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Harriet Harris and Lee Sellars To Star In "Conscience" at George Street Playhouse

originally published: 02/07/2020

Harriet Harris and Lee Sellars To Star In "Conscience" at George Street Playhouse

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- Tony Award-winning actress Harriet Harris (Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie and Cinderella; Frasier; Desperate Housewives) will star as real-world Senator Margaret Chase Smith opposite Lee Sellars (Netflix’s House of Cards and Luke Cage) as Senator Joseph McCarthy in the world-premiere of Tony-Award winner Joe Pietro’s new play Conscience at George Street Playhouse.  Performances run March 3 - 29.

On June 1, 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith stood on the Senate floor and delivered her “Declaration of Conscience '' in a historic moment of political courage. This sharply written new play takes you behind the scenes of 1950s Washington to give you an intimate glimpse of all the power plays, both political and personal, in the days leading up to and following the singular speech that rattled McCarthyism, Congress, and the nation itself. 

Conscience marks the latest collaboration between George Street Playhouse Artistic Director David Saint, who will helm this production, and DiPietro, currently represented on Broadway by the new musical Diana and whose previous works at George Street include The Toxic Avenger; Clever Little Lies starring Marlo Thomas; I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change; Creating Claire; and The Second Mrs. Wilson in 2015. 

“It is fitting to be mounting this timely and important world-premiere in the Arthur Laurents Theater, as Arthur Laurents himself was among those artists blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee during that time,” Saint said. “We are also thrilled to welcome back Harriet Harris and Lee Sellars to our new home, both of whom will be familiar to our audiences from their powerful work on our stage.” 

Rounding out the cast of this highly anticipated world-premiere are Mark Junek (The Hairy Ape at The Armory; American Son at George Street Playhouse) as William C. Lewis Jr., Margaret Chase Smith’s longtime strategist and campaign manager, and Cathryn Wake (Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812) as Jean Kerr, a researcher to Joseph McCarthy who would later become his wife. 

Conscience will feature set design by Jim Youmans; lighting design by Joe Saint; costume design by Brian Hemesath; sound design by Scott Killian; and wig design by Charles Lapointe. The Production Stage Manager is Samantha Flint. Casting by McCorkle Casting, Ltd.

Tickets are available for purchase online or by calling  (732) 246-7717. Groups of 10 or more save 20-percent. Performances take place at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, 11 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Harriet Harris and Lee Sellars To Star In "Conscience" at George Street Playhouse

(L to R) David Saint, Mark Junek, Cathryn Wake, Harriet Harris, and Lee Sellars in rehearsal for Conscience by Joe DiPietro

About The Cast & Creative

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Joe DiPietro (Playwright) is a playwright and lyricist.  He has won two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award and 3 Outer Critics Circle Awards. His musicals and plays have received thousands of productions across the country and around the world. Broadway: Nice Work If You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara (10 Tony noms, including Best Book, Best Musical), Memphis (4 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score), All Shook Up, Living on Love (starring Renee Fleming).Off-Broadway: Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, Clever Little Lies (starring Marlo Thomas), The Toxic Avenger (OCC Award – Best off-Broadway Musical), The Thing About Men (OCC Award – Best off-Broadway Musical), the much-produced comedy, Over the River and Through the Woods, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (the longest running musical revue in off-Broadway history). Other recent regional credits include: The Second Mrs. Wilson (Long Wharf Theatre & George Street Playhouse), Hollywood and Chasing the Song (La Jolla Playhouse), The Last Romance (The Old Globe), Creating Claire (George Street Playhouse).His murder mystery, The Art of Murder, won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best Play and his adaptation of Schnitzler’s La Ronde is the longest running Fringe play in London history. He sits on the board of Only Make Believe, a charity dedicated to bringing interactive, therapeutic theatre to chronically ill children.

David Saint (Director) is in his 23rd season as Artistic Director of George Street Playhouse. He has directed 39 mainstage productions at GSP, having most recently helmed last season's The Trial of Donna Caine, in addition to American Hero; I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change; and An Act of God starring the legendary Kathleen Turner in the 2017-18 season. His time here has been marked by collaborations with such artists as Keith Carradine, Tyne Daly, Rachel Dratch, Sandy Duncan, Boyd Gaines, A.R. Gurney, Uta Hagen, Jack Klugman, Dan Lauria, Kathleen Marshall, Elaine May, Anne Meara, David Hyde Pierce, Chita Rivera, Paul Rudd, Stephen Sondheim, Marlo Thomas, Eli Wallach and many others, including a remarkable partnership with Arthur Laurents. In addition, many new award winning works have begun their life here during his tenure, such as The Toxic Avenger, Proof, The Spitfire Grill, Joe DiPietro's Clever Little Lies and It Shoulda Been You. He has directed Final Follies at Primary Stages, Clever Little Lies at Guild Hall in East Hampton, N.Y., and off-Broadway at Westside Theatre, as well as the National Tour of West Side Story. In July 2016, he directed a two-night concert performance of West Side Story at the legendary Hollywood Bowl. In Summer 2019, he directed a revolutionary new production of West Side Story for IHI Stage Around in Tokyo and currently serves as a creative consultant for a new film version of West Side Story directed by Steven Spielberg. He also has directed on Broadway, off-Broadway and regionally at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Primary Stages, McCarter, Williamstown, Seattle Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public, Long Wharf and many others on premieres by writers such as Aaron Sorkin, Wendy Wasserstein, Peter Parnell, Jonathan Marc Sherman, Joe DiPietro and Jonathan Larson. He is the recipient of the Alan Schneider Award, Helen Hayes Award, L.A. Drama Critics Award, several Drama-Logue Awards and is the President of The Laurents/ Hatcher Foundation.

