Before Mae West, Madonna, or Kim Kardashian There Was….


Here’s a bit of undigested news hot off the presses…more to follow, but here’s the official announcement:

Contact: Ron Lasko @ 212-505-1700 x. 11

La MaMa ETC in association with Theatre Askew premieres
February 12 – March 1

“The worst actress on Broadway” — New York Times (on Adah Isaacs Menken)

“She is delightfully unhampered by the shackles of talent” — The Observer

Theatre Askew will present the World Premiere of HORSEPLAY: OR, THE FICKLE MISTRESS, A PROTEAN PICARESQUE, written by Trav SD and directed by Elyse Singer of Hourglass Group. Previews begin February 12 in the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa. The production stars Molly Pope (Found at Atlantic Theater) as Adah Isaacs Menken, and features Everett Quinton (Ridiculous Theatrical Company); Jan Leslie Harding (Julie Taymor’s The Green Bird on Broadway); Chuck Montgomery (Orange Is the New Black); Tim Cusack (i google myself; I, Claudius); and Tiffany Ambercrombie (Drunk Shakespeare). Original music and musical direction by William TN Hall.

Before Mae West, Madonna or Kim Kardashian there was controversial, enigmatic “actress” Adah Isaacs Menken. In 1861, Menken became world famous after being stripped to a flesh-colored tunic and tights, tied to the back of live horse, and sent up a four-story-tall papier-mâché stage mountain in the Broadway melodrama Mazeppa. Now she’s forgotten. Who was she really? Black? White? Jewish? Catholic? Lesbian? Poet? Actress? Equestrienne? With HORSEPLAY: OR, THE FICKLE MISTRESS, A PROTEAN PICARESQUE, Theatre Askew continues its celebration of the history of queer presence in New York with this biographical reconstruction/Ridiculous reimagining of the life of the first international superstar.

Trav SD directed and produced the sold-out revival of the Marx Brothers’ 1924 Broadway comedy I’ll Say She Is in last year’s NY International Fringe Festival. In November, he directed and appeared in Coney Island USA’s Dead End Dummy in the Club at La MaMa. His books include No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous and Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube. Read him daily at Travalanche:

Elyse Singer: With Hourglass Group: Frequency Hopping (3LD), winner, International STAGE Award; Trouble in Paradise; first NYC revivals of Mae West’s 1926 plays SEX and Pleasure Man (with Charles Busch); Red Frogs (P.S. 122). Original works include Love in the Void, Care-less: Eva Tanguay and Private Property. Recent: The Convent of Pleasure (with Taylor Mac) and Nick Hallettt & Shana Moulton’s Whispering Pines 10 at CPA, PICA/TBA, New Museum. As producer: Beebo Brinker Chronicles (2008 GLAAD Award.) A Yale graduate, Singer is a Usual Suspect at NYTW.

William TN Hall is a composer, arranger, music director and performer in New York City. Most recently his new musical Pretty People Suck opened to acclaim at the Minnesota Fringe Festival (winning the audience choice award) and is in development for a New York run. He has contributed music to two musicals currently available for licensing: Methtacular! (Time Out Critic’s Pick) and Songs for a More Funnier World (NYMF Award Winner) William has written special material for numerous performers including Tony winner Nikki M. James and Bistro and MAC award winner Amy Wolk. He is an alumnus of the BMI Advanced Musical Theatre Writers Workshop.

Theatre Askew, under the direction of Tim Cusack and Candace Lawrence, is New York City’s premiere producer of alternative queer theatre. Since the company’s first production in 2004, it has twice been nominated for GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Play (for Bald Diva! and i google myself), and Bald Diva! was also named one of the best productions of 2004 by both Theater Mania and In 2010, Cusack was named by Next magazine as one of the most significant figures of out gay theater artists and he was recently inducted into the Indie Theater Hall of Fame. The company is currently in the midst of a multi-year project tracing the history of queer culture in New York City. In addition to its main stage programming, the company runs the Theatre Askew Youth Performance Experience (TAYPE), the only youth-enrichment program administered by a professional theatre company in the tri-state area specifically geared to LGBTQ youth.

HORSEPLAY runs February 12 – March 1, Wed-Sat at 8 PM and Sun at 4 PM with an additional performance Monday, Feb. 16 at 8PM. The Ellen Stewart Theatre is located at 66 East 4th St, between Second Avenue and the Bowery – closest train is the F to Second Avenue. Tickets are $18, $13 students and seniors. La MaMa also has a 10 for $10 program with ten $10 tickets available (advance purchase only) for every performance. To purchase tickets, call 646-430-5374,or visit

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