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Anne Torsiglieri’s "A" Train, at PlayMakers Repertory Company on April 25-29, Chronicles Her Own Wild Ride on the Autism Train

For the ninth and final production of its crowd-pleasing 2017-18 season, PlayMakers Repertory Company will present “A” Train: The Play, written and performed by Anne Torsiglieri and directed by Risa Brainin, with music by Brad Carroll, on April 25-29 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. This provocative autobiographical play, which is being presented during World Autism Month as part of PlayMakers Rep’s consciousness-raising PRC2 second-stage series, chronicles Torsiglieri’s own wild ride on the autism train, after she discovers that one of her twin sons is autistic. A lively post-show discussion, with cast, crew, and subject-matter experts, will follow each 90-minute performance.

According to the show’s official website: “When [Anne Torsiglieri] learns that one of her young twins is autistic, she feels like her life is falling apart. She plunges into the world of autism, trying to piece together a new reality from the countless people she meets: parents, educators, teachers and especially other autistic individuals. Abounding with music, irreverent humor, and verbatim interviews, the world of the play is part oral history project, part magical journey into the heartbeat of a different way of being. [Torsiglieri] plays multiple roles in this adventurous exploration of what it is to be human. In the process, [she] is changed forever, learning to see the world, her son, and the very nature of happiness with clearer eyes.”

A graduate of The Juilliard School in New York, NY, and Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, playwright and performer Anne Torsiglieri is a Broadway veteran who understudied Louise/Waitress, Dull Gret/Nell, Isabella Bird/Joyce/Mrs. Kidd in Top Girls and played Sally Slaton in Parade, Brenda in Blood Brothers, and an Army Nurse in Miss Saigon. She also played Fantine during the Third National Tour of Les Misérables. Torsiglieri is also an associate professor in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where LAUNCH PAD first produced “A” Train: The Play.

Director Risa Brainin chairs UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Theater and Dance and serves as artistic director of the university’s LAUNCH PAD new-play-incubator program; and composer Brad Carroll is resident artist/artistic associate for the Pacific Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria, CA. A well-known director and music director in regional theater, he composed the music for Lend Me A Tenor: The Musical, which premiered in 2007 at the Utah Shakespearean Festival and opened in 2011 in London’s West End at the Gielgud Theatre, where it was nominated for a 2012 Laurence Olivier Award.

Named the Best Production of New York City’s Eighth Annual United Solo Theatre Festival in November 2017, “A” Train was also the top-selling show of the festival. In her review of the show for Stage Biz Review, Jacquelyn Claire wrote, “… It’s a sophisticated musical, a gut wrenching memoir and a tour de force solo performance. This production is sure to have a very long life as it’s both theatrically innovative as well as educative…. Torsiglieri is a consummate performer that commands the stage with her exceptional talents in characterization, accents, singing, lyrics and playwriting. Her multiple skills make for a production that oozes charm while at the same time shaking you to your core.”

Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director emerita Libby Appel, whose 2011 translation of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters was used for PlayMakers Rep’s January and February 2016 production of the play, says, “Annie’s show is so personal, funny and touching. It is so theatrical and so true. It is a world all in one show. What joy!”

‘A’ Train is a wonderfully engaging true family story, laugh out loud funny and tenderly heartbreaking at the same time,” says Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles artistic director Michael Ritchie. “Anne Torsiglieri opens her home, and her heart, to all of us in an incredibly charming and moving piece.”

Skirball Cultural Center of Los Angeles assistant director of public programs Jen Maxcy adds, “‘A’ Train is a near perfect example of how a talented storyteller has the power to change the world. Annie’s personal journey made us all laugh, cry, empathize, and in the end the audience was changed.”

Anne Torsiglieri Risa Brainin Brad Carroll

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents “A” TRAIN: THE PLAY, written and performed by Anne Torsiglieri, at 7:30 p.m. April 25-28 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 29 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $15 and up.

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY, prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or https://tickets.playmakersrep.org/.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-962-PLAY (7529), prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/box-office/groups-and-special-events/.

SHOW: http://playmakersrep.org/show/a-train/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/197214064222730/.

2017-18 SEASON: https://playmakersrep.org/season/2017-2018-season/

PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.

PRC BLOG (Page to Stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.

VENUE: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/kenan.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://playmakersrep.org/visitorinfo.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: On its website, PlayMakers Rep writes, “Due to mature language, we recommend this show for ages 15 and up (emphasis added).”

NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.

OTHER LINKS:

“A” Train: The Play (play): https://www.atraintheplay.com/ (official website) and https://www.facebook.com/atraintheplay (Facebook page).

Anne Torsiglieri (Santa Barbara, CA playwright/performer): http://playmakersrep.org/artists/anne-torsiglieri/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), https://www.atraintheplay.com/the-team.html (play’s website bio), http://www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu/people/anne-torsiglieri (UC Santa Barbara Department of Theater and Dance bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/anne-torsiglieri-69633 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0868986/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://www.facebook.com/annie.torsiglieri (Facebook page).

Risa Brainin (Santa Barbara, CA director): http://www.risabrainin.com/ (official website), http://playmakersrep.org/artists/risa-brainin/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), https://www.atraintheplay.com/the-team.html (play’s website bio), http://www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu/people/risa-brainin (UC Santa Barbara Department of Theater and Dance bio), and https://www.facebook.com/risa.brainin (Facebook page).

Brad Carroll (Halcyon, CA composer): http://playmakersrep.org/artists/brad-carroll/ (PlayMakers Rep bio), https://www.atraintheplay.com/the-team.html (play’s website bio), http://www.pcpa.org/bios/bradcarroll.html (Pacific Conservatory Theatre bio), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1606600/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://www.facebook.com/brad.carroll.520 (Facebook page).

AUTHOR:

Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing robertm748@aol.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail robertm748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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Categorised in: Features, Lead Story, Theatre Feature