Harriet Harris (Senator Margaret Chase Smith) Broadway: It Shoulda Been You, Cinderella, Cry-Baby, Old Acquaintance, Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002 Tony and Drama Desk Awards), The Man Who Came to Dinner. Off-Broadway: Me and My Girl (City Center Encores), The Low Road, The Roads to Home, Standing On Ceremony, Yeast Nation, Little Me (City Center Encores), Jeffrey (Drama Desk nomination), Bella, Belle of Byelorussia (Drama Desk nomination). Film: Baby (upcoming), Phantom Thread, Love is Strange, Memento, Nurse Betty, Addams Family Values. TV: Atlantic Crossing (upcoming), Ratched (upcoming), American Horror Story, Hollywood; Felicia Tillman on Desperate Housewives, Bebe Glazer on Frasier.

Mark Junek (William C. Lewis Jr.) George Street Playhouse debut came as Officer Paul Larkin in 2017's American Son. Other credits include Gary, The Performers on Broadway, Frankenstein at the Denver Center, The Forgotten Woman at Bay Street Theatre, after all the terrible things I do at Milwaukee Rep, The Vibrator Play at Syracuse Stage, Family Play at The New Ohio, Galileo and A Midsummer Night's Dream at New York’s Classic Stage Company, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Imaginary Invalid at Bard Summerscape. Television credits include the second season of The Outs, Blindspot, Forever, Smash and Law and Order: SVU. Mark is a graduate of Columbia University and a The Juilliard School Drama Division, Group 40.

Lee Sellars (Senator Joseph McCarthy) Broadway: A Time to Kill, West Side Story (Officer Krupke), Talk Radio. Other NY credits: Iow@, Gun-Shy ( Playwrights Horizons) A Small Melodramatic Story ( LAByrinth Theatre) The Alchemist ( Classic Stage). George Street Playhouse: Our Town, Twelve Angry Men, The Subject Was Roses, The Pillowman. Regional: The Great Leap (Guthrie Theatre), Hollywood ( LaJolla Playhouse), A Few Good Men ( Alley Theatre), On Clover Road ( CATF). TV: Happy ( recurring), Billions, Law and Order SVU, Deception, Elementary, House of Cards (recurring), Mindhunter, Power, Luke Cage (recurring), Shades of Blue, Chappelle’s Show, The Sopranos, Law and Order (recurring) Film: Naked Singularity (upcoming), James White, The Savages, Tenderness, The Crimson Mask, Groundhog Day.

Cathryn Wake (Jean Kerr) is a New York-based actor, singer, and multi-instrumentalist specializing in originating roles in new work. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 and just completed a successful Off-Broadway run playing ten characters and six instruments in The Other Josh Cohen at the Westside Theater. Other Off-Broadway credits include Luisa in the The Fantasticks, the world's longest running musical, and originating the role of real-life female WWI veteran Louise LeBreton in The Hello Girls (World Premiere). Regionally, she was seen in The Glass Menagerie (Pittsburgh Public), The Other Josh Cohen (Paper Mill Playhouse), Well-Intentioned White People (Barrington Stage, World Premiere), The Seedbed (New Jersey Rep, World Premiere), The Second Girl (Contemporary American Theater Festival), Loch Ness and The Enlightenment of Percival Von Schmootz (Adirondack Theatre Festival). Television credits include: Madam Secretary, Glee, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Featured Vocalist), America's Got Talent, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The 71st Annual Tony Awards. 

About George Street Playhouse

Under the leadership of Artistic Director David Saint since 1998, and Kelly Ryman, Managing Director since 2013, the Playhouse produces groundbreaking new works, inspiring productions of the classics, and hit Broadway plays and musicals that speak to the heart and mind, with an unwavering commitment to producing new work. With its 45-year history of producing nationally renowned theatre, the Playhouse continues to fill a unique theatre and arts education role in the city, state and greater metropolitan region.

At the start of its 2019-20 Season, George Street Playhouse moved to the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center in downtown New Brunswick.  Featuring two state-of-the-art theaters -- The Arthur Laurents Theater with 253 seats and The Elizabeth Ross Johnson Theater which seats 465-- and myriad amenities, the NBPAC marks a new era in the esteemed history of George Street Playhouse.

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