Penguin Rep Theatre Announces its 40th Anniversary Season

Penguin Rep Theatre Announces its 40th Anniversary Season

Penguin Rep Theatre, the award-winning professional Equity theatre in Stony Point (Rockland County), New York under the leadership of founding artistic director Joe Brancato and executive director Andrew M. Horn, announces its 40th anniversary season.

Featuring three premieres and two revivals, the 2017 season opens in May with "Trayf," a new comedy by Lindsay Joelle, followed by three additional mainstage productions, including "Fall River," a new play by Frederick Stroppel, and revivals of Lee Blessing's "Cobb" and "Syncopation" by Allan Knee, as well as the return of Emmy Award winner Robert Wuhl in his latest work, "Shistory Happens!"

"At a time when there is an urgent need for joy," says Brancato, "we're excited to share enduring stories that echo our universal hopes, challenges, and dreams."

Brancato was a local high school English and drama teacher in 1977 when he peered into an abandoned 1880's hay barn and visualized his future: a theatre of his own.

"Joe dreamed it ... and now Penguin Rep celebrates 40 seasons of incomparable productions of new works," says Sarah Jessica Parker, actress, producer and designer. "Penguin has a gorgeous pastoral setting in the Hudson Valley only 50 minutes from Manhattan."

In "Trayf," the 2017 season-opener, which will be directed by Benjamin Kamine, Zalmy lives a double life: By day, he drives a Chabad van with his best friend Shmuel; by night, he leaves his orthodox community to roller skate and listen to rock and roll music. Overflowing with humor and heart, "Trayf" (pronounced tr?f) asks how hard you have to believe to belong.

Next up in June and July is "Cobb," Blessing's powerful play exploring Ty Cobb's complicated legacy. The first player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cobb reveled in being called "the most hated man" in the game. He was a philanthropist and a racist who played poker with presidents and died a multimillionaire, largely forgotten.

Brancato, who directed the play at Penguin in 1995 and Off Broadway in 2001 (where it was produced by Kevin Spacey), will reprise his celebrated staging.

"Syncopation," a romantic comedy set in New York in 1911, when the lower East Side teemed with poverty and possibility, takes center stage in August and September. An unlikely couple - a 38-year-old Jewish butcher and a young Italian garment worker - take dance lessons in a sixth-floor walkup and dream of a better life.

Says Brancato: "We're thrilled to welcome back one of our favorite writers, Allan Knee, author of 'The Man Who Was Peter Pan,' a work which was commissioned by Penguin and became the basis for the film and Broadway musical, 'Finding Neverland.'"

The season concludes with the world premiere of "Fall River." Before O.J. Simpson, there was Lizzie Borden. Legend has it that she "took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41." But did she? Lizzie herself steps forward to tell the story of her life, before and after the famous murders known as "The Crime of the Century." This entertaining new work by the author of "Small World" and directed by Mr. Brancato will debut in October and November.

As a pre-season teaser, Penguin presents a special one-night only performance of "Lucky Penny" on Saturday, April 22. Written by David Deblinger and performed by Deblinger and acclaimed jazz artist FrEd Johnson, this hilarious and poignant tour-de-force offers life lessons from the past year when David both lost his father and became one for the first time.

This season, Penguin's popular "Play With Your Food" series will feature readings of new plays with a bite to eat on summer Mondays: June 12, July 10, July 24 and August 14.

Performances and readings are scheduled at Penguin's intimate, 108-seat theatre, located at 7 Crickettown Road in Stony Point. "It's theatre so close you can feel it", says Mr. Horn, "with comfy upholstered seats and no seat more than 30 feet from the stage." The theatre, which is converted from an 1880's hay barn, is air conditioned, accessible to all, and offers plenty of free parking.

Come September 23, SUNY Rockland Community College's 500-seat Cultural Arts Theatre in Suffern, New York is the venue for the world premiere of "Shistory Happens!," written and performed by award-winning actor/comedian Robert Wuhl ("Arli$$," "Batman"). "We're happy to welcome back Mr. Wuhl," says Brancato, "with a hysterical -- and historical -- follow-up to his HBO Comedy Specials 'Assume the Position,' which he performed live for us in 2011."

And the enterprising theatre company continues to expand beyond the walls of its barn theatre and to take past successes on the road: Penguin's acclaimed production of Frederick Stroppel's "Small World", which was produced in Stony Point in 2015, will being presented Off Broadway at 59e59 Theatres in September and October.

PENGUIN REP 2017 SEASON

Pre-Season:

April 22 - Lucky Penny, written and performed by David Deblinger

Actor David Deblinger, who starred in "Sirens," returns to the Penguin stage, accompanied by acclaimed jazz artist FrEd Johnson, in this poignant and hilarious tour-de-force, which offers life lessons from the past year when he both lost his father and became one for the first time.

Season:

May 19 - June 11- Trayf, by Lindsay Joelle

Zalmy lives a double life: By day, he drives a "Mitzvah Tank" with his best friend Shmuel; by night, he leaves his orthodox community to roller skate and listen to rock and roll music. "Trayf," pronounced tr?f, is the Yiddish word for "non-kosher," or forbidden. Overflowing with humor and heart, this road trip/buddy comedy asks how hard you have to believe to belong.

