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Laura Osnes
Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes to Star in Sneak Peek of new Ken Ludwig play at Theater J Benefit

Theater J's 2018 Annual Benefit is an elegant and lively evening of theater, socializing, and delectable food and drink at Arena Stage. The centerpiece of the event is a "sneak peek" reading of Ken Ludwig's brand new play Dear Jack, Dear Louise. Mr. Ludwig, a Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright, directs the reading, which stars Tony Award nominees Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes. This celebration, which supports the nation's most distinctive and progressive Jewish theater, will take place on Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 6:30 PM at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.

Renowned playwright-and DC resident-Ken Ludwig introduces his hilarious and surprising new play. An effervescent romance, Dear Jack, Dear Louise tells the true story of the courtship of Ludwig's own parents. It is 1942, and U.S. Army Captain Jacob S. Ludwig, stationed in Oregon, has become pen pals with Louise Rabiner, an aspiring actress in New York City. Through letters, notes, and telegrams, the young Jewish lovers must find their way toward each other-even though they have never met.

Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes, in the title roles, have already established their on-stage chemistry playing Prince Charming and Cinderella opposite one another in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway. Both received Tony Award nominations for their performances.

About the Playwright and Performers

Ludwig is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning playwright who has written over 26 plays and musicals, including 6 shows on Broadway and 7 in London's West End. His first Broadway play, Lend Me A Tenor, won two Tony Awards and was called "one of the classic comedies of the 20th century" by The Washington Post. His other awards include the Helen Hayes Award, the 2017 Samuel French Award for Sustained Excellence in the American Theatre, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery of the Year, and the Edwin Forrest Award for Contributions to the American Theater. His book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, published by Penguin/Random House, won the Falstaff Award for Best Shakespeare Book of the Year, and his essays are published by the Yale Review. 's best known works include Crazy For You (5 years on Broadway, Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Musical), Lend Me A Tenor, Moon Over Buffalo, Baskerville, Sherwood, A Fox on the Fairway, and a stage version of Murder on the Orient Express, written expressly at the request of the Agatha Christie Estate. His newest play, The Gods of Comedy, will premiere at The McCarter Theater in Princeton and The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in the spring of 2019. On Broadway and the West End, his plays have starred Alec Baldwin, Carol Burnett, Tony Shalhoub, Lynn Redgrave and Joan Collins. His work has been performed in over 30 countries in more than 20 languages, and is produced somewhere in the United States and abroad every night of the year.

Santino Fontana (Jack) has delighted audiences as one of Broadway's brightest stars and as a formidable screen talent with his numerous and recognizable roles. Fontana will next star on Broadway in 2019 as the titular role in the highly-anticipated new musical Tootsie. He is perhaps best known to broader audiences for lending his voice to the villainous Prince Hans in Disney's Academy Award winning animated feature, Frozen. He was also seen in Universal Studio's Sisters, starring opposite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. His independent film work includes the romantic comedy Off the Menu, psychological thriller Impossible Monsters, dramatic short Limit of Wooded Country, and comedy Papercop.

On television he's starred on The CW's critically acclaimed hour-long musical comedy series, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," as Greg. Simultaneously, Santino played David Saperstein, opposite Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta, in NBC's drama series "Shades of Blue." Other television credits include "Singularity" - an FX pilot from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg - and guest stars on "The Good Wife," "Nurse Jackie," "Brain Dead," "Mozart in the Jungle," and "Royal Pains." He can also be seen in the popular web series, "Submissions Only."

To other audiences, Santino is best known for his work onstage. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times wrote, "Santino Fontana [is] one of the most promising young actors to emerge in the New York Theater in recent years." Santino most recently starred in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and 1776, as part of the New York City Center's 'Encores' series, for which he received rave reviews across the board. Santino's portrayal of Moss Hart in Lincoln Center's production of Act One, which was filmed for PBS, also received critical praise. In 2013, Santino received a Tony Award nomination for his leading role as Prince Charming in Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and in 2012, he won Obie and Lucille Lortel awards for his acclaimed performance in Sons of the Prophet. Santino's other theatre credits include The Importance of Being Earnest (Clarence Derwent Award), A View From the Bridge, Brighton Beach Memoirs (Drama Desk Award), Billy Elliot, Zorba, and Sunday in the Park with George.

As a vocalist, Santino has performed in jazz venues such as Lincoln Center's Appel Room and Birdland. As an orchestra soloist, Santino has sung at Carnegie Hall, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and other top tier venues with symphonies, big bands, and smaller ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the New York Pops and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Laura Osnes (Louise) most recently starred in the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Bandstand (Drama Desk, Drama League nominations), which will be screened in movie theaters this June by Fathom Events. Other Broadway: Cinderella in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (Drama Desk Award; Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, Astaire nominations), Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (Tony Award nomination), after creating the role at Asolo Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse (San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award), Hope Harcourt in the Tony Award winning revival of Anything Goes (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Award nominations), Nellie Forbush in Lincoln Center Theater's production of South Pacific, and Sandy in the most recent revival of Grease. Other New York/regional credits include Crazy for You (Manhattan Concert Productions), The Blueprint Specials (Public Theatre), The Threepenny Opera (Atlantic Theater; Drama Desk Award nomination), City Center Encores! productions of The Band Wagon, Randy Newman's Faust, and Pipe Dream; The Sound of Music (Carnegie Hall), Carousel opposite Steven Pasquale (Lyric Opera of Chicago), and Broadway: Three Generations (Kennedy Center).

On television, she has been seen on the CBS series "Elementary," in the HBO pilot "The Miraculous Year," "Live from Lincoln Center: Bernstein On Broadway," "Sondheim: The Birthday Concert," HBO's documentary "Six By Sondheim," "A Capital Fourth" (PBS - 2017), and the "Kennedy Center Honors" salutes to Barbara Cook (2011) and Dustin Hoffman (2012). Her many concerts and cabarets include performing with Michael Feinstein, the New York Philharmonic, The New York Pops, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Boston Pops, The San Francisco Symphony, The National Symphony Orchestra, as well as appearing in such venues as Carnegie Hall, The Café Carlyle, 54 Below, Lincoln Center, NJPAC, The Smith Center in Las Vegas, and MN Orchestra Hall. In addition to being heard on several cast recordings, Laura has two solo albums, Dream A Little Dream: Live at The Café Carlyle and If I Tell You: The Songs of Maury Yeston.

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