October 22—November 6, 2021

Ellen Simon

Is genius a good enough excuse for bad behavior?

Is genius a good enough excuse for bad behavior?

In this witty and acrimonious World Premiere, a brilliant sculptor in failing health is forced to deal with his son and with his ninth wife. He confronts his own mortality and the claims of family versus art in this witty and engaging look at complicated relationships and a family who sometimes behaves badly.

Contains strong language.

Tickets are no longer available for this show.

Important Dates

Monday – Thursday , 7:00 PM
Friday & Saturday, 7:30 PM
Saturday, 2:00 PM


The Bireley Endowment

Sandi Behnken




*Members of the Actors’ Equity Association



ELLEN SIMON (Playwright) wrote the screenplays for One Fine Day and Moonlight and Valentino, based upon her stage play. She also worked on How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, as well as doing rewrites for numerous other films. Her plays have been performed at Duke Broadway Preview Series, Stages Repertory in Houston and The Pasadena Playhouse. Ellen wrote for the television series, “thirtysomething,” and created a sitcom pilot for NBC. She is most grateful to Karen Azenberg and Pioneer Theatre Company for the 2018 staged reading of Ass in their Play-by-Play series, and now for their mainstage production.

KAREN AZENBERG (Director) This marks Karen Azenberg’s eighth season as Artistic Director at PTC. Favorite projects include the world premieres of Alabama Story and “i”; the regional premieres of Sting’s The Last Ship, and Les Misérables; and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Newsies, Sweet Charity, and The Rocky Horror Show. Originally from New York, her work there includes Lyrics and Lyricists (92nd St. Y), Blocks (a collaboration with Jonathan Larson), Prom Queens Unchained, and choreography for Richard Greenberg’s The Dazzle (Roundabout Theatre Company). Among her other credits are National Tours of Carousel and Brigadoon, West Side Story (over 15 productions), and productions at Indiana Repertory, Geva Theatre Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Goodspeed, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. Karen is a past president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). Her favorite productions are her son Alexander and her daughter Emelia.

WILL VAN DYKE (Music Composer) currently serves as the Music Supervisor/Orchestrator/Arranger of the hit revival of Little Shop Of Horrors Off-Broadway.  Will also Orchestrated and Arranged Pretty Woman on Broadway and continues to Supervise worldwide. Other credits: Kinky BootsRentThe Addams FamilyGrease, and Wicked.  As a composer: i (Pioneer), The Gravedigger’s Lullaby (TACT), Straight (Acorn), Writing Kevin Taylor (Village), The Lion King Experience titles (Disney).  Will also writes musicals with Jeff Talbott and is one-half of the band Stereo Dawn (@stereodawn). For more info and music: www.willvandyke.com or @wvdmusic.

JO WINIARSKI (Scenic Designer) Jo’s previous designs at PTC were this past winter’s Holiday Windows and The Lifespan of a Fact. Jo’s Off-Broadway credits include Accidentally Brave, The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, Love, Loss, and What I Wore; other New York credits include Abingdon Theatre Company, New Georges, The New Group, Keen Company, and Clubbed Thumb. Regional design credits include Guthrie Theater; Arizona Theatre Company; Utah Shakespeare Festival (over 40 shows); The Old Globe; Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Dallas Theater Center; and Geva Theatre Center. Additional credits include Wishes for Disney Cruise Line. Jo was art director on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” (episodes 1-844) and received an Emmy nomination for “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All.”

PHILLIP R. LOWE (Costume Designer) Is a MFA graduate of Utah State University and was the Kennedy Center’s 2002 recipient of the National Barbizon Award for his costume design of The Lion in Winter. Phil spent five seasons as Costume Director for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre where his favorite credits include: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatOklahoma!How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and Seussical. Phil has also designed over 25 productions for SLC’s Plan-B Theatre Company including the World Premier of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. Other local credits include: La Cage aux Folles, White Christmas and Urinetown at Park City’s Egyptian Theatre, Musical of Musicals: The Musical, and Xanadu at The Grand Theatre, and Iphigenia in Taurisfor the Classical Greek Theatre Festival.  

MICHAEL GILLIAM (Lighting Design) Broadway: Bonnie And ClydeBrooklynBig RiverStand-Up Tragedy; The West End: Gershwin Alone; Off-Broadway: Cagney The MusicalTappin’ Thru Life, The Best Is Yet to ComeStriking 12Mr. Joy, Blue, Zooman and The SignMenopause The Musical; National Tours: Peter Pan, Guys and Dolls, Big River. And many of the country’s Regional Theatres. Awards: Los Angeles Ovation Awards, Drama-Logue Awards, Garland Awards, and the 1999 Career achievement award from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.

