Below is the schedule of the new plays being presented with impressively starry casts each evening at 8 pm through Christmas, as part of the first ever New Works Virtual Festival, which will stream for free on their YouTube page, as a fundraiser for The Actors Fund.
“What started as something local turned into something bigger, much bigger,” said Chicago actor Kevin Pollack, one of the three co-producers of the festival. “We began to welcome well-known Hollywood and Broadway actors, who were more attracted to performing original works and developing new characters.”
Saturday, December 5: Oscar & Walt
by Donald Olson, celebrates the enduring literary legacies of Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman by re-creating an actual encounter that took place in 1882 between the 62-year-old Whitman and a 28-year-old Oscar Wilde. Judy Kuhn will star with John Rubinstein and Sam Underwood portraying Whitman and Wilde, respectively.
Sunday December 6: Secret Hour
by Jenny Stafford, follows a professor of Ethics, with only one rule for her students; that they never lie to her – though when she and her husband struggle to have a baby, she finds herself in an ethical dilemma of her own. The cast will include Kate Loprest, Vincent Rodriguez III, and Kevin Pollack.
Monday, December 7: Bloomers
by Emily Brauer Rogers about female baseball players in the late 1800s. The cast will include Brynn Williams, Mary Chieffo, L Morgan Lee, Adrienne Walker, Leigh Ann Larkin, Christy Carlson Romano, Megan Cavanagh, Zo Tipp, Sharone Sayegh, Kate Loprest, Kevin Pollack, and Jim Auld.
Tuesday, December 8: QOL Mandate
by Hope Villanueva!, In a post COVID-19 America, all young men are forced to undergo vasectomies for population control. One Mexican-American single mother secretly defies the procedure for her teenage son. The play will star Rebecca Brooksher, Olivia Coronel, Nataschia Diaz, Eliazar Jiminez, Genny Lis-Padilla, Mateo Lizcano, Francis Mateo, Mavis Simpson-Ernst, and Michael Yeshion
Wednesday, December 9: In the Gutter
by John Morogiello. A noir comedy about America starring Brittany Baratz, Larry Joe Campbell, Jeff McCarthy, and Mary Stout.
Thursday December 10: Til Jason Comes
By Dan Lauria, featuring Lauria, Ali Ewoldt, and Leigh Ann Larkin in the cast. The play deals with issues of abuse and abandonment
Friday December 11: Now You See it, Now You Don’t
By Mike Gingerella, follows a 10-year old aspiring magician. The play will feature Anthony Crivello, Jackie Hoffman, Patrick Oliver Jones, Connor Mills, Thom Sesma, and Adrienne Walker.
Saturday December 12: A Mighty Road To Heaven
By Andre Zucker. The backstage drama of an 1859 production of “Hamlet” in Richmond, Virginia will irreversibly and irreconcilably change the course of American history. This reading will star Richard Kind, Shuler Hensley and Marc Kudisch, as well as Miguel Cervantes, Joseph Melendez, and Seth Rudetsky. The play combines themes of historical anxiety, toxic masculinity, patriotism, and a rousing twist of truth.
Sunday, December 13: So, When Are You Leaving?
by Sheila Rinear, the story of a lovably dysfunctional family gathering to celebrate both the 4th of July and their matriarch’s birthday, not realizing their long-nurtured secrets and suspicions will erupt in fireworks more explosive than those they actually came to see. The reading will star Tonya Pinkins as well as Meghan Cavanagh, Joely Fisher, Marsha Mason, Drew Sarich, and Necar Zadegan.
Monday December 14: Happy Couples
By Connie Dinkler, a comedy about three couples in a family on the brink of divorce once the matriarch gives away an inheritance to the one couple who can stay happily married. Starring in the reading will be Santino Fontana, Eva Noblezada and Mary Testa, as well as Larry Joe Campbell, Katherine Damisch, Elaine Hendrix, Philip Hernández, Joseph Melendez, Joseph Morales, Stuart Pankin, Tracie Thoms, Robert Wuhl, and Jim Auld.
