“Rea spares no punches in the intensity of this searing drama and the actors take no prisoners. Rea is a fine actor in her own right and is, I’m sure, an “actor’s director.” The cast is first-rate.”
—Dennis Sparks, All Things Performing Arts
”Actors can sink their teeth into a play like Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, and that’s exactly what this ensemble, under Jamie M. Rea’s direction, does.”
—Christopher Gonzalez, Oregon Arts Watch
“Lam gives a stirring, sympathetic performance as Angel, a troubled young man whom you want to wish well. Bermea as Lucius is mesmerizing—a seething pit of doubt and regret, a monster of a man whom, ultimately, you also want to wish well. Scenic designer Rusty Tennant deserves a special shout-out for the set.”
—R Mitchell Miller, Willamette Week
“Director Jamie M. Rea and the creative team (including scenic designer Rusty Tennant, lighting designer Kelly Terry, and sound designer Cameron McFee) have created an environment where it's impossible to breathe easily. That isn't a criticism. The questions this play asks us to consider are difficult, and, in the current political climate, our answers to them may well determine our societal trajectory. We shouldn't be comfortable.”
—Krista Garver, Broadway World, Portland
“Buffeted on the choppy sea of Valdez’s sadism, Jenkins’ manic evangelism, and Hanrahan’s morally skewed pragmatism, Lam plays helplessness with an intense, tortured innocence, even when he’s confessing.”
—Thomas Ross, Portland Mercury
BOBBY BERMEA (Lucius) is co-artistic director of The Beirut Wedding World Theatre Project. This is his debut offering for both CoHo Productions and Beirut Wedding.
See Bobby’s bio here.
DUFFY EPSTEIN (D’Amico) returns to CoHo where he was last seen in This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (Season 22), and as an ensemble member in db (Season 21). Recent work includes Fountainhead in Water by the Spoonful, Lefty in The Happiest Song Plays Last (Profile Theatre); Slank in Peter and the Starcatcher (Portland Playhouse); and Cash in The Pain and the Itch (Third Rail). TV credits include West Wing, ER, Grimm, and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists.
ANTHONY LAM (Angel Cruz)
A Los Angeles native turned Oregonian and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theater Arts) graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, has had the great privilege of working at Profile Theatre, Portland Center Stage, and Milagro Theatre here in Portland. At Profile Theatre, he portrayed Elliot in The Elliot Trilogy. He played Angus and was part of the ensemble cast in Astoria: Part One and Astoria: Part Two at Portland Center Stage. And he let his playful attitude free as Atómiko in Milagro Theatre’s production of Into The Beautiful North. He has also recently starred in the feature film Translated, filmed in Eugene, Oregon. When he isn’t a part of a theater production, creating his own work, or acting in commercials throughout the Northwest, he is busy with his three young, spirited children and his family. This is his first production at CoHo Theatre and he is excited and grateful for the opportunity to share this story with you all.
DANA MILLICAN (Mary Jane)
Theater: Portland Center Stage (A Streetcar Named Desire), Artists Repertory Theatre (world premieres of Ithaka, The Lost Boy); CoHo Productions (‘night, Mother); Corrib Theatre (The Hen Night Epiphany); NW Classical Theatre Company (Twelfth Night, Othello, and King John, for which she received a Drammy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role); Portland Shakespeare Project (The Turn of the Screw, King Lear, and As You Like It); Profile Theatre (Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Fifth of July); and Shaking the Tree (Suddenly, Last Summer). While in New York, Ms. Millican appeared in the world premiere of Lanford Wilson’s Sympathetic Magic (Off-Broadway, Second Stage Theatre). TV: Shrill (Hulu), Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists (Freeform), Trinkets (Netflix), American Vandal (Netflix), Here and Now (HBO), Grimm (NBC), Portlandia (IFC), Leverage (TNT), and Final Witness (ABC). Film: Lorelei (Freestyle), Leave No Trace (BRON Studios), Here Awhile (Matchstrike Pictures), Bad Samaritan (Electric Entertainment), Lean on Pete (Film4), I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Netflix), The Architect (Parker Film Company), and C.O.G. (Forty Second Productions). Web series: The Benefits of Gusbandry and One Bird at a Time, both available on Amazon. Ms. Millican has a BA in Theater from Arizona State University.
WASIM NO’MANI (Valdez) is proud and honored to be a part of this cast and the Beirut Wedding family. He resides in LA. Born of migrating Iraqi parents pursuing education in theatre, Wasim spent his developing years meandering through sets, stages and theaters throughout the United States with big immigrant dreams of becoming Jean Claude-Van Damme. When the feasibility of this ambition appeared improbable, he decided to turn his focus on becoming the best actor he could be. The craft of telling a lie truly. He made his theatre debut in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and has been plodding the boards ever since. Wasim thanks his friends and family for their unreasonably durable support and is also deeply indebted to director Jamie Rea and the entire cast for their warm welcoming of him to Portland.
ABOUT JESUS HOPPED THE ‘A’ TRAIN
Angel Cruz is a NYC boy sent to prison at Rikers Island, awaiting trial for homicide. He spends twenty-three hours a day in lockdown, his only sources of human contact two prison guards, his public defender, and an another inmate, a convicted murderer facing death row. As Angel’s lawyer, Mary Jane confronts her ethics, swaying between disillusionment with her career and becoming a champion for Angel’s cause, guards Valdez and D’Amico alternately brutalize him and offer compassion. In between them all, the convict Lucius Jenkins expounds upon divine intervention. These relationships unfold into an examination of intention, violence, punishment and redemption. Angel grapples with right, wrong, and everything in between in Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis’ frank and ferocious examination of the complex of justice.
Corey McCarey, Stage Manager • Rusty Tennent, Scenic Design • Melissa Heller, Costume Design • Kelly Terry, Lighting Design • Cameron McFee, Sound Design
THOUGHTS FROM THE DIRECTOR
As urban life intensifies and the pressure of living packed together and sharing so much mounts, what begins as personal agreements and house rules become collective morays and rules of the road, some of which in turn get ratified into law. Along the way as we are tested, we contest, we grow, organize, design and maintain the institutions of society.
In a developed world, you might expect that concerns of social conflict move beyond angrily sparring over disputed turf, towards universal accommodation of life’s basic needs, further discovery of what’s worth fighting for, rather than against, and reconciliations and reparations over past transgressions. But our system of justice doesn’t quite work like this.
With so many people and so much information, it’s a growing challenge to craft and maintain agreements—rules and laws—that work for everyone, in myriad circumstances, across so many situations. We reasonably expect that authority, wisdom, and faith in our institutions will mete out fair and impartial judgement. Conversely, as a practical matter, many agreements are ad hoc, law is written in broad strokes or behind closed doors. Policy is applied with rubber stamps. As the rule of law is institutionalized, it tends to cast a wide net, applying coercion and force to keep people in line. We can become inured to the spirit of living, begrudge the weak, dismiss the lost, ignore our wounded, and resort to caging those who don’t conform to the dictates of the masses and the imperatives of growth.
So, what do you do when you encounter situations in your community, aspects of the social fabric and institutions upon which we all depend and rely, that deeply disturb you? Aspects that you may find not simply unacceptable, but terrifying? What do you do when the codes of conduct you should take for granted don’t apply, when the rules you depend to keep order aren’t working, when you know something needs to be done but no one seems to be doing anything, and you see the institutions of governance and justice carry our essential flaws within them?
What do you do when you plead to a higher authority, but can’t hear an answer in the din of a million other voices, just the rise of your own deafening primal scream?
What do you do?
See Jamie’s bio here.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Stephen Adly Guirgis has been a LAByrinth Company Member since 1994. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. His plays include The Little Flower Of East Orange, Our Lady Of 121st Street (10 best plays of 2003; Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations), Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train (Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award, Laurence Olivier Nomination for London’s Best New Play), The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot (10 best, Time Magazine & Entertainment Weekly), and In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (2007 LA Drama Critics Best Play, Best Writing Award). All five plays were originally directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Other plays include The Motherfucker with the Hat and the Pulitzer Prize winning Between Riverside and Crazy. Television writing credits include NYPD Blue, The Sopranos, David Milch’s CBS drama Big Apple, and Shane Salerno’s NBC series UC: Undercover. Stephen was awarded a 2006 PEN/Laura Pels Award, a 2006 Whiting Award, and a 2004 TCG fellowship. He is the recipient of new play commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club, Center Theater Group, and South Coast Repertory, and is a member of New Dramatists, MCC’s Playwright’s Coalition, New River Dramatists, and The Actor’s Studio Playwright/Directors Unit. He developed and directed Liza Colón-Zayas’ Sistah Supreme for Danny Hoch’s Hip Hop Theater Festival, and Marco Greco’s award-winning Behind The Counter With Mussoliniin New York and Los Angeles. As an actor, he appeared in Guinea Pig Solo, produced by LAByrinth at The Public, and has leading roles in Todd Solondz’s Palindromes, Brett C. Leonard’s Jailbait opposite Michael Pitt, and Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret. A former Violence Prevention Specialist/H.I.V. educator, he has facilitated numerous workshops in New York City area prisons, schools, shelters, and hospitals.
FUNDING & SUPPORT
JESUS HOPPED THE ‘A’ TRAIN by STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS
DATES & PRICES
April 18th through May 11, 2019
Thurs–Sat: 7:30 pm
Sun: 2:00 pm
$32 General Admission
$25 Ages 30 & under, 65+
CoHo Productions and
Beruit Wedding World Theatre Project