Three estranged brothers reunite to settle unfinished business in the world premiere of A Family Thing, a darkly funny new drama about the meaning of family by Gary Lennon (The Interlopers). The Echo Theater Company presents a five-week run at Stage 52, February 16-March 17, directed by Chris Fields.
A Family Thing is a violent, comic and heartbreaking exploration of the way family binds us together-and can tear us apart. Starring as three brothers raised in New York's rough and tumble Hell's Kitchen-an addict, a felon and a writer-are Saverio Guerra (CBS's Becker), Johnny Messner (Tears of the Sun, Hostage, The Whole Ten Yards) and Sean Wing (American Idiot on Broadway, the title role in Bunbury at the Road Theatre).
Also in the cast are Darryl Stephens (Noah's Arc), Elizabeth Regen (recurring roles on Lifetime's Sherri and HBOs' Entourage), Maria Cina (A Distant Shore at the Kirk Douglas, Oedipus El Rey at Theatre @ Boston Court), Andrea Grano (Echo Theater Company productions of David Ives' The Other Woman and Kate Robin's ANON), and Paul Caramagno (Echo Theater Company's God's Ear).
"These three guys were raised by wolves," explains Fields. "Life is a struggle for them. But in the end it's a love story. A story about just how difficult it can be for people to love one another. It's a gritty, grainy and brutally funny play about love."
Peabody Award-winning playwright Gary Lennon knows first-hand what it's like to grow up in a dysfunctional family in a tough neighborhood.
"I've enjoyed a successful career partly because I'm able to mine my own life." he laughs.
Lennon's play Blackout, which premiered at the Samuel Beckett Theatre in New York and starred Joe Mantegna in the L.A. production, was adapted into the feature film Drunks, starring Faye Dunaway, Diane Wiest, Amanda Plummer and Parker Posey. The film version of his play 45, which premiered at the London's Hampstead Theatre with Natalie Dormer, starred Milla Jovovich and Stephen Dorf. Dates and Nuts was produced at New York's Theater Off Park, then optioned by Edward R. Pressman. The Interlopers, which enjoyed a critically acclaimed run at L.A.'s Bootleg Theater last season, is currently in development as a film. Lennon has written and produced extensively for television, including on shows such as The Unusuals, The Shield, The Black Donnellys and Justified, for which he received Peabody and AFI awards and a Writers Guild nomination. Last year, Lennon wrote a pilot for Showtime, Free Roll, which he co-created with Penn Julette, and he is currently writing and producing on Jenji Kohan's new show Orange is the New Black for Netflix. Lennon is also currently writing a mini series on STUDIO 54 for producers Crag Zadan and Neil Meon.
"A Family Thing is very different from anything we've done previously at The Echo," notes Fields, who founded the company in 1996 and serves as its artistic director. "It's incredibly violent, raw, savage, theatrically dangerous-and very, very funny."
Under Fields' leadership, The Echo has produced over 30 premieres and is the company that introduced Los Angeles to playwrights David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp and Sarah Ruhl. As a director, Fields recently helmed the world premiere of Kate Robin's What They Have at South Coast Repertory, the Ovation-nominated Los Angeles premiere of Jessica Goldberg's Body Politic, Kate Robin's Anon, Sarah Ruhl's Melancholy Play, the world premiere of Paul Zimmerman's Pigs and Bugs, and the world premiere of Eat Me by Jacqueline Wright, which was nominated for six LA Weekly Awards including Best Director. He produced the Echo production of Bryan Davidson's War Music at the Los Angeles Theater Center, which won three Ovation Awards, including Best Premiere Play and Best Ensemble, before transferring to the Geffen Playhouse-a first for a 99 seat theater production. His work in film includes his adaptation of Neal Bell's Out the Window, which he produced and directed, and his recent short Sunnyslope, which was awarded Best New York Film at the New York Film and Video Festival and nominated for Best in Fest at the Great Lakes Film Festival. Chris founded and was artistic director of the Ojai Playwrights Conference from 1996 to 2000.