Press Release: Climbing Everest






The World Premiere of

Climbing Everest

Written by Margit Ahlin

Directed by Al D'Andrea

The adventure begins Saturday, April 9th at 8:00pm

at the Colony Theatre in Burbank!

January 17, 2005…Burbank, CA…The Colony Theatre Company announces the fifth and final production of their 2004 - 2005 season, the world premiere play CLIMBING EVEREST, written by Margit Ahlin and directed by Al D'Andrea. CLIMBING EVEREST will preview Wednesday, April 6; Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8 and will open on Saturday, April 9 and continue through Sunday, May 8 at the Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street (at Cypress) in the Burbank Town Center.

Mostly set on and atop the world's tallest and deadliest mountain, CLIMBING EVEREST is a stunning, vibrant, and moving story of one woman's quest to overcome family tragedy and to bring some peace to her shattered life.

Mallory Falconer comes from a family of mountain climbers. She suffers, along with everyone else in her family, when her father is pulled into an avalanche while climbing in the Himalayas. But that's just the beginning.

When her beloved brother later sets out to conquer the world's tallest peak and succumbs to hypothermia, Mallory is left devastated by the double loss. She becomes obsessed with getting her brother's body off the mountain, and sets out to climb the deadly peak and do the impossible --- retrieve a body from the flanks of Everest. Against all odds, Mallory pits herself against the summit that sits more than 5 miles high as she climbs into the area called the Death Zone. In the end she takes a journey unlike any other on Earth.

Comments Colony Artistic Director Barbara Beckley: "I love a good adventure yarn, and this one has it all---romance, danger, treachery, humor, and a heroine overcoming enormous physical challenges to reach her goal. But there's a much deeper level to the play in that Mallory thinks she's climbing the mountain to find her brother, but she's really going up there to find herself. It's an amazing journey, and one which I am proud was developed here at the Colony. I'm really looking forward to taking our audiences to the top of the world with this world premiere play that closes an extraordinary season at the Colony!"

Playwright Ahlin was originally inspired to write CLIMBING EVEREST after reading the Outside magazine article which later became the book Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. That article recounted the tragic events of the spring climbing season of 1996, when 12 people died while attempting to climb Everest. She says that while the story was fascinating enough, there was a single element of the tragedy that struck her and stayed with her. When somebody dies on Everest, it is nearly impossible to retrieve the body for burial; if you die on Everest, you stay on Everest, preserved in frozen silence forever. This gruesome fact immediately reminded Ahlin of the classic tale Antigone (in which Antigone breaks the King's decree that her brother's body lie unburied on the battlefield). Ahlin says, "That's what started it--the idea of all these bodies lying around unburied. So the first scene that popped into my mind was Antigone, arguing with the King, saying 'please, let me take my brother's body away', and the King saying 'no, it goes against our rules' -- instantly, it was woman, her brother, and this antagonist in the form of a king-like character. That scene formed in my mind, and the play went in every direction from there."

While the setting is unique, this play is so much more than an adventure tale pitting (wo)man against nature. Ahlin has crafted a beautiful and personal story of the search for empowerment in a world that has spiraled out of control, an intimate tale of one woman facing her demons and rediscovering life, set against the world's largest backdrop. Director Al D'Andrea describes the heart of the play, "Centrally, the play is about how Mallory is dead inside, by virtue of the slings and arrows of life--especially her father's death--but her journey, this journey of the play, brings her back to life. She is resurrected into the world of the living."

