Press Release: Better Angels







Written by Wayne Peter Liebman

Directed by Dan Bonnell

Limited Engagement opens Saturday, October 24 at The Colony Theatre in Burbank!

"The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the BETTER ANGELS of our nature."

-- Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

September 22, 2009...Burbank...The Colony Theatre Company presents the third production of its 35th anniversary season, the West Coast Premiere of BETTER ANGELS, written by Wayne Peter Liebman and directed by Dan Bonnell. BETTER ANGELS will preview on Wednesday, October 21; Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23 at 8:00pm and will open on Saturday, October 24 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, November 22 at The Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street (at Cypress) adjacent to the Burbank Town Center.

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, BETTER ANGELS is a true story of our 16th president that's never been told. During a crucial point in our nation's history, President Lincoln is visited by a gracious, courageous woman who asks him for help. It's more than a meeting of the minds -- it's a captivating connection, full of promise, that surprises them both. Based on historic records and found text, BETTER ANGELS captures a fascinating but forgotten incident that reveals the humanity of one of our greatest leaders -- with a glimpse into his soul.


WAYNE PETER LIEBMAN (Playwright) wrote Better Angels in 2008, and that same year, it won the Trustus Playwright Prize and premiered at the Trustus Playwright Festival in Columbia, SC. In September 2008, the Broad Stage's inaugural performance series, American Voices, featured a staged reading of Better Angels. Wayne's full-length play Transference was presented at the 2004 National Playwrights Conference, O'Neill Theater Center, and won the 2003 Maxim Muzamdar Competition. Other awards include a New Play Commission Grant by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and second place in the Sprenger Lang Foundation's U.S. History Play Competition. Four of Wayne's one-acts for children, commissioned by the Virginia Avenue Project, were produced at UCLA and 24th Street Theatre. His one-act, "The Sun Maiden," was presented by the 2004 Los Angeles Edge of the World Festival at the Autry National Museum. He is proud to have worked on his plays with many L.A. actors including James Cromwell, Dustin Hoffman, and Amy Ryan. Wayne is the author of Tending the Fire (Ally Press) and co-edited (with Jo Scott) an anthology of poems, Raising the Roof (Bombshelter Press), for Habitat for Humanity. His poetry and prose, widely published, have been anthologized in In the Company of Others (Tarcher), Beyond the Valley of the Contemporary Poets (Sacred Beverage), Second Opinion (U. of Iowa Press) and 14 L.A. Poets (Bombshelter). Wayne is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and Dog Ear Playwrights Collective. (

DAN BONNELL (Director) His work has been seen in Los Angeles at Pacific Resident Theatre, including Happy End (winner of Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award in 2005 for Best Revival) and Anatol (winner of Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle in 2007 for Best Directing). He has also directed at The Matrix, Open Fist, Theatre of Note (Spider Bites), The Met, Boston Court (365 Plays) Cornerstone, [Inside] @ The Ford, ASK Theater Projects, Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA (Headless, Stage Directions, And Still the Dogs), Highways, Moving Arts, Nexus Theatre Company, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, HBO Workspace (Sarah Silverman's pilot project, Sarah Says Cheese, and the live theatrical version of Mr. Show with Bob and David). He served as the Artistic Director at Arcade, a workspace for theatre and media from 1995-2001 and was the Co-Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA from 2006-2008. In addition to the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, Dan has been honored with the LA Weekly Directing Award, the NAACP Directing Award and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Theater in Los Angeles. He has been nominated for the Ovation Award and for Theatre Communications Group's "Alan Schneider Award." Prior to LA, Dan was a Resident Company Director at Circle Repertory Company in New York City and staged plays for notable institutions across the country including Long Wharf, The Asolo, Atlanta's Alliance Theater, Pioneer Theater Company, and internationally at the Bronfman Center in Montreal and Theatre Les Dechargeurs in Paris. He has taught at Ensemble Studio Theatre Institute in NYC, UCLA, Denison University, Cypress College, and is currently a Lecturer in Performance at UC Riverside.


