Little Gem to open on City Theatre's Hamburg Studio stage


City Theatre will present Little Gem, a lively, new comedy by Irish playwright Elaine Murphy.

Directed by Kimberly Senior, Little Gem runs from March 30 to May 5, in City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio Theatre, with an opening night performance on Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m.

In Little Gem, party girl Amber feels a rumble in her stomach. Her compulsive mother Lorraine tries her hand at salsa dancing. And her grandmother Kay “toys” with the meaning of pleasure as she looks after her ill husband. Three generations of middle-class, Irish women tell the story of one extraordinary year.

“Little Gem follows a family of Irish women over the course of the craziest year of their lives,” says Tracy Brigden, City Theatre’s artistic director. “I fell in love with this script because these women truly have grit. They dominate the stage with hilarious and moving monologues, and while the men in the family are not physically on stage, their impact on these female characters is poignantly portrayed. Amber, Lorraine, and Kay navigate the ups and downs of life and love, and, by the end of the play, you’ll feel like joining them all for a pint.”

This debut play by Elaine Murphy premiered at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2008 and played to packed audiences during its sellout run. Little Gem won the Fishamble New Writing Award and a nomination for Best New Play at the Irish Times Theatre Awards before transferring to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre, where it won the 2009 Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award.

Ms. Murphy’s second play, Ribbons, was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre for The Fairer Sex, a series of short plays from leading female playwrights. She is the winner of the Stewart Parker BBC Northern Ireland Drama Award for 2009 and was chosen as a participant of ‘Six in the Attic,’ an initiative funded by the Irish Arts Council which provides six theatre artists with space, time, support, and the practical resources needed to explore, develop, and make work in a conducive environment. Shush, an Abbey Theatre commission, will premiere in June 2013.

Little Gem marks Chicago-based director Kimberly Senior’s City Theatre debut. Her regional directing credits include Disgraced (LCT3); Murder on the Nile, A Few Good Men (Peninsula Players); and Mauritius (Theatre Squared).

In Chicago, she directed The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); The Letters (Writers’ Theatre); Want, The North Plan (Steppenwolf); After the Revolution, Mauritius, The Overwhelming (Next); Cripple of Inishmaan, Bug, The Pillowman (Redtwist); Disgraced (American Theater Company); Waiting for Lefty (American Blues); Old Times, Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters (Strawdog); Thieves Like Us (House Theatre); All My Sons and Dolly West’s Kitchen (TimeLine Theatre).

Little Gem features Hayley Nielsen, Cary Anne Spear, and Robin Walsh.

Tickets are available at City Theatre’s box office, 1300 Bingham Street, by calling 412.431.CITY (2489) or at


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