End Days, written by Deborah Zoe Laufer, has been called “rapturously funny” and “uplifting, warm, wonderful” and “poignantly redemptive” by critics from Manalapan, Florida to Bangor, Maine to Halberstadt, Germany. They even raved in Salt Lake City, a town where you might not expect a play about a quirky family trying to survive in “a world hurtling toward Armageddon” to make it past opening night. But Woodstock? Of course!
Directed by Voice Theatre’s Shauna Kantor, the production is being staged at the newly air-conditioned Byrdcliffe Theater. Laufer’s characters turn heartfelt beliefs into irreverent comedy as they navigate the tricky road to apocalypse. In the context of the play, sixteen-year-old Rachel Stein is having a bad year. Her father hasn’t changed out of his pajamas since 9/11. Her mother is convinced CNN will be covering the end of the world any moment. Her new neighbor, a bullied 16-year-old Elvis impersonator has fallen for her hard. Her only hope is that Stephen Hawking will save them all.
At Byrdcliffe, Rachel Stein is played by Amy Crossman of New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre in New Jersey fame, with Sean Marrinan as her distraught father, Arthur Stein, and Denise Summerford in the role of the dithering mother, Sylvia Stein. (Summerford is a Drama Desk Award winner for In Transit and has accumulated Broadway credits in the revival of The Rocky Horror Show Live! Taboo and Saturday Night Fever. You might recognize Marrinan from his appearances on television’s 30 Rock and at Shadowland in Stones in his Pockets and Noises Off.) Devin Doyle plays the young neighbor, Nelson Steinberg, and the Stephen Hawking/Jesus role is double-dutied by Joe Bongiorno.
As artistic director of Voice Theatre, Kanter is pleased to announce the completion of Stage I renovations at Byrdcliffe: the installation of air conditioning. Stage II will add heat to the building, making it a nine-months-a-year venue for theatrical productions. “This is our fifth year of bringing professional actors and professional theater back to Woodstock,” she says. “In conjunction with End Days, we’ve done 53 in-school workshops in six high schools in Ulster County to combat bullying. Students are coming to special student matinées to see the show.”
Reserve a seat at the Byrdcliffe, and enjoy a cool evening of laughter.