DAVID DEAN BOTTRELL (John Hay) is probably best known these days for his recurring role as the creepy "Lincoln Meyer" on ABC's "Boston Legal." Other television gigs include guest star roles on "Criminal Minds," "Ugly Betty," "Women's Murder Club," "JAG," "Dharma and Greg," "Titus" and "Mad About You," among others. During his 13 years as an east coast actor and playwright, he worked at many off-Broadway and regional theatres including the Second Stage, the Long Wharf, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, Studio Arena, the Manhattan Punch Line and the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Highlights include "Fun" alongside Lili Taylor and "Antigone" with Angela Bassett and Richard Schiff. David co-wrote the screenplay for the 2001 Fox Searchlight release, "Kingdom Come" starring Whoopi Goldberg, L.L. Cool J. and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Other studio work includes scripts for Fox, MTV Films, Paramount and Disney Feature Animation. In addition to being a regular performer at "Sit 'N Spin" (a writers' showcase at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood), his first-person essays appear regularly in Metrosource Magazine as well as on the Huffington Post and Salon.Com.

McKERRIN KELLY (Mrs. Harvey) Her most recent local stage work includes Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Loyal Women (LA Weekly Award) and What the Butler Saw, all at Theatre Banshee. She was also in Love's Old Sweet Song at Syzygy Theatre; The Picture of Dorian Gray at Theatre @ Boston Court (Ovation Nomination); and Yellow/ Flesh/ Alabaster/ Rose (LA Weekly Nomination), Clytemnestra At Home, and Famous Blue, all at Theatre of NOTE. Regionally, she appeared in Teibele and Her Demon (Backstage West Award - Best Actress), Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (San Diego Critics Circle Award- Best Actress), and The Importance of Being Earnest at Blackfriars Theatre; and The Cherry Orchard at La Jolla Playhouse. TV includes "Criminal Minds" and "The New Adventures of Robin Hood." Film credits include "Feed," "Outta Sync," and "Call of Cthulu."

JAMES READ (Mr. Lincoln) James Read recently returned from Mexico City where he completed filming on several episodes of the soon-to-be-seen NBC series Persons Unknown. James started acting professionally in New York and then spent two seasons with the Denver Center Theater Company where he performed in Passing Game, Misalliance and Henry IV Pt. 1. His television career began as a series regular on the first season of Remington Steele, and he went on to starring roles in many television movies and mini-series including RFK and His Times, Poor Little Rich Girl, Lace II and his break-through role of George Hazzard in the epic North & South. His early credits in feature films include major roles in Beaches, John Sayles' Eight Men Out, Love Crimes and Walking Thunder. In recent years he spent four seasons as a series regular on Wildfire (where he also directed), and he appeared in recurring roles on Charmed and American Dreams. Recent feature work includes Legally Blonde, Not Another Teen Movie, A Lot Like Love, and the remake of Fame. James is also a frequent performer with "Speaking of Stories" in Santa Barbara, where he lives with his wife and children. 

BETTER ANGELS has assembled an award-winning design team. The Scenic Design is by Victoria Profitt (Colony - Trying, Master Harold...and the boys). The Lighting Design is by Chris Wojcieszyn (Love Water, Headless). The Costume Design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg (City of Angels, Side Show, The Laramie Project, The Grand Tour). The Sound Design is by Cricket S. Myers (Mary's Wedding, Educating Rita, Voice of the Prairie). Prop Design is by Colony Theatre resident designers MacAndME.


BETTER ANGELS will open on Saturday, October 24 and perform through Sunday, November 22, 2009. Performances for BETTER ANGELS are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. There will be additional performances on Thursdays, November 12 and 19 at 8pm, & Saturdays, October 31 and November 7 at 3pm. (No 7 pm performance on October 25, and no 8 pm performance on October 31). Ticket prices range from $37.00 - $42.00 (student, senior and group discounts are available). BETTER ANGELS will preview on Wednesday, October 21; Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23 at 8:00pm. Preview Tickets are $20.00 - $25.00. Opening night performance with reception - all tickets $50.00. There are question-and-answer talkbacks after the performances on Friday, October 30, and Thursday, November 12. For tickets, call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000 ext. 15 or online at

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

The award-winning Colony Theatre Company is Burbank's premiere professional theatre. It was voted "Best Live Theatre in L.A." in The Daily News 2006 Readers' Choice poll, and has been named one of "25 Notable U.S. Theatre Companies" by Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac for 6 years in a row. 

The Colony Theatre Company is a 35-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 Downtown Burbank. For further information, call (818) 558-7000. Fax: (818) 558-7110. E-mail: Or visit our website at