Arden Theatre Company to Premiere New Musical TOUCHTONES This Fall

Arden Theatre Company to Premiere New Musical TOUCHTONES This Fall

Arden Theatre Company continues their 30th Anniversary Season with the World Premiere musical TOUCHTONES, with story by Michael Hollinger and Robert Maggio, book and lyrics by Hollinger and music by Maggio. Emmanuelle Delpech directs on the Arden's Arcadia Stage at 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia. Honorary Producers are Fred and Emily Anton.

TOUCHTONES is a brand new musical comedy about love, sex and the fantasy at the other end of the line. It's 1999, the cusp of a new millennium, and technology promises intimacy as well as anonymity. Christine and her fiancé Justin take a vow of chastity until they are married, but when Christine finds out Justin has been calling TOUCHTONES, she decides to harbor a few secrets of her own.

TOUCHTONES is written by the local team of playwright Michael Hollinger (story, book and lyrics,) and musician and composer Robert Maggio (story and music.) The Arden has enjoyed an ongoing collaboration with Hollinger that has yielded nine world premieres including Under the Skin; Opus; Ghost-Writer; Tooth and Claw; Red Herring; Tiny Island; Incorruptible and An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf. TOUCHTONES is the first of Hollinger's musicals the Arden will produce.

Arden Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen says, "How fitting it is for the Arden to produce a Hollinger work during our 30th Anniversary Season. Michael is a treasured Arden collaborator and - outside of Sondheim - is the most produced playwright in Arden history."

He adds, "The Arden is also a long-time producer of new works and audacious musicals, and so we are especially thrilled to produce our first Hollinger musical and to work for the first time with local composer Robert Maggio."

TOUCHTONES was developed through The Independence Foundation's New Musical Theatre Works Initiative, which funded two workshop productions of TOUCHTONES. The same initiative helped to develop the Barrymore Award-nominated musical, The Light Princess, at the Arden last season.

Says Nolen, "As always we are grateful to the Independence Foundation for their support, without which we could not do the work we do."

Michael Hollinger is the author of two dozen plays, including comedies, dramas, musicals, translation/adaptation, and plays for children. These works, many of which premiered at the Arden, have enjoyed numerous productions around the country (including Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Old Globe, Seattle Rep, Portland Center Stage, Northlight, Laguna Playhouse, PlayMakers Rep, TheatreWorks, People's Light and Theatre Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, City Theatre), in New York City (Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theatre), and abroad (London, Paris, Tokyo, Athens, Poland, and Slovenia).

Following its off-Broadway run, Michael's play OPUS became one of the most-produced plays in America, garnering Barrymore and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding New Play, a Steinberg New Play Citation from the American Drama Critics Circle, and nominations for Lucille Lortel and John Gassner Awards.

Other Awards: Mid-Atlantic Emmy, four Barrymore Awards (including the F. Otto Haas Award), seven Helen Hayes Award nominations, Frederick Loewe Award for Musical Theatre, Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays, an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, "In the Spirit of America" Award from the Barbara Barondess McLean Foundation, a commission from the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Science and Technology Project, and fellowships from the Independence Foundation, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Michael's plays have received developmental workshops at PlayPenn, Pacific Playwrights Festival (South Coast Rep), US West TheatreFest (Denver Center Theatre), PlayLabs (The Playwrights' Center), Creede Repertory Theatre, the Guthrie Theater, and Illusion Theater.

Plays and Musicals: TouchTones (musical with Robert Maggio), Under the Skin, Hope and Gravity, Cyrano, translated by Hollinger, adapted by Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner, Ghost-Writer, A Wonderful Noise (musical), Opus, Tooth and Claw, Red Herring, Incorruptible, Tiny Island, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Beouf.

Hailed as a composer of music that is "Smart, vital, and inventive," Maggio has created an unusually diverse and substantial body of work. Dance companies across the United States have commissioned Maggio for new scores, including collaborations with Pennsylvania Ballet, Ballet X, 10 Hairy Legs, Roxey Ballet, Stephen Pelton Dance Theater, Randy James Dance Works, and Leah Stein and Dancers. He was selected to participate in the month-long Young Choreographers and Composers Program at the American Dance Festival, which resulted in the creation and premiere of Barcarole with choreographer Stephen Pelton.

