Linda Lavin, Michael Esper & Gregory Wooddell Lead THE LYONS at Vineyard this Fall

The Tony Award-winning actress Linda Lavin will head the cast of Nicky Silver’s new play THE LYONS, to be given its world-premiere production Off-Broadway by the Vineyard Theatre. this fall with previews starting Wednesday, September 21, 2011 prior to its official opening night October 11, it has been announced by Douglas Aibel, artistic director of Vineyard Theatre. Mark Brokaw (HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE) will direct.

Also set to join Ms. Lavin in the cast of THE LYONS are Michael Esper (AMERICAN IDIOT and THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE…) and Gregory Wooddell (CYMBELINE at Lincoln Center Theatre). Additional casting and creative team to be announced.

THE LYONS — Mr. Silver’s seventh new play to open at The Vineyard — is a comedy about a family grappling with the death of its patriarch. When Ben Lyon’s wife, Rita, and their grown children gather to say goodbye, they learn that despite being a family, each of them is utterly isolated. Afraid of closeness and afraid of solitude, Ben’s death may be a catalyst that propels them into foreign territory – human connection.

Linda Lavin won a Tony Award, as well as Drama Desk, Outer Critics’ and Helen Hayes Awards, for her performance in BROADWAY BOUND in 1987. She is a five-time Tony nominee for her roles in THE LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS, THE DIARY OF Anne Frank, THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST’S WIFE, and most recently, COLLECTED STORIES. She was a two-time Golden Globe winner for her role as Alice on the TV show “Alice”. Most recently she was seen off-Broadway in OTHER DESERT CITIES, for which she earned Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Lucille Lortel Award nominations. Her recent film credits include roles in “The Back-Up Plan” and “Wanderlust.” Linda was born, raised and educated in Portland, Maine and graduated from the College of William and Mary, which recently conferred on her a Doctor of Arts degree. She started her stage career in the chorus of musicals and credits her great friend and mentor, Harold Prince, with changing her life by casting her in her first speaking role on a New York stage and other roles thereafter. When not touring her concert act with her musical director, Billy Stritch, or promoting her new CD, entitled “Possibilities,” she and her multi-talented husband and drummer, Steve Bakunas, manage the Red Barn Studio, a 47-seat community theatre they built in Wilmington, North Carolina, for which they have also performed or directed nine plays in the past three years, among them DOUBT, DRIVING MISS DAISY, SPEED-THE-PLOW, THE TALE OF THE ALLERGIST’S WIFE, COLLECTED STORIES and RABBIT HOLE. They also have a beagle/jack named Mickey and a wonderful life.

Nicky Silver’s plays include seven which have premiered at Vineyard Theatre: PTERODACTYLS (Oppenheimer Award, Kesselring Award, Drama Desk nom, Outer Critics Circle nom), RAISED IN CAPTIVITY (Drama Desk nom, Outer Critics Circle nom), THE EROS TRILOGY, THE MAIDEN’S PRAYER, MY MARRIAGE TO Ernest Borgnine, THE ALTRUISTS, and BEAUTIFUL CHILD. Other notable plays include THREE CHANGES (Playwrights Horizons), THE FOOD CHAIN (Broadway, Outer Critics Circle nom), THE AGONY AND THE AGONY (Vineyard Lab Production), FAT MEN IN SKIRTS, FIT TO BE TIED, FREE WILL AND WANTON LUST (Helen Hayes Award), the new book for the Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical, THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, and more.

Mark Brokaw directed the Vineyard Theatre’s Pulitzer Prize-winning production of Paula Vogel’s play HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE, as well as Ms. Vogel’s THE LONG CHRISTMAS RIDE HOME, Craig Lucas’ THE DYING GAUL and Jeremy Dobrish’s EIGHT DAYS (BACKWARDS) all at The Vineyard. He directed the musical CRY BABY on Broadway. Other Off-Broadway credits include AS BEES IN HONEY DROWN, Lisa Kron’s 2.5 MINUTE RIDE, THE GOOD TIMES ARE KILLING ME and Kenneth Lonergan’s LOBBY HERO.

In addition to his work on Broadway, Michael Esper has appeared Off-Broadway in THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES, subUrbia, and THE AGONY AND THE AGONY. His regional credits include ME, MYSELF AND I at McCarter Theatre.

Gregory Wooddell appeared in the world-premiere of Terrence McNally’s SOME MEN at Philadelphia Theatre Center, the American premiere of SCHOOL OF NIGHT at Mark Taper Forum, and the world premiere of MIRACLE AT NAPLES at Huntington Theatre.

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