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New play by Mark Roberts getting an Alabama try-out

In tangential Champaign-Urbana Arts news:

After his successful runs as a TV writer and showrunner, local actor/comedian Mark Roberts has focused much of the last decade on the stage. His most recent play, New Country, will make its debut Wednesday, April 29th, at the University of Alabama—Huntsville. Both Roberts, who appears in the play, and director David Harwell have participated in past productions at the Station Theatre in Urbana.

Information about the show, provided in an email press release, is as follows:

The unfiltered comedy New Country will make its debut at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) before its official off-Broadway opening at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Wilson Theatre from Wednesday, April 29, to Saturday, May 2, and Wednesday, May 6, to Saturday, May 9.

Written by Mark Roberts, the creator of TV’s “Mike and Molly,” and directed by David Harwell, associate professor and director of UAH Theatre, New Country marks the first time a professional company of theater makers from New York will be developing new work on the UAH campus.

“This is a rare opportunity for UAH to host an amazing group of equity actors and managers producing this amazing new play bound for New York,” says Harwell. “It’s a dream come true for any theatre program to have access to cutting edge professional theatre on its own campus.”

Roberts, who visited the UAH campus last year to host an industry workshop, will also be part of the acting ensemble. A playwright, comedian, and actor, he has been seen on “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” and “The Practice,” among other prime time shows. He also served as the head writer and executive producer of “Two and a Half Men” for seven years and as the creator-showrunner of “Mike & Molly” for three seasons.

“We are truly fortunate to have this generous theatre artist on campus, in our classrooms and on our stage,” says Harwell, who also directed Roberts’ comedy Couples Counseling Killed Katie and Where the Great Ones Run at UAH. “Plus, we get to take the production to NYC and premiere off-Broadway with our students in tow. The experience for them is life changing.”

Tickets for New Country are available in advance by calling 256.824.6871. General admission tickets are $25, senior tickets are $12, and student tickets are free with Charger ID. For more information, visit

Featuring from New York and Los Angeles: Malcolm Madera, Jared Culverhouse, Stephen Sheffer, David Lind, Mark Roberts, and Sarah Lemp.

You might recall that Couples Counseling Killed Katie and Where the Great Ones Run were also performed at the Station, the latter having its “unofficial” world premiere. Couples Counseling starred Mike Trippiedi and Lindsey Gates-Markel, and Great Ones featured Steve Keen, Gary Ambler, and Anne Shapland Kearns, among others.

Check out the video “trailer” for New Country below. And, hey, if you’re going to be in Alabama this weekend….

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