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About The Play

Dr. Bob (Steve Brady) and Bill W (Patrick Boll)

Dr. Bob (Steve Brady) and Bill W (Patrick Boll)

Bill W. and Dr. Bob is the inspiring and often humorous story of the two men who pioneered Alcoholics Anonymous, and their supportive wives, who founded Al Anon. It returns to Off Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse after an eleven-month, 251 performance run in 2013-2014. (The first Off Broadway run was in 2007 at the New World Stages).

Directed by SoHo Playhouse’s Artistic Director, Darren Lee Cole, this particular revival of the internationally recognized show embarks on a few firsts in the theater community. Not only is this the first time a highly-revered educational and medical institution is using theater as a medium to educate the public and their students, but it’s also the first time the show will be presented in both English and Spanish with the hope of sparking dialogue about addiction to a wider audience. A talented cast of 3 Costa Ricans and 3 Americans will reprise the roles. Overall, the vision of this production is to celebrate the power of recovery, educate the public and healthcare community about the disease of alcoholism by breaking down barriers and stigmas, and support outreach to all who still suffer and their friends and loved ones.

In 1929, famous New York stockbroker Bill Wilson crashes with the stock market and becomes a hope-less drunk. Dr. Bob Smith, a surgeon from Ohio, has also been an alcoholic for thirty years, often going into the operating room with a hangover. Through an astonishing series of events, the two men are brought together and, realizing that “the only thing that can keep a drunk sober is telling his story to an-other drunk,” forge a relationship. They help each other stay sober, and then pass on what they’ve learned to others. This drama that rides on humor, not only tells the extraordinary story of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous—which many studies, often from the Division of Substance Abuse at NYU School of Medicine, have shown is the most effective long-term treatment of this disease because of its emphasis on connection and community—but it also goes to the heart of what the practice of medicine is all about: the risk of isolation, and the healing power of good connection. Nearly eight decades later, having never promoted itself, AA spans over 170 countries, with an estimated total of over 114,000 groups and more than two million members worldwide.

Having been presented around the world and in over 35 states in the U.S., Bill W.and Dr. Bob has been lauded by critics and audiences alike: more reviews

“A satisfying revival.” – The New York Times
“An endearing portrait of friendship uplifted by warm humor. Inspiring!” – The New Yorker
“Deeply human and audience-embracing.” – Variety
“Inspiring” and “a textured, truthful telling of AA’s story.” – The Boston Globe
“Surprisingly entertaining, engrossing, and touching.” – The San Francisco Chronicle
“A strong theatrical vehicle; a reminder that there is power in community.” – The Huffington Post

About This Tour

In partnership with NYU Langone Medical Center and their Initiative on Alcoholism and its Treatment, and with special thanks to the Department of Psychiatry-Division of Substance Abuse, the SoHo Playhouse is pleased to present the international tour of Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey’s critically-acclaimed play, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, with a press preview on Friday, January 8, 2015 and an official English opening on Saturday, January 9 and Spanish opening on Tuesday, January 12.

To accomplish this, 50% of all tickets will be given away to those in recovery as well as NYU Langone medical staff, faculty and students who are working tirelessly on diagnosis, treatment, and sobriety sustainability methods.

Further opportunities for learning and discussion will take place through talkbacks after each show led by playwrights, Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey (Shem is the pen-name for Dr. Steve Bergman, Professor of Medical Humanities at NYU School of Medicine), and other representatives from the school. Furthermore, NYU Langone will host seminars and a colloquium on alcoholism and its treatment, where members of the Bill W. and Dr. Bob cast will perform pieces of the show to complement the study and expand the pre-clinical and clinical focus of medical students greatly.

“Alcoholism is a great healthcare challenge and is deserving of attention in medical training and in the practice of medicine,” said Robert I. Grossman, MD, Dean & CEO, NYU Langone Medical Center. “We believe this play can be used as a tool to help increase the focus and training of our medical staff and students on the diagnosis and the treatment of this disease, and we are pleased to be part of an initiative which uses theatre as a medium to both inspire and educate the public at large about this important topic.”

“In 1986, as doctors treating alcoholics and addicts, we came across the great American success story of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith — and felt The Muse tap us on our shoulders: ‘You have to write this, as live theatre, and start it with a guy on one side of the stage saying, “My name is Bill W. and I’m an alcoholic,’ and on the other, ‘Dr. Bob, alcoholic, good t’be here sober,’” said playwrights Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey. “We had several goals: to write a great, historically-accurate play that anyone (not just recover-ing drunks) would love, that would touch, amuse, inspire, educate, do service, and heal–a play that would do good in the world (what an old-fashioned idea!). Forty years later, with the creative and exclu-sive sponsorship of New York University Langone Medical Center, a great ‘service’ and ‘healing’ institution, our goals are met, our vision coming true.”

Bill W. and Dr. Bob © 2015. All Rights Reserved.