Genre: Other
Ron Russell

The Award-Winning Epic Theatre Ensemble, now in their 12th year presents William Shakespeare’s RICHARD III: Born With Teeth, part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest.  The production, directed by Ron Russell, begins previews Off-Broadway on Tuesday, April 16th and opens Sunday April 21st at 7:30 PM at the Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street).  The play will run through May 4th.  Epic Theatre Ensemble’s tickets are $25 for this production.  Student Rush is also available.  For tickets, please visit or call (212) 270-4200.  For more information, visit


In RICHARD III: Born With Teeth, Epic Theatre Ensemble wraps Shakespeare’s words in a contemporary setting where you’ll enter the world along side and through the eyes of Shakespeare’s most charming, funny and seductively evil actors: Richard III, himself.

Featured in the cast of 10 is James Wallert, in the title role; Peter Jay Fernandez;  Melissa Friedman;  Devin E. Haqq; Rhett Henckel; Lanna Joffrey; Michael Kirby; James Joseph O’Neil; Carra Patterson and Godfrey L. Simmons. 

The design team for RICHARD III: Born With Teeth is comprised of Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams (sets), Cat Tate Starmer (lighting), Margaret E. Weedon (costumes) and Ron Russell (sound). 


Every performance of RICHARD III: Born With Teeth will be immediately followed by a post performance forum lead by scholars, authors, and thinkers connected to the content of the show..  This series is sponsored by the New York City Council on the Humanities. Speakers already confirmed for the series include journalist and author Jonathan Alter (April 18th “Political Manipulation”), playwright and producer Keith Josef Adkins (April 19th “Diversity in the American Theatre”) and author and profession John McWhorter (April 26th, “The Language of Political Manipulation”). Past participants have included author Chris Hedges, former Senator Bob Kerry, James Shapiro, and other noted Shakespeare scholars.


Founded in 2001, Epic Theatre Ensemble is a company of artists and activists dedicated to creating socially minded Off-Broadway productions, and to connecting these theatrical events to NYC Public Schools through rigorous in school and after-school residencies.  Epic aims to inspire vital dialogue about social, ethical, and political issues and to build thoughtful citizenship in local communities.  Epic’s past productions include: the critically acclaimed New York premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play; Nilaja Sun’s No Child… (commissioned, developed and premiered by Epic prior to its commercial transfer and national tour); the premieres of Beauty on

and Martin by Kate Fodor (featuring David Strathairn), Einstein’s Gift by Vern Thiessen (featuring Aasif Mandvi and Shawn Elliott), Habitat by Judith Thompson; and the revivals of George Bernard Shaw’s Widowers’ Houses (with Peter Jay Fernandez), Henrik Ibsen’s Little Eyolf, and J.B. Priestley’s Time and the Conways. Epic Theatre Ensemble was founded by Zak Berkman, Melissa Friedman, Teri Lamm, Ron Russell and James Wallert, and additional producing artists Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. and Sarah Winkler have since joined the founding team. Epic is the proud recipient of OBIE, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics and OTTO Awards, the 2009 “Coming Up Taller” Award from the President’s Council for the Arts and Humanities for their flagship educational program, Shakespeare Remix, as well as citations from Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.


The performance schedule for RICHARD III: Born With Teeth is: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. There is an additional performance on Tuesday, April 16th at 7:30 pm and the show is dark on Thursday, May 2nd.  This production runs through Saturday, May 4th at 8PM.  


Epic Theatre Ensemble’s tickets are $25 for this production.  There will also be $10 Student Rush tickets at the box office.  Advance tickets are available through Ticket Central by calling (212) 279-4200 or visiting


For more information, visit




Ron Russell (Director, Co-founder & Executive Director of Off-Broadway’s Epic Theatre Ensemble).  After graduating from Oberlin College in 1992 with a degree in Neuroscience, Theatre, and Political Science, Ron founded the nationally acclaimed Summer Theatre Enrichment Program at El Centro de Servicios Sociales in Lorain, Ohio, working with members of youth gangs, where he first experimented with the role theatre can have in youth development, social and economic intervention strategies, and building civic participation.  At the same time, he was working deeply with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT/UP) using theatre as a form of protest across the nation to raise awareness.  Ron came to New York as Education Director at Theatre for a New Audience, where he served over 25,000 students during his tenure, and created the Playwriting Program at Project Renewal, an assisted living facility for homeless men.  He has directed extensively in NYC including 14 Off-Broadway productions (9 for Epic including an upcoming Macbeth starring Melissa Friedman and Ty Jones), and taught in over 60 school and community sites; Epic’s work has been recognized by two OBIEs (Off-Broadway highest honor) and citations from the Municipal Arts Society, Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, and the Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities. 

Peter Jay Fernandez (Hastings) Recent: Luz  (La Mama), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (New Haarlem Arts), CQ/CX (Atlantic Theater Co.). Broadway: Cyrano de Bergerac, Henry IV, Jelly’s Last Jam, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice. Off Broadway; Macbeth, The Pain and the Itch, Too Much Memory, Widowers Houses, Thunder Knocking on the Door, Phaedra in Delirium, As You Like It, Henry VIII, Spell# 7, Coriolanus, Split Second, Checkmates and more. TV/Film; “House of Cards,” “Deception (TV),” “The Good Wife,” “Blue Bloods,” “Body of Proof,” “Law and Order(s),” “Mama I Want to Sing,” The Adjustment Bureau, Deception (Film), Preaching to the Choir, Funny Valentines and more. Awards: Audelco (2), Helen Hayes (Nom.) BTTA (Nom), Audie Award (narration).

