Denise Lee & Jamal Sterling

Denise Lee & Jamal Sterling

Amphibian Stage Productions - Lonely Planet

Performance: Friday, February 1, 2019 to Sunday, February 24, 2019

By: Steven Dietz

LONELY PLANET Kicks Off Amphibian's 20th Anniversary Season With a Timely Story Non-Traditional Casting Reflects Spread of AIDS Within Communities of Color

Amphibian Stage Productions, the contemporary theatre cultural explorers call home (Kathleen Culebro, Artistic Director; Jay Duffer, Managing Director), proudly opens its 2019 season with Steven Dietz's Lonely Planet, a play whose themes are just as relevant today as when it was first performed in 1993. Current trends in the AIDS epidemic reveal that the number of its victims is growing at an alarming rate within the Hispanic and African American communities, yet this fact is rarely discussed in the media. While the play was originally written for two men, director William (Bill) Earl Ray has cast M. Denise Lee and Jamal Gibran Sterling-both actors of color-to reflect those who are most affected by the AIDS virus today.

Pay-what-you-want previews are January 30 and 31, with press and VIP opening night on February 1. The show will run Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm through February 24. General admission tickets are $20 on Thursdays and $34 for performances following opening weekend members' receptions. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and military veterans by calling the theatre at 817-923-3012. Members receive invitations to receptions and special rehearsals based on membership level. The theatre is located at 120 S. Main St. in Fort Worth.

About Lonely Planet:
Set in a small map store on the oldest street in an American city, Lonely Planet is an intimate portrait of two friends navigating loss and an uncertain world. Shop owner Jody buries his head in the sand by refusing to leave his shop. Meanwhile, Carl begins filling the store with a variety of mysterious chairs. Funny, moving, and deeply human, Steven Dietz's timeless play examines the way we navigate friendship, loss, and uncertain times.

Of the play, Dietz recently wrote, "With 2018 being the 25th anniversary of the play, it's had a busy year in London (Trafalgar Studios), New York (Keen Company) and Boston (New Rep)... What I've learned this year is to embrace the fact that the play can 'float' in time/period. It is not an 80's or 90's play - the disease is still, sadly, NOW...There's a reason the script just says it takes place in the 'the present.' And the present is wide and deep."

"This beautiful play lives constantly on my short list. It's funny and moving and speaks volumes about friendship and identity. AIDS lives within the narrative as a fact that must be faced and talked about," says Artistic Director Kathleen Culebro about why she has selected this script to open Amphibian's season. "Like many people, I believed that we weren't hearing about the disease because it was being kept at bay. When I saw the numbers I knew that silence is strengthening the virus and everything must be done to launch the conversation once again. We look forward to working with area AIDS organizations to open doors of communication and conversation within our community."

Steven Dietz(Playwright) Steven's thirty-plus plays and adaptations have been seen at over one hundred regional theatres in the United States, as well as Off-Broadway. International productions have been seen in over twenty countries, including recently in Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, Estonia and Iran. Recent world premieres include Bloomsday (Steinberg New Play Award Citation), This Random World (Humana Festival of New American Plays), and Rancho Mirage (Edgerton New Play Award). His interlocking plays for adult and youth audiences (The Great Beyond and The Ghost of Splinter Cove) will premiere in Charlotte, NC this spring. Dietz was awarded the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award for Fiction and Still Life with Iris; the PEN USA Award in Drama for Lonely Planet; and the Edgar Award® for Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. Currently a Dramatists Guild "Traveling Master" - Dietz teaches workshops in playwriting and story-making across the U.S. He and his wife, playwright Allison Gregory, divide their time between Seattle and Austin.

William (Bill) Earl Ray (Director) is a Director/Actor with 40 years of experience in the business. His last direction at Amphibian Stage was King Liz. Some of William's other directing credits include Skeleton Crew, Ain't Misbehavin', A Raisin In The Sun and Having Our Say, starring Ms. Irma P. Hall (Big Mama of Soul Food movie fame, and A Family Thing), Beehive, the 60's Musical, The Gin Game, The Gospel At Colonus, Fires In The Mirror, A Song For Coretta, The Gifts Of The Magi, Seven Guitars, A Soldiers Play, The Glass Managerie, A Lovesong For Miss Lydia, Annie Get Your Gun, Jerry's Girls, Two Trains Running, Agnes Of God, The Heiress, Sea Marks, Ceremonies In Dark Old Men, Lilies Of The Field, and many more. Some of William's acting credits would include, The Whipping Man, Master Harold And The Boys, The Meeting, Blues For An Alabama Sky, Driving Miss Daisy, Misery, God's Favorite, Two Trains Running, Joe Turner's Come And Gone, Dirty Work, Cobb, Miss Evers Boys, The Sunset Limited, Piano Lesson, Audience, Of Mice And Men, A Street Car Named Desire, Simply Heavenly, Bank Job, Amen Corner, A Raisin in the Sun and many more. TV and Film credits include "The Tuskegee Airmen," "The Gas Café," "Cadillac Ranch," "The Temp," "Dr. Giggles," "Terror In The Towers," "Better Off Dead," "Walker Texas Ranger" and more. William is a member of Actors Equity and Screen Actors Guild and is a graduate of the Evergreen State College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the performing arts.

