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Penguin Rep Theatre's 2015 Season to Open With SMALL WORLD, 5/15

Penguin Rep Theatre's 2015 season officially begins May 15, 2015, with the New York premiere of Small World by Frederick Stroppel, directed by artistic director Joe Brancato.

"When the legendary Walt Disney hears the music of The Rite of Spring by the equally legendary composer Igor Stravinsky, he envisions planets whizzing through space, the creation of the earth, volcanoes, and, of course, dinosaurs," says Mr. Brancato, "while Stravinsky has another vision altogether for his music".

In this wise and witty new comedy, subtitled "A Fantasia", we go behind the scenes of the making of Disney's classic animated movie Fantasia, where, says Mr. Brancato, "the dinosaurs aren't the only ones doing battle".

"Disney and Stravinsky were two of the great geniuses of the past century, their influence in their respective fields profound and immeasurable", says Mr. Stroppel. "Stravinsky in The Rite of Spring gave sudden jolting birth to twentieth century music, while Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs signaled the maturation of a new form of narrative entertainment." Although the playwright "had known since college that Disney used Stravinsky's music in the making of Fantasia," he happened upon the fact about ten years ago that "Stravinsky actually stopped in at the Disney offices in the fall of 1939 to see how the work on his Rite of Spring episode was going. His reaction, both predictable and priceless, became the seed of the play idea that developed into Small World."

Small World will be performed through June 7.

The cast includes Stephen D'Ambrose (as Stravinsky) and Mark Shanahan (as Disney).

The production team includes designers Patricia E. Doherty (costumes), William Neal (sound), Patrick Rizzotti (set), and Christina Watanabe (lights); properties/technical director Rick Apicella; and stage manager Michael Palmer.

Performance days and times are: Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. A special reduced-priced weekday matinee performance is slated for Friday, May 15, at 2:00 p.m.

"For more than 30 years, Penguin Rep's Theatre Plus programs have enhanced the theatre-going experience for thousands of audience members," says executive director Andrew M. Horn, "and this season, there are more opportunities than ever for audiences to get involved. In addition to enjoying a professional theatrical production and at no additional cost," he explains, "Penguin ticket holders can learn more about the themes of the show, gain insight into the creative process, or attend a discussion with the actors."

Following the show on Friday, May 22, there will be a discussion among the actors, author and audience.

Before the 4:00 p.m. show on Saturday, May 23, there will be a complimentary tasting catered by a local restaurant.

And after the 4:00 p.m. show on Saturday, May 30, Elliott Forrest, Peabody Award winning broadcaster and producer who is heard on 105.9 FM WQXR and WNYC, will discuss the musical background of the play.

Performances are scheduled at Penguin's intimate theatre, located at 7 Crickettown Road in Stony Point (Rockland County), New York.

"It's theatre so close you can feel it", says Mr. Horn, "with comfy upholstered seats and no seat more than 30 feet from the stage." The theatre, which is converted from an 1880's hay barn, is air conditioned, wheelchair accessible, and offers plenty of free parking.

Individual tickets to Small World are priced at $40 each (plus a $1 per ticket service charge). An early ordering discount ($32) is available if tickets are ordered prior to May 17. Discounts are also available for groups of 10 or more and young people (30 and under).

To order tickets or for further information, visit Penguin Rep's website at www.penguinrep.org or call 845-786-2873.

Following Small World in Penguin Rep's 2015 season is My Name is Asher Lev by Aaron Posner. Adapted from the best-selling novel by Chaim Potok and directed by Stephen Nachamie, this award-winning American play set in post-World War II Brooklyn tells the powerful story of a boy prodigy who must be a painter at all costs - against the will of family, community and tradition.

My Name is Asher Lev will be presented from July 10 through August 2.

From August 14 through September 6, Penguin will present Becoming Dr. Ruth by Mark St. Germain and directed by Thomas Caruso. In this work, the celebrated author of Freud's Last Session and co-author of last season's The Fabulous Lipitones turns his sights on America's most famous sex therapist.

"Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career on radio and television," says Mr. Brancato. "Few, however, know the incredible journey that preceded it." Filled with the humor, honesty and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who became "Dr. Ruth", the comedy stars Anne O'Sullivan.

Closing the season from October 2 through October 25 will be the world premiere of Priceless by David Robson.

From the author of last season's hit Playing the Assassin comes his newest play about an art caper gone awry. Zacke might have been a bully in high school, but his unorthodox talent for skirting the law may be exactly what Raymond needs to get out of trouble now. "Their reunion twenty years later ignites humor", says Mr. Brancato, who will stage the comedy, "and shows that even when the best things in life are free, they aren't cheap."

Subscriptions to the 2015 mainstage productions are on sale now and start as low as $108 for the four plays.

Under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Brancato and Mr. Horn, Penguin Rep Theatre has grown in 37 years from a summer theatre in a converted 1880's hay barn to become one of the Hudson Valley's most influential nonprofit cultural institutions.

Founded in 1977 by Mr. Brancato and trustee Francine Newman-McCarthy, Penguin now reaches tens of thousands of theatergoers, students, and artists each year at its home theatre in Stony Point, in New York City and beyond - with plays and productions premiered by Penguin moving to Off Broadway and to stages across the country and around the world.

