Bell, Overtree & Bolin's FOUND, RIZZO and More Set for Philadelphia Theatre Company 2016-17 Season

Philadelphia Theatre Company has just announced its 2016/17 season, with four plays and one musical that showcase work by some of the most exciting and provocative playwrights in America.

The season features the stories of two iconic Philadelphians with the World Premiere of AMERICAN CANVAS by Bill Cain and the sensational RIZZO by Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham. Unique perspectives on the American story are told through the beloved HAVING OUR SAY by Emily Mann and the irreverent HAND TO GOD by Robert Askins. Fun and eccentric true stories are brought to life in the freshly revamped new musical FOUND, with book by Hunter Bell and Lee Overtree and music and original lyrics by Eli Bolin.

The season opens with a re-mounting of Theatre Exile's production of RIZZO (September 23 - October 16, 2016) by Bruce Graham, based on the best-selling book by Sal Paolantonio called Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America and again directed by Exile's Founding Artistic Director, Joe Canuso. From beat cop, to Police Commissioner to Mayor of Philadelphia, this production, which sold out its original run, explores the life of Frank Rizzo as he prepares for his 1991 mayoral campaign. As the audience jumps through time and place, RIZZO's complex, larger- than- life personality comes to life, showing why he was both revered and reviled by so many. RIZZO will feature its original cast with Scott Greer reprising his starring role as Frank Rizzo.

"We are delighted to partner with Theatre Exile in remounting this important new work which deserves to be seen by a wider audience," said PTC's Executive Producing Director Sara Garonzik. Deb Block, Theatre Exile's Producing Artistic Director added, "We are thrilled that PTC will be bringing RIZZO to their stage. There is not a better company in town to continue to give life to this uniquely Philadelphia play."

Bruce Graham is a Philadelphia-based playwright. His works include such plays as Stella and Lou, Funnyman, Something Intangible, Any Given Monday, and The Outgoing Tide, which was produced by PTC in its 2011/12 season. PTC also produced the world premiere of his play According to Goldman in its 2003/04 season.

Sal Paolantonio is a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and current national correspondent for ESPN, primarily covering the National Football League for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, NFL Live and NFL Insiders. He is the author of three books, including Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America published by Camino Books, Inc. in 1993 and, again, in 2003 in a 10th anniversary edition.

The season continues with two-time Drama Desk Nominated FOUND (November 9 - December 11), a fresh new musical that isn't just based on one true story, it's based on hundreds of them. FOUND features unique storytelling with book by Hunter Bell and Lee Overtree and music and original lyrics by Eli Bolin. They say that no one writes letters anymore, but Davy knows that's not true. Ever since the day he found an absurdly funny note meant for someone else on the windshield of his car, he's been obsessed with collecting and sharing the surprising, hilarious, irreverent and just plain weird notes and letters that surround us every day, everywhere. Featuring hundreds of real found letters culled from Davy Rothbart's popular Found Magazine, this original musical is a humorous and moving exploration of human connection, friendship, communication and the beautiful weirdness in everyone.

"We are thrilled to begin this next chapter of FOUND in Philadelphia," said co-creator Hunter Bell. "The show had an amazing run at the Atlantic Theater Company off-Broadway in New York City, and what's so exciting is that we get to build on what we learned there, and make the show even better. There are new musical numbers and hilarious and heartfelt new found notes too. We can't wait to continue this original new musical's incredible journey with the audiences at the Philadelphia Theatre Company."

Hunter Bell is an actor and librettist best known for the OBIE-Award-winning and TONY-nominated musical [title of show]. His work has been developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Ars Nova, NYMF, among others. Other credits include Silence! The Musical, Now.Here.This., Bellobration! (Ringling Bros. Circus), Villains Tonight! (Disney Cruise Lines), and The Great American Mousical (Goodspeed Musicals).

Eli Bolin is a composer, lyricist and musical director of Story Pirates, which performs songs and sketches adapted from the creative writing of children all over the country. His credits include musicals such as Volleygirls (NYMF's 2013 'Best of Fest'), the Lucille Lortel-nominated Skippyjon Jones and sequel Skippyjon Jones Snow What, Roller Disco (A.R.T.), Schmoozy Togetherness (Williamstown), and I Sing! (York). For television, Bolin has composed for "Sesame Street", "Difficult People", "Billy On The Street", Kristen Schaal's Comedy Central specials and appeared on "30 Rock" as a member of the Woggels.

Lee Overtree is co-founder and Artistic Director of the educational theater and media company Story Pirates, for which he hosts and directs the weekly Sirius/XM show Story Pirates Radio. His has directed at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Goodspeed, Center Theatre Group, the Kennedy Center, the Geffen Playhouse, Symphony Space, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, and the Upright Citizen's Brigade. He serves on the faculty of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neil Center.

