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CPH Produces World Premiere of A Carol for Cleveland

Posted November 9, 2012 in Press Releases

CLEVELAND, OH (November 9, 2012) – Cleveland Play House (CPH) is thrilled to produce a world premiere holiday play by award-winning playwright Eric Coble, based on the novella A Carol for Cleveland penned by best-selling mystery author Les Roberts. Directed by CPH Associate Artistic Director Laura Kepley, A Carol for Cleveland is a holiday event by Clevelanders, for Clevelanders, about Clevelanders. Brimming with memories and laughter, this heartwarming play is a timeless message of hope, love, and the true meaning of the holidays. The CPH production of A Carol for Cleveland will begin in the Allen Theatre at PlayhouseSquare on Friday, November 30 and run through Sunday, December 23, 2012. Tickets are available by calling 216-241-6000 or online at A Carol for Cleveland is sponsored by Dominion EnergyShare, with Zinner & Co. as an associate sponsor, and presented with support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council.

“One of CPH’s core values is Community. I can’t think of a production that says it better than one written by two of Cleveland’s most prominent artists and a wonderful cast that includes 14 local actors,” states Michael Bloom, CPH Artistic Director.

In further support of the community, CPH is helping to raise money and awareness to aid needy families during the holidays in the Cleveland area through the run of A Carol for Cleveland by working with The Centers for Families and Children to provide holiday meals for the hungry, and with EnergyShare, Dominion East Ohio's energy assistance program for anyone who faces financial hardships from unemployment or family crisis.


In A Carol for Cleveland, we meet Ed Podolak. It’s the late 1970s and he is down on his luck and has been for some time. Laid off from his job at a Pennsylvania steel mill, Ed has made his way to Cleveland – where the steel industry is still hanging on – to see if he can rebound and support his now estranged family. Ed’s been in Cleveland for an entire year living, half-starving, in a roach motel and now it’s Christmas Eve. Beset by memories that make him feel, if possible, even more miserable, he tries to distract himself by stumbling out to the lights of Public Square …where he does something desperate and regrettable. But bleak as things are, Ed is not alone. Through the intercession of a child named Charlie and the boy’s family and friends, Ed is able to redeem himself and find the courage to start the difficult but heart-warming process of reunification with his wife and children.

Les Roberts is the author of 23 novels, close to a dozen short stories, eight screenplays and countless newspaper articles and reviews. Making Cleveland his home in 1990, he’s most treasured in the area for the creation of his Slovenian detective, Milan Jacovich. When asked about writing his novella upon which Eric Coble’s play is based, Roberts says, “It’s often been said about me that Cleveland in my work is another character, and it is. If I was writing a story set anywhere else it would come out very, very differently. Every time I go downtown I feel the city. When I come up I-77 and I pass by the steel mills I feel the people who work there, the people like Ed Podolak. I try to do that; I try to make people feel Cleveland.”

Eric Coble, a Cleveland native and longtime member of the CPH Playwrights’ Unit, has written several plays which have been produced off-Broadway, throughout the United States and on several continents, including Bright Ideas (world premiere at Cleveland Play House), Ten Minutes from Cleveland, For Better, A Girl’s Guide to Coffee, The Velocity of Autumn (making its Broadway debut in 2013), My Barking Dog and The Giver. In speaking about A Carol for Cleveland, he remarks, “Cleveland is definitely a character in the play. It’s more than a one-dimensional city. Once you have been here long enough, you get to start seeing all of the inconsistencies and contradictions in its own personality. That sense of determination which is really shown in the show is a huge aspect of the feel of the city.”

13 of the 15 cast members make Northeast Ohio their home.

THERESE ANDERBERG (Sally/Caroler) participated in the reading of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Daphne’s Dive for Cleveland Play House’s New Ground Theatre Festival. She is in her second year of the three-year conservatory Case Western Reserve University/CPH MFA Acting Program, for which she appeared in Molière’s The Misanthrope as Célimène and Stephen Adly Guirgis’ In Arabia We’d All Be Kings as Demaris.

MARINDA ANDERSON (Daisy/Well-Dressed Woman) is a recent graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program and was in numerous productions including Camino Real, Clybourne Park, Trouble in Mind, and Cymbeline.

BERNARD BYGOTT (Freddy/Wino) appeared at Cleveland Play House in the world premiere reading of The Fagin Effect by Michael Bloom and in Every Good Boy Deserves Favor with The Cleveland Orchestra. He is in his second year of the three-year conservatory Case Western Reserve University/CPH MFA Acting Program, where he performed in The Misanthrope and In Arabia We’d All Be Kings.

JOHN CUGEL (Eddie Podolak, Jr.) is a fifth grade student at Gesu School in University Heights and most recently appeared as Sir Hubert in The Princess and the Pea at Stagecrafters Youth Theatre.