Orchestras have performed Maggio's orchestral music across North America, including the Boston Pops, Atlanta Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, Oakland East Bay Symphony, Dallas/Fort Worth Symphony, Riverside Symphonia, New York Youth Symphony, Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra, and numerous university orchestras. His chamber and vocal/choral music has been performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New York Festival of Song, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors Festival, Borromeo String Quartet, Corigliano Quartet, American Brass Quintet, Serafin String Quartet, Colorado Quartet, baritone Sanford Sylvan, Detroit Chamber Winds, Meridian Arts Ensemble, Composers Inc., Network for New Music, Orchestra 2001 and the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia.

A long-time member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in New York City, Maggio has collaborated on several new musicals. He has composed songs and incidental music for numerous professional theaters, including productions at Yale Repertory Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company, Peoples Light and Theater Company, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. His music for theater has received several Barrymore Award nominations in Philadelphia, including his scores for The Laramie Project, The Merchant of Venice, M Butterfly, and The Outgoing Tide.

Maggio is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the American Composers Forum, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, ASCAP, BMI, New Music USA and Meet the Composer.

Published by Theodore Presser Company, Hickman Music Editions and Yelton Rhodes, Maggio's music is recorded on the Summit, Albany and New World/CRI labels.

The cast of TOUCHTONES includes Alex Keiper as Christine and Michael Doherty as Justin, Jess Conda as Holly, Kevin R. Free as Gary, Joilet Harris as Pearl, April Ortiz as Teresa and Darick Pead as Brad.

Single ticket prices are $37-$52, with discounts available for groups of 15 or more, seniors, students, military, and educators. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, visit www.ardentheatre.org or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.

SPECIAL EVENTS and PERFORMANCES:

Opening Night is Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 7pm. The Opening Night sponsor is Harmelin Media.

Post-show discussions will be held following performances on Thursday, November 2 at 7pm, Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30pm, Sunday, November 12 at 2pm, Wednesday, November 15 at 6:30pm, and Sunday, November 26 at 2pm.

The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Open Captioned and Audio Described performances will take place on Friday, November 17 at 8pm and Saturday, November 18 at 2pm. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122.

Founded in 1988, Arden Theatre Company is dedicated to bringing to life great stories by great storytellers-on the stage, in the classroom, and in the community. Five productions are staged each season as part of the Mainstage series and two productions through Arden Children's Theatre, the city's first resident professional children's theatre program. New work is produced through the Independence Foundation New Play Showcase. The Arden's Education Department includes: Arden for All (AFA), a theatre access and education program for underserved young people; Arden Drama School, the after-school, Saturday, and summer camp classes for students in grades pre-K-12; Teen Arden, an immersive after-school access program for Philadelphia-area based teenagers; and the Arden Professional Apprentice Program, a nationally renowned comprehensive theatre management training program. The Hamilton Family Arts Center is the new facility dedicated to education programs and new play development.

The Arden has received numerous honors including 65 awards and 373 nominations from the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. The Arden is a winner of four "Theatre Company of the Year" designations (Philadelphia Inquirer), six Philadelphia Magazine "Best of Philly" awards and three "Best of Philly Kids" awards, the City Paper's Reader's Choice Award and the prestigious "Great Friend to Kids Award" from the Please Touch Museum for Arden Children's Theatre work. For accessibility efforts, the Arden was named a "Keystone of Accessibility" by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Arden Theatre Company is a professional, nonprofit 501(c)(3) theatre company and a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the League of Resident Theatres, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Old City Arts Association. The Arden also participates in The Barrymore Awards, a program of Theatre Philadelphia.

Pictured: Alex Keiper and Michael Doherty star in the world premiere of TouchTones at Arden Theatre Company. Photo by Ashley LaBonde, Wide Eyed Studios.


Related Articles

Philadelphia THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW Philadelphia  Follow BWW Philadelphia


From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...