WHEN JANUARY FEELS LIKE SUMMER by Cori Thomas*


Presided over by the Hindu god Ganesh, a pair of teenagers become unexpected heroes, an immigrant accountant struggles with visibility, and two stifled romantics begin to stumble toward each other during one strangely warm winter in Central Harlem. When January Feels Like Summer follows five colliding lives as a feeling of change hums in the air and the many flavors of desire saturate the streets and subways and bodegas of the city. These characters learn to do more than meet their obstacles head-on -- they discover how to transcend them.

Cast & Creatives

Cori Thomas* (Playwright) is a lifetime artist  member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and has participated in most programs at Page 73. She is thrilled that her two artistic homes are co-producing When January Feels Like Summer. Her plays have been developed or produced by: EST,  Going To The River, P73, City Theatre Co. Pittsburgh, Sundance Theatre Lab, The Goodman Theatre, Pillsbury House Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Mixed Blood, Playwrights Realm, Partial Comfort, New Black Fest, New Georges, Penumbra….She has been a Sundance Fellow and a MacDowell Fellow. Commissions: NYSCA, The Sloan Foundation, P73, EST, Pillsbury House Theatre, South Coast Rep.This play received the 2011 American Theatre Critics Osborn Award for best new play. Chuck Patterson directed its first readings at EST, Sundance, and directed the World Premiere at Pittsburgh City Theatre Co. His indelible enthusiasm, encouragement, and playful spirit will live forever in this play which is lovingly and gratefully dedicated to him.

Daniella Topol* (Director) For Women’s Project Theater: Jessica dickey’s Row After Row, Catherine Trieschmann’s How the World Began (in association with South Coast Rep), Sheila Callaghan’s Lascivious Something (with Cherry Lane), Trista Baldwin’s Sand. Off-Broadway: Jessica Dickey’s Charles Ives Take Me Home (Rattlestick Productions), Lloyd Suh’s Jesus in India (MaYi Theatre & Magic Theatre, SF), Judith Thompson’s Palace of the End (Epic Theatre), Sheila Callaghan’s Dead City (New Georges).  Regional world premiere credits include: Rajiv Joseph’s Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre), Stefanie Zadravec’s Electric Baby (Quantum Theatre, PA). Ari Roth’s Andy and the Shadows (Theatre J), Caridad Svich’s Instructions For Breathing (Passage Theatre), Niko Tsakalakos and Janet Allard’s Pool Boy (Barrington Stage). A graduate of Carnegie Mellon, Daniella has been the Artistic Program Director of the Lark Play Development Center and the New Works Program Director of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. She is an NYTW Usual Suspect, an EST Member, a member of the Lark’s Board of Directors and a WP Lab alum.

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Mahira Kakkar (Nirmala) NY credits include: Ragged Claws (Cherry Lane), Clive (The New Group), Harper Regan (Atlantic Theatre), Opus (Primary Stages), Ms. Witherspoon (Playwrights Horizons). Has worked regionally at Hartford Stage, The Magic Theatre, Denver Center, Baltimore CenterStage, McCarter Theater, Guthrie, Arden Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Film and TV: Hank and Asha (Audience Favorite- Slamdance 2013, Best Actress-Napa Valley Film Festival), “Blue Bloods”, “Law and Order:CI”, “The Big C”, Hechki, Life of Pi. Proud member of Hero Theater Company and The Actors Center. Training: Juilliard.

Debargo Sanyal* (Ishan/Indira) Stage: NYC- Invasion! (The Play Company), Bunty Berman Presents (The New Group), Queens Boulevard (Signature TheatreCompany), Bird in the Hand (Fulcrum Theater), Your Boyfriend May Be Imaginary (The Management), After (Partial Comfort Productions), Telethon (Clubbed Thumb), Women of Trachis (Target Margin), Port Authority Throw Down (Working Theater), Bumbug-The Musical (Laughistan), Looking for the Pony (Vital Theater), I_NY (Ma-Yi), Commedia Dell Smartass (New Georges), Barriers (Desipina), Millicent Scowlworthy (SPF), Indian Ink (Alter Ego Productions). Chicago- Disconnect (Victory Gardens). Pittsburgh- When January Feels Like Summer (City Theatre). Minneapolis- Brahmani (Mixed Blood). Feature film: The Magic of Belle Isle (opposite Morgan Freeman, director: Rob Reiner), Everybody’s Fine (opposite Robert De Niro), The Normals, Today’s Special, Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship, Made for Each Other, Drawing with Chalk, Red Hook, Fort Tilden, Sita Sings the Blues. Television: Guest appearances on “Law & Order”, “Blue Bloods”, “Damages”, “NYC 22”, “L&O: Special Victims Unit”, “The Sopranos”, “Running Wilde”, “All My Children”, “L&O: Criminal Intent”, “The Unusuals”, national commercials. 

