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Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Present Powerhouse Theater

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Edgy drama "Donna Morelli," a Romeo and Juliet for the twenty-first century, will premiere June 22-25 at the 21st Powerhouse Theatre Season

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POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Teen love and risk-taking in the world of instant messaging, chat rooms, cell phones, and beepers comes to life in Gina Barnett's creative new drama Donna Morelli, to premier Wednesday, June 22 through Saturday, June 25 at the 21st Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theatre season. Stage and screen veteran Richard Caliban will direct, with newcomers Nancy Rodriguez, Peter Stadlen, and Nicole D'Amico in lead roles.

Rodriguez and Stadlen will play the star-crossed high school sophomores "Ginny Gonzales" and "Ben Gershorn," who bond studying chemistry and musing on park benches. When Ginny's best friend, the sexually adventurous bad-girl "Donna Morelli" (D'Amico), Googles herself on the Internet and stumbles upon a shady sex doctor with the same name, she ignites a series of events that threatens Ben and Ginny's newfound love, and ultimately puts them all in grave danger. Blurring lines between adolescence and adulthood, and the real and the virtual, Donna Morelli exposes the perilous lives of modern urban youth.

New York venues for playwright Gina Barnett's earlier works have included the Ensemble Studio Theater, Cucaracha Theater, Synchronicity Space, and Manhattan Punch Line. Barnett's 2001 work "T for 2″ was published in Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2001, and she has won the JR Humphries Award in playwriting and the TheatreFest Regional Playwriting contest. Her film short Alone At Last!, premiered at the Hudson Valley Film Festival and Art in General in New York City, and she has written for In the Heat of the Night and several other TV series.

Director Richard Caliban has directed and written for productions across the U.S. and abroad. He was Artistic Director and co-founder of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Cucaracha Theatre in New York City where he wrote and directed many of his plays over fourteen seasons, including Homo Sapien Shuffle at the Public Theater. Among his other notable productions was the celebrated premiere of Mac Wellman's Crowbar at the Victory Theater, a winner of two Obies and a New York Outer Critics Circle Award. He has worked extensively in New York at the Cherry Lane, Primary Stages, La Mama, and HERE Art Center, and overseas with companies in Hungary and Uzbekistan.

Nancy Rodriguez ("Ginny") has performed off-Broadway with the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, and been seen regionally at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. Third-generation actor Peter Stadlen ("Ben"), has played off-Broadway roles in Birdy and The Mystery Plays, and will be seen this summer in the film The Baxter. This is the professional debut for Nicole D'Amico ("Donna"), a recent graduate from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Accomplished Broadway, off-Broadway and television actor John Wojda rounds out the cast as the policeman "Edward Gershorn," Ben's father. Wojda's Broadway credits include Present Laughter, The Merchant of Venice, Two Shakespearean Actors, and MacBeth, and he joined in an ensemble Obie award for The New Group's Ecstasy.

Five performances of Donna Morelli will be presented at the Powerhouse Theatre from June 22-25, with shows at 8:00 p.m. each day and an additional 2:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday, June 25. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased online at http://powerhouse.vassar.edu, by phone at (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599, or by visiting the Powerhouse Box Office on Vassar's Poughkeepsie, New York campus.

Since 1985, Vassar and the New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Season has premiered numerous new works destined for on- and off-Broadway production, and have made Poughkeepsie a theatre destination for thousands of theatre lovers. Powerhouse has also trained an entire generation of young artists through its annual summer apprentice training program that produces an outdoor repertory series on the Vassar campus. More than 200 professional playwrights, directors, actors, and designers, and more than 50 apprentices from high schools and colleges across the United States, live and work together each summer in a rich collaborative environment on the Vassar campus.

Further information on the Vassar and New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Season can be found at http://powerhouse.vassar.edu.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, June 9, 2005