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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Masterpiece How I Learned to Drive Combines Music, Drama, and Comedy

Posted February 15, 2017 in Press Releases

Media contact:
Kelly Luecke
(216) 712-6292

Paula Vogel’s Powerful Pulitzer Prize-Winning Masterpiece
How I Learned to Drive
Will Take Cleveland Audiences on a Wild and Bumpy Ride

March 4 26 in the Allen Theatre
Media night is Friday, March 10 at 8:00 p.m.

CLEVELAND, OH (February 15, 2017) Cleveland Play House shifts gears from playful (Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery) to profound with the Pulitzer Prize-winning play How I Learned to Drive. Written by Paula Vogel—one of the preeminent figures in American theater today—How I Learned to Drive traverses taboo territory with humor, heart, and empathy. Set in Maryland in the 1960s, the play takes us on a ride (both literally and figuratively) through the memories of Li’l Bit—a teenager who finds herself in a complicated relationship with an older man. Masterfully veering in and out of personal memory, How I Learned to Drive takes a deeply compassionate look at how we are shaped by the people who hurt us, and the ultimate release we experience through the act of forgiveness. Considered “One of the most discomfiting love stories to emerge from the American Theater” by The New York Times, How I Learned to Drive will be helmed by Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley.

Kepley states: “We are incredibly fortunate to have Paula Vogel’s compelling play as part of our 2016-17 Season. How I Learned to Drive is a tender, seductive and dangerous trip down memory lane. Li’l Bit has a secret that she has been keeping hidden for many years, but by revealing this secret over the course of the play, she is essentially saving her life. This is an empowering and compassionate story about confronting your past, taking hold of the wheel, and driving forward.”

How I Learned to Drive Cast

MICHAEL BRUSASCO (Uncle Peck) is grateful to be back at CPH after appearing in Venus in Fur. This last year he has been with the Alley Theatre Company in Houston, Texas. Plays include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hand to God, Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web, Cleo, All The Way, and A Christmas Carol. In New York, he has appeared Off-Broadway in Misalliance, The Playboy of the Western World (Pearl Theatre), Intermission (Theatre Row), Philosophy for Gangsters (Theatre Row), and Electra in a One Piece (Good Company). Other New York Credits: A Crucible (Perfect Disgrace), Happy Sunshine Kung Fu Flower (Ars Nova), Of Monsters and Prodigies (Lincoln Center Festival). Regional: Deferred Action, All The Way (Dallas Theater Center), Twelfth Night (Folger Theatre), Private Lives (Pittsburgh Public Theater), See How They Run (Barrington Stage Company), Pride & Prejudice (Roundhouse Theatre), as well as seasons at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Great River Shakespeare Festival, A.C.T., Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, and The Shakespeare Theatre in DC. Please visit for more.

KARIS DANISH (Female Greek Chorus) recent New York credits: The Gold in the 2016 New York Musical Festival. Other New York credits include the Off-Broadway world premiere of Hit-Lit by Robert Wuhl and #MormonInChief as part of the New York Fringe Festival. Regionally she has performed in One Man Two Guvnors at Repertory Theater of St. Louis (dir. Ed Stern), the world premiere of Tale of Two Cities (dir. Warren Carlyle), and Doubt (dir. Anne Kauffman) both at Asolo Repertory Theater. She has also worked at Pioneer Theater Company, Triad Stage, Cape May Stage, and The Houston Shakespeare Festival. Karis holds an M.F.A. from FSU. Thankful for this opportunity to tell stories, her remarkably supportive parents, and all those that have had to endure hours of practicing and rehearsing lines because they shared an apartment with her.

MADELEINE LAMBERT (Li’l Bit) is thrilled to be making her Cleveland Play House debut. Credits include Steel Magnolias and A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Company); The Children’s Hour, Marie Antoinette, Blackbird, and Anne Boleyn (The Gamm Theatre); Cock and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater); Uncle Jack (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre); Grounded, Middletown, and At The Vanishing Point (Manbites Dog Theater Company). Television credit for Chicago PD. Madeleine holds a M.F.A. in Acting from Brown University/Trinity Rep and a B.A. from Duke University. She is a graduate of and a teaching associate at The School at Steppenwolf. Madeleine is adjunct faculty in the Theater Studies Department at Duke University. She is an award-winning audiobook narrator.

NICK LaMEDICA (Male Greek Chorus) Recent favorite credits include Hand to God (City Theatre Company), War Horse (1st National Tour/Japan), As You Like It, Benediction (Denver Center), Much Ado About Nothing (Two River Theatre). He has appeared on television in Mysteries at the Museum and in various commercials for Hasbro, Microsoft, and Planned Parenthood. Nick is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College’s BFA Acting and Musical Theatre programs. Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. Thank you to my agent, Judy Boals; my wonderful parents, Susan & John; and my incredible wife, Lilly.