June 30 - July 23 - Cobb, by Lee Blessing

The first player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Ty Cobb reveled in being called "the most hated man" in the game. He was a philanthropist and a racist who played poker with presidents and died a multimillionaire, largely forgotten. This powerful play explores Cobb's complicated legacy, with Joe Brancato reprising his celebrated staging, which Variety wrote "makes for that rare evening at the theater that leaves you wanting more."

August 11 - September 3 - Syncopation, by Allan Knee

This romantic comedy by the author of "The Man Who Was Peter Pan," which was the basis for the film and Broadway musical "Finding Neverland," is set in New York in 1911, when the Lower East Side teemed with poverty and possibility. An unlikely couple -- a 38-year-old Jewish butcher and a young Italian garment worker -- take dance lessons in a sixth-floor walkup and dream of a better life.

October 13 - November 5 - Fall River, by Frederick Stroppel

Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks. And when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41! Or did she? In this entertaining new work from the author of "Small World," Lizzie herself steps forward to tell the story of her life, before and after the famous murders known as "The Crime of the Century." World premiere.

Special Event:

September 23 - Shistory Happens!, written and performed by Robert Wuhl

Award-winning actor/comedian Robert Wuhl ("Arli$$," "Batman") is back with a hysterical -- and historical -- follow-up to his HBO Comedy Specials "Assume Position 101" and "201." We all know when sh*t happens, but it takes the keen eye of Mr. Wuhl in this pop culture/history comedy show to point out when shistory happens!

At SUNY Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York

New York City:

September 13 - October 7 - Small World, by Frederick Stroppel

When Walt Disney hears "The Rite of Spring", he envisions the creation of the earth, volcanoes and, of course, dinosaurs! But composer Igor Stravinsky has another vision altogether. In this "friendly and provocative comedy" (The New York Times), we go behind the scenes of Disney's classic "Fantasia", where the dinosaurs aren't the only ones doing battle. Penguin's acclaimed production moves Off Broadway.

At 59e59 Theatres, New York, New York

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKETS:

Subscriptions to the 2017 season are on sale now. Prices start as low as $116 for the four plays, a savings of 25 to 33% off the cost of individual tickets.

The very best seats in the house go to subscribers before single tickets go on sale. Bringing friends or family just got easier, with subscribers receiving $9 off the purchase of additional tickets. Lose or forget your tickets? Don't worry. Need to exchange your tickets for a different date? It's not a problem. Subscribers may exchange their tickets.

For no additional charge, patrons can select a value-added subscription series that includes post-performance discussions among the artists and audience, and pre-show tastings supplied by local restaurants. An additional incentive, said Horn, "is to dine out at a discount, with select restaurants offering special benefits to Penguin subscribers".

Individual tickets for mainstage productions are priced at $44 (including facility fee and service charge. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more and young people (30 and under).

Tickets are $20 for "Play With Your Food" readings, or available by subscription to all four readings at $60.

Tickets for "Lucky Penny" are $25 each ($20 for Penguin subscriber).

Tickets for "Shistory Happens!" are $45 each ($40 each for Penguin subscribers).

To order tickets or for further information, visit Penguin Rep's website at www.penguinrep.org or call 845-786-2873. Performance days and times for mainstage productions are: Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.

ABOUT PENGUIN REP THEATRE

Joe Brancato was a high school English and drama teacher in 1977 when he peered into an abandoned 1880's hay barn in Stony Point, New York, and visualized his future: a theatre of his own.

40 years later, Penguin Rep - the theatre Brancato started with Francine Newman-McCarthy and runs with executive director Andrew M. Horn -- has grown from a summer theatre to become one of the Hudson Valley's most influential nonprofit cultural institutions, reaching tens of thousands of theatergoers each year at its home, in New York City and beyond - with its work moving to Off Broadway and to stages across the country and around the world.

And come this May when the Bronx-born Brancato begins his fifth decade at Penguin, a not-for-profit professional Equity theatre, he is widely believed to be the longest-serving founding artistic director in the U.S. today!

Since its founding in 1977, Penguin has presented more than 150 productions - over 100 directed by Brancato himself -- for more than 400,000 people from the Lower Hudson Valley and beyond. And Mr. Brancato has brought together accomplished professional actors - David Canary, Michael Cullen, Tim De Kay, Gregg Edelman, Michael Esper, Barbara Feldon, Tovah Feldshuh, Beth Fowler, Deborah Hedwall, Celeste Holm,, Richard Kline, Andrew McCarthy, Lizbeth MacKay, Michele Pawk, and Karen Ziemba, among others - to star in new and noteworthy plays by such playwrights as Lee Blessing, Ronald Harwood, Allan Knee, Arthur Laurents, Warren Leight, Jon Marans, William Mastrosimone, Lainie Robertson, James Sherman and Elizabeth Swados.

As it launches its fortieth season, Penguin Rep Theatre, dubbed "the gutsiest little theatre" by The New York Times, continues to present a cultural experience that is unique in the region: professional productions of new plays at affordable prices.

Penguin Rep Theatre's 2017 season is sponsored by Active International and Orange and Rockland Utilities. The season is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Penguin Rep gratefully acknowledges the support of the County of Rockland, the Town of Stony Point, The Shubert Foundation, Cory and Bob Donnalley Charitable Foundation and generous donations from Joseph Grosso, Barry and Helene Lewis, Chase Mishkin and Morton Wolkowitz.

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