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Kritzer, Koch, & More Announced For Powerhouse Theater's 25th Season


Casting has just been announced for Vassar & New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater's three musicals of the 25th anniversary season.

The fully-staged Mainstage musical The Burnt Part Boys, a lyrical coming-of-age story of five teenagers on a quest to honor their dead fathers, will feature Skylar Astin (Spring Awakening) and Joe Cassidy (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1776, Show Boat, Les Misérables), 7/17-26.

Matthew Lobenhofer (Gypsy), Deirdre O'Connell (The Front Page), and Ted Koch (The Pillowman) will be among the cast of Whisper House, the newest project from Tony Award-winner Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening). Only three concert readings of Whisper House will be presented as the first of two Martel Musicals this summer, 7/10-11.

Leslie Kritzer (A Catered Affair, Legally Blond, Hairspray) and Eric William Morris (Coram Boy) will be featured in the second Martel Musical, Tina Girlstar (two concert readings only, 7/31-8/1.

Tony Award-winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline, or Change), from the film Dreamgirls and HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, will join the star-filled line-up of the 25th anniversary Powerhouse Theater gala-featuring Oscar, Tony, and Pulitzer Prize-winners on Saturday, June 27. Join the artists after the performance at a party that will feature the best of the Hudson Valley. Seating is limited. Orchestra and parterre tickets are $100; balcony seating is $50. For tickets, go online to

THE BURNT PART BOYS, 7/17 - 26: Martel Theater in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, $35. Five teenagers set out on a quest to find the Burnt Part coal mine, in the mountains of West Virginia, where their father's died 10 years earlier, in a tragic mining accident. Three of them hope to close the mine forever - preserving the living tomb to their fathers - while the older teens, employed by the coal mine company, seek to stop them.

During The Burnt Part Boys the teens discover truths about themselves and their relationships with one another - in a deeply moving and powerful odyssey, set to a haunting and distinctive bluegrass and pop-inspired score.

The cast will include Al Calderon (13) as Pete, Skylar Astin (Spring Awakening) as Jake, Noah Galvin as Dusty, Andrew Durand as Chet, Molly Ranson as Frances, Joe Cassidy (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1776, Show Boat, Les Misérables) as Pete's Movie Fantasy Men / Dad, and as the other three miners: Timothy Warmen (The Who's Tommy), John Schiappa (Assassins, Take Me Out), and David Abeles.

Originally conceived as a NYU thesis project by the award-winning team of Chris Miller (music) & Nathan Tysen (lyrics)-both recipients of The Vineyard's Kitty Carlisle Hart Musical Theatre, Jonathan Larson, and Richard Rodgers awards (Fugitive Songs, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick)-they enlisted the help of fellow NYU alum, Mariana Elder, to write the story. The initial outing of the The Burnt Part Boys, in 2006, was a critically-acclaimed workshop at Barrington Stage's music theater lab.

Four years later, the musical has been re-envisioned, and now with direction by Vassar and Powerhouse alumna Erica Schmidt (Humor Abuse), choreography by Peter Pucci (Drama Desk nominee for Queen's Boulevard), and musical direction by Vadim Feichtner (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), a spring 2010 off-Broadway run is planned.

Major funding for The Burnt Part Boys has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative.

There will be 12 performances of The Burnt Part Boys in the Martel Theater, July 17 through July 26, $35.

THE MARTEL MUSICALS: Martel Theater in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, $25.

WHISPER HOUSE, 7/10-11: The concept for Whisper House came about when actor and Whisper House director Keith Powell (30 Rock) approached Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) about developing a musical theater piece with him. Following a trip Powell took to New England, a story began to emerge that centered around a lighthouse. Playwright Kyle Jarrow (The Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant) was enlisted to write the script.

Sheik wrote most of the music during a writing retreat on an island off of Charleston. A native Southerner, he explained, "Charleston has this history of ghost stories, a southern tradition that I kind of grew up with. I reconnected with it in some way and used that to write the lyrics to these songs . . . (it) was so much more fun to write from the persona of these ghosts, these dead people, and the whimsical malevolence I could articulate through their voices. That felt really good and was very inspiring."

The story of Whisper House begins with the arrival of young Christopher (Matthew Lobenhofer / Gypsy) at his Aunt Lilly's (Deirdre O'Connell / The Front Page) home - a lighthouse set on an island off the coast of New England. Christopher's father was shot down in World War II and during Whisper House the New England is on alert for U-Boats and enemy aliens. However young Christopher, who senses and hears the lighthouse's ghostly residents, also weighs in on other possible aliens. The cast also Arthur Acuña as Yasujiro, Ted Koch (The Pillowman) as Charles, and Gideon Banner as Lieutenant Rando. The ghostly chorus will be David Poe (Lead Singer) and Holly Brook (Female Singer)-who is currently touring with Sheik.

The story of Whisper House was initially introduced last January by Sheik in a CD of the same name. This collection of songs, written specifically for the theatrical production, marked Sheik's first solo album since 2006's critically-acclaimed White Limousine and came on the heels of the success of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening for which Sheik collaborated with lyricist Steven Sater and composed an original score. Described by Variety as "the most startling and exciting rock tuner to hit the boards since Rent," Spring Awakening won eight Tony Awards, with Sheik earning two Tony Awards for "Best Orchestration" and "Best Original Score" as well as a Grammy Award for "Best Musical Show Album."