Tuesday, December 15: We The People
By Harrison Zeiberg. The founding fathers in attendance at the Constitutional Convention as they work to helm the new country. It will feature Adam Jacobs, Keith Byron Kirk, Richard Pryor, Jr., Conrad Ricamora, Jon Rua, Adam B. Shapiro, and Sal Viviano.
Wednesday December 16: Otherwise Engayged
by Hal Katkov, “laughter with a dose of critical thinking,” will feature Kevin Chamberlin as well as Amir Arison, Christina Bianco, Bryan Terrell Clark, Madeline Franklin, and Mykal Kilgore.
Thursday December 17: Four Horses
By Mary Beringer, a dark comedy about the four horsemen of the apocalypse facing the end of the world. When Pestilence accidentally kills Death, humans become immortal, and it is up to the remaining three horsemen to track down a replacement Death. Matthew Arkin, Eddie Cooper, Lee Curreri, Rodney Hicks, Zach Infante, and Ray Shell will star.
Friday December 18: The Wickham Way
By Rachel Rubin Ladutke with songs by Lisa Brigantino. Two women, Marti and Liza, who are life partners, have returned to Liza’s native Wickham, Vermont, to buy a Vermont Bed and Breakfast. Their interactions with some of the locals reveal that acceptance takes many forms. Starring Adam Jacobs, Eden Espinosa
Saturday December 19: Collegeberg
By Kerri Kochanski. A Black man is running for Mayor, when a letter, written anonymously, lands in the mailboxes of the citizens of the town attempting to mobilize “white support” for the elderly, white, Republican incumbent. Starring Beth Malone, Jason Sweettooth Williams, Alexander Rios, Bruce Vilanch,
Sunday December 20: Family Game Night
By Peter Kennedy. A mildly irritating board game featuring glitter and Grim Reaper hand puppets, suddenly turned dark as three generations of the Morton family struggle with articulating wildly different views about their individual end of life (and afterlife) choices. Stars Richard Kind, Carmen Cusack and Liz Larsen, as well as Mehret Marsh, Thomas Tulak, Vishal Vaidya, and Jon Patrick Walker.
Monday, December 21: Cud’n Helen Ain’t Got No Color
By Sharon Harris Warrick.Helen Laverne is a very fair-skinned, pretty African-American woman in her late 20s who grew up in a family of darker skinned people and experienced both privilege and ostracism because of her different complexion – and must face it again when her beloved grandmother dies and she travels from California to Mississippi to attend the funeral.
Tuesday, December 22: March 9, 1965
By Stanley Hathaway, set during the Civil Rights Movement in Selma Alabama, exploring the relationship between a Black woman and White officer of the law. The cast includes Robert Cuccioli and tMia Moravis as well as Taylor Blackman, Carrie Compere, Samson Dube, Ellis Gage, Tyler Hardwick, Rachel Elise Johnson, David Josefsburg, Oyoyo Joi, Luka Kain, Jamie LaVerdiere, Lindsay I. Ryan, Laura Schein, Miles Phillips, Michael Tourek, and Nik Walker.
Wednesday, December 23: A Man with No Opinion
By Kevin Wiczer. A farce set in the 1950s about a secretary who meets the man of her dreams, but struggles to overcome the meddling of his manipulative, unimpressed mother. It stars Kathleen Turner, Christy Carlson Romano, and Daniel Jenkins as well as Krystina Alabado, Alan H. Green, Tyce Green, and Richard White.
Thursday, December 24: Frontiers
By Andrew Apollo. Starring Andy Karl, Orfeh, Ted Louis Levy, Glenn Morshower, Dan Lauria, Jonah Platt, Zane Carney, Edred Utomi, James Wesley, Travis Cloer , Bart Shatto, Ray Shell, Deanna Reed-Foster, Mia Moravis, Aaron Reese Boseman, Jim Auld.
Friday, December 25: Farce Day of Christmas
By Ken Levine. To keep her religious mother from knowing she’s divorced, Wendy pays her ex to pose as her husband and go home for the holidays. Havoc ensues.