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Lucky Break-a-Leg 

Comedy scores writer a place in the record books.

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Last month, New York-born playwright Carly Mensch made waves in theatrical circles after her comedy, All Hail Hurricane Gordo, was staged at the annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. At 24, the Dartmouth grad became the youngest-ever writer to have a play handpicked for the prestigious showcase. "At first, I tried to hide it," says Mensch. "Now, I've embraced it." As she awaits the play's Cleveland debut tonight, Mensch talks up the storyline, about two brothers taking in a plucky, young female roommate, who turns the siblings' lives upside down. "I had a visual in my head of someone ramming into another person with a football helmet," says Mensch, who's now a fellow in Juilliard's Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program. Louisville critics sized up the script as "tidily crafted." Mensch chalks it up to the actors, who give the written word a life of its own. "When you have people in the room you trust, it's an art form where everyone is participating," says Mensch. "You have to give them room to be creative." The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sunday, May 11, with an additional 1:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, May 1, at the Cleveland Play House, 8500 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $38 to $48. Call 216-795-7000 or visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 18. Continues through May 11, 2008

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