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BWW Interview: NJ Native, Paige Price-Artistic Director of PHILADELPHIA THEATRE COMPANY

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NJ Native, Paige Price-Artistic Director of PHILADELPHIA THEATRE COMPANY

BWW Interview: NJ Native, Paige Price-Artistic Director of PHILADELPHIA THEATRE COMPANY

Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) is ready to welcome audiences back into the Suzanne Roberts Theatre for the return of live, in-person theatre. The 2021-2022 season will feature two world premiere plays, a Tony Award-winning play with soaring gospel and R&B music, and a chance for audiences to reawaken their senses.

The curtain rises again with The Garbologists by Lindsay Joelle, a Co-World Premiere with the City Theatre in Pittsburgh. The comedy runs November 11 to December 5, 2021. The season continues in the New Year with Tarell Alvin McCraney's NYC smash hit Choir Boy, set to run from February 18 to March 13, 2022. Choir Boy will be directed by PTC Resident Artist Jeffrey Page. The season concludes with the World Premiere of Madeline Sayet's solo show, Where We Belong, from April 15 to May 8, 2022.

Broadwayworld had the pleasure of interviewing PTC's Artistic Director, Paige Price about her career and the season ahead. Price is a native of New Jersey, having been raised in the Borough of Middlesex.

Paige begins her fifth season at Philadelphia Theatre Company. After years spent as a Broadway performer, she began producing events, television shows and theatre in the U.S. and abroad. From 2007-2017, she was the Executive Artistic Director at Theatre Aspen in Colorado, where she created a new work festival as well as a professional apprentice program for aspiring students in the field. Price was the 1st Vice President of Actors' Equity Association, the national union for actors and stage managers, from 2006-2017 and was first elected to its board in 2000. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Theatre Subdistrict Council, a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women and Vice-President of NAMT, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, as well as a former Tony Award Nominator and Voter. As a performer, she starred in the original cast of Broadway's Saturday Night Fever, as well as the original cast of Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Smokey Joe's Café. Her professional career encompasses film (All The Right Moves, The News Kids); television, radio, web, Off Broadway, regional theatre, and national and international tours. Her directing credits include several musical productions, concerts, a live television broadcast starring Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison for the WOWOW network in Tokyo, Japan, a reading of The Deplorables at Primary Stages, Next to Normal at Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, PA and a recent reading of the new musical Dear Shirley. Representing Philadelphia Theatre Company, she was a producer for The Adam Mickiewicz Institute commission of the musical Blacksmith at Public Arts Theater in New York City. Proud Member AEA, SDC.

When did you first realize your penchant for theatre?

I went to dance school starting at age 4, and loved being on stage. I tried out for my first musical - GYPSY - when I was 11, not understanding really what I was doing. I wanted to audition with the tap dance routine I learned for the recital (to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, for those wondering) and was perplexed that the person running the audition was teaching me something. I actually thought I would be able to perform Rudolph in Uncle Jocko's act. I did more community theatre and booked a TV show in high school, which was the first inkling I could have a career as a performer.

Are there particular people who have mentored your career?

All my dance teachers, who taught me about dedication and hard work. Later in life, I had mentors from the Broadway community who helped instill confidence in my leadership abilities, and so my decades as a union leader, and now producer, stem from that belief they showed in me.

How has your work as an actor and director informed your position as Producing Artistic Director of Philadelphia Theatre Company?

It's no secret I have a soft spot for actors, I think what they do is a gift to humanity and it is not an easy field - you really have so little power as an actor and so anything we can do (and it's never enough) to make them feel appreciated, valued and welcome must be a priority.

Why was "The Garbologist" chosen to kick off your 2021/2022 season?

We wanted to find a play that was fresh and new - a world premiere comedy felt like an exciting opening to the season. I had seen the show at its first reading and I love how it was 'born' in Philly and now PTC is bringing it to a full production. I love how the show illuminates the lives of essential workers, I am always drawn to plays that shine a light on roles in society that are often overlooked...until we recognize their crucial role in our lives, as we did during the early days of the pandemic.

The company's upcoming season presents an eclectic and exciting variety of shows. What would you like patrons to know?

I'd love audiences to embrace the new - we have two world premieres, they will be the very first audiences. I think it's apt that coming to the theatre this season will require a measure of personal bravery and we want to reward them with a season of fresh material. We know that our community has gone through a lot - the shows have been chosen to make them feel better, as they bear witness to stories about people on personal journeys that are likely different from their own.

We know that people come from near and far to enjoy shows at Philadelphia Theatre Company. Why do you think the Company has been so successful?

This is PTC's 47th season. That is quite a statement. It's no secret that we've had highs and lows like many theater companies, but I think PTC's commitment to new work, and to excellent and exciting talent is part of our allure. Our history is peppered with people who are leaders in the field and outright stars, and that is not an accident. I believe Philadelphia Theatre Company is crucial to the vibrancy of the Avenue of the Arts - it would be just another city boulevard without the arts and cultural organizations that reside on Broad Street. I think we are essential to the healing and recovery of Philadelphia as we try to restore Center City's joie de vivre post-Covid.

Can you tell us a little about your team at Philadelphia Theatre Company?

I'm happy to report that the team at PTC has been expanded as we prepare to open our doors again. We have new staff members and are not only adding expertise, but have also made a meaningful move toward a more diverse staff. And they are READY to make some theatre! It's a talented and committed team.

For the Future?

We are discussing our future a lot - we're re-examining our mission as a staff, in fact, to ensure that we are clear about WHY we exist. The last 18 months have been devastating, but the time away from producing made room for us to reflect on how to move meaningfully into the future.

All shows are performed at Philadelphia Theatre Company's home at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146. PTC requires that audience members present proof of vaccination and wear a mask while in the venue. PTC is also offering reduced capacity seating in its mezzanine for audience members who would like to take an additional precaution at the theatre. For more information on PTC and to purchase tickets, visit: www.philatheatreco.org or call them at 215-985-0420. Follow the Theatre on social @PhilaTheatreCo (Facebook, Twitter, Insta, LinkedIn and Pinterest).

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Paige Price


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