Philadelphia Theatre Company Opens Curtain To Season Selection Process With SEE & BE SCENE
Following the successful run of A Small Fire, with Bebe Neuwirth, Philadelphia Theatre Company next focuses on the season selection process. The company welcomes audiences to its annual See & Be Scene, a one-night only staged-reading showcase, on Monday, December 2 at 7:00 pm. Now in its third year, Producing Artistic Director Paige Price is looking to add a selection of comedies and musicals into the mix. Eight works will be showcased.
Some of the plays and musicals presented include: the 2019 Kilroy's List play John Proctor is the Villain by Kimberly Belflower, Sharyn Rothstein's Tell Me I'm Not Crazy, The First Deep Breath by local playwright Lee Edward Colston II, Triangle (music by Curtis Moore, lyrics by Thomas Mizer), and Book by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore and Joshua Scher, Too Heavy for Your Pocket, by Jiréh Breon Holder, and Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, with a book by Hugh Wheeler, and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
After the readings, a cash bar will be open and Price will host conversation to gather audience feedback, share her early vision for next season, and discuss what goes into selecting the plays and finding talent. See and Be Scene will take place at Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad Street). Tickets are on sale for $15 for the general public but are free for donors and subscribers to the theatre. Tickets are available at philatheatreco.org, at the box-office, or by calling 215-985-0420.
Actors who will be performing in See & Be Scene include: Blake Stadnik, (Sweeney Todd, Newsies) who recently joined NBC's This is Us, award-winning Philadelphia theatre couple Jen Childs and Scott Greer, Walter DeShields, (Barrymore-nominated for Sweat at PTC), Damien Wallace (also of PTC's Sweat), Donnie Hammond Johnson, who was in Theatre Horizon's Barrymore honored ensemble of The Color Purple and is currently playing the Dragon in Shrek at Walnut Street Theatre, Stephanie Hodge, who will be in PTC's upcoming production of Everything is Wonderful, Jessica Johnson, a recent Barrymore honoree for Outstanding Leading Performance in a Musical for The Color Purple at Theatre Horizon, Todd Lawson, who appeared in Orange is the New Black and When They See Us, Campbell O'Hare, who earned raves in Dance Nation at The Wilma Theater, Alison Ormsby, who appeared in the Barrymore Nominated and Honored Boycott Esther at Azuka Theatre, Brandon Pierce, who appeared in Kill Move Paradise at The Wilma Theater and Sweat at People's Light, Michaela Shuchman, who appeared in last season's Indecent at the Arden Theatre Company, and Anne Tolpegin, who appeared on Broadway in Les Misérables and Tale of Two Cities and the national touring companies of Ragtime, Mamma Mia! and Kinky Boots, among others.
"We sought out a little more levity this year. Let's face it, if you come within five decibels of a television news channel these days, it's exhausting to scary. We're seeking pieces that might give people relief - comic, or otherwise," said Price about the shows under consideration. "This year, I feel like I know more about our audience and yet...I'm really still learning. Also, theatre is changing very quickly right now. So I feel like I want to put a few more plays in there that represent some new ideas, some new voices. We also didn't do a musical during this current season, but we will do one next year for sure."
The directors for this evening include Steve H. Broadnax, who directed Mud Row at People's Light this summer, and the just-opened world premiere of The First Deep Breath at Victory Gardens; Kathryn MacMillan, the Producing Artistic Director of Tiny Dynamite; Claire Moyer, frequent director at Inis Nua, and Amina Robinson, whose production of Sunset Baby is currently running at Azuka Theater, and who last month became the first African American woman to receive the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical.
About The Plays and Musicals
John Proctor is the Villain
By Kimberly Belflower
In a one stop town in present-day Georgia, a high school class explores the seminal American classic, The Crucible. But while Miller's play was originally a commentary on McCarthyism, the students begin to see similarities between the play and their own lives. As scandal swirls in their community and beloved figures are unmasked, the play becomes uncomfortably relevant for the students. The line between witch and heroine blurs in this post-MeToo, 2019 Kilroys List pick, examination of power, love, and sex education.