M. Denise Lee (Jody) is an award-winning actress/singer who has performed in all genres of entertainment for more than three decades. Lee is based in Dallas, but the world is her home. Founder of the DLO Cabaret Series and the Dallas Cabaret Festival, she has an impressively diverse following at Cabaret, R&B and jazz venues and has performed in almost every theater in the metroplex including the Dallas Theater Center, Theatre Three, Circle Theatre, Stage West, Uptown Players, Jubilee Theater and WaterTower Theatre to name a few. She is a 2- time Broadway World Award winner and Sammons Center for the Arts 1st Cabaret Artist of the Year. She is also incredibly proud to have been presented the Rudy Eastman Diversity Award by the Live Theater League of Tarrant County and special recognition by the DFW Theater Critics Forum for 'Community Conversation' through her Change the Perception initiative held in Dallas and Ft. Worth.

Jamal Gibran Sterling (Carl) is a native of Detroit, Michigan. Upon graduating from Southern Methodist University's MFA Acting Program in Dallas, Jamal moved to Los Angeles. While in LA, Jamal appeared on several television series including 10-8 and AMERICAN DREAMS. He has also done a host of short films and television commercials. Since returning to Dallas, Mr. Sterling has appeared on stage in several productions including Our Lady Of 121st Street, A Soldier's Play, Titus Andronicus, Diamond Dick: The Tulsa Race Riots Of 1921, Fences, The Winter's Tale, Race, Mississippi Goddamn, Firestorm, Nuestra Pastorela, The Royale and Othello. He has worked on several Dallas based television series including "Prison Break," "Chase" and "Dallas." Jamal teaches for Ignite Middle School in Dallas ISD and is a proud company member of Kitchen Dog Theater.


Amphibian Stage Productions Announces its 19th Season for 2018

Our Main Stage Series presents Cyrano by Edmond Rostand, a new and imaginative adaptation by Jason O'Connell and Brenda Withers; Cry Havoc, written and performed by United States Army veteran Stephan Wolfert; King Liz by Fernanda Coppel, whose work has been developed in New York and London; and Artist Descending a Staircase by Tom Stoppard, Academy-, Tony-, and Olivier-award winning playwright and screenwriter. Tickets are now available!

For more information, contact Public Relations & Marketing Associate, Alexandra M. Landeros, at or 817-923-3012. Additional press release with promotional photos will be sent throughout the season.


The Main Stage Plays

by Edmond Rostand, adapted by Jason O'Connell and Brenda Withers
February 9 - March 4
Who wins the battle of beauty versus brains? Cyrano is a swordsman, philosopher, poet, and raconteur - everything that the love of his life, Roxane, would want - but there's one obstacle: he has the biggest nose anyone has ever seen. He partners with the handsome yet tongue-tied Christian to capture Roxane's heart. They both fall for her, but one can't succeed without the other. This imaginative version of the classic tale is adapted by Brenda Withers and director Jason O'Connell. Get tickets here.

Cry, Havoc!
by Stephan Wolfert
May 11 - 27
A one - person play written and performed by U.S. Army veteran Stephan Wolfert, who leads you on an interactive journey to meet Shakespeare's veterans using his own military experiences. This play shows us that the military men and women of Shakespeare's time wrestled with the same hopes and worries that occupy our modern lives. Tickets available now.

King Liz
by Fernanda Coppel
July 13 - August 5
Sports agent Liz Rico is at the top of her game, but a woman in a man's industry has to fight to stay there. She takes on client Freddie Luna, a high school basketball superstar with a troubled past in the ultimate bet: will this be the biggest win of her career or will she lose it all? Award-winning playwright Fernanda Coppel's story of gender, race, and class is high energy and full of heart. Get tickets here.

Artist Descending a Staircase
by Tom Stoppard
October 5 - 28
An artist is murdered, leaving his two friends suspecting each other. There is one thing that unites them all: their infatuation with Sophie. Before she tragically went blind, she fell in love with one of them after viewing his picture in a gallery, but there seems to be confusion about whose picture she saw. As in any Stoppard play, reality is never quite what it seems. Tickets here.


We're Gonna Die
by Young Jean Lee
Dates TBD
It's time to get real and sing along about the one thing we all have in common: We're Gonna Die. This existential cabaret boldly explores the rough moments of life with humor, insight, and pop music. Director Jake Nice's presentation featuring Sammy Rat Rios toured sold out venues across the Metroplex in 2017 and we'll be bringing the excitement back to Fort Worth.


