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The Shoplifters

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The Shoplifters

Meet Alma — a career shoplifter who prefers the “five-finger discount” over some lousy senior citizen deal. When her life of petty crime is halted by an overzealous rookie security guard and his ambivalent mentor, she risks losing her freedom, her resolve and maybe even the steak she has stuffed in her pants. Tony-nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Broadway’s Romeo and Juliet, Follies) leads an expertly drawn cast of oddball characters in this biting, world-premiere comedy about society’s haves and have-nots and how much they might actually have in common.

Morris PanychMorris Panych


“Life is a supermarket. We wander it — sometimes shopping, sometimes pilfering — gathering what pleasure, necessities, hope and joys can fill up our baskets before we head, as eventually we must, to the check out. I look for situations and people that occupy the smallest of spaces; their tragedy and their comedy enlarged by the almost complete insignificance of their acts.”– Morris Panych

The Shoplifters is generously sponsored by Beth Newburger Schwartz & Richard Schwartz and is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.


Jayne HoudyshellJAYNE HOUDYSHELL (Alma) makes her Arena Stage debut with The Shoplifters. In 2006 she won a Theater World Award and received her first Tony nomination for her portrayal of Ann in Lisa Kron's Well. She also received a Tony nomination in 2012 for Follies. Other Broadway credits include Romeo & Juliet, Dead Accounts, The Importance of Being Earnest, Bye Bye Birdie and Wicked. Off-Broadway, Jayne has appeared in Harrison Texas, at Primary Stages; The Language Archive at Roundabout Theater Company, Coraline at MCC (for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination); The New Century at Lincoln Center; The Receptionist at Manhattan Theatre Club (Lucille Lortel Nomination); The Pain and the Itch at Playwrights Horizons; Much Ado about Nothing at the New York Shakespeare Festival and Well at the Public Theatre for which she won the Obie Award. Jayne has worked at regional theaters across the country, including The Pain and The Itch at Steppenwolf Theatre (2005 Jefferson Award); The Clean House at Philadelphia's Wilma Theatre (2005 Barrymore Award), Yale Repertory Theater, McCarter Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville and many others. Her work on film includes Garden State, Carol, Lucky Stiff, Morning Glory, Bounty Hunter and Everybody's Fine while her work on television includes Blue Bloods, Law & Order (all versions), Loving Leah and Third Watch. Last year, Jayne received a special Drama Desk award for “her artistry as an exceptionally versatile and distinctive Broadway and Off-Broadway performer.”

Jenna SokolowskiJENNA SOKOLOWSKI (Phyllis) makes her Arena Stage debut after enjoying more than 10 years of acting in the D.C. area. Other regional appearances include Beneatha's Place and Clybourne Park at CenterStage, Maria in Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Susan in Title of Show at Signature Theatre, Eurydice in Eurydice at Round House Theatre and Beatrice in John & Beatrice at the Hub Theatre. She received a Helen Hayes award in 2006 for her work as Sally in Urinetown at Signature Theatre and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University.

Adi SteinADI STEIN (Dom) is excited to be making his Arena Stage debut with this production. Theatre credits include Sebastian (replacement) in Moth at Studio Theatre, Jared in Body Awareness at Theater J, Jack in Aquarium at Imagination Stage, Downey in A Few Good Men at Keegan Theatre, Elliot in 8 at Round House Theater, Goat/Biffer in The Wonderful World of Dissocia at Theater Alliance, Monkey/Durango in Staring at the Sun at Flying V and Steve in Shirley Dreaming at The Apron Theatre Company. Film/television credits include Stolen Summer (Pete O'Malley), House of Cards (Busboy) and Veep (Dream Metric).

