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People's Light Announces 2021-2022 Season

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Learn more about the full lineup!

People's Light invites you back to the theatre for its 2021/2022 Season, featuring outrageous comedies, tour de force performances, Tony Award nominees, and three music-filled world premieres.

The Malvern theatre officially reopens its doors this November with a brand-new, full-scale adaptation of A Christmas Carol, performed by a diverse company of 18 actors and musicians including Ian Merrill Peakes, Zonya Love, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, and Dorcas Leung. In March, don't miss Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical-the world's first stage production to celebrate the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legend-helmed by acclaimed theatre director Sheldon Epps (Broadway's Play On! and Blues in the Night). Then Jeanne Sakata's Hold These Truths gets a second chance to shine a light on activist Gordon Hirabayashi. Later in the spring, Resident Director Steve H. Broadnax III (and director of the Broadway-bound Thoughts of a Colored Man) teams up with Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb (Choir Boy) to honor the eponymous Civil Rights icon in the world premiere of Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland. Summer brings two delightful comedies to wrap up the season-Paul Osborn's rarely produced The Vinegar Tree, which reunites many of the team from 2018's wildly popular Morning's at Seven; and Bess Wohl's Grand Horizons, the hilarious family dramedy that garnered a 2020 Tony Award nomination for Best Play.


For those not yet ready to gather indoors, People's Light continues to offer free and premium digital content. A filmed version of A Christmas Carol is available to stream in late December, and People's Light hopes to offer digital versions of more live plays throughout the season. Then in February, between staged productions, a special film-only adaptation of Heather Raffo's 9 Parts of Desire is set to stream at PeoplesLight.org.

"After nearly two years, we are truly back with a lineup of dynamic, relevant, and ambitious productions," shares People's Light Executive Artistic Director Abigail Adams. "The human spirit prevails throughout our 2021/2022 Season. Each of these plays follows characters, real and imagined, as they emerge from darkness into light, from doubt into hope. We can't wait to share their stories with you-and to be with you in person."

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Adapted from Charles Dickens by Zak Berkman

Original Music by Zak Berkman

Directed by David Bradley

Music Supervision and Arrangements by Mitch Chakour

November 20, 2021 - January 2, 2022

Leonard C. Haas Stage

Callous Scrooge, shackled Marley, and the haunting spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future spring vividly to life in People's Light Producing Director Zak Berkman's (Barrymore Award-winning Such Things as Vampires, The Harassment of Iris Malloy) fresh adaptation of a favorite yuletide ghost story. Featuring a vibrant mix of original songs and newly arranged nineteenth-century English carols, this music infused retelling captures the magic, joy, and generosity of Dickens' beloved classic. The multi-talented and multi-generational cast of 18 includes the masterful Ian Merrill Peakes as Ebenezer Scrooge, Broadway's Zonya Love, the Hamilton national tour's Dorcas Leung, and lots of Philly area favorites.

Quick thing! For all you People's Light holiday veterans, A Christmas Carol is not a panto. But it is music-filled, interactive fun for every age-whether you believe in spirits or not.

PERSONALITY: THE LLOYD PRICE MUSICAL

By B. Jeffrey Madoff with Lloyd Price

Music and Lyrics by Lloyd Price

Directed by Sheldon Epps

Music Direction by Shelton Becton

Choreography by Edgar Godineaux

March 2 - 27, 2022

Leonard C. Haas Stage

Before Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus.

Before Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a movement.

Lloyd Price's music brought Black and white youth together.

From obscure beginnings to overnight teen sensation, from unsung trailblazer to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the story of Lloyd Price has never been told onstage- until now. Featuring a stellar cast of twelve singers and dancers performing iconic hits "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Stagger Lee," and the legendary song that became his namesake, this world premiere musical celebrates one of the most resilient and influential entertainers of our time, Lloyd "Mr. Personality" Price.

You might know acclaimed theatre director Sheldon Epps from his work on Broadway productions such as Play On! or Blues in the Night. He's also directed popular television shows like Friends.

HOLD THESE TRUTHS

By Jeanne Sakata

Directed by Desdemona Chiang

April 6 - May 1, 2022
Steinbright Stage

Steven Eng plays real-life activist Gordon Hirabayashi (and 37 other characters!) in this critically acclaimed solo play. As a young man, Gordon struggles to reconcile his admiration for the U.S. Constitution with the government's 1942 orders resulting in the forced removal and internment of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent. Marked by hope, humor, and an irrepressible zest for life, Gordon's journey of resistance ultimately leads to the famous Supreme Court case Hirabayashi v. United States-a legacy that continues to resonate today.

People's Light's planned 2020 production of Hold These Truths never saw a live audience, though you might have watched it online or caught the WHYY broadcast. This season, the same cast and creative team reunite to finally perform the play in person.

BAYARD RUSTIN INSIDE ASHLAND

Written and Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III

Music Supervision and Arrangements by Jason Michael Webb

May 18 - June 12, 2022

Leonard C. Haas Stage

"We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers." - Bayard Rustin


Chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington and openly gay Civil Rights activist, Bayard Rustin was nearly written out of the history books. This world premiere play soars with African-American spirituals and offers a glimpse into a transformative moment for young Rustin-his 1944 prison sentence in Ashland, Kentucky. While incarcerated and targeted for his sexuality, Rustin puts his faith in nonviolent resistance to the test, illuminating what it means to be branded a "troublemaker" within a system stacked against you.

Not only is Bayard Rustin a too-often overlooked Civil Rights and LGBTQ+ icon, but he is also a West Chester, PA native. People's Light Resident Director Steve H. Broadnax III (Broadway's Thoughts of a Colored Man) and Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb (Choir Boy) bring you the latest locally inspired play to emerge from the Theatre's New Play Frontiers residency program.

THE VINEGAR TREE

By Paul Osborn
Directed by Abigail Adams
June 29 - July 24, 2022
Steinbright Stage

Mistaken identities and foolhardy love affairs abound in this rarely produced 1930 comedy of manners. At the center of Paul Osborn's delightfully sophisticated confection is Laura Merrick, a restless woman whose marriage to the sour Augustus has brought both security and disappointment. Over the course of one day, the Merricks' country home is overrun by their daughter Leone and her college sweetheart, Laura's glamorous sister Winifred, and Winifred's charming lover. As romances tangle and secrets unfurl, everyone comes to terms with what they truly want.

The Vinegar Tree reunites many of the cast and creative team from Morning's at Seven (2018), another Osborn comedy also directed by Abigail Adams. That award-winning revival was hailed by the Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout as "one of the finest productions of an American play that I've ever reviewed." So, if you loved Morning's at Seven, you don't want to miss The Vinegar Tree!

GRAND HORIZONS

By Bess Wohl

Directed by Jackson Gay
August 3 - 28, 2022

Leonard C. Haas Stage


Over a quiet dinner for two, Bill and Nancy serenely decide to divorce after fifty years of marriage. While Nancy feels liberated and Bill seems unfazed, their adult sons Brian and Ben don't exactly take it well. As the "kids" descend on the Grand Horizons senior living community in an attempt to mediate, everything they thought they knew about their parents comes crashing down. Bess Wohl's (Barcelona) Tony-nominated comedy is a hilarious, heartbreaking commentary on marriage, family, and the wisdom that comes with age-or not.

Fun fact: This 2020 Tony Award nominee can trace some of its origins to People's Light. The Theatre hosted Bess in a mini playwright residency during which she visited local senior living facilities to research the residents' romantic lives for a play she was working on. That original script never came to fruition, but some of its DNA became Grand Horizons.


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