Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana and More Set for Bucks County Playhouse's OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN FESTIVAL, Beg. 9/26

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Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana and More Set for Bucks County Playhouse's OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN FESTIVAL, Beg. 9/26

Bucks County Playhouse Producers Robyn Goodman and Alexander Fraser announce the launch of a musical theatre development program focusing on the importance of lyrics in the creation of new musicals: The Oscar Hammerstein Festival - named in honor of the master writer whose countless accomplishments during his illustrious career include having mentored a young Stephen Sondheim at Hammerstein's Bucks County farm -- is a year-long program that offers expert mentorship to early career composers and lyricists. The Oscar Hammerstein Festival will culminate in a weekend with musical theatre experts, artists, and enthusiasts and various events open to the general public. The Festival will launch September 26 - 28, 2014.

Bucks County Playhouse was founded 75 years ago this year to create "a laboratory to nurture the talents of young playwrights and actors to help keep alive traditions of the American stage." The Oscar Hammerstein Festival is the latest example of how the new Playhouse leadership intends to return the Playhouse to its roots as a developer of new work, which began with BCP's production of Terrence McNally's MOTHERS AND SONS that moved to Broadway this past spring and was nominated for multiple Tony Awards, including Best New Play.

"As a producer of new musicals, I have become increasingly concerned that lyric writing is not getting the attention it deserves," says Ms. Goodman, Bucks County Playhouse Executive Producer. "The lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein have stood the test of time and show us how metaphor, poetry and simplicity have been lost in the age of Twitter and texting."

"Bucks County has a long history as the home to some of the great theatre artists through seven decades, from Mr. Hammerstein to George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, and currently Christopher Durang," adds Mr. Fraser, BCP's Producing Director. "We want to bring a new generation of talented writers together with mentors to inspire them and bring back the art of lyric writing as practiced by the great Oscar Hammerstein."

Over the course of three days, The Oscar Hammerstein Festival will feature special events all devoted to musical theatre. The Festival offers Festival Passes for attendees to enjoy a presentation of new work, panel discussions sharing perspectives and best practices in the creation of new musical works, cocktail parties and a private tour of the Hammerstein farm.

Saturday night, September 27 will feature a special benefit concert performance starring the original Tony-nominated stars of Broadway's Cinderella, Laura Osnes (NBC's Grease: You're the One That I Want) and Santino Fontana (Hans in Frozen), Mandy Gonzales (In the Heights) and Lewis Cleale (The Book of Mormon) in a musical overview of Hammerstein's career, created and hosted by Ted Chapin, head of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. Musical direction is by Andy Einhorn (Broadway's current hit production of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella); Sarna Lapine is director. Chapin will share secrets and surprises gleaned from his years with the families of these great men, including a never-before-heard song from South Pacific. The Benefit Concert will also include the second annual Bucks County Playhouse Hall of Fame induction.

As the Festival kick-offs on Friday, September 26th there will be an evening of select scenes and songs from among the most promising young American musical theatre writers working today, including Adam Gwon, Sarah Hammond, Gary Adler, Phoebe Kreutz, Regina DiCicco and L.F. Turner. The evening will be produced by Josh Fiedler and directed by Marc Bruni and Stafford Arima. During the day, Saturday, September 26th, pass-holders will additionally have access to a special seminar with artists and experts within the musical theater field, including Michael Korie, Tony nominated lyricist of Grey Gardens and Far from Heaven.

The Festival culminates with a private pass-holder tour led by grandson Will Hammerstein of Highland Farm in nearby Doylestown, where Hammerstein wrote Oklahoma, Carousel and The Sound of Music and mentored the young Stephen Sondheim. For more information or to purchase a Festival Pass, please visit: www.bcptheater.org.

OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN (1895-1960) spent nearly 40 years writing lyrics for some of Broadway's most innovative musicals. In collaboration with such composers as Sigmund Romberg, Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml, Jerome Kern and most notably Richard Rodgers, Hammerstein's life work garnered eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards. Joining forces in the early 40's, Rodgers & Hammerstein went on to become the most successful partnership in American musical theater. Their first joint venture OKLAHOMA! (1943) was the first of its kind, blending Rodgers' sophisticated style of musical comedy with Hammerstein's innovations in operetta. His numerous credits include SHOWBOAT, CINDERELLA, CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, FLOWER DRUM SONG and THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

ROBYN GOODMAN is currently lead producer of Rodgers + Hammerstein's CINDERELLA on Broadway. She developed and produced the musicals AVENUE Q (2004 Tony Award) and IN THE HEIGHTS (2008 Tony Award). Other Broadway productions include STEEL MAGNOLIAS, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, THE PERFORMERS, BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO, WEST SIDE STORY, AMERICAN IDIOT, METAMORPHOSES and Off-Broadway's ALTAR BOYZ.

ALEXANDER FRASER, currently Producing Director of Bucks County Playhouse, has worked as a theatrical producer, general manager and non-profit executive for over 75 Broadway, off-Broadway, West End and touring productions including KINKY BOOTS, Larry Kramer's THE NORMAL HEART (for which he received the 2011 Tony Award), Nora and Delia Ephron's LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE (including NY, Chicago, Toronto, LA and Sydney), Charles Busch's THE DIVINE SISTER, August Wilson's JITNEY, Stephen Sondheim's SATURDAY NIGHT and Suzan-Lori Parks' TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (Pulitzer Prize).

Bucks County Playhouse, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, provides the finest theatrical entertainment for visitors and residents of New Hope, Doylestown, Lambertville and the Delaware Valley. Under the direction of Robyn Goodman and Alexander Fraser, its mission is to present first class professional entertainment and regain the Playhouse's historic place in the national theatrical landscape; and to stimulate, support, inspire and celebrate the performing arts via community programs, partnerships and arts education.

Located between Philadelphia and New York, Bucks County Playhouse opened in 1939 in a converted 1790 gristmill after a group of community activists, led by Broadway orchestrator Don Walker and playwright Moss Hart, rallied to save the building. The Playhouse quickly became one of the country's most famous regional theaters, featuring a roster of American theatrical royalty including Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, Colleen Dewhurst, Shirley Booth, Lillian Gish, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Bert Lahr, Walter Matthau, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Alan Alda, Tyne Daly, Liza Minnelli and Audra McDonald and remained in continuous operation until December 2010. In 2012, the Playhouse re-opened thanks to the efforts of the Bridge Street Foundation, the nonprofit family foundation of Kevin and Sherri Daugherty, and Broadway producer Jed Bernstein. Terrence McNally's Mothers and Sons, starring Tyne Daly, received its world premiere at the Playhouse in 2013 and opened on Broadway in February 2014, where it was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. This returned the Playhouse to its roots as an incubator for Broadway, which included 1951′s The Fourposter starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, Neil Simon's first play Come Blow Your Horn, and Barefoot in the Park starring Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley.

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