New Jersey Stage

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Premiere Stages Produces Compelling True Story Of A Fearless Madame Taking A Stand In Segregated Mississippi

(UNION, NJ) – Premiere Stages, celebrating its seventh year as the professional Equity theatre in residence at Kean University, announces the premiere of Follow Me to Nellie's by Dominique Morisseau.

Follow Me to Nellie's, takes place in the home of the infamous Nellie Jackson's, where a hopeless blues singer is looking for a way out, a brave freedom fighter is looking for a way in, and a house of downtrodden women are looking for a new day.  In 1955 Mississippi, during the reign of segregation, the price of attaining their dreams may cost them everything.  The play takes a harrowing look at those who risked everything so that all Americans could be afforded the opportunity to vote.  Follow Me to Nellie's opens Thursday, July 14th and continues through Sunday, July 31st.  The exceptional cast features veterans of Broadway, off-Broadway, television and film, including Lynda Gravatt in the title role.

Ms. Gravatt appeared on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 45 Seconds From Broadway, King Hedley II and Doubt.  She has won numerous accolades for her off-Broadway work including the AUDELCO Award and the Theatre World Award.  Television appearances have included roles in "Law & Order" series, "One Life to Live," "As the World Turns," and "Sex and the City."

The Premiere Stages production of "…Nellie's" will include an interactive lobby display and patrons will have the opportunity to register to vote at all performances.

Follow Me to Nellie's is the winner of the 2011 Premiere Stages Play Festival and was selected from more than 300 submissions. The Festival features a uniquely accelerated process in which the region's most promising new plays are developed and fully produced within a year of submission.  Playwrights are also afforded the opportunity to retain the coveted "world premiere" brand.

"In many professional theatres the time span between meeting a writer, staging a reading and producing the play can be years," noted artistic director John Wooten.  "When we discover a dramatist we believe in, our play festival process allows Premiere Stages to fully commit the time, talent and resources necessary to share that writer's work with a broad regional audience."

Standard tickets are $25 with special rates for seniors, students, Kean alumni, groups and patrons with disabilities. The Premiere Package (a new subscription series) saves patrons up to $30.00 and includes discounts on restaurants and free admission to staged readings and other special events.  For reservations, which are highly recommended call the Kean University Box Office at (908)-737-SHOW (7469), or visit Premiere Stages online at www.kean.edu/premierestages.

All performances take place on the Kean University campus, located at 1000 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J. in the Zella Fry Theatre in the Vaughn Eames Building.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 8 p.m.  Saturday and Sunday matinee performances begin at 3 p.m.

Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking.  Premiere Stages provides discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities and provides facilities that are fully accessible. Patrons should call for a list of sign-interpreted, audio-described or open-captioned performances.  Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available upon request.  Publications in alternate formats are available with advanced notice. For information about special events, please call Clare Drobot at (908)-737-4092.  For group and dinner theatre packages, call Paul Whelihan at (908)-737-4077.  For specifics of the season, please contact Artistic Director John Wooten at jwooten@kean.edu or 908-737-4360.

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Provident Bank Foundation, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance and through the generous support of individual patrons.