Penguin Rep Theatre's 2015 season is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Penguin Rep also gratefully acknowledges the support of Rockland County and the Town of Stony Point, as well as the Shubert Foundation, the Cory and Bob Donnalley Charitable Foundation, and the Rockland Community Foundation.

BIOS:

JOE BRANCATO (Director) 's NY credits include The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Off Bway Alliance & Audelco Award nominee); Tom Dudzick's Miracle on South Division Street (St. Luke's Theatre); Fall to Earth and Freed (Audelco Award nominee) at 59e59; Tryst (Outer Critics nomination for Best Play); Cobb (Drama Desk winner) produced by Kevin Spacey; From Door To Door at the Westside Theatre; One Shot, One Kill at Primary Stages; Jeffrey Solomon's Santa Claus is Coming Out; Two and a Half Jews; My Italy Story; Ricky Ian Gordon's The Matter of Minutes; Escape from Happiness (starring Marsha Mason), The Big Swing (starring Madeline Kahn, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Marisa Tomei) and Dr. Valentine's Waltz (starring John Turturro, Laura Linney, Gina Gershon, Jane Alexander) at Naked Angels; and Hold the Wedding, produced by Joseph Papp. Regional credits include: Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Canada), Cleveland Playhouse, George Street Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Alley Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, Westport Country Playhouse, Montreal Jazz Festival, Capital Rep, TheaterWorks of Hartford, Cape Playhouse, Passage Theatre and Florida Repertory Theatre. As founding artistic director of Penguin Rep he has directed 150 productions including premieres by Arthur Laurents, Lanie Robertson, William Mastrosimone, James Sherman, Steven Dietz, Richard Vetere, and Allan Knee.

STEPHEN D'AMBROSE (Igor Stravinsky) is a 40 year stage veteran, with performances at theaters across the country, including: the Guthrie, The Old Globe, San Jose Rep., Arizona Theater Co., The Children's Theatre Co., The Jungle Theater, and The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in DC. National tours include the Guthrie Theater's Great Expectations and the Broadway tour of Tracy Letts' acclaimed August: Osage County. Most recently he performed the world premiere, one?man show of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried at the History Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota.

MARK SHANAHAN (Walt Disney) returns to Penguin Rep where he previously appeared in Mrs. Mannerly and Women Who Steal, and where he directed The Savannah Disputation, The Farm, The Hound of The Baskervilles and The Woman in Black. NY acting credits include Checkers (Vineyard Theatre, directed by Terry Kinney), Tryst (directed by Joe Brancato), The Shaughraun (Irish Rep), the original Broadway production of The 39 Steps, As Bees In Honey Drown (Lucille Lortel Theatre), and Philadelphia, Here I Come! (Roundabout). Regional theatre appearances include Tryst (Westport, Merrimack Rep, TheaterWorks), Journey's End, Sedition, Around The World In 80 Days (Westport Country Playhouse), David Copperfield, (directed by Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe), The Hollow, Harvey, Hitchcock Blonde, Tryst, Treasure Island, Witness for the Prosecution (Alley Theatre).

FREDERICK STROPPEL (Playwright)'s theater work includes Fortune's Fools, produced Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater in 1995, and the musical Tales From The Manhattan Woods, based on "Die Fledermaus", staged by Opera NY in 2004 . Other plays include Actor!, The Christmas Spirit, A Good Man, Lucky Me, and The Hunter's Moon. For film, he has written the screenplays for A Brooklyn State of Mind, Dark Side of Genius, and the short film Glacier Bay, which has won over a dozen festival awards including Best Screenplay.

PENGUIN REP THEATRE is a not-for-profit professional Equity theatre in its 38th year of operation. Its home is a century-old barn in Stony Point (Rockland County), New York, which has been converted into a fully equipped, handicapped accessible 108-seat theatre.

Since its founding in 1977, Penguin has produced over 150 celebrated shows for more than 400,000 people from the lower Hudson Valley and beyond, including new works by Lee Blessing, Steven Dietz, Tom Dudzick, Ronald Harwood, Arthur Laurents, Warren Leight, Jon Marans, William Mastrosimone, James Sherman, Elizabeth Swados, Staci Swedeen and Richard Vetere. Many new plays have moved from Stony Point to New York City, across the country and around the world, and from the stage to TV and film.

As The Journal News wrote in 1982: "Somebody forgot to tell artistic director Joe Brancato that he's crazy to use a little barn plunked down in the Rockland County suburbs to experiment with unusual and challenging plays... I hope everybody keeps forgetting to tell him. The region is more the richer for it."

And Mr. Brancato has brought together accomplished professional actors - David Canary, Michael Cullen, Gregg Edelman, Michael Esper, Barbara Feldon, Tovah Feldshuh, Beth Fowler, Deborah Hedwall, Celeste Holm, Richard Kline, Andrew McCarthy, Lizbeth Mackay, Michele Pawk, and Karen Ziemba, among others - to star in new and noteworthy plays.

"Guided by the skilled hand of Penguin's artistic director, Joe Brancato, the splendid performers get first-rate support, as always at Penguin, by an excellent design team" (The New York Times).

As it launches its 2015 season, Penguin Rep Theatre, dubbed "the gutsiest little theatre" by The New York Times, continues to present a cultural experience that is unique in the region: professional productions of new plays at affordable prices.


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