in spite of an age gap of twenty years, theirs becomes an unlikely love story discovered through a marathon dialogue about sex, philosophy, art, and criticism.  There is also a silent third character, Lulu, (based on Louise’s role in her most famous silent film Pandora’s Box) who drives the action of the play.


December 15, 2015

Tina & Prometheus by Karla Jennings

Directed by Susan Lyles

Tina and Prometheus meet cute – she’s the eagle who rips out his liver, he’s chained to a rock – but they really hit it off when they finally chat. Tina frees Prometheus and they hide out to avoid Zeus’s wrath. When a loquacious swan tells them the gods are disappearing, Prometheus, being a god, is disturbed, while Tina faces something equally unnerving; she’s turning human. When Athena warns that Ares is about to destroy the human race, the three join to save humankind, confronting the dilemma we all face: If we don’t answer to a higher power, how can we find joy and meaning in our lives? Also, what affordable commercial products can help you stop molting?