The First Deep Breath
By Lee Edward Colston II
Directed by Steve H. Broadnax
The First Deep Breath tells the story of Pastor Albert Jones and his family as they plan a special church service to honor his late daughter Diane on the sixth anniversary of her passing. But when Abdul-Malik, the eldest son he blames for her death, returns home from prison the entire Jones family is forced to confront a hornet's nest of long-buried family secrets. Old skeletons claw their way to the dinner table, picking at the scraps of Mother Bethel Baptist's First Family. The First Deep Breath finds each member of the Jones family desperately fighting to stay afloat, but sometimes the family that stays together drowns together. Think August: Osage County, but in Philadelphia.
Lee Edward Colston II, is a Philly native, former prison guard turned actor, playwright, director, acting teacher, writing coach, and author.
Tell Me I'm Not Crazy
By Sharyn Rothstein
Directed by Claire Moyer
Forced into retirement and unsettled by the changing world around him, Sol Koening buys himself a gun-and his family is up in arms. His wife Diana thought they'd spend more time together and with the grandkids, but Sol's new hobby puts a bullet in that plan. Meanwhile, their son Nate is trying to be a good stay-at-home dad while his jet-setting wife Alisa climbs the corporate ladder, and school is calling with concerns about their kid. Tell Me I'm Not Crazy asks how one small firearm redefines a family and how two generations confront what it means to succeed and to sacrifice in America today.
Music by Curtis Moore
Lyrics by Thomas Mizer
Book by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore and Joshua Scher
Directed by Paige Price
One hundred years after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, two love stories set in the same New York City building, but a century apart, begin to weave together. Brian, an awkward but driven medical researcher in the current-day lab, begins to see the ghost of Sarah, an immigrant who worked at the factory at the turn of the century. Their stories become irrevocably linked across the century as long-buried secrets are uncovered and ghosts of the past begin to influence the future.
Too Heavy for Your Pocket
By Jiréh Breon Holder
Directed by Amina Robinson
Bowzie Brandon, his wife Evelyn, and their best friends Tony and Sally-Mae see happiness on the horizon when Bowzie gets a scholarship to attend college and improve his family's life. However, when the opportunity to become a Freedom Rider arises, Bowzie leaves his obligations as a husband and friend behind to join the fight against racism in the Deep South. Too Heavy for Your Pocket is a powerful look at the tenuous balance between security and risk, the bonds of love and friendship, and the personal cost of progress.
Playwright Jiréh Breon Holder was recently named one of "Tomorrow's Marquee Names, Now in the Making" by The New York Times. Previously seen at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre and in an extended Off Broadway run at Roundabout Theatre, Too Heavy for Your Pocket was the recipient of the 2017 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award.
Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Sweeney Todd has become a bloody, worldwide success since being awarded eight Tonys, (including Best Musical), for its Broadway premiere. Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's tasty, thrilling, theatrical treat has simultaneously shocked, awed and delighted audiences across the world.
Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, returns to nineteenth century London, seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop, above which, he opens a new barber practice. Mrs. Lovett's luck sharply shifts when Todd's thirst for blood inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies that has the people of London lining up. Featuring two unforgettable star turns and some of the most chilling music ever written for the stage, the masterpiece Sweeney Todd is sure to both thrill and delight audiences.
"I want audiences to come with open minds and hearts - and mouths! We really do want to hear how these brief snippets land on the audience, and want them to ask questions about season planning," said Price. "It's the most fun/hardest/painful/important/impossible thing we do here. And I would love to share that process with anyone who is curious."
Two-play subscriptions are on sale and start at $35. Tickets and subscriptions are available at the box office, online at philatheatreco.org or by phone at 215-985-0420.
The season continues in 2020 with Chelsea Marcantel's Everything is Wonderful, which made the Kilroy's list Honorable Mention two years in a row. This incredible story of forgiveness, set in the heart of Amish Country, runs February 14-March 8. The season concludes with Sarah DeLappe's 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist and 2015 Kilroys List play, The Wolves. This boisterously energetic play about life, love, and loss on and off the field for a high school girls soccer team runs April 10-May 3.