ROBERT ELLIS (Steve Torbic/Jake Wilkins) recently appeared at Cleveland Play House in a reading of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Daphne’s Dive. On CPH’s mainstage, he appeared in The Life of Galileo and A Soldier’s Tale with Catch and Release.

ANJANETTE HALL (Diane Podolak) was recently seen in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Motherf**ker with the Hat at Dobama Theatre. Her regional theatre credits include Baltimore Centerstage; Two River Theatre Company; Rutgers Theatre Company; Redstage Theatre Company; Cardinal Stage Company; Brown County Playhouse; Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre; and The Barn Theatre.

PETER LAWSON JONES (George/Fez) can presently be seen in the motion picture Alex Cross. He has appeared in over a dozen films, on network television in ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7, and on stages throughout Northeast Ohio. A play he penned, The Family Line, has been produced at Karamu, Ohio University, and Harvard University, where he received his bachelor’s and law degrees.

LENA KAMINSKY (Helen Torbic) was most recently seen in Black Pearl Sings! at Portland Center Stage. Selected additional credits include the world premiere of Love and Communication, Passage Theatre Company; Trying, Hartford TheaterWorks; The Pillowman, George Street Playhouse; Morning Star, The Peccadillo Theater Company; Doubt and The Taming of the Shrew, Northern Stage.

CHARLES KARTALI (Ed Podolak) appeared at Cleveland Play House as Alexander in Every Good Boy Deserves Favor; as the Bursar and Cardinal Barberini in The Life of Galileo; The Old Man in all five productions of A Christmas Story, a role he reprised at Syracuse Stage; several roles in Bill W. and Dr. Bob; Christopher Trumbo in Trumbo; Mitch Albom in Tuesdays with Morrie; and CPH FusionFests 2006 – 2011.

MIA KNIGHT (Ann) is a fun-loving and talented 11-year-old currently in 7th grade at Beachwood Middle School. Knight has performed in numerous productions throughout Cleveland, most recently as Olivia in The Color Purple at Karamu House.

ELLIOT LOCKSHINE (Charlie) is in the fifth grade at Parkside Intermediate School in Westlake, and has appeared in Willy Wonka, Into the Woods and Oliver! at Near West Theatre, and at The Beck Center for the Arts, where he recently played Lyncoya in a critically acclaimed production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

BRYNN PIERCE (Understudy) is in the sixth grade at Roxboro Middle School in Cleveland Heights and recently portrayed Dorothy in Boulevard Elementary School’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

SKIPPER RANKIN (Understudy) is a student in the fifth grade at Old Brooklyn Community Middle School. He is still new to the stage, making his debut last year as Oliver in Near West Theatre’s production of the musical Oliver!

STEPHEN SPENCER (This Guy) is in his second year of the three-year conservatory Case Western Reserve University/CPH MFA Acting Program, where he performed in The Misanthrope and In Arabia We’d All Be Kings.
He was also seen in the recent CPH New Ground Theatre Festival production of Every Good Boy Deserves Favor and the reading of The Fagin Effect.

MADISON “MADI” WAYT (Elizabeth Podolak) is in the third grade at Laurel School and recently appeared as an Oompa Loompa in Willy Wonka at The Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood.

For complete actor bios, please go to

ERIC COBLE (Playwright) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and raised on the Navajo and Ute reservations in New Mexico and Colorado. His plays including Bright Ideas (World premiere at Cleveland Play House), Ten Minutes from Cleveland, For Better, A Girl’s Guide to Coffee, The Velocity of Autumn, My Barking Dog and The Giver have been produced off-Broadway, throughout the U.S., and on several continents, including productions at Cleveland Play House, Manhattan Class Company, The Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, Actors Theatre of Louisville – Humana Festival, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Alliance Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Laguna Playhouse, Stages Repertory Theatre, Great Lakes Theater, and Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Awards include an Emmy nomination, the 2011 AATE Distinguished Play Award for Best Adaptation, AT&T Onstage Award, National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Playwright in Residence Grant, a Theatre Communications Group Extended Collaboration Grant, Cleveland Arts Prize, and four Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Grants. Coble is a proud member of CPH’s Playwrights’ Unit.

LES ROBERTS (Author) has written 23 novels, nearly a dozen short stories, eight screenplays and countless newspaper articles and reviews. He started out as an actor in Chicago and doing summer stock in Taos, New Mexico. He then moved to New York, where he began writing for classic television fare such as Candid Camera and The Jackie Gleason Show. From there he journeyed to Hollywood, California where he wrote and/or produced over 2,500 half-hours of network and syndicated television, including The Hollywood Squares, The Lucy Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Roberts’ introduction to Cleveland came when he created the Cash Explosion Double Play lottery game show. He later created similar shows for Michigan and Illinois, but couldn’t forget Cleveland. He moved here in 1990 and refers to this city as his spiritual home. Roberts writes regular book reviews for The Plain Dealer and has also written for Washington Post Book World, Northern Ohio Live, Cleveland Magazine and Chagrin Valley Times. With Ann Elder, he co-hosts the radio show Greenlight Reviews. He is past president of the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League. He’s been twice nominated for the Shamus and the Anthony Awards and has several times been voted “Cleveland’s Favorite Writer.” He’s won a Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature, a Sherwood Anderson Literary Award, and a Cleveland State University honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. You can actually call him “Doctor Roberts” – if you really want to.

