Genre: Musical
Larry Kirwan

the cell, Nancy Manocherian (Founding Artistic Director) and Kira Simring (Artistic Director) are pleased to announce the workshop production of Larry Kirwan’s HARD TIMES, with music by Stephen Foster & Larry Kirwan, orchestrations and musical direction by Andrew Smithson, choreography by Joe Barros and directed by Kira Simring. 

HARD TIMES will play a limited engagement as a mainstage production of the fifth annual 1st Irish Festival, the only theatre festival in the world dedicated to Irish playwrights. New York’s Origin Theatre Company (George C. Heslin artistic director) hosts and coordinates 1st Irish. The month-long event showcases 1st-class productions from Ireland and the U.S. of plays by new Irish playwrights at venues across the city. 1st Irish 2012 runs from September 3 to October 1. HARD TIMESperformances will take place at the cell (338 West 23rd Street New York, NY 10011). Performances begin Thursday,September 13 and run through Sunday, September 30 Opening Night is Saturday, September 15 (8 p.m.). 

Hard Times is a soulful musical of clashing Irish and Afro-American cultures, written by Larry Kirwan of Black 47. Through a re-imagining of Stephen Foster's songs, Kirwan conjures the creation of tap dance and explores the troubled life of the "father of American Music" against the backdrop of New York City's Civil War draft riots.

Hard Times stars Jed Peterson as Stephen Foster, Erin West as Jane Foster, Almeria Campbell as Nelly Blythe, Phillip Callen as Michael Jenkins, Stephane Duret as Thomas Jefferson and John Charles McLaughlin as Owen Duignan. 

The production features scenic and prop design by Dara Wishingrad, lighting design by Gertjan Houben and costume and hair design by Sara Hinkley. Niall O’Leary is the Irish Dance Consultant Tim Eliot is the fight director. The dramaturg isSamantha Keogh, casting director and associate producer is Jason Najjoum, marketing by Katie Rosin/Kampfire PR.


STEPHEN FOSTER (Music) known as the "father of American music", was the pre-eminent songwriter in the United States of the 19th century. His songs — "Oh! Susanna", "Camptown Races", "Old Folks at Home" ("Swanee River"), "Hard Times Come Again No More", "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair", and "Beautiful Dreamer" — remain popular over 150 years after their composition. He was a resident of New York’s infamous Five Points during the Draft Riots of July 1863 and died exactly six months later at the age of 37 with 38 cents in his pocket.

LARRY KIRWAN (Playwright) is leader of the Irish-American rock band, Black 47. Black 47 has released fourteen CDs and appeared on Leno, Letterman and O’Brien. Kirwan has written a dozen plays and musicals, five of which were collected in the book Mad Angels. The best known, Liverpool Fantasy, has been produced twice Off-Broadway and at the Dublin Theatre Festival. He has written a memoir and two novels. His new novel, A Raving Autumn, will be published in 2013. He hosts and produces Celtic Crush for SiriusXM, and writes a weekly column for The Irish Echo.

KIRA SIMRING (Director) is the Artistic Director of the cell, A Twenty 1st Century Salon ™, alongside Nancy Manocherian, Founding Artistic Director. Kira directs many of the cell's productions and is the resident director for The Center for Contemporary Opera’s Atilier Series. She has developed and directed many new plays off Broadway and off-off Broadway, including “Guilty” at the Acorn Theater and “Blackout” at the Kirk Theatre. She has also directed Shakespeare regionally with New Village Arts Theatre in San Diego and Handel at the Connecticut Grand Opera. Kira earned her MFA in Directing at the Actors Studio Drama School of New School University where she received a Shubert Fellowship, and her BA in Anthropology at Smith College.

About the cell: A Twenty 1st Century Salon™
Since its inception in 2006, the cell: A Twenty 1st Century Salon™ (Nancy Manocherian, Founding Director; Kira Simring, Artistic Director) has been, and continues to be, an incubator for creative projects. Through its strong commitment to cultivate undiscovered artists, the cell has created residencies for diverse groups including the Tandem Reading Series, Center for Contemporary Opera and The Blackboard Reading Series. the cell is located in the heart of Chelsea, New York City. For more information, please visit www.thecelltheatre.org.

Preview:   09/13/12
Open:   09/15/12
Close:   09/30/12

Thursday, September 13 @ 8pm
Friday, September 14 @ 8pm
Saturday, September 15 @ 8pm
Wednesday, September 19 @ 3pm
Friday, September 21 @ 8pm
Saturday, September 22 @ 8pm
Monday, September 24 @ 8pm
Thursday, September 27 @ 8pm
Friday, September 28 @ 8pm
Saturday, September 29 @ 8pm
Sunday, September 30 @ 3pm
Theater:   Cell Theatre
Address:   338 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
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Buy Tickets Online or Call: The Cell Theater at 1-800-838-3006