Theater Close-Up (Season 2) – Buyer & Cellar

Air date: 12/05/2016

Original Off-Broadway Production of Comedy Hit “Buyer & Cellar” Starring Michael Urie, from Westport Country Playhouse, on Theater Close-Up

Monday, December 5 at 10 p.m. on THIRTEEN

Theater Close-Up — the unique collaboration between THIRTEEN and the large community of New York City area Off-Broadway and regional theaters – presents Jonathan Tolins’ Buyer & Cellar, captured live on-stage at Westport Country Playhouse,  Monday, December 5 at 10 p.m. on THIRTEEN, with an encore presentation on Sunday, December 11 at 1 a.m. The play will also air Sunday December 25 at 10:30 p.m. on WLIW21. The play will be available for streaming beginning at the time of broadcast.

Opening in June 1931, the Playhouse was founded as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the summer stock circuit.  Following a major renovation in 2005, the Playhouse became a year-round, producing theater. Their production of Buyer & Cellar was originally produced by Manhattan’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

The one-man production stars Michael Urie as Alex More, an out-of-work L.A. actor.  In a city overflowing with struggling actors waiting for their big break, Alex finds himself with one of the oddest jobs of all: working for a certain beloved lady of stage and screen named Barbra who has a mall in the basement of her Mailbu mansion.

The estate’s basement space has been turned into a private gallery of shops, displaying the star‘s lifelong accumulation of rare collectibles.  Before long, Alex finds himself hired as the lone clerk for this most exclusive of shopping malls.  One day, the lady herself comes downstairs to admire the merchandise, and an unexpected friendship begins.  It seems to Alex like a real bond is forging, but will their relationship survive the move upstairs?

In addition to playing Alex, Michael Urie takes on an assortment of other characters in a delightful rollercoaster ride through fame, friendship and the outer limits of Hollywood celebrity.

Michael Urie, who won the Drama Desk, Clarence Derwent, Lucille Lortel, and LA Drama Critics awards for originating the role of Alex More, reprises his tour de force performance. The Westport staging is helmed by Stephen Brackett, who also directed the Off-Broadway show, as well as the original artistic team.  The comedy is written by Jonathan Tolins.

Urie is well known for the role of Marc St. James on the award-winning “Ugly Betty” television series, and is currently appearing in “Homos, Or Everyone in America“ at Labyrinth Theater Company.

Off-Broadway, he played iconic fashion designer Rudi Gernreich in “The Temperamentals,” for which he received the Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, and Theatre World awards.  On Broadway, he took on the role of Bud Frump in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” opposite Nick Jonas and Beau Bridges.

Urie’s other television credits include “Modern Family,” “Partners,” “The Good Wife,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “Younger,” and “Workaholics.”  He currently hosts the Logo series, “Cocktails & Classics,” and directs the web series, “What’s Your Emergency.” Urie’s films include “He’s Way More Famous Than You,” which he also directed.

Author Jonathan Tolins’ plays, in addition to “Buyer & Cellar,” are “The Twilight of the Golds,” “If Memory Serves,” “The Last Sunday in June,” “Secrets of the Trade,” and “The Forgotten Woman.”  He and his husband Robert Cary contributed additional material to the 2014 Broadway revival of “On the Town.”  His films are “The Twilight of the Golds” and “Martian Child,” both co-written with Seth E. Bass.  Television credits include “Queer as Folk,” The Academy Awards, The Tony Awards, “Partners,” “Grease Live!” (with Robert Cary), and “BrainDead.”  Tolins has written articles for Opera News, Time, and The Huffington Post, and is a panelist on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz.

The original design and production team are reunited for the Westport production.  They include Andrew Boyce, scenic design; Jessica Pabst, costume design; Eric Southern, lighting design; Stowe Nelson, sound design; Alex Basco Koch, projection design; Hannah Woodward, production stage manager; and Sam Pinkleton, musical staging.

Buyer and Cellar opened Off-Braodway at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York City on June 24, 2013. It was directed by Stephen Brackett and produced by Darren Bagert, Dan Shaheen, Ted Snowdon, Daryl Roth, Martin Massman, Pat Flicker Addiss, Doug Nevin, Joan Raffe and Jhett Tolentino, Andrew Tobias; general management by DR Theatrical Management; associate produced by Matthew Masten; the set design was by Andrew Boyce; the costume design was by Jessica Pabst; the lighting design was by Eric Southern; the sound design was by Stowe Nelson; the projection design was by Alex Basco Koch; the stage manager was Hannah Woodward; the assistant stage manager was Sam Horwith. Michael Urie starred as Alex More. World Premiere produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (David Van Asselt, Artistic Director; Brian Long, Managing Director).

Taping of the Westport Country Playhouse production for Theater Close-Up was made possible by Howard J. Aibel.  Production Sponsor was Joyce Hergenhan; Corporate Production Sponsor was Fidelity.

Theater Close-Up will continue with Old Hats at a date to be announced.

Theater Close-Up on THIRTEEN has most recently featured Rasheeda Speaking from The New Group, Fashions for Men from Mint Theater, Wiesenthal filmed at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, Repairing a Nation from Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Incident at Vichy from Signature Theatre Company, The Woodsman recorded at New World Stages, and Buried Child from The New Group.

THIRTEEN is using its unrivaled expertise in producing national PBS arts programming – which began with such classic series as Theater in America, part of the award-winning series Great Performances and special limited series such as Stage on Screen — to provide New Yorkers with unparalleled access to one of the City’s greatest underexposed cultural assets.

The production was directed for television by David Horn.

Mitch Owgang is producer; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; and David Horn is executive producer. Executive-in-charge for WNET is Neal Shapiro.

Major support for Theater Close-Up, Season Two is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, the President’s Innovation Fund and Leo Shull and Family.

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About WNET

WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere:

About Westport Country Playhouse

The mission of Westport Country Playhouse is to enrich, enlighten, and engage the community through the power of professionally produced theater worth talking about and the welcoming experience of the Playhouse campus.  The Playhouse creates this relationship with the community and provides this experience in multiple ways by offering: Live theater experiences of the highest quality under the artistic direction of Mark Lamos from May through November; educational and community engagement events and opportunities to further explore issues presented by the work on stage; special performances and programs for students and teachers with extensive curriculum support material; Script in Hand play readings throughout the year to deepen relationships with audiences and artists alike; the renowned Woodward Internship Program training program during the summer months for aspiring theater professionals; Family Festivities presentations from November through April to delight young and old alike and to promote reading through live theater; and the beautiful and historic Playhouse campus open for enjoyment and community events year-round. The value of the Westport Country Playhouse to all it touches is immeasurable.


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Michael Urie in "Buyer & Cellar". Credit: ©CarolRosegg

Michael Urie in "Buyer & Cellar". Credit: ©CarolRosegg

Michael Urie in "Buyer & Cellar". Credit: ©CarolRosegg