There will be three performances of Whisper House, July 10 and 11, $25. Whisper House is slated to premiere at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre next January.

TINA GIRLSTAR, 7/31- 8/1: How to create the next superstar? Diva-manager Daniella (Sandy Binion / Jane Eyre) thinks she has the right formulation and sets out to engineer an award-winning, chart-topping singer in Tina Girlstar. Her raw material? The innocent Tina (Mariand Torres), who found her way into Daniella's office as a temp. The former favorite diva-Vanessa (Leslie Kritzer / A Catered Affair, Legally Blond, Hairspray)-does not seem to relish the idea of new girlstar, nor does aspiring musician Jeff (Eric William Morris / Coram Boy). Tina becomes a sum of the stars that preceded her: Tracey (Natalie Weiss), Ivy (Deone Zanotto / A Chorus Line), Nina (Ronica Reddick / Jonestown), and Amy (Shelley Thomas) in this biting black comedy and satire of the contemporary music industry.

Anton Dudley (Getting Home, Slag Heap; Honor and the River), a Vassar alumnus, wrote the book; lyrics are by Charlie Sohne (ReelPolitik: The Musical); music by Brian Feinstein (Anna Sosenko Trust Award for Mimi Le Duck); with direction by Jeremy Dobrish (Inner Voices: Solo Songs); and musical direction by Chris Fenwick (Grease, The Pajama Game).

Composer Feinstein described Tina Girlstar as "a musical journey of unexpected dreams and the power we all possess to rebuild and reshape our lives."

There will be two performances of Tina Girlstar (7/31 - 8/1), which was originally developed at the Lark Play Development Center in New York City and during a Lark residency at Powerhouse Theater. The musical has been optioned by Olympus Theatricals.

Join the Powerhouse Theater community and become among the first to see a new play or musical performed, often before it goes on to a larger venue, on or off-Broadway, or in theaters across the country.

The season will open this year on June 26 and continue through August 2. In addition to The Burnt Part Boys (7/17-26), the Powerhouse Mainstage productions this season will feature Joanna Murray-Smith's Ninety, directed by Maria Mileaf and featuring Sarita Choudhury and Kevin Kilner (June 30 - July 12) and Hudson Valley native and HBO's In Treatment writer Keith Bunin's Vera Laughed, directed by Carolyn Cantor (July 22 - August 2) - all tickets $35.

All tickets to the Martel Musicals are $25. Performances and seating is limited for the concert readings of Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow's Whisper House, directed by Keith Powell (July 10, 11) and Anton Dudley, Charlie Sohne, and Brian Feinstein's Tina Girlstar, directed by Jeremy Dobrish (7/31 - 8/1).

All performances for comedian Lewis Black's comedy One Slight Hitch, directed by Joe Grifasi, have already sold-out, however limited tickets for Ben Snyder's urban fairy tale Shoe Story, directed by Tony Award-winner Thomas Kail, are still available (July 23 - July 25) - all tickets for the Inside Look series are $20.

The free Readings Festivals will open close the season and will include new plays by Bryan Delaney, Andrew Dolan, Yussef El Guindi, Beth Henley, Dan Moran, Theresa Rebeck, John Patrick Shanley, Julian Sheppard, and ReGina Taylor. Seating is extremely limited and reservations are strongly recommended for this free series.

Season after season Powerhouse audiences have had the chance to be a witness to the creative process and development of award-winning works through artistically exceptional and affordably priced performances, including John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (four Tony Awards including Best Play and Pulitzer for Drama), Warren Leight's Side Man (two Tony Awards including Best Play and Pulitzer nominee), and Jay Presson Allen's Tru (Tony Award for Best Actor).

Tickets to the gala are $50 for limited balcony seating (enter code: GALABALC) and $100 for orchestra and parterre seating. A special Mainstage subscription and gala package is $174.25 and will include admission for one to the gala (orchestra or parterre seating), to all nine readings, and to any performance of all three Mainstage shows.

Individual tickets to Mainstage shows are $35; Martel Musicals $25; and the Inside Look series $20. Mainstage subscriptions ($89.25) offer admission to any performance of the three Mainstage shows (Ninety, The Burnt Part Boys, and Ninety) and all nine readings at 15% off single ticket prices.

This year, continuing its mission of presenting artistically exceptional and affordably priced performances, Powerhouse Theater will offer a $5 student rush ticket for students 25 years and under [as available 15 minutes before curtain].

To purchase tickets, go online to, call (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599, or visit the Box Office on the Vassar campus.

Vassar is sited in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY. Go to for directions to the Vassar campus.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.

Powerhouse Theater, now entering its 25th season, is the result of a unique collaboration between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. The program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 professional artists and some 40 apprentices live and work together to create new theater works. Powerhouse steadfastly supports both emerging and established artists.

Since its inception in 1985, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of hundreds of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.


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