Local Playwright’s Work To Be Performed At ARTS/West

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ARTS/West, The Brick Monkey Theater Ensemble and The Corporation for the Performing Arts will present the comedy Whatever Happened to Baby Abby, by local playwright Merri Biechler, on Sunday, March 25 at 7 p.m.

"The play is about a young woman who discovers at the age of 27 that she was a famously rescued baby," said Biechler. "I remember vividly Baby Jessica being pulled from the well back in 1987. I wondered what it would be like for a young woman to not know SHE was that famous baby and feel like her life hadn’t lived up to the hype of her rescue as a two-year old."

Biechler is a professional actor and a graduate of Ohio University's School of Theater MFA playwrighting program. Her award-winning plays include Bombs, Babes and Bingo, Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver and Real Girls Can't Win.

Biechler's stage credits include performing with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, founding the Edge Theater with fellow North Carolina School of the Arts classmates Peter Hedges, Mary-Louise Parker and Joe Mantello and appearing Off-Broadway in Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding. Her film and TV credits include He Said, She Said; Man of the Year; The Thing Called Love, Murphy Brown, Judging Amy and E.R.

Whatever Happened to Baby Abby was read as a part of the 2011 Humble Play: New Play Festival of Appalachian Ohio. Because of the positive audience feedback about the play, Baby Abby was selected for a development workshop this spring.

"ARTS/West Program Specialist Emily Prince asked me if I’d like a concentrated workshop period to work on the next rewrite," said Biechler. "I said yes! Emily really understands my writing, and my comedies in particular."

Prince is directing the play, which includes cast members Emily Auwaerter, Karen Chan, Casiha Felt, Matt Marceau and Thomas Daniels. Ashley Johnson is the stage manager.

The new draft will be performed as a workshop production at ARTS/West, which means there will be minimal staging and the actors will have scripts in hand. According to Biechler, the performance is free, although donations will be appreciated.

"It will be an opportunity for the audience who heard the play last October to see what we've done with it," she said.