Delaney WilliamsDELANEY WILLIAMS (Otto) is, first and foremost, a dad to two brilliant and beautiful young men. He is also well known to Arena audiences from his appearances: as Eddie in A View from the Bridge, as Sheriff Thomas in The Rainmaker and as Talbott in Orpheus Descending, as well as many other roles going back almost twenty years. Other local stage appearances include roles at Everyman Theatre, Folger Theatre, Ford's Theatre, Olney Theatre, Rep Stage, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Source Theatre, Studio Theatre, Theatre J, WSC Avant Bard, Washington Stage Guild and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. He is also well known for his work in film and on television, most notably, in his currently recurring role as John Buchanan on NBC's Law & Order: SVU and as Sgt. Jay Landsman on HBO's The Wire. Other credits include HBO's VEEP; NBC's The West Wing, Law & Order: CI and Homicide; CBS' Cold Case and The District; and the recent Toronto IFF and Tribeca Film Festival feature selection Beneath the Harvest Sky, with Aidan Gillen, Carrie Preston, Callan McAuliffe and Carla Gallo. More information is available by following him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and through his website at


MORRIS PANYCH (Playwright/Director) is a native of Calgary, Alberta and is arguably Canada's most celebrated playwright and director. His plays have garnered countless awards including two Governor General's Literary Awards for Drama (for The Ends of the Earth and Girl in the Goldfish Bowl), 14 Jessie Richardson Awards (Vancouver), and five Dora Mavor Moore Awards (Toronto). Productions of the much lauded Vigil, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, Gordon, The Trespassers and Lawrence and Holloman are being mounted throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. His plays have been produced in over two dozen languages. Morris has directed over 90 productions across Canada and the U.S.

KEN MacDONALD (Set and Costume Designer) is based in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Over a 30+ year career Ken has designed for American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco), Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles), Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, Vancouver Opera, Theatre Calgary, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Quebec, Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse. Ken designed the set for the acclaimed production of The Overcoat which toured nationally in Canada and internationally.

NANCY SCHERTLER (Lighting Designer) enjoys an association with Arena Stage that spans over three decades. Nancy's Arena credits include collaborations with directors Zelda Fichandler, Liviu Ciulei, Molly Smith, Kyle Donnelly, Garland Wright and Douglas C. Wager. She designed the Broadway productions of Bill Irwin's Fool Moon and Largely New York (Tony nomination). Off-Broadway productions include Hilda (dir. Carey Perloff), Texts for Nothing and The Regard Evening (dir. Bill Irwin). Regional theater credits include original productions of After the War, The Colossus of Rhodes and The Difficulty of Crossing a Field for the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, The Sisters Matsumoto for Seattle Repertory and Moby Dick for Milwaukee Repertory. Opera credits include the world premieres of Shadowboxer, Clara and Later the Same Evening, an opera inspired by the work of Edward Hopper, all commissioned by the University of Maryland Opera Studio, under the direction of Leon Major.

DAVID VAN TIEGHEM (Composer and Sound Designer) is pleased to return to Arena Stage following last season's Camp David. His Broadway credits include Doubt, The Lyons, Romeo and Juliet, The Big Knife, Born Yesterday, Arcadia, The Normal Heart, An Enemy of the People, Mrs. Warren's Profession, A Behanding in Spokane, A Man for All Seasons, Inherit the Wind, Frozen, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Crucible, Three Days of Rain and The Best Man. Off-Broadway credits include Wit, The Piano Lesson, Through a Glass Darkly, How I Learned to Drive, The Grey Zone and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Film/TV credits include Buried Prayers, Working Girls, Penn & Teller and Wooster Group. Dance credits include Twyla Tharp, Doug Varone, Elizabeth Streb, Elisa Monte and Michael Moschen. As drummer/percussionist he played with Laurie Anderson, Talking Heads, Brian Eno and Steve Reich. His awards and nominations include Drama Desk, Obie, Bessie, Eddy, Lortel and Guggenheim. David's CDs incude Thrown for a Loop, Strange Cargo, Safety in Numbers and These Things Happen.

KURT HALL (Stage Manager)'s favorite Arena credits include Smokey Joe’s Café, Mother Courage and Her Children starring Kathleen Turner; Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life; Good People; Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins starring Kathleen Turner; The Normal Heart; Red; Ruined; every tongue confess starring Phylicia Rashad; Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies; Looped starring Valerie Harper; Next to Normal starring Alice Ripley; Awake and Sing!; and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. Other regional credits at the Kennedy Center, Roundabout Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company and Signature Theatre. Thanks to his family for all their support.