PAUL MILLER (Lighting Designer) Previously at PTC: Cagney, Mamma Mia!Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Curious Incident…, I Hate Hamlet, A Few Good Men, Much Ado About Nothing, In The Heights. Broadway: Amazing Grace, The Illusionists, Legally Blonde, Freshly Squeezed, Laughing Room Only; Off-Broadway: Desperate Measures, Clinton!, Pageant, Vanities – the Musical, Waiting for Godot, Addicted, Nunsense, Balancing Act, and 11 productions for New York City Center Encores!. Regional: The Old Globe, Dallas Theatre Center, Chicago Shakespeare, Idaho Shakespeare, Asolo Repertory, American Conservatory Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Goodspeed Opera House, Westport Playhouse. U.S. Tours include: The Illusionists, Elf, Shrek, Legally Blonde, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Hairspray, The Producers, The Sound of Music. Television: Live from Lincoln Center, Netflix, New Year’s Eve from Time’s Square for the last 20 years. International: Stratford Festival, London’s West End, Vienna, Milan (Teatro alla Scala), Brazil, The Phillippines, South Africa, and China.

MICAH MAXSON (Live Mix Engineer) Micah hails from Ogden, Utah where in three years he earned his BA in Theatre Arts, emphasizing in Sound Design, at Weber State University. During his time there, Micah facilitated his education by honing his skills as an audio engineer, working for premier audio production companies in the Salt Lake area, in addition to working directly for performance venues across the Wasatch Front. After graduating in 2018, Micah went on to work with Carnival Cruise Line in an international capacity as a production engineer and audio technician, facilitating hundreds of shows across dozens of Caribbean ports. Micah is happy to be home and remembers fondly attending PTC shows as a high school student where he proudly works now.



Spotlight for Learning

Notes on the Play

Our communication was admittedly patchy at times, even though we are mostly all writers, and usually pretty good at expressing ourselves. Is there a play somewhere in there, I thought? Maybe they aren’t writers. That seemed too close for comfort and probably annoying to watch. Like paint drying. Paint? Maybe one’s an artist? A great artist who sculpts body parts?  Which body part? Oh. That could work, if I dare.

I began writing this play around fifteen years ago, wanting to move away from romantic comedies, to try something intimate, theatrical, and thematically deeper. I thought of my own playwright-father’s advice to 1) write what you know, and 2) make sure there is conflict. I also thought about my favorite plays, all family-based stories, and so fashioned a family completely different than my own, while also being quite similar in how they behave badly. We at my house could be articulate grumblers and finger-pointers amid all the love. I wanted to try and walk the line between comedy and drama, to see how broadly I could amplify the funny while still being real. And I wanted to create a familiar dynamic similar to what I had experienced growing up, but to also find a story that took on a life of its own, grounded in outrage and truth, that also had to earn the cheeky title that I can’t even share with my own grandson!

My wish for you: hold on to your hats, and please enjoy…

Ellen Simon, playwright of Ass which premieres at PTC on October 22, 2021. 


Ellen spent her youth watching her father, playwright Neil Simon, work on Broadway before launching her own successful career as a screenwriter and playwright.

Content Advisory

The World Premiere of Ass

SYNOPSIS: A brilliant sculptor in failing health is forced to deal with his son and with his ninth wife, confronting his own mortality and the claims of his family and friends on his art and his money.

LANGUAGE: The contemporary characters in Ass speak colorfully. There is a moderate amount of strong language in the play, enough to qualify the play for an “R” rating.

This language unsurprisingly includes the frequent use of the word “ass,” usually as a noun describing the sculpture or the body part from which the sculpture is derived, but in one case describing a person as an “asshole.” The language also includes four uses of “fuck,” several uses of “shit” or “bullshit,” two uses of “Goddamn,” two uses of “omigod,” multiple uses of “hell” as an exclamation, and the use of “pissed off” to describe anger.

SMOKING AND DRINKING: There are no depictions of smoking or recreational drug use, but the characters do drink champagne in celebration.

SEX: None, though it is alluded to on a couple occasions.


FOR WHICH AUDIENCES? The play’s strong language may make it discomfiting to conservative audience members, and teenagers should attend at a parent’s discretion. It is unsuitable for pre-teens.

RATING: If it were a movie, Ass would be rated “R” for language.


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