Trustus Theatre is preparing to bring the professional premiere of Alessandro King's Swing '39 to the Capital City with a fully realized production. This swingin' expose about Benny Goodman and a controversial relationship in East Harlem will engage and move audiences as the curtain rises on this rousing winner of the Trustus Playwrights' Festival on Friday August 12th at 8:00pm.
Trustus Theatre has had a long-standing commitment to producing new works right here in South Carolina. Trustus wanted to create an annual festival where new plays would receive a professional production each year; therefore The Trustus Playwrights' Festival was established in 1988. Playwrights from all over the nation submit scripts for this festival. The play chosen gets a staged reading the year it wins, and then a full production the following year. Past winners have gone on to be published and have had productions on Broadway, in Hollywood, and at the Actors' Theatre in Louisville, KY. Past winner David Lindsay Abaire has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, for his Broadway hit Rabbit Hole.
This year the winning playwright is Alessandro King, a native New Yorker who is making a splash in the Big Apple. Swing '39 was originally developed in readings at New Dramatists and Sarah Lawrence College, and it was a semi-finalist for the O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference. Alessandro recently participated in the 2010 Southampton Playwrights Conference with Annie Baker, and is an inaugural member of The Pound, INTAR Theatre's fledgling Young Artists Lab. He holds a BA degree with a concentration in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence, where he was awarded the 2009 Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Playwriting.
Swing '39 throws the audience into East Harlem in 1939. Eighteen-year-old Maggie DiNapoli is beloved by her neighborhood and bored by its romantic prospects. So when she finds herself embroiled with the King of Swing himself, Benny Goodman, she ignores all complications and focuses on Goodman's enigmatic personality and promise of escape. Benny can give Maggie everything she desires, but will his dark side prove poisonous? And if so, will she be strong enough to leave him and his kingdom behind forever? This exciting production plunges theatre-goers into the intoxicating world of 1930's New York in this exploration of the haves and have-nots, the wounded and the nurturing.
This premier event is directed by Trustus Company Member Chad Henderson, who recently directed the critically acclaimed production of Assassins. The cast is an energetic ensemble of young and talented actors featuring G. Scott Wild (Assassins) as Benny Goodman, Roz Stanley (Princess and the Pea) as Maggie DiNapoli, Sarah Crouch (Language of Angels) and Bianca Raso(Hair, Fiddler on the Roof) as Maggie's best friends, Adrienne Lee (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Dead Man's Cell Phone) as Benny's fan relations, Bobby Bloom (Much Ado About Nothing) as the hilarious neighborhood stud, Nathan Dawson (Our Lady of 121st Street) as Benny's unofficial manager, and Trustus Company Member Elena Martinez-Vidal (The Kathy and Mo Show) as an ailing mother.
Henderson has gathered a famously talented group of designers for this production. Danny Harrington, designer of such shows as Smokey Joe's Café and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, will be creating the East Harlem apartment where Benny and Maggie begin their relationship. Lighting design will be created by Aaron Pelzac (Smokey Joe's Café, Hairspray). The swinging costumes for the show will be designed by Alexis Doktor, known for her work with the Columbia City Ballet and many shows in the community this summer such as Hairpsray and Smokey Joe's Café.
Certainly, playwright Alessandro King is an exciting voice in the modern American theatrical landscape and audiences all over the nation are becoming familiar with his work. With a refreshingly young and talented group of theatre artists working on this production, the premiere of Swing '39 promises to be a thrilling addition to the already stellar catalogue of Trustus Playwrights' Festival winners. Interested theatre-goers can learn more about Alessandro King at his website: www.alessandroking.com.