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Dion Graham* (Joe).  Broadway: Machinal, Not About Nightingales (also London’s Royal National Theatre); International: The Gospel At Colonus (Edinburgh Int’l Festival), Pillars (Ibsen Conference, Norway); Off-Broadway: On The Levee, Lobby Hero (Lortel nom.), 10 Things To Do Before I Die, A Hard Heart, Washington Square Moves, 2, A View Of The Dome, Watbanaland, Elliot Loves among others. Premieres and classics at numerous leading regional theatres. Film/TV: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Asbury Park, “The Wire” (Rupert Bond), “The Good Wife”, “Gossip Girl”, “NYPD Blue”, “Homicide”, “Hoop Life”, “Hack”, “Law & Order” (all three) and more. Series narrator for A&E’s “The First 48”. 

Maurice Williams (Devaun).  I am beyond excited to be making my hometown debut in Cori’s beautiful love letter to New York City. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn't for the love & training I received at Temple University (BA) & UCSD (MFA). I have to thank my amazing reps (everyone at Innovative Artists & Matthew Lesher at Insight), my friends who believe in me more than I believe in myself & my family who are simultaneously my support system & my motivation. For every dream ever dreamed in a small apartment in Queens. J.MP.R - 1.Zr.iV - MyN.r - .X. .Doable.

Carter Redwood (Jeron). Carter is thrilled to be joining EST for When January Feels Like Summer after having done the World Premiere at City Theatre in Pittsburgh 4 years ago! A Pittsburgh native, Carter is a Princess Grace Theater Honorarium and a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where he was the recipient of the prestigious John Arthur Kennedy Acting Award. He has also trained at the Drama Centre London. Off-Broadway: Gertrude Stein Saints (FringeNYC, La Mama, Abrons Arts Center) Film: Underdogs, Blood First, Not Cool. Check out his web-series “Redwood Time” on YouTube! Many thanks to his team of superheroes!

Production Stage Manager: Kate Croasdale
Set Design: Jason Simms
Lights: Austin R. Smith
Costumes: Sydney Maresca
Original Music and Sound: Shane Rettig*

REVIEWS

Charles Isherwood
The New York Times
Critics' Pick

Disparate Lives That Intersect
‘When January Feels Like Summer,’ at Ensemble Studio Theater
An engaging, buoyantly acted romantic comedy by Cori Thomas at Ensemble Studio Theater.
Among the play’s charms is its diverse cast of characters, who are the kind of folks not seen much of on mainstream local stages
Sydney Maresca’s stylish costumes, and the funky, smartly designed set by Jason Simms, contribute to the play’s lively appeal.
Ms. Thomas’s characters are written with such heart and good humor that we are happy to buy into the more fairy-tale-ish developments. And under the superbly judged direction of Daniella Topol, the actors embody them with both liveliness and sensitivity.
Ms. Kakkar brings a moving sense of strength and dignity to her portrayal of Nirmala
The moving monologue in which Indira falteringly decides to reveal, in an amusingly oblique way, the truth about the state of her gender to Devaun, is delivered by Mr. Sanyal with a soft-spoken emotional intensity that had me holding my breath.
“When January Feels Like Summer” carries you along on the tide of Ms. Thomas’s affection for her characters, which we come to share. The effect is like being given a window into the lives of people we all pass on the street every day, or bump into on the subway, as the characters here do. You might note their air of distraction, or be curious about the self-involved happiness they radiate, but decorum dictates you return your gaze to the iPhone or the blur through the train window. It’s rare to leave a play with such a strong desire to spend more time in the characters’ company.

 
New Yorker

"The entire cast of this ultimately very funny and moving play, directed by Daniella Topol, is topnotch, but Sanyal is especially riveting as an overzealous convert to womanhood, desperate for admiration."


Elisabeth Vincentelli
New York Post

"Daniella Topol’s production also has a cast that makes the dialogue sing. Sanyal is particularly funny as Indira, who sashays around with a confidence that barely covers up vulnerability. Give this guy a sitcom, stat!" 


TimeOut
Raven Snook

"When January Feels Like Summer is a grown-up NYC-set fairy tale laden with symbolism that rarely goes where you expect - which keeps it engaging."

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