Melissa Friedman (Elizabeth, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Epic Theatre Ensemble) Melissa holds an MFA in Acting from the Old Globe/University of San Diego and a BA in Theatre from Oberlin College. Before co-founding Epic, Melissa worked as a Lead Teaching Artist with many NYC theatres including Roundabout Theatre Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Shakespeare Teaches program, and Theatre for a New Audience. As Epic's Education Director, she co-developed Epic’s Citizen Artist curriculum and acts as a Lead Teaching Artist in Epic’s partner schools and outreach programs. As an actor, she has appeared in many Off-Broadway productions including as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing as well as many Epic productions including Time and the Conways, Habitat, Hannah and Martin opposite David Strathairn, Einstein’s Gift, A Hard Heart with Kathleen Chalfant, and A More Perfect Unione. Her numerous regional theatre productions include playing a witch to Victor Garber’s Macbeth and Lady Mortimer in Jack O’Brien’s production of Henry IV with John Goodman. In Epic’s Journeys Series, she performs the roles of Emilia in Othello, The Chorus Leader in Antigone and Clytemnestra in Ipphigenia. Melissa has directed 7 of Epic’s after-school Shakespeare Remix Productions including Macbeth, The Winter’s Tale and Richard III. On behalf of Epic, Melissa received the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award for Shakespeare Remix from First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House ceremony. She has published in the Teaching Artist Journal and sat on the Arts-in-Education Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts. Melissa has led Professional Development workshops throughout New York State including at the Empire State Partnership’s Summer Seminar, Common Ground, Face to Face, and NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. 

James Wallert (Richard III, Associate Artistic Director of Epic Theatre Ensemble) As an actor with Epic, James has appeared in nine Off-Broadway productions including Othello, Mahida’s Extra Key to Heaven, A Hard Heart, Widowers’ Houses, Einstein’s Gift, Hannah and Martin, Habitat, Little Eyolf, Time & The Conways and ten workshops including the musicals Pop’d and Save El Cid, which he wrote. As an actor and mentor with Shakespeare Remix, he has worked on Macbeth, A Winter’s Tale, Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet. Other theatre credits include Othello, Romeo and Juliet and All in the Timing at the Old Globe Theatre, Pride’s Crossing and Three Days of Rain at Northern Stage, Tis Pity She’s A Whore at Here Arts Center, Sparrows at Circle Theatre, Much Ado About Nothing at the Kansas Shakespeare Festival and King Lear at the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival. TV and Film credits include FOX Television’s “Time of Your Life,” “Just the Beat,” and “Tumbling After.” Since Co-Founding Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2001, James has curated and administered Epic’s Forum Series (funded by the New York Council for the Humanities), serving over 15,000 audience members. He is currently the lead teaching artist and site manager at Chelsea Vocational High School, where he oversees Epic’s sequential learning program. MFA- Acting, Old Globe/University of San Diego; BA- Theatre, University of Kansas.

Carra Patterson (Lady Anne) Broadway:  Wit (Susie Monahan, MTC). Off Broadway: Luck of the Irish (Lincoln Center 3) Measure for Measure (Public). Regional: In the Red & Brown Water (Alliance), Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (dir. Kenny Leon, True Colors), The Wiz (True Colors), Henry Box Brown  (a Tony Kushner musical, dir. Mark Wing-Davey).  MFA: NYU Graduate Acting Program.

James Joseph O'Neil (Buckingham) Broadway: Present Laughter with Victor Garber, directed by Nicholas Martin, Roundabout. Off B'wy: The Hired Man (47th St. Theatre), Look Back in Anger (CSC). Regional: American Repertory Theatre, Westport Country Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, Ojai Playwrights Conference, Huntington Theatre Co., Baltimore Center Stage, Old Globe, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, American Stage Festival, Long Wharf, Pioneer Theatre Co. Film/TV: Deep Powder, Dovid Meyer, The Bourne Legacy, Fair Game, Zodiac, Acts of Worship, Law & Order,: SVU,;CI, 24, Veronica Mars, Third Watch, Sex & the City. BFA Adelphi U, MFA USD/Old Globe.





About the Company: Epic Theatre Ensemble

Epic Theatre Ensemble is an OBIE, Lucille Lortel, and OTTO Award-Winning artist-run company. Founded in 2001 to create theatrical events Off-Broadway and in the New York City Public Schools that inspire vital dialogue about social issues, Epic is best known for their premieres of No Child… by Nilaja Sun, Palace of the End by Judith Thompson, and Hannah and Martin by Kate Fodor, as well as their groundbreaking Shakespeare Remix after-school program that received a 2009 Coming Up Taller Award from First Lady Michelle Obama at a White House Ceremony this past November.

Open:   04/21/13
Close:   05/04/13

Theater:   The Pershing Square Signature Center
Address:   480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
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Buy Tickets Online or Call: Ticket Central at 212-279-4200
Company: Epic Theatre Ensemble         Official Web Site: