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A FREE Virtual Stream on Broadway On Demand
Check Please by Jonathan Rand
Books That Did Not Help Me Pick Up Women
by John McCaffrey and Mark Singer
Starring Otoja Abit, Darcy Dunn, Joe Joseph, Dayna Kurtz, Christopher Romero Wilson and Amanda Yachechak
Friday & Saturday, May 20 & 21, 2022
8:00 pm both days
THIS SHOW IS FREE!
Streaming on ShowShare, Broadway on Demand's streaming platform.
A Broadway on Demand account is required to watch this stream. CLICK HERE to set up an account prior to the stream.
Once you have created an account, CLICK HERE to watch the show on Saturday, May 21
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On Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21 at 8 pm, the Catskill Mountain Foundation will stream Bad Dates: Two Singular Studies in Dating—a night of short plays directed by Mark Singer—featuring Check Please by Jonathan Rand, and Books that Did Not Help Me Pick Up Women, by John McCaffrey and Mark Singer. These plays will stream on ShowShare, Broadway-on-Demand’s live streaming platform.
Viewers may watch for free, but must sign in to a Broadway-on-Demand account prior to watching. It is highly recommended that you set up an account prior to the live stream: you may do so at broadwayondemand.com/signup.
Viewers may remember last season’s hilarious Wanda’s Visit, featuring Mark Singer, Darcy Dunn, Dayna Kurtz and John McCaffrey in a tale of a bored married couple whose lives are upended by the visit of a somewhat unhinged ex-girlfriend. In this new production, Darcy Dunn and Dayna Kurtz return in the cast. Mark, who both directed and acted in Wanda, only directed this time around. “One thing I learned from our production of Wanda, is that it’s very difficult to act in and direct a video of a play at the same time. So even though the idea of acting in this production was very tempting—I’d created the lead role of Graham in the first production of Books—I really wanted to direct this and needed to make sure it worked visually. Fortunately my very talented friend Otoja Abit agreed to play Graham, so we were all set. ”
Books That Did Not Help Me Pick Up Women
Based on author and playwright John McCaffrey’s experiences as a young man dating on the Upper West Side of New York, Books tells the tale of a barfly who uses his love of literature to help get dates … with unpredictable (and very amusing) results.
Books was originally a short story by John that he and Mark then adapted into a short play: “One day we were playing basketball and John said to me, ‘I have a bunch of short stories that I’d like to turn into plays, and you’ll act in them, OK?’” said Mark. “Books was actually the fourth of John’s stories that has been adapted for the stage, and the first that we collaborated on—he adapted the first three himself, and I played the main characters on stage.”
They submitted their first draft of Books to a short play contest … and won. As Mark tells it, “Dayna Kurtz, who reprises the role of Claudine in our new video of Books, was in that first production and her father was in the audience and he loved it. He’s also a Board Member at Hudson Stage Company in Westchester, and after the show he challenged me and John to make Books into a full-length play for Hudson’s staged reading series. We went through a couple of drafts and eventually Hudson Stage produced a great reading of the long version, but we’ve always wanted to do another production of the original short play. We love the pacing—it’s only about ten minutes long—but there are six scenes. It’s fast and funny.”
Dating can be hard. Especially when your date happens to be a raging kleptomaniac, or your grandmother’s bridge partner, or a mime. Check Please follows a series of blind dinner dates that couldn’t get any worse—until they do. Could there possibly be a light at the end of the tunnel? Otoja Abit and Dayna Kurtz lead the cast as two singles who go on a series of disastrous—and hilarious—dates in their search for love. The rest of the cast play multiple characters and take turns bringing new and hysterical dimension to the term “Bad Dates.”
Playwright Jonathan Rand is among the most popular contemporary playwrights writing today, his stage plays having been performed over 26,000 times in theaters across 67 countries.
According to an independent survey of American schools, Jonathan’s one-act comedy Check Please was the #1 most-produced short play every season for the last 17 years.
About the Cast
The cast of both plays are an interconnected group of old friends and new friends—all actors that Mark has worked with over the years.
First-generation Nigerian-American writer/director/producer/actor Otoja Abit (pronounced “O-toe-jay Abbitt”) is best known for his award-winning debut short, Jitters in which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred. An Academy Award qualifying short, Jitters received the audience award for Best Short at Urbanworld Film Festival, Best Actor at The Network Film Festival and finalist for HBO’s Best Short film.
Otoja debuted his feature, A New York Christmas Wedding, which he wrote, directed and produced under his production company, Willful Productions. The first-of-its-kind urban-leaning holiday film was acquired by and premiered globally on Netflix in November 2020.
Otoja’s TV acting credits include CBS’s Bull, HBO’s The Night Of, NBC’s Blackish, Marvel’s The Defenders and NBC’s limited series The Slap. Film credits include The Humbling, directed by Barry Levinson and playing opposite Al Pacino; Paris in Aleta Chappelle’s Romeo & Juliet in Harlem; and gay liberation pioneer, Marsha P. Johnson in Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall.
Otoja was awarded the 2019 “Rising Star Award” by the Bushwick Film Festival, and the 2019 “Distinguished Alumni Award” by his alma mater, St. John’s University, where Otoja played division-1 basketball.
“Otoja and I used to play basketball together, that’s how we met.” said Mark. “We also have some mutual friends in the industry. He’s a very talented guy and I really admire the work he’s done.”
Darcy Dunn sings chamber opera, classical music and new works in NYC. Acting with this cast of accomplished actors, and working with Mark as her director on these theater works for the CMF was a joy and a new adventure for her. She is a founding member and featured performer of the Magic Circle Opera and has performed leading roles with Chelsea Opera, Bronx Opera, Encompass Opera, Theater for the New City, and Downtown Music Productions, and has been a featured soloist at the Windham Chamber Music Festival. With her husband Mark, Darcy was part of the first Catskill Mountain Foundation live performance in 1998, and performed in and helped create CMF’s Mountaintop Celebration of Song, which included original musical productions A Little Bit in Love, Headliners and One-Liners, Weill’d About You, They’re Playing Your Song, and Ain’t We Got Fun.
“Working with Darcy is one of the greatest pleasures in my life.” Mark said. “I can’t do it enough.”
Joe is an actor, writer and performer born, raised and schooled in southern Michigan. He made his Broadway debut as Haled in The Band’s Visit and is currently performing that same role in the National Tour.
He’s enjoyed working on various productions on and off-Broadway, along with diverse groups all over the US including the New York Musical Theatre Festival, American Stage Theatre Company, Short North Stage, the Fireside Theatre, Laboratory Theatre, Built for Collapse, Water People Theatre, the Seven Collective, Loudermilk Productions, the Ringwald Theatre and Greenfield Village. He’s appeared in TV programs on Oxygen, the Travel Channel and Investigation Discovery, as well as ads for Disaronno and Newport.
Joe has experience in print journalism and arts criticism with the Michigan Daily, radio journalism with WDET-FM and freeform DJ’ing with Ann Arbor’s beloved WCBN-FM and the short-lived Detroit FREQ Radio station. He also served as Literary Associate at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in the winter of 2012.
He is a two-time Hopwood Award recipient and proud graduate of both the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and the University of Michigan.
“I met Joe about five years ago,” said Mark, “when we were both cast in a new musical based on the story of Purim. Joe played the king and he was fantastic. He’s a great performer and a great colleague. We were very lucky to have him with us.”
Dayna Kurtz is a mental health therapist in Manhattan who holds a BA in theater arts from Brandeis University and a Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia. Select Off-Broadway credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Opal in the world premiere of Gloria, at Theater for the New City. She can also be seen (sort of) behind a variety of celebrity guest hosts during her three seasons of background work on Saturday Night Live. She dedicates this performance to her family who always support her in all her roles.
Audiences loved her as the “truly pathological” Wanda in last year’s production of Wanda’s Visit. This time, she shows she is equally adept at playing the straight woman to the colorful cast of characters around her. “From day one I knew that I wanted Dayna in this production,” Mark said. “I knew she’d be perfect for it, and she was.”
Christopher Romero Wilson
Christopher Romero Wilson is a New York-based actor/director who has been working in theater and film for more than twenty years. He was most recently seen as Fiorello LaGuardia in the immersive production of Tammany Hall at the SoHo Playhouse. Other New York stage credits include Iago in Othello, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Professor Higgins in Pygmalion, Herod in Salome, Jack Tanner in Man and Superman, and Uncle Charley in Death of a Salesman, to name a few.
Christopher has also directed various projects from commercials and corporate training films, to music videos, short films, and two independent feature films, The Digital Prophet and The Process of Creative Deception. Stage directing credits include Measure for Measure and All’s Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare, The Revenger’s Tragedy by Thomas Middleton, The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, Sphinx by Don Nigro, and All Through the Night by Shirley Lauro, among others.
“Strangely enough, I met Chris in another production of the same musical about Purim where I met Joe,” said Mark. “Christopher played Haman, the villain, and I was the good guy, but we both have a bizarre sense of humor and hit it off immediately. He’s the consummate professional, and was willing to try anything in Check Please … in which he is hysterically funny.”
Amanda is a stage and film actress, a lyric coloratura soprano, and a classical ballerina and Irish dancer. Amanda just recorded a concept album for the new Broadway musical Kalevala starring Julia Murney and Ramin Karimloo. She also recently produced and starred in Mis(s)Communication, a comedy series about the world of standardized patients—actors for medical students. Other recent credits include Hamlet with Hudson Theatre Works and Lady of the Castle, which played at the National Opera Center and on television. New York: Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth), Nicholas Nickleby, Freckleface Strawberry, Angelina Ballerina, Phantom of the Opera (Meg), Three Sisters (Irina), Taming of the Shrew (Kate). Regional: The Pirates of Penzance (Mabel), West Side Story (Maria), My Fair Lady, August: Osage County (Johnna), Nunsense, Bittersweet. Film/TV: Caught in the Net, End Zone, I Am Able, Cancer and Cake, Last Days of Simon, Glass Ballerinas, Monumental Mysteries.
“Amanda has worked a number of times with Darcy over the years, so I know she’s a wonderful performer.” said Mark. “When we did our first reading of the full length Books she worked with us and I was eager to have her join the cast for this show. She did an amazing job differentiating between the many strange characters she plays and making each one not only distinctive but very funny and very human. Amanda is fantastic .”
How to Watch
Check Please and Books that Did Not Help Me Pick Up Women will stream on Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21 at 8 pm. These plays will stream on ShowShare, Broadway-on-Demand’s live streaming platform. Viewers may watch for free, but must sign in to a Broadway-on-Demand account prior to watching. It is highly recommended that you set up an account prior to the live stream: you may do so at broadwayondemand.com/signup.