METAMORPHOSIS: New Play Workshops

La Extraordinaria Historia de Julia Pastrana
by Laura Anderson Barbata
March 2018
For ten years, artist Laura Anderson Barbata dedicated her life to the repatriation of the remains of Julia Pastrana, once billed as "The Ugliest Woman in the World." Part theatre, part lecture, part performance art, La Extraordinaria Historia de Julia Pastrana is the story of Barbata's battle against all odds to give Julia the resting place she deserves. 

How Embarrassing for Her
by Jacqueline Novak
April 2018
"I live a life of ideas and when those won't do... snacks."
That's how comedian and author Jacqueline Novak describes her solo performance piece, How Embarrassing for Her. In the past two years, Jacqueline made her network debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden; has opened for Mike Birbiglia, Fred Armisen, and Anthony Jeselnik; and released her first book  How to Weep in Public: Feeble Offerings on Depression from One Who Knows. Now, she combines her literary prowess with her performance chops in a one-woman show. 


National Theatre Live

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
by Edward Albee
January 10 & 13
In the early morning hours on an American college campus, Martha-to her husband George's displeasure-has invited the young new professor and his wife to their home for after-party drinks. As the alcohol flows, they are drawn into George and Martha's toxic games. Starring Imelda Staunton (the Harry Potter films), Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones), Luke Treadaway (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), and Imogen Poots (A Long Way Down, Jane Eyre). Tickets available now.

by Stephen Sondheim
January 24 & 27
New York, 1971. There's a party on the stage of the Weismann Theatre. Tomorrow the iconic building will be demolished. Thirty years after their final performance, the Follies girls gather to have a few drinks, sing a few songs and lie about themselves. Directed by Dominic Cooke, this legendary musical features a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21, staged for the first time at the National Theatre. Get your tickets here.

Young Marx
by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman
March 7 & 10 This new comedy, starring Rory Kinnear, is directed by Nicholas Hytner and reunites the creative team behind Broadway and West End hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors. It's 1850, and Karl Heinrich Marx, Europe's most feared socialist, is hiding in Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy. Tickets here.

by William Shakespeare
March 28 & 31
Academy Award© nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock, The Imitation Game, Frankenstein at the National Theatre) takes on the title role of Shakespeare's great tragedy. As a country arms itself for war, a family tears itself apart. Forced to avenge his father's death but paralyzed by the task ahead, Hamlet rages against the impossibility of his predicament, threatening both his sanity and the security of the state.  Get tickets here.

Julius Caesar
by William Shakespeare
April 18 & 21
Caesar returns in triumph to Rome, and the people pour out of their homes to celebrate. Alarmed by the autocrat's popularity, the educated ´lite conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, civil war erupts on the streets of the capital. Directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Ben Whishaw (The Lobster), Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones), David Calder (The Lost City of Z), and David Morrissey (The Walking Dead). Tickets available.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by Tennessee Williams
May 2 & 5
On a steamy night in Mississippi, a Southern family gathers at their cotton plantation to celebrate Big Daddy's birthday. The scorching heat is almost as oppressive as the lies they tell. With the future of the family at stake, which version of the truth is the real one? Directed by Benedict Andrews, this twentieth century masterpiece is a 'thrilling revival' (New York Times) starring Sienna Miller, Jack O'Connell, and Colm Meaney. Tickets available now. Additional screenings will be announced as they are scheduled.

About Amphibian Stage Productions

Amphibian Stage Productions is a non-profit theatre company founded in 2000 by three alumni of TCU's Department of Theatre who strive to produce innovative and engaging works of theatre that challenge the way we see the world around us. Now in its seventeenth season, Amphibian has produced numerous groundbreaking and challenging plays (some regional premieres, others US or world premieres) that foster a deeper understanding of ourselves as members of the global community. The company is widely recognized for its stylistically and thematically varied scripts.

Committed to nurturing young and diverse audiences, Amphibian has developed a strong internship program, a summer acting workshop for teens, and a dynamic outreach project, Tad-Poles, that is steadily increasing the company's visibility and following. The group travels to schools and community centers, performing and spreading a message of multicultural collaboration and tolerance.

Amphibian is generously funded by the Amon G. Carter Foundation, Ann L. and Carol Greene Rhodes Charitable Trust, Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Fifth Avenue Foundation, Mary Potishman Lard Trust, Pangburn Foundation, Thomas M., Helen McKee & John P. Ryan Foundation, Sid W. Richardson Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Southwest Bank, Texas Commission on the Arts, Wells Fargo Bank, William E. Scott Foundation, North Texas Giving Day and the Devonian Society, a group of Amphibian's devoted donors who are proud to be the force behind nurturing the next generation of artists and audiences.

Amphibian Stage Productions
120 S Main St.
Fort Worth, TX 76104