Playwright Margit Ahlin co-founded (with actor and director Al D'Andrea) and for nine years served as literary manager and later managing director of the Third Step Theatre Company, an off-Broadway company in New York devoted to new works. Third Step produced several of her pieces including the musicals "The Christmas Bride" (with composer/lyricist Noel Katz) and "The Elephant Piece" (with composer/lyricist/co-author Darryl Curry), and the plays "Onlyman" (co-authored with D'Andrea) and "Great X-ing". Other New York credits include her several songs for the Broadway-bound "Kipling's Story Theatre," and book for the episodic musical "Focus On..." for The Theatre Company in Chappaqua, New York. Since moving to California in 1993, Margit has continued to write in several disciplines. Most recently she penned lyrics to "Mesmerized" (with author D'Andrea and composer Curry) which received a workshop at the Women's Club of Hollywood and is under production consideration at Theatre @ St. Clements in New York. Her short play "The Persons' Court" has been produced four times - at 92nd Street Y in New York, at the Secret Rose Theatre's 10 minute Play Festival (where it won third prize), at the Spot Cabaret in Silverlake (where it won in the ALAP festival) and at Third Step in New York. Her musical "The Freaks' Club" (with composer Thomas Adams) was part of the New Tuners' Stages 2001 Festival of New Musicals in Chicago in 2001, and that same year "The Christmas Bride" received a lavish production at the 425-seat Foy Concert Hall in Bethlehem, PA. Before that her musical "George Q" (with composer Curry) was workshopped at the Theatre @ St. Clement's in New York. Her play "A Maid of Honor" was recently workshopped by The Playwrights Group in Hollywood, and that group also produced her short play "The Creche" as part of the show "Seven Playwrights Exposing Themselves" at Gardner Stages. Margit also writes children's books, screenplays, and lectures both informative and funny for the Los Angeles Zoo. Margit is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and the Actors and Directors Lab in New York, and is a member of the Dramatists' Guild and the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights.

Al D'Andrea is a stage director, actor, writer, and Colony Theatre member. He has directed numerous productions of original works in Los Angeles, New York and regionally, and has been involved in the development of Climbing Everest since its inception. He has served as directing and/or literary assistant at the Mark Taper Forum on several New Works Festivals and was literary assistant to Peter Parnell in the Taper's 1998 Workshop of Mr. Parnell's stage adaptation of The Cider House Rules. Mr. D'Andrea is former Artistic Director of the Third Step Theatre Company, a collective of New York theatre artists devoted to new play development and production during the 80's and 90's. While in New York, Al was accorded the honor of producing and directing the New York premiere of Eugene Ionesco's The Killing Game and playing the title role in the New York premiere of Ionesco's Macbett. As an actor,

Al has appeared on the Colony stage in June Moon, The Living, Lost In Yonkers and The Matchmaker, receiving a DramaLogue Performance Award for his portrayal of the curmudgeon Horace Vandergelder. TV credits include N.Y.P.D. Blue, Family Law, Profiler, Brooklyn South, Murder One, Tracey Takes On and It's Like, You Know. Recent film credits include Temptation, Joey Petrone: TV Cop, and the upcoming This Is Not All. Al recently completed the book to and directed a workshop production of the new musical Mesmerized, the story of Anton Mesmer and his cure of the blind prodigy pianist Maria Theresa Paradies in 1777 Vienna, a show currently in search of its first production. Mr. D'Andrea is a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab West and SSDC.

CLIMBING EVEREST has assembled an award-winning design team. The set design is by Yevgenia Nayberg. The costume design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg. The sound design is by Drew Dalzell. The lighting design is by Steven Young.

CLIMBING EVEREST will open on Saturday, April 9 and perform through Sunday, May 8, 2005. Performances for CLIMBING EVEREST will be Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Additionally there will be performances on Saturday, April 16 and Saturday, April 23 at 3:00pm; and also Thursday, April 28 and Thursday, May 5 at 8:00pm. There will be no 7:00pm performance on Sunday, April 10. Ticket prices range from $26.00 - $36.00 (student, senior and group discounts are available). Preview performances will be Wednesday, April 6, Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8 at 8:00pm - all tickets $16.00. Opening night performance with reception - all tickets $50.00. There will be two Talk-Back performances with the cast on Friday, April 15 and Thursday, April 28 immediately following the performance. For tickets, call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000.

In partnership with the Los Angeles Radio Reading Service, The Colony now offers Audio Description for one performance during each production. The service provides a rich description of the show, giving our visually impaired patrons the full Colony experience. Audio Description will be available on Saturday, April 23 at 3:00pm. To make a reservation for this performance, call the box office and ask for Audio Description Saturday.

For more information or for press comps, please contact David Elzer/DEMAND PR at 818/508-1754 or at

The Colony Theatre Company is a 29 year old organization dedicated to bringing the finest quality theatrical productions to Los Angeles. The theatre is located at 555 North Third Street, at the corner of Cypress, in the heart of the Burbank Media Center. For further information, call (818) 558-7000. Fax number: (818) 558-7110. E-mail: Or visit our website at www.colonytheatre.ORG.