Church and State

Stage West - Church & State

Performance: Jan 27, 2022 to Feb 20, 2022 | by Jason Odell Williams


A political candidate sharing his raw feelings about a hot button issue with the voting public during a campaign rally: what could possibly go wrong? It's risky business, in Jason Odell Willliams' timely political comedy-with-a-twist Church & State, which begins a 4-week regional premiere run on Thursday, January 27 in the Jerry Russell Theatre at Stage West.

North Carolina Senator Charles Whitmore has a problem. Even though he's a well-liked guy with solid bipartisan appeal, his re-election is not looking like a slam-dunk. And then, his off-the-cuff remark after a funeral for two school shooting victims goes viral. Now it's damage control time. Both his New York liberal campaign manager and his charming conservative wife are in agreement—he should walk back his remark. But Whitmore wants to be true to himself, come what may. What to do?

Whitmore's decision leads to a surprising result, and there's more than one twist to come. Jason Odell Williams has crafted a deft mixture of comedy and drama, with characters who are both comic and utterly human. This play is sure to make audiences laugh…and think.

"Excellent…both human and humane, keeps you guessing" - Chicago Tribune

Jason Odell Williams is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer as well as an award-winning playwright and novelist. Hailed as a "postmodern Clifford Odets" by the L.A. Times and "this country's newest Eugene O'Neill" by the Santa Monica Daily Press, his play Church & State was nominated for Best New Play by the Off-Broadway Alliance and L.A. Ovation Awards. Church & State was selected to be an NNPN Rolling World Premiere with productions in Los Angeles and Rochester before running for over 100 performances Off-Broadway at New World Stages. Jason's first play Handle With Care was a New York Times Critics' Pick, ran for over 100 performances Off-Broadway starring Carol Lawrence, has been produced over twenty times since 2011 in the U.S. and Canada, and won three Theatre Bay Area Awards including Outstanding Production. Other plays include Baltimore in Black & White (the cell theatre), Someone Else (NC Stage), The Science of Guilt (DR2), Going Offline (Fells Point Corner Theatre), The Jungle Gym (American Globe Theatre). Jason was a winner of the 2012 Hudson Valley Writers' Center contest and the winner of the 2011 Fixitsolife Theatre playwriting contest. He lives in New York City with wife and daughter. More at

Church & State will be directed by Jenna Burnett. The cast features Ashley Wood, last at Stage West as Dr. Evans in Holmes and Watson, as Charlie, with Shannon J. McGrann, who appeared as Nora in Stage West's A Doll's House Part 2, as wife Sara. Ryan Michael Friedman, last at Stage West as Love in Everybody, will appear as Tom, Marshall, Reporter, and Security Guy. And making her Stage West debut is Madeline Dockery-Furhmann, seen as Emilia in Winter's Tale at Shakespeare in the Bar, as Alex.

Set design is by Natalie Rose Mabry, with lighting design by Jared Land, costume design by Amanda Capshaw, sound design by Jake Nice, projection design by Philip Vilar, and props and set décor by Lynn Lovett.

Church & State will preview Thursday, January 27 at 7:30 and Friday, January 28 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, February 20. All Sunday matinees will be Safe Sundays, with proof of vaccination required. Masks are required for all performances. Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. Ticket prices for the season are $40 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $45 on Saturdays and Sundays, with $20 tickets for the two preview performances. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are advised). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website,



Stage West is excited to be able to announce the lineup for its 43rd season! The new season will feature seven shows, two of which will overlap. Three will be presented in the brand-new Evelyn Wheeler Swenson Theatre ("The Evie"), while four will happen in the renovated Jerry Russell Theatre. The Evie is a flexible black box space, and the seating configuration will vary from show to show; the Russell remains a proscenium venue. It's a thrilling mix of delightful comedies, riveting dramas, fascinating historical tales, and more: three 41st season shows which could not be produced due to the pandemic, and four more which have been on our short list for the past year. Here's the lineup:


by Aaron Posner
October 7 - October 31, 2021

Regional Premiere - Swenson Theatre

Come see the face of the country change. John Quincy Adams lived his life backwards: brilliant diplomat in his youth, fervent congressman as a man, ineffectual president in his prime. This unique and timely play imagines a kaleidoscope of confrontations between JQA and some of his key contemporaries. At once provocative and patriotic, this power play challenges the way we think of our country and shines a curious spotlight on the American experiment as it continues to evolve.

"Ambitious, delightful...something that will linger in minds long after the lights have lifted, much like any presidential legacy" - BroadwayWorld


Scrooge in Rouge
Book and Lyrics by Ricky Graham
December 2 - December 24, 2021

Additional Material by Jeffery Roberson
Other Interesting Bits by Yvette Hargis
Original Music Composed by Jefferson Turner
Regional Premiere - Russell Theatre
An English Music Hall Christmas Carol

A 'spirited' holiday comedy that's sure to make you blush. The Royal Music Hall Variety Players' production of A Christmas Carol is in a pickle after twenty members of the company suddenly fall ill. This leaves the three remaining members to plow on (so to speak) through a musical performance of the Dickens classic. Expect missed cues, unfamiliar characters, and costume mishaps aplenty. With cheeky puns and bawdy songs, this quick-change, cross-dressing version of the Christmas tale is a hilarious holiday treat!

"Merry mayhem, the height of hilarity, the silliest of spoofs" - GMToday


Church & State
by Jason Odell Williams
January 27 - February 20, 2022

Regional Premiere - Russell Theatre

You want to talk about the separation of what now? Three days before his bid for re-election - in the wake of another school shooting - a U.S. Senator has a life-altering crisis of faith, triggering an off-the-cuff comment which sends the entire campaign into a tailspin. His wife and campaign manager try to contain the damage, but in a country where religion influences politics and politics have become a religion, how do you reach the people and stay true to yourself? A timely and fast-paced story that is simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting.

