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Birthday Candles on Broadway has been pushed back to Fall 2020. Please head here for current updates and information.

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June 17th, 2019


Contact: Maggie Wilson

Chautauqua Theater Company


Jordan Steves

Chautauqua Institution


Chautauqua Theater Company’s 2017 New Play Workshop Goes to Broadway

Birthday Candles will star Debra Messing and be directed by Vivienne Benesch

Chautauqua Theater Company (CTC), under the leadership of Artistic Director Andrew Borba and Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy, is pleased to announce that its 2017 New Play Workshop Birthday Candles by Noah Haidle will be opening on Broadway in 2019–2020 season. Former CTC artistic director Vivienne Benesch will direct the Broadway premiere at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and the production will star Debra Messing, best known for her lead role in the NBC television series "Will & Grace."

Birthday Candles was originally commissioned by Detroit Public Theater (DPT) in the fall of 2016. In the summer of 2017, it received a workshop production at CTC, directed by Benesch. Benesch followed the production to DPT where it received a world premiere in May 2018. This is the first time DPT and CTC have partnered in this way: from DPT’s commission, to CTC’s workshop performance and back to DPT’s world premiere.

Corporandy, also a co-founder and co-producing artistic director at DPT, said the model has certainly played a role in the play’s success.

“We are thrilled by the treasured collaboration between Detroit Public Theatre and Chautauqua Theater Company,” Corporandy said. “Noah is a vastly talented artist and because our communities are intertwined, as are my roles within the two theaters, we have been able to support this play at every step of the process."

“When we started the NPW program, we dreamed of this moment,” Borba said. “We have seen many of our new plays transfer to regional theaters and Off-Broadway but this is the first time one has transferred to Broadway. Our mission with new plays is to foster their growth here at Chautauqua and to help springboard them out to the national stage.”

Leading up to the Broadway debut, Birthday Candles was a finalist for the 2019 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, receiving a special citation prize of $7,500 at the 2019 Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The Steinberg Award honors the best plays that have premiered outside of New York City.

CTC is committed to supporting new plays by talented playwrights and will bring three new workshopped productions to Chautauqua for its 2019 summer season:

  • July 18–20: NPW 1, How the Light Gets In by E.M. Lewis, directed by Emilie Beck
  • Aug. 14–18: NPW 2, On the Exhale by Martín Zimmerman, directed by Patrick Walsh
  • Aug. 15–18: NPW 3, Agent 355 — music, lyrics and book by Preston Max Allen, book and dramaturgy by Jessica Kahkoska, directed by Estefanía

About CTC’s New Play Workshop Program
The (NPW) Program is the arm of Chautauqua Theater Company dedicated to fostering important new American playwrights and providing a safe and stimulating playground for artists to develop new work for the theater. As such, it is at the core of Chautauqua Theater Company’s mission as a cultural and educational organization. New play development is made possible at CTC in part by a generous grant by the Roe Green Foundation.

About Chautauqua Theater Company
Entering its 37th season, Chautauqua Theater Company is the resident professional theater and Conservatory of Chautauqua Institution. Internationally known actors, directors, designers and writers join 19 emerging artists drawn from the nation's top training programs to form a unique company that produces a vibrant summer of work in the historic Bratton Theater. Dedicated to the next generation of theater artists, the development of new work, first-rate productions of modern and contemporary classics, and fresh insight into Shakespeare’s canon, CTC produces the best of a year-round regional theater within an eight-week summer season.