Friday, January 16, 2009

Comedy and Surprise Define World Premiere Smart Cookie at the Alliance

Playwright Julia Brownell’s Smart Cookie is a wickedly funny comedy about how a shocking surprise helps a wealthy Manhattan socialite become the woman she never realized she wanted to be. The clear favorite of the 2008 Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition judges, this World Premiere play combines laugh-out-loud humor with a provocative story about social image and the powers that can change a person’s attitudes. For those who loved the film Juno, here is another unexpected tale of teenagers and pregnancy. The play is directed by Jeremy B. Cohen (Associate Artistic Director at Hartford Stage) on the intimate Hertz Stage. Opening Night is Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 at 8 p.m. on the Hertz Stage. Tickets are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office by calling 404.733.5000 or online at

Smart Cookie is the fifth winner of the nationally recognized Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. At the beginning of this hilarious play, socialite Cookie Walsh has the perfect life on Manhattan’s Upper East Side—including a handsome and successful husband and a Park Avenue triplex. However, her world is split wide open when her son comes home from prep school with his Spanish exchange student girlfriend and a big announcement. Cookie, used to running the show, now faces a situation utterly out of her control.

Julia Brownell, originally from Ridgewood, New Jersey, graduated from New York University – Tish School of the Arts with an M.F.A. in Playwriting. Propelled into the national spotlight of talented playwrights, Brownell has had works produced/read at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Public Theater, The Minneapolis Playwrights’ Center and Babel Theatre Project. Brownell is the first comic writer to win the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition.

The Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition is a one-of-a-kind national competition that exposes student playwrights to the world of professional theatre through experiences working with a nationally recognized theatre. Brownell is the fifth talented young playwright to win the Kendeda GPC, which began in the 2003-04 Season.

The six-member cast includes four local actors – Rebecca Blumhagan, Courtenay Collins (Managing Maxine and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris), Dori Garziano and Larry Larson (Managing Maxine and Gem of the Ocean) – in addition to Blake Lowell and Nancy Lemenager from New York. (Biographical information on the cast may be found in the attached fact sheet.)

Members of the artistic team that will bring this exciting new work to life on stage are Lee Savage, set designer; Miranda Hoffman, costume designer; Jaymi Lee Smith, lighting designer; Lindsay Jones, sound designer/composer; and Celise Kalke and Sarah Slight, dramaturgs.

Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Jan. 30 – Feb. 22, 2009 on the Hertz Stage. There will not be a matinee performance on Saturday, Jan. 31.

Opening/Media Night is Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. The Sunday, Feb. 15 show at 2:30 p.m. will be Audio Described for the visually impaired.

Tickets are $25 and $30 and are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office by calling 404.733.5000 or online at Discount rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690. Discount rates are also available for members of the military, seniors and students. The Alliance Theatre is located at the Woodruff Arts Center, corner of Peachtree and 15th Street, in Midtown Atlanta.

Do More: Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition Finalist Readings

To coincide with the World Premiere of Smart Cookie, Atlanta's finest actors and directors will come together to present FREE staged readings of the plays by the other four 2008 finalists. This is an intimate chance to hear works by some of America's most interesting up-and-coming writers. The full schedule for the readings and play information can be found online on the events page of the Alliance Theatre Web site. Tickets for the FREE seats may be reserved online or by calling the Box Office at 404.733.5000. Seating is limited.

Smart Cookie is part of the Turner Series on the Hertz Stage.

Additional Sponsors: Smart Cookie is sponsored by Delta Air Lines – Official Airline of the Alliance Theatre; Marriott Residence Inn – Official Hotel of the Alliance Theatre; and The Home Depot – Set Construction Sponsor of the Alliance Theatre.

Production of Smart Cookie is made possible with grants from the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, the Fulton County Arts Council, the Georgia Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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