"Crackling...enjoyable, thought-provoking, and humorous. I wish every member of Congress would see it!" -NPR


On the Exhale
by Martin Zimmerman
February 3 - 20, 2022

Regional Premiere - Swenson Theatre

If tragedy strikes, take a breath and get a grip. When a senseless act of violence changes her life forever, a college professor finds herself inexplicably drawn to the very weapon used to perpetrate the crime - and to the irresistible feeling of power that comes from holding life and death in her hands. Peering down the barrel of a uniquely American crisis, this perspective-bending, one-woman tour de force intimately examines our collective grief over a national epidemic that we all want to end.

"Mesmerizing, gripping in its economy and hits home like a bullet" - The Guardian


by Jen Silverman
March 17 - April 10, 2022

Regional Premiere - Russell Theatre
Play with fire and you might get burned. Mischief lurks in the sleepy village of Edmonton, as a slick young devil arrives in search of a few fresh souls. As the townsfolk reveal their deepest secrets and desires, bargains are struck, tables are turned, and an outcast woman living at the edge of the village proves to be much more than she seems. This inventive and fiendishly funny tale reminds you to be careful what you wish for.

"Devilishly clever, deliciously laugh-packed" - StageSceneLA


Into the Breeches!
by George Brant
June 9 - July 3, 2022

Regional Premiere - Swenson Theatre
When the gents are away, the ladies will play. It's 1942, and there's a problem at Oberon Playhouse - with the director and leading men all off at war, it looks like the season will be canceled. That is until a determined and passionate group of ladies rally the troops at home and set out to put on an all-female production of Shakespeare's Henry V. An increasingly unexpected team is assembled, with a hilariously desperate array of thoughts and ideas, but united in desire. This delightful and moving backstage comedy examines the power of art to bring us together, even in the hardest of times.

"Brilliant...fresh, witty and thoughtful...a total triumph." - Montgomery Advertiser


Between Riverside and Crazy
by Stephen Adly-Guirgis
August 18 - September 11, 2022

Pulitzer Prize Winner - Russell Theatre
Nothing is as it seems in the house of Black and Blue. Irrepressible ex-cop and recent widower Walter Washington is under a lot of pressure. He's in an ongoing legal battle, clinging desperately to grievances from the past. Barely holding on to the palatial rent-controlled Manhattan apartment that he shares with his newly paroled son and a ragtag surrogate family who call him "Pops", he is not ready to accept payout or surrender. But as tensions come to a head in a swirl of demands from family and friends, a final ultimatum from former NYPD colleagues causes "Pops" to draw the line and make some demands of his own.

"Dizzying...both utterly believable and not to be believed for a second." - The New York Times


Season tickets will go on sale June 28, and will include the Bargain Season Ticket (good on Thursdays only) at $154 each, the Standard Season Ticket at $231 each, the Premium Season Ticket (which includes several great additional perks) at $351 each, and the Select 4 Season Ticket (patrons choose 4 shows from the list) $136 each. For more information, call Stage West at (817) 784-9378. Tickets and information will be available by June 28 online at


Visit Stage West:

Stage West is a highly-respected regional theatre operating under an S.P.T. agreement with Actors' Equity Association, the professional union of theatrical actors and stage managers in the United States. Founded in 1979, the organization's mission is to entertain, inspire, and challenge through great live theatre and to offer exceptional low-cost and/or free educational outreach services to the community at large. Stage West's staff works daily to broaden and intensify the theatrical experience for our patrons with consistently excellent acting, directing, and plays. Meticulous attention to creative detail, customer service, and a willingness to step outside of the box with new, thought-provoking material has led to consistent critical and audience-based praise for Stage West. Through all of this, the company nurtures the artistic growth of area actors, directors, designers, and playwrights by providing meaty material and a safe environment in which to explore.

Over the theatre's history, 265 shows, including 244 plays and 21 musicals, have been produced by the group. Stage West's typical season is comprised of a wide range of works including new, classic, and contemporary plays that reflect the national conversation and the human experience today.

In addition to on-stage offerings, Stage West also operates the Lobby Cafe which offers an assortment of delicious appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and hot meals for 90 minutes before each performance. Reservations are highly advised. While in the cafe, audiences are likely to dine next to creative team members who also frequent the restaurant before shows. Additionally, the Lobby Cafe walls display a new set of artists for each play as an added visual treat. Finally, Stage West is home to a wide variety of educational opportunities from weekly classes, to summer camps, to writing festivals for K-12 students and adults.

Stage West is a theatre for the whole community where diversity is celebrated and a shared humanity embraced. Come join us!

Dana Schultes, Executive Producer
Mark Shum, Managing Director
Tiffany Cromwell, Company Manager
Garret Storms, Associate Producer
Bryan Stevenson, Technical Director
Karlee Perego, Shop Manager/Assistant Technical Director
Jen Schultes, Marketing Director and Web Designer
Beth Bando Bontley, Education Director
Allen Dean, Master Carpenter
Tonya Wilson-Brown, Grant Writer
Suzi McLaughlin, Information
Karry Liu, Marketing Associate
Nick Burns, Sarah Cordell, Justin Rhoads, Production Box Office
Pam Huie, Café Manager
Arturo Limon, Café Chef

Stage West 821 W. Vickery St.
Fort Worth, Texas 76104
Metro (817) 784 - 9378 (STG - WEST)