LAURA KEPLEY (Director) directed Cleveland Play House mainstage productions of In the Next Room, or the vibrator play and My Name is Asher Lev and CPH readings of Daphne’s Dive, by inaugural Roe Green Award-winner Quiara Alegría Hudes; Silent Sky; and Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile. Kepley joined CPH in 2010 as associate artistic director, having arrived from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island where she directed The Clean House, The Syringa Tree, and world premieres of Shapeshifter, Boots on the Ground, and Some Things are Private. Kepley has directed over 20 new plays including Breadcrumbs at Contemporary American Theatre Festival, The K of D at The Kennedy Center and Orlando/University of Central Florida Shakespeare Festival, and several written by George Brant such as Grizzly Mama at Dobama Theatre, Elephant’s Graveyard at The University of Texas at Austin, and shoptalk for The Drama League’s DIRECTORFEST. She has worked with playwrights on the development of their work at The Public Theater (N.Y.), The Playwright’s Center (Minn.), PlayPenn (Pa.), Naked Angels (N.Y.), The New Harmony Project (Ind.), PlayhouseSquare’s Launch Program (Ohio) and WordBRIDGE Playwrights' Lab (S.C.). Kepley is a Drama League Fellow and a recipient of the 2009 – 2011 National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Career Development Program for Directors. Next up The Heidi Chronicles at Asolo Rep and Good People at CPH and Syracuse Stage.

The design team for A Carol for Cleveland includes Antje Ellerman (Scenic Design), Paul Miller (Lighting Design), Jeffrey Van Curtis (Costume Design), Sven Ortel (Projections Designer), Jane Shaw (Sound Design) and Nathan Motta (Musical Direction). Also on the team: Jennifer Collins (Stage Manager), Faye Carter (Assistant Stage Manager).

For complete bios, please go to


Get your tickets now and help Clevelanders this holiday season! For each full price theatre ticket purchased from now through November 30 for any performance of A Carol for Cleveland, CPH will donate $5 to The Centers for Families and Children.

Single tickets are on sale now; prices range from $49 to $69. Tickets are $15 for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid ID. For single tickets, please call 216-241-6000 or go online at Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027 or email


A Carol for Cleveland – WORLD PREMIERE
A new play by Eric Coble, based on a novella by Les Roberts, Directed by Laura Kepley

Christmas Eve. Cleveland’s Public Square. The rough and tumble 1970s. Ed Podolak is down on his luck and in need of a little help. One desperate act becomes a catalyst to forgiveness and change when a family welcomes him into their home for a simple meal and celebration. Brimming with memories and laughter, in the tradition of Dickens, this heartwarming play is a timeless message of hope, love, and the true meaning of the holidays.

Allen Theatre, PlayhouseSquare, 1407 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

Preview Performances:
Fri 11/30, Sat 12/1, Sun 12/2, Tue 12/4
Opening Night:
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Final Performance:
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Tuesday Evenings @ 7:00 pm
Wednesday - Saturday Evenings @ 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday Matinees @ 2:30 pm
Weekday Matinee @ 1:30pm on Thu 12/13

Special Events
* For each full price theatre ticket purchased through November 30 for any performance of A Carol for Cleveland, CPH will donate $5 to The Centers for Families and Children to provide holiday meals for the hungry.
* InsideCPH Series – Saturday, 11/17 – “Adapting Cleveland”— How does a 32-page novella like A Carol for Cleveland become a full-length play? Find out with this insightful discussion about writing and adaptation, with author Les Roberts and playwright Eric Coble. Free admission, but space is limited. Email to RSVP or for more information.
* Pre-show Conversations – 45 minutes before every production. Led by CPH actors and staff, these interactive half-hour conversations pull back the curtain early to let you connect with the people, themes, ideas and creative choices that go into each production, in an engaging and relaxed setting.
* Post-show Discussions – Sunday, 12/9; Tuesday, 12/11; Sunday, 12/16; Sunday, 12/23 - A chance to interact with the cast, creative team, local experts and fellow playgoers in a lively and wide-ranging discussion of each production.
* Gen.NOW Series – Wednesday, 12/5 - A program for young and engaged Clevelanders ages 25-40 looking to enjoy each other, downtown hotspots, and CPH’s newest show, all at a special price. Call 216.400.7096 for tickets.
* nightOUT! Series – Thursday, 12/6 - A new program for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and friends. A fun way to spark a conversation and get to know a whole new rainbow of downtown places, friendly faces and CPH, all at a special price. Call 216.400.7096 for tickets.

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