Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Announces 27th Season
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's 27th summer season will launch with the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime and will feature three Shakespeare plays: the popular comedy Twelfth Night, the profound and lyrical history play King Richard II, and an actor-driven production of the spirited and bittersweet comedy All's Well That Ends Well. As the Festival continues its ambitious progression through the canon, King Richard II will be the 30th of Shakespeare's 38 plays PSF has produced. Rounding out the season will be the stage adaptation of the spectacular Shakespeare in Love, the most produced play in the nation this year following its run in London's West End.
The season will run June 1 to August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.
"This is a bit of a pinch ourselves moment for us," says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director. "It is such an honor to produce great plays and in that regard I can't think of a season for which I have been more excited than this one. These are plays of exquisite depth and dimension and we hope the experience of joy for the audience will be just as powerful."
The season opens on the Main Stage with the epic musical drama, Ragtime-set in the volatile melting pot of New York at the dawn of the twentieth-century. Three distinctly American tales are woven together, the characters in each from very different backgrounds but united by their courage and pursuit of the American dream. Following his critically acclaimed production of Evita last summer, Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze will direct.
"Ragtime is one of the very best musicals. Its hypnotic music is interwoven in a tapestry of American stories featuring the likes of Harry Houdini, JP Morgan, Henry Ford, and Booker T. Washington," says Razze. "It is a message of hope and a cry against injustice, divisiveness, and fear. I am so proud that PSF will produce this triumphant musical that calls on us to renew the promise of America."
Shakespeare's most beloved romantic comedy, Twelfth Night, is next up in the season in the intimate Schubert Theatre. "If music be the food of love, play on." This witty comedic feast abounds with lovers and fools, merry deceptions, and mistaken identities until true love finds its way.
PSF will produce two plays in repertory July 11 to August 5 on the Main Stage: Shakespeare in Love and King Richard II, with the same cast alternating performances daily and often on the same day.
Based on the Academy Award-winning screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, and adapted for the stage by Lee Hall-Shakespeare in Love tells of a young Will Shakespeare's whirlwind love affair that ultimately inspires him to write his most famous tragic romantic masterpiece. Patrick Mulcahy returns to the director's chair for the first time since his riveting production of Julius Caesar in 2016.
"I remember when first seeing Shakespeare in Love on film having a feeling that it was heaven-sent, the idea behind it was richly inventive and the film was immeasurably satisfying," says Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy. "Once it was adapted for the stage, we immediately set to work to acquire the rights to produce it and the excitement here at the theatre is palpable."
Filled with magnificent verse and Shakespeare's singular wisdom and insight, King Richard II is a deeply moving and illuminating portrait of how the forces of history collide to set in motion a dynastic civil war that lasts 100 years. King Richard II is the first chapter in Shakespeare's epic cycle of history plays chronicling the wars that shaped the nation's political landscape. In coming seasons, PSF plans to produce the next two chapters: Henry IV, Parts I and II.
Closing the season will be Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well. Having restored the King's health with a family potion, the lovely Helena asks for nothing in return but to wed her heart's love. Among the palaces of France and Florence, Shakespeare's charming heroine uses her courage and wits to win Count Bertram's admiration and love in this engrossing comedy. All's Well... will be produced in PSF's "Extreme Shakespeare" mode. Without directors or designers, as those jobs didn't exist in Shakespeare's time, the actors arrive with their lines learned, raid the costume shop, stage the play themselves, and open within a matter of days, bringing the audience one step closer to the excitement and sense of spontaneity and actor ingenuity in an Elizabethan playhouse. Playing inthe Schubert Theatre July 25 to August 5.
Children's programming opens on June 1 with Alice in Wonderland. The ever-curious Alice chases the White Rabbit to a world of enchantment. Alice in Wonderland will play through August 4. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary is PSF's Shakespeare for Kids, a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare's vibrant language and characters. On the Main Stage July 25 through August 4.
The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler.
Subscription renewals begin in November; new subscriptions and single tickets go on sale February 1. (Season and artists subject to change.)
For more information, please visit www.pashakespeare.org or call the box office at 610.282.WILL .
Summer 2018 Season:
Main Stage: Ragtime (June 13 to July 1),Shakespeare in Love (July 11 to Aug 5), King Richard II(July 19 to Aug 5), Shakespeare for Kids (July 25 to Aug 4).
Schubert Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (June 1 to Aug 4), Twelfth Night
(June 21 to July 15), All's Well That Ends Well (July 25 to Aug 5).
About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, Managing Director Casey Gallagher, and Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season. A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks' time.
The Festival's award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. "A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests," is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.
Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF's mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, and from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 850,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world's premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.
The Festival's vision is for world-class work.
Patrick Mulcahy (Producing Artistic Director) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF's return to artistic excellence and financial stability, built the professional company of artists, oversaw the quadrupling of the endowment, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF's first-ever awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 75% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors' Equity contracts per season. As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Bassett, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O'Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut St. He served as a fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Julius Caesar (2016), Macbeth (2014), Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter's Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). Also head of acting at DeSales, Patrick holds an MFA from Syracuse University.
DENNIS RAZZE (Director, and Associate Artistic Director, PSF) is the chairman of the theatre department of DeSales University, where he has been a faculty member for the last 34 years. He is also a founding member of PSF. Last summer, he directed PSF's critically acclaimed production of Evita. He has directed many of PSF's productions including West Side Story, Les Misérables, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, A Funny Thing...Forum, 1776, Cyrano de Bergerac, M. Fair Lady, Amadeus, Man of La Mancha, Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and As You Like It. Mr. Razze also composed musical scores for PSF's Cyrano, The Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He recently received the Arts Ovation Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Performing Arts from the Allentown Arts Commission.