MARTHA KNIGHT (Stage Manager) has worked with Arena Stage for over 25 years and is delighted to be with this wonderful production. Most recently, she stage managed Other Desert Cities in the Fichandler Stage, Long Day's Journey into Night in the Kreeger Theater and At Home at the Zoo in the Kogod Cradle. Martha has worked on Broadway, off-Broadway and on national tours such as Foxfire; Annie; The Magnificent Yankee; Give 'Em Hell, Harry!; Over Here! and The Me Nobody Knows. This past summer, Martha received the 'Broadway Salutes' medal for 50 years of theatrical work. For the past 35+ years, she has been happily stage managing in the Washington area's many theaters doing plays, musicals and free-lance productions; including 25 years of The Helen Hayes Awards, and 27 grand years at Arena Stage. She proudly joined Actors' Equity in 1962 at Musicarnival "under the big, blue tent" in Cleveland, Ohio!

PAT COCHRAN (Assistant Stage Manager) is delighted to return to Arena Stage where she has been privileged to work on over twenty productions with many directors including Zelda Fichandler, James C. Nicola, Lloyd Richards, Douglas C. Wager and Garland Wright. Pat has also stage managed at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the Maryland Opera Studio and the Alabama Shakespeare Theatre. Pat holds a BA in theatre from Roger Williams University and is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association, the labor union for professional actors and stage managers.


The Shoplifters "Packs A Comic Punch!"

Arena's new hit comedy, The Shoplifters, has stolen the hearts of audiences and critics. Catch it before it closes on October 19.

The Shoplifters – What's the Buzz

The people have spoken and they think The Shoplifters is the best thing since stolen sliced bread. Check out all the buzz.

The Shoplifters – Costume Sketch Time-lapse

Costume designer Ken MacDonald gives us a unique look at his costume design process for The Shoplifters with an amazing time-lapse.

The Shoplifters – Behind the Curtain

Find out why this talented cast keeps cracking up during rehearsals in this behind-the-scenes video preview of The Shoplifters.

The Shoplifters – Teaser Trailer

Petty crimes lead to major laughs in this biting, new comedy at Arena Stage, starring two-time Tony Award nominee Jayne Houdyshell, Delaney Williams, Adi Stein and Jenna Sokolowski.

Behind the scenes

Welcome to Off Book – Arena Stage's online forum featuring American artists at the top of their game, talking about what they do best. Actors, directors, writers, dramaturgs, designers – unscripted and unrehearsed.

As a young artistic director at Perseverance Theatre in Alaska over 30 years ago, I began tracking Canadian writers and ended up in Banff, Canada in a room with wonderful artists like John Murrell and Morris Panych and talented dramaturgs like Urjo Kareda and Jackie Maxwell. I remember being a bit shy around Morris's wit and special form of humor. Read more

In the four years since I started writing The Shoplifters, the language has changed, the characters, the story; but one thing has remained – the spirit of enterprise, the simple but eloquent statement made by hundreds of thousands of people every day… ‘I want something.’ Read more

With The Shoplifters now in previews, we thought it would be a great time to get to know Delaney Williams, one of the show's supremely talented and affable stars. You may already know him from one of his numerous television roles (The Wire, Law & Order: SVU, Veep) or from Arena Stage, where he is now tackling his sixth role. Read more

Set and Costume Designer Ken MacDonald is based in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Over a 30+ year career Ken has designed for American Conservatory Theatre (San Francisco), Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles), Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, Vancouver Opera, Theatre Calgary, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Quebec, Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse. We caught up with Ken during tech week to discuss the secrets behind the 800 boxes that make up the set of The Shoplifters. Read more


Post-Show Discussions

September 17 at noon
September 23 at 7:30 p.m.
October 1 at noon
October 9 at 8:00 p.m.
October 14 at noon


Audio Described

September 20, 2014 – 2:00pm

Open Captioned

October 15, 2014 – 7:30pm
October 15, 2014 – 8:00pm

For complete information on Accessibility Programs at Arena Stage, click here.

The Shoplifters runs approximately 90 minutes with one intermission.