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Post-Play Discussions at Philadelphia Theatre Company Following RIZZO


Philadelphia Theatre Company will host several special post-play discussions in connection with its staging of the Theatre Exile production of Rizzo by Bruce Graham, currently running through October 23 at the SuzAnne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets) - an American Playwrights in Context (APIC) discussion on September 30; a panel of political experts on October 4, a pro-football night on October 6 and a panel on Frank Rizzo's legacy on October 14.

PTC's post-show American Playwrights in Context (APIC) on September 30 at 10PM will feature Rizzo playwright Bruce Graham and Rizzo biographer Sal Paolantonio in an engaging discussion of the process of adapting Paolantonio's book for the stage.

Politics 2016 on Tuesday, October 4 features political analysts Larry Ceisler, Dick Polman, and Ken Smukler, in a discussion moderated by Sal Paolantonio of ESPN whose biography Rizzo: The Last Big Man in Big City America formed the basis for the play Rizzo. Larry Ceisler, a respected analyst of electoral politics and government, is Principal of Ceisler Media, serving a variety of clients ranging from Fortune 50 companies to regional businesses and non-profits. Ceisler began his career in politics as Deputy Campaign Manager of Mayor W. Wilson Goode's re-election campgain and then served the Administration as Special Assistant for Governmental Relations and later the City Commerce Department as Special Counsel. Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks on WHYY and the Maury Povich "Writer In Residence" at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a political columnist and daily blogger for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He spent 22 years on the Inquirer writing staff; most recently, as the national political writer from 1992 to 2006, covering four presidential elections and dozens of Senate and House races nationwide. Ken Smukler, publisher of The Liberty City Press, launched his political consulting career in 1987 as the Communications Director for Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode, followed by his role as statewide field director for Herb Kohl's first campaign for US Senate (1990) then managed Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky's winning campaign for Congress (1992).From 1994 through 2000, Smukler developed technology that would anchor some of the largest statewide campaigns in the country culminating in Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for US Senate (2000).

Sal Paolantonio leads a Pro Football Talkback Night with his football pals Ron Jaworski, Ray Didinger and Greg Cosell on Thursday, October 6. Ron Jaworksi had a 17-year distinguished career as an NFL quarterback with the Rams and then the Philadelphia Eagles, finishing the 1980 season as the No. 1-rated passer in the NFC and was the 1980 NFL MVP. After spending five seasons in the broadcast booth with Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden as the color commentator for Monday Night Football, he is currently appearing ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, MondayNight Countdown, NFL Matchup, NFL-branded specials, Mike & Mike in the Morning, and Pardon the Interruption. Ray Didinger is an award-winning Philadelphia sportswriter, author, film writer, radio host, TV commentator, and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He wrote and co-produced "Winning is Living and Losing is Dying: The George Allen Story," which appeared on ESPN and was chosen best sports documentary of 2001 by Sports Illustrated. Didinger also wrote and produced a documentary biography of his coach, Dick Vermeil, entitled "Dick Vermeil: A Coach for All Seasons," for which he was awarded the Best Biography of 2000 at the Aurora International Film Festival. He has won four Emmy Awards for his work on "NFL Films Presents" and the Turner Network's "Football America." Greg Cosell, widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable and trusted football analysts, is an NFL analyst and a senior producer at NFL Films. In 1984 Cosell with NFL Films President Steve Sabol created a show titled Monday Night Matchup (now known as NFL Matchup) which was initially hosted by Chris Berman. He co-authored the book The Games That Changed the Game: The Evolution of the NFL in Seven Sundays.

Attendees can come early at 7:15 PM to meet the panelists in the theatre lobby.

Debate Night on Thursday, October 14 sparks a lively discussion on The Rizzo Legacy: Love Him or Leave Him with key players from Rizzo's time Martin Weinberg, Walt D'Alessio, Shelly Yanoff, Hillel Levinson and Robert Reinstein, moderated by Julia Ericksen. Martin Weinberg is partner and chairman of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP. Before joining the firm, he was City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia from 1971-74 under Mayor Frank Rizzo. Weinberg serves as chairman of the Regulatory, Administrative and Gaming Department and as a member of the firm's Management Committee. He specializes in administrative and regulatory law, including major utilities, natural gas and electric companies, local townships and school districts. Walt D'Alessio is Principal and Vice Chairman of NorthMarq Advisors, LLC, having previously served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Legg Mason Real Estate Services Inc. D'Alessio served as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority for 12 years and as Executive Vice President of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation for ten years. He serves as Chairman of Independence Blue Cross, Inc. and Independence Health Group, as Chairman of Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., and as Vice Chairman of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Investment Arm.

Robert Reinstein is the former Dean of Temple University's Beasley School of Law and his work at Temple extends back to 1969. In 1970 he joined the NAACP where he served as consulting attorney and participated in a number of successful class action and civil rights cases. Before that he worked with the U.S. Department of Justice in the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division and, later, as the Chief of the General Litigation Section.

Shelly Yanoff first worked for the Public Interest Law Center and Americans for Democratic Action. She went on to hold the position of policy officer in Mayor Wilson Goode's administration and then became an assistant city solicitor. For 25 years, Yanoff was Executive Director of what is now Public Citizens for Children and youth (PCCY). Her role in the recall of Mayor Frank Rizzo caused a firestorm of controversy.

Hillel Levinson was Mayor Rizzo's Managing Director for eight years. After serving the City, he went on to head one of the most powerful white-collar criminal defense law firms in the country. He is currently Professor of International Law at Philadelphia University.

Moderator Julia Ericksen is former professor in the Sociology Department at Temple University. A specialist in gender studies, she spent her academic life exploring the many ways gender influences social behavior. She is an award winning competitive ballroom dancer. Ericksen's publications include Dance with Me: Ballroom Dancing and the Promise of Instant Intimacy (New York University Press), Taking Charge of Breast Cancer (University of California Press) and Kiss and Tell: Surveying Sex in the 20th Century (Harvard University Press) and have led to guest appearances on Radio Times, PBS, and an interview with Stephen Colbert. She is Executive Vice President of the PTC Board of Directors.

Rizzo, extended through Sunday, October 23, is directed by Joe Canuso and features the ensemble cast of Scott Greer as Frank Rizzo withDamon Bonetti, Paul L. Nolan, Robert Daponte, William Rahill, Amanda Schnoover, and Steven Wright. Tickets starting at $15 are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting

Following Frank Rizzo's trajectory from beat cop to Police Commissioner to Mayor of Philadelphia, Rizzo is a raw and timely drama exploring Rizzo's life as he prepares for the 1991 mayoral election. A big guy who left an indelible impression on Philadelphia history, Rizzo governed with a street-brawler's bravado that both cooled and fanned the flames of racial unrest. After two terms in office, voters in 1991 were about to cast another ballot for their hero or against the villain they inadvertently helped create. As the play jumps back in time through Rizzo's life, his Shakespearian complexity and unfiltered opinions reveal what made this "larger than life" man both revered and reviled by so many.

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.

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

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