Off-Broadway Hit Bill W. and Doctor Bob Makes its Texas Debut with a Bilingual Production!

December 10, 2015 (Austin, TX) —Directly from off-Broadway, the Long Center for the Performing Arts is pleased to present the Texas premiere of Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey‘s critically-acclaimed play, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, with an official English opening on Tuesday, February 2nd., and Spanish opening on Thursday, February 4th.  The critically-acclaimed play based on the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous will be performed in both English and Spanish-a first for any show to perform at the Long Center.

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 comes directly from Off Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse following 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 will also be presented in both English and Spanish with the hope of sparking dialogue about addiction to a wider audience.

Overall, the vision of this production is to celebrate the power of recovery, educate the public and health-care 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 hopeless 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 another 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.

“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 recovering 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!)”

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.

“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

Tickets are available at or by calling (512) 474.LONG (5664). Also available at the Long Center’s 3M Box Office located at 701 West Riverside Drive at South First Street.  For groups of 10 and more, please call 512-457-5161 or


The Long Center is Austin’s Creative Home, built “by the community, for the community.” The organization is primarily funded by private citizens and corporations and by nature understands the importance of giving. As a non-profit, the Long Center collaborates with community partners to sponsor educational programs, host free events on the City Terrace, subsidize rental costs for emerging art groups, and gift tickets to charitable and community-minded organizations. The Long Center also provides the best overall live entertainment experience of any venue in Austin. It is home to the Symphony, Opera and Ballet and boasts additional eclectic programming spanning diverse audiences. A commitment to acoustic excellence combined with exceptional theater site lines and an unparalleled outdoor view of Austin creates a magical experience and lasting memories.  Austinites of all ages and interests are invited to explore the Long Center to expand their cultural perspective and appreciation of the arts. For more information, please visit or call (512) 474-LONG (5664) for ticket information.


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