Sober reflection: Bill W. and Dr. Bob at Shadowland

Shadowland, that sprightly, spruced-up gem of an Art Deco-style vaudeville theatre in downtown Ellenville, is winding up another splendid summer repertory season with a drama on a serious subject that will strike close to home for many. Opening this Friday, September 13 and running through September 29, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, written by Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey, tells the true story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In 1929, New York stockbroker Bill Wilson crashes with the stock market and becomes a hopeless drunk. Dr. Bob Smith is a surgeon from Ohio, who has also been an alcoholic for 30 years, often going into the operating room with a hangover. Through an astonishing series of events, Bill W. and Dr. Bob meet and form a relationship, each helping to keep the other sober.

Directed by Shadowland artistic director Brendan Burke, the play stars Galway McCullough as Bill W., Steve Brady as Dr. Bob, Jen Burry as Lois Wilson and Lori Wilner as Anne Smith, along with Brenny Rabine and David Smilow. Support for this production comes partially from the Villa Veritas Foundation, an inpatient rehabilitation center located in Kerhonkson; according to Burke, the cast members visited the Villa in person to do research for their characters.

First produced Off-Broadway in 2007, Bill W. and Dr. Bob has been called “textured and truthful” and “inspiring” by the Boston Globe, as well as “remarkable” and “deeply humane” by Variety. Find out more about these two remarkable men (and their equally remarkable wives, who founded Al Anon), and experience for yourself why Shadowland was named the first-ever recipient of the Ulster County Executive’s Outstanding Arts Organization award earlier this year.

Shows at Shadowland begin at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday evenings, with tickets going for $35, and $30 for the 2 p.m. Sunday matinées; students and seniors get a $2 discount. To order, visit www.shadowlandtheatre.org or call (845) 647-5511.

Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Thursdays-Sundays, September 13-29, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, $35, 2 p.m. Sunday, $30, Shadowland Theatre, 157 Canal Street, Ellenville; (845) 647-5511, www.shadowlandtheatre.org.

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