REMY ZAKEN (Teenage Greek Chorus) was last seen in One Flea Spare Off-Broadway at The Sheen Center. Remy made her Broadway debut as Thea in the original cast of Spring Awakening. She has performed Off-Broadway in Dear Evan Hansen, Brooklynite, The Anthem, Freckleface Strawberry (as the title role), Spring Awakening, and Radiant Baby. Regional credits include playing Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank at the Pittsburgh Public; A Tree Grows In Brooklyn at the Goodspeed Opera House, for which she won the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Best Debut; and A Little Princess. Selected workshops include Bright Star and Some Lovers, the Burt Bacharach musical. Film credits include Pitching Tents, Things I Wish I Had Told You Before (short), and Sing Along (short). Television credits include Bull, Gossip Girl, Law and Order, and It Could Be Worse. Remy has a BA in psychology from Columbia University.

How I Learned to Drive Creative Team

PAULA VOGEL (Playwright) Playwright, screenwriter, and professor Paula Vogel has headed Brown’s Playwriting Workshop since 1985. The Baltimore Waltz premiered at New York’s Circle Repertory Company, directed by Anne Bogart. It garnered the Obie for Best Play, 1992, and was awarded the AT&T New Play Award, as well as the Joseph Calloway Award. And Baby Makes Seven was produced by New York’s Circle Repertory Company in spring of 1993, directed by Calvin Skaggs. The Oldest Profession, her screenplay, has been optioned, and she has written for television. Desdemona was done at the Bay Street Theater Festival, directed by Gloria Muzio, with Cherry Jones, J. Smith-Cameron, and Fran Brill in summer 1993. Hot’n Throbbing was produced by Robert Brustein and the American Repertory Theater in April 1994, directed by Anne Bogart. Ms. Vogel has also written How I Learned to Drive, a play about female sexuality and the American car and Travels Without Charley, a novel. Thrice a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Paula Vogel has also attended the Yaddo Colony and was the 1991-92 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship (her second NEA award). Among her awards are a 1992 summer residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy, the 1992-93 McKnight Fellow at the Playwrights Center, and a Bunting Fellowship from Radcliffe College. She was also the 1992 recipient of the Rhode Island Governor’s Arts Awards. Paula Vogel was a participant in the Warner Brothers Television Workshop in 1991 and has taught playwriting at Cornell University, the University of Alaska, The Writer’s Voice in New York, and Trinity Conservatory in Providence, Rhode Island. She was an artist in residence in June 1991 at Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, and has directed plays and participated in workshops and panels at theaters and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Paula Vogel is a company member of Circle Repertory Company. Her work has been published in The Way We Live Now, The Best Plays by Women 1992, Dramatists Play Service, Fireside Theatre, and American Theatre Magazine.

LAURA KEPLEY (Director) is in her fourth season as Artistic Director and has directed Cleveland Play House mainstage productions of Steel Magnolias; The Good Peaches (world premiere); The Crucible; Fairfield (world premiere); The Little Foxes; Venus in Fur; Good People (also at Syracuse Stage); A Carol for Cleveland (world premiere); In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; My Name is Asher Lev; and CPH readings of Roe Green Award-winning plays Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976; Marjorie Prime; and Daphne’s Dive. She joined CPH in 2010, having arrived from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island where she was Resident Director and Artistic Associate for four seasons and Interim Director of the Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. in Directing Program for one. She has also directed for The Alliance Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Contemporary American Theatre Festival, among others. A native Ohioan, Laura received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and her Master of Fine Arts from Brown University/Trinity Rep. She 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.

The Design Team for How I Learned to Drive includes: COLLETTE POLLARD (Scenic Designer), LEX LIANG (Costume Designer), MARY LOUISE GEIGER (Lighting Designer), BROKEN CHORD (Sound Design), CAITE HEVNER (Projection Designer), THOM JONES (Dialect Coach), and WIGS AND WHISKERS (Wig Master). The Stage Manager for this production is JOHN GODBOUT and the Assistant Stage Manager is TOM HUMES.

How I Learned to Drive Events – All FREE

Behind-the-Scenes: A Picture is Worth…
Monday, February 27 from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Join us as we explore one of theatre’s hottest topics: the intersection of visual art, technology and storytelling. We invite you to meet Projection Designer Caite Hevner and discover how visuals can open up an entire new world for the audience. Caite’s vivid projections have been featured here at CPH, and in hit productions from New York to San Francisco. Now she’ll steer you through a whole new visual road trip with her designs for our production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive.

Sunday, March 12 from 4:15 – 4:45 p.m.
March 14 from 9:15 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.
Sunday, March 19 from 4:15 – 4:45 p.m.

Stay after the show to continue the conversation our plays start! TalkBacks are regularly scheduled for patrons as an opportunity to delve deeper into the experience with the artists.

Tech Night: How I Learned to Drive
Wednesday, March 1 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Hear from the director and designers, then sit in on a technical rehearsal ("tech") to see how set, lights, sound, costumes and actors all come together as opening night nears!

Pre-Show Conversations begin 45 minutes prior to the start of each performance.

Ticket Information

How I Learned to Drive will take place in the Allen Theatre from March 4 – 26. Tickets range in price from $25 – $100 each. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit Groups of 10+ save up to 40% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Cleveland Play House, recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award® and founded in 1915, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences in Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Cleveland Play House with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. We also thank the residents of Cuyahoga County for supporting Cleveland Play House through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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