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HAND TO GOD Comes to Philadelphia Theatre Co.


Philadelphia Theatre Company continues its 2016-2017 season with the Tony-nominated comedy Hand to God by Robert Askins on March 31-April 30. Directed by Matt Pfeiffer with Robert Smythe as puppet designer and puppet movement director, the all-Philadelphia cast features Grace Gonglewski, Alex Keiper, Aubie Merrylees, Matteo Scammell, and William Zielinski.

Previews begin Friday, March 31 with Press Night on Thursday, April 6. Performances run Tuesdays through Sundays until April 30. Tickets starting at $15 are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting

Hand to God premiered Off-Broadway at Ensemble Studio Theatre and moved to the Lucille Lortel Theatre where it won the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play. It opened on Broadway in Spring, 2015 earning five Tony nominations including Best Play.

In Hand to God, the good children of Cypress, Texas are taught to obey the Bible in order to evade Satan's hand, but all hell breaks loose when Jason's puppet at the Christian Puppet Ministry presents a shockingly sinister agenda of its own. In this hilarious and lightning-paced comedy, a foul-mouthed sock puppet named Tyrone soon teaches those around him that a person's darkest urges and desires fit like a glove, and Jason must re-define himself before the ventriloquist becomes the dummy. This irreverent comedy hit inspires chills and chuckles as it unravels the fragility of faith.

Robert Askins (Playwright) has received two Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan grants, and an Arch and Bruce Davis Award for Playwriting. His play Princes of Waco was produced and developed by Youngblood, and Matthew and the Pastor's Wife was a part of Marathon 2010 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has been commissioned by Divercity Theatre and Baylor University. He is a veteran at Ensemble Studio Theatre where he is a member.

Matt Pfeiffer (Director) is the recipient of the Barrymore Award for Best Director for The Invisible Hand and The Whale, both at Theatre Exile, and Barrymore Award nominations for Best Director for Down Past Passyunk at InterAct Theatre Company and To the Moon at 1812 Productions. The winner of the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Actor, he has also directed productions for Arden Theatre Company, Lantern Theatre Company, Two River Theatre, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

Robert Smythe (Puppet designer, builder and movement director) is considered one of the foremost puppet artists in the United States, having won prestigious fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and awards and honors from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the American Center for the Union Internationale de la Marionnette. The recipient of six Barrymore Awards in the areas of choreography, design and education, and three additional Barrymore nominations for acting and sound design, he has written, directed and performed over 20 original productions using puppets as the founder and Artistic Director of Mum Puppettheatre. In addition to his work for Mum, he has directed and designed puppet work for theatres throughout the region and across the country, including Arden Theatre Company, The Wilma Theater, InterAct Theatre Company and Minneapolis Children's Theater.

Grace Gonglewski (Margery) has appeared at PTC as part of the Barrymore Award-winning ensemble of The Laramie Project and in Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike as Masha, a role she reprised at Arena Stage. The recipient of the first F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Artist, she has also received a Barrymore Award as part of the ensemble in Body Awareness at The Wilma Theater. A ten-year veteran at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, she has been a frequent guest at Arden Theatre Company and Walnut Street Theatre.

Alex Keiper (Jessica) makes her PTC debut having been seen this season in Stupid Fucking Bird at Arden Theatre Company. She has appeared in several productions at Arden Theatre Company including The Secret Garden, Incorruptible, and A Little Night Music and at 11thHour Theatre Company including Ordinary Days, And the World Goes Round, and the world premiere of Field Hockey Hot.

Aubie Merrylees (Jason/Tyrone) recently appeared at Arden Theatre Company in Stupid Fucking Bird and at Theatre Exile in The Aliens, for which he was nominated for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play. In addition to performances at Lantern Theatre Company and Simpatico Theatre, he has also been seen in several productions at People's Light & Theatre Company.

Matteo Scammell (Timothy) returns to PTC where he last appeared in Detroit. A member of New Paradise Laboratories, he has also been seen in The Legend of Georgia McBride at Arden Theatre Company and in Theatre Exile's Smoke for which he received at Barrymore nomination for Best Actor.

William Zielinski (Pastor Greg) was last seen at PTC in Trumbo with Bill Irwin and in the Barrymore-Award winning production of The Laramie Project. He has also been part of the Barrymore-Award winning ensembles of Glengarry Glen Ross at Theatre Exile and in Comedy of Errors at Lantern Theatre Company and has received seven Barrymore Award nominations for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor in a Play. In additional to appearances with several local companies, he has appeared regionally at Portland Stage Company, Denver Center, Baltimore Centerstage, and Virginia Stage Company.

Hand to God's creative team features the PTC debuts of set designer Brian Sidney Bembridge and, costume designer Allison Roberts, joined by PTC veterans Thom Weaver as lighting designer and Sound Designer/composer Daniel Perelstein and J. Alex Cordaro as Fight Director. The recipient of two Barrymore Award nominations, Brian Bembridge has been honored with six Joseph Jefferson Awards, five After Dark Awards including Outstanding Season, three LA Drama Critics Circle Awards, three Garland Awards, an Ovation Award and a LA Weekly Award. Allison Roberts has designed multiple productions at Arden Theatre Company, Theatre Exile and 1812 Productions. Thom Weaver worked on PTC's Exit Strategy, Disgraced, 4000 Miles and Venus in Fur, and has garnered eighteen Barrymore Award nominations and three Barrymore Awards. Daniel Perelstein, who designed sound for PTC's Hillary and Clinton, Mothers and Sons, Detroit, and Exit Strategy, is the recipient for a Barrymore Award for Don Juan Comes Home and Knives in Hens as well as eleven other Barrymore nominations and was a 2014 F. Otto Hass Award finalist. J. Alex Cordaro returns to PTC where he last worked on Ruined.

Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theatre company that produces, develops and presents entertaining and imaginative contemporary theatre focused on the American experience. By developing new work through commissions, readings and workshops, PTC generates a national impact and reaches broad regional audiences. Under the guidance of PTC's Executive Producing Director Sara Garonzik since 1982 PTC supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to many nationally recognized artists who have participated in more than 140 world and Philadelphia premieres. PTC has received 57 Barrymore Awards and 180 nominations. PTC's home on the Avenue of the Arts, the SuzAnne Roberts Theatre which opened in October 2007, has helped revitalize of Center City Philadelphia's thriving arts district.

For further information, please call 215-313-1575.

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