4/9: Bill W. and Dr. Bob opens at Cleveland Play House

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Stephen Bergman and Janet Surrey’s play about Alcoholics Anonymous’ founders is staged as an A.A. meeting. It begins with a man introducing himself: “My name is Bill W., and I’m an alcoholic.” Another guy responds, “Dr. Bob, alcoholic. Good to be here sober.” It’s a long road from the play’s beginnings to its 2007 Off-Broadway debut. The authors — Bergman is a psychiatrist; Surrey, his wife, is a clinical psychologist — started work on it more than 20 years ago and based it on their professional experiences of steering alcoholic patients to meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous’ founders — stockbroker Bill Wilson and surgeon Bob Smith — met in Smith’s hometown of Akron and kept each other sober through their relationship. Early productions of Bill W. and Dr. Bob were even funded by agencies that help people with drinking problems. Seth Gordon directs a new production of the play that opens at 8 tonight. Performances run through May 2 at the Cleveland Play House’s Drury Theatre (8500 Euclid Ave., 216.791.5000). Tickets: $45-$51. — Michael Gill

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