Debra Monk Heads Cast of New Political Comedy PRIMARY

Industry Readings in NYC February 27 & 28 World Premiere October 11-14 at Weathervane Theatre

Just as the future of the New Hampshire primary comes into question, New Hampshire’s Weathervane Theatre, Out of the Box Theatrics and Breukelen Stage and Film will present industry-only staged readings of PRIMARY, a new play by Kelly Strandemo in New York City on Monday, February 27 at 5pm, Tuesday, February 28 at 1pm at ART/NY’s Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre (502 W 53rd St.).

Directed by Ethan Paulini, PRIMARY will star Emmy and Tony Award-winner Debra Monk and Broadway’s Michael X Martin (Ragtime, 9 to 5, My Fair Lady), Kathy Deitch (Wicked, Footloose), Robert H Fowler (The Producers, Beauty and the Beast). Rounding out the cast are Jason Xing Hart, Kimi Handa Brown, Liz Flemming (Baby), and Michael J Connolly with stage management by Egypt Dixon.

PRIMARY will make its World Premiere October 11-14, 2023 at Weathervane Theatre (389 Lancaster Road, Whitefield, NH 03598). Last fall a staged reading of Primary was presented at the Weathervane. The play marks Weathervane Theatre’s first commission. Single tickets ($19-35) can be purchased at Early access pricing is available through Saturday, February 18 with savings up to 50%. Complete cast to be announced shortly.

It’s election season in the Granite State. The dwindling number of residents of a small town are thrilled when a new family moves in, thus ensuring the national attention they receive from their traditional New Hampshire midnight primary can continue. But when the new residents are anything but “traditional,” assumptions of each person’s primary desires are uncovered as they navigate how to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as a community.  

While PRIMARY uses New Hampshire’s traditional voting legacy as a catalyst, the story centers on the changing demographics and personal interplay of small-town life. Strandemo, a South Carolina native who now lives in Brooklyn, says; “If you had told me two years ago that we would be working on the world premiere of Primary at the very time that my home state was being tapped to be the new ‘first,’ I would have said there’s no way that we’d see that confluence of events. I would not have made that up for lack of plausibility. And yet, somehow, we are here. I am admittedly glued to a myriad of news sources and am moment-by-moment writing an increasing number of alternate endings in my head.”

Kelly Strandemo is a Brooklyn-based writer and actor. Her plays have been performed across the country from LA to NYC. Kelly’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ THE CONGRESSWOMEN most recently played the NY Fringe and Weathervane Theatre. Additionally, she served as a head writer on a thirty-episode web series, and her narrative short, HOLD, is set to be filmed later this year. As an actor, Kelly has appeared off-Broadway, regionally, and in London where she received her Masters Degree in Classical Acting from LAMDA. Kelly can currently be seen in Sarah Smith and Phillip Guttmann’s film, CARDIFF. Kelly is proud to be the recipient of Weathervane Theatre’s first play commission with PRIMARY.

Ethan Paulini is currently the Producing Artistic Director of the Weathervane Theatre in Whitefield, NH and Producing Associate Artistic Director of Off-Broadway’s Out of the Box Theatrics. An actor, director, choreographer, writer and educator, favorite recent projects include directing and choreographing the revised revival of Maltby/Shire/Pearson’s Baby (Drama Desk Nominee for Outstanding Revival of a Musical – Cast recording now available on Yellow Sound Label), appearing as Mr. Chaplin on Apple TV’s Dear Edward, directing and choreographing Blood Brothers at Weathervane Theatre and 9 to 5 at PTC in Bangor, ME and portraying Ed Kleban in A Class Act, also at Weathervane. Founder: #ethancoaches – an acting and career coaching studio. Ethan co-wrote the musical Mama and Her Boys that has been performed over 500 times including an extended Off-Broadway run. He is a proud member of SAG/AFTRA and SDC. He is also a member of AEA. More info can be found at and

The Weathervane Theatre was founded in 1965 by Gibbs Murray and the late Tom Haas and is under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Ethan Paulini. For over half a century, it has presented high quality professional productions of plays and musicals. One of the few remaining alternating rep companies in the United States, the Weathervane is recognized as a historical institution nationwide, boasting among its alumni 2021 Tony nominee Elizabeth Stanley, Tally Sessions, four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn and recent Tony Award Winner Ari’el Stachel. 

Out of the Box Theatrics (OOTB) is an Off-Broadway Non-For-Profit committed to lifting the voices of marginalized communities through the stories they tell. OOTB challenges audiences to experience work outside of their expectations and strives to diversify American theater by providing an inclusive and accessible platform for artists and patrons. OOTB was founded in 2015 by Elizabeth Flemming. Past productions include the Drama League nominated The Last Five Years, The Pink Unicorn, Baby (Drama Desk Outstanding Revival nominee, Off-Broadway Alliance Best Revival nominee), “Master Harold” …and the Boys, Songs for a New World, Shoes & Baggage, …Charlie Brown, Nocturne, and Into the Woods. In addition to mainstage programming, OOTB offers the new works initiative Building the Box. FB, IG, Twitter @ootbtheatrics

Breukelen Stage & Film was founded as an innovative production company to nurture emerging artists and their work in multiple performing media. World premier stage adaptations in collaboration with Ducdame Ensemble include FUENTE OVEJUNA (Best Bet and Overall Excellence Award Winner) and THE CONGRESSWOMEN, both at FringeNYC, as well as THE ENCHANTMENT (Playbill and Time Out NY Pick) at HERE Arts Center. With Menaced Minds Productions, the web series BEN & LUCY has been screened at several festivals, including the Golden Door International Film Festival (Best New Media), and post-production is now complete for the feature film THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. Projects under development include works for stage, film, television and digital media.