Davy Rothbart is the creator of Found magazine, which is dedicated to discarded notes, letters, flyers, photos, lists, and drawings found and sent in by readers. Its first book in 2004, Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from around the World, was a bestseller, and spawned two more collections in 2006 and 2009. Rothbart appears regularly on This American Life with Ira Glass.

PTC kicks off the new year in January 2017 with HAVING OUR SAY (January 27 - February 19) by Emily Mann, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth. 103-year-old Sadie Delany and 101-year-old Bessie Delany welcome us into their home to share an amazing story. These daughters of a former slave grew up in the Jim Crow South, lived in Harlem during its renaissance, and had professional careers as a teacher and a dentist, respectively. While making dinner to remember their father's birthday, the two sisters tell us the story of the last century, as they lived it. It's history at its most immediate and poignant.

"Our production marks the Philadelphia premiere of this inspiring and engrossing story which remains as vital and relevant as ever," said Garonzik. "The run of our production will be complemented throughout by solo performances from artists as memorable and passionate as the Delany sisters, all of them 'having their say.'"

Emily Mann is a multi-award-winning director and playwright in her 26th season as the Artistic Director and Resident Playwright of the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. Her plays and adaptations include Execution of Justice, Still Life (six OBIE Awards), Mrs. Packard; The House of Bernarda Alba, Meshugah, Uncle Vanya; and The Cherry Orchard.

Spring warms up with the irreverent Tony Award-nominated Broadway hit, HAND TO GOD (April 7 - April 30) by Robert Askins. The good children of Cypress, Texas are taught to obey the Bible in order to evade Satan's hand. But when students at the Christian Puppet Ministry put those teachings into practice, one devout young man's puppet takes on a shocking personality that no one could have expected. In this hilarious and lightning-paced comedy, a foul-mouthed sock puppet named Tyrone soon teaches those around him that the urges that can drive a person to give in to their darkest desires fit like a glove.

Robert Askins is a NYC-based playwright originally from Cypress, Texas. Askins has received two EST/Sloan grants, and an Arch and Bruce Davis Award for Playwriting, and is an alumnus of I-73 and Youngblood. His other works include Princes of Waco (Youngblood), Matthew and the Pastor's Wife (Marathon 2010 at Ensemble Studio Theatre), and Permission (MCC Theater). He can be found on the second Sunday of every month running around a fancy Greek restaurant for his site specific brunch serial, All the Little Fishes, about the trials and tribulations of working fine dining in Manhattan with Greeks.

The season concludes with the World Premiere of AMERICAN CANVAS (May 26 - June 18) by Bill Cain. AMERICAN CANVAS tells the fascinating story of Philadelphia painter Thomas Eakins through his personal relationships and in the subjects he so carefully studied and rendered - all taking place in a country fresh from war, on the cusp of a new age of industry, and in the middle of a shift in social attitudes. To quote playwright Cain, "Thomas Eakins - 19th century Philadelphia artist- made a painting that he had to sell for less than the cost of the materials. In 2008, Philadelphia spent $68,000,000 for The Gross Clinic - the painting Tom couldn't give away. In his day, this visionary painter, photographer and teacher was called a provocateur, sexual outlaw and a very dangerous man. Eakins said of his life that it's all in the paintings. His art - a mix of 19th century restraint and total naked abandon without precedent that is, even now, shocking - changed American art forever." In 2012, Bill Cain was chosen as the inaugural winner of PTC's Terrence McNally New Play Award, utilizing the prize to write and develop AMERICAN CANVAS. Said Garonzik, "To our knowledge, this is the first script ever written about Thomas Eakins and we see it as an exciting opportunity to galvanize our city as well as audiences afar to rediscover and celebrate one of our nation's greatest and most controversial artists."

Bill Cain is a multi-award-winning playwright whose other works include How to Write a New Book for the Bible, 9 Circles, Equivocation, and Stand-Up Tragedy. Screen credits include: "House of Cards" (Netflix); "Nothing Sacred" (ABC); "Clover" (Hallmark/HBO); Nightjohn; "Thicker Than Blood" (TNT); and, Sounder.

PTC's current season continues with Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason, April 8 - May 8. Ethan, a young hotshot writer, and Olivia, a teacher whose would-be writing career stalled after one book was published years ago, find themselves snowbound at a remote bed and breakfast. He shares his sexual exploits online and through best-sellers; she keeps her unpublished second book to herself. It does not take long, however, for opposites to attract and chemistry to ignite. Sex is imminent. But is their attraction driven by love, passion or opportunity? Sex with Strangers is a co-production with George Street Playhouse. PTC's 2015-2016 season concludes with the East Coast premiere of Hillary and Clinton by Lucas Hnath (May 27 - June 26) and directed by frequent Hnath collaborator Ken Rus Schmoll.

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 and Executive Managing Director Priscilla M. Luce, who joined the leadership team in early April of 2013, 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.

Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You