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Vassar & New York Stage and Film 35th Powerhouse Season



Vassar & New York Stage and Film have announced the next wave of casting for the highly anticipated 35th Powerhouse Season in Poughkeepsie, NY, which continues through Sunday, July 28. Actors joining the annual summer play development incubator include Tony Award nominee Stephen Bogardus, Drama Desk Award nominee Margo Seibert, Obie Award winner Alfie Fuller, Obie Award winner Ching Valdes-Aran, Lucille Lortel Award winner Andrew R. Butler, Alex Breaux, and more. For tickets and more information on the season, please visit

Lightning (or The Unbuttoning), the second mainstage production of the season (July 18-28), by Pulitzer Prize winner Beth Henley, directed by Mark Brokaw, will feature Alex Breaux (The Real ThingRed Speedo), Stephanie DiMaggio (A Free Man of Color), and Obie Award winner Alfie Fuller (Is God IsBLKS). The creative team includes Kimie Nishikawa (Scenic Design), Michael Krass (Costume Design), Scott Zielinski (Lighting Design), David Van Tieghem (Sound Design), and Dave Anzuelo (Intimacy/Fight Direction).

Annie Salem: An American Tale, the first musical workshop presentation of the 2019 Powerhouse Season (July 5-7), adapted from the novel by Mac Wellman, with book by Rachel Chavkin, music by Heather Christian, lyrics by Heather Christian and Rachel Chavkin, direction by Rachel Chavkin, and movement by Raja Feather Kelly (Fairview), will feature David Abeles (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Tattiana Aqeel (“Grown”), Tony Award nominee Stephen Bogardus (Girl From The North Country), Lucille Lortel Award nominee Clifton Duncan(Carmen Jones, “Flesh and Bone”), Danaya Esperanza (Men On Boats), Brian Flores (Head Over Heels), Ari Groover (Alice By Heart), Christopher Sears (Gently Down the Stream), Drama Desk Award nominee Margo Seibert (RockyOctet), and Obie Award winner Ching Valdes-Aran (A Man’s A Man).

The Elementary Spacetime Show, the second musical workshop presentation of the season (July 12-14), with music and lyrics by César Alvarez, book by César Alvarez and Emily Orling, and direction by Sarah Benson, will feature Jay Adana (The Woodsman), Lucille Lortel Award winner Andrew R. Butler (Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future), Cosmo Castaldi, Joshua Dominque, Sofia Dobrushin (“High Maintenance”), Jari Jones (“Tales of the City”), Mason Alexander Park (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), MiMi Scardulla (We Are the Tigers), and Terran Scott.

Sanctuary City, the third reading of the season (July 13 at 5pm), by Martyna Majok and directed by Rebecca Frecknall, will feature Sharlene Cruz (Mac Beth), Gil Perez-Abraham (“Pose”), and Austin Smith (HamiltonSocrates).

Additional casting of the 2019 Powerhouse Season will be announced shortly.

Powerhouse Season casting is by Telsey + Company.

For tickets and more information on the season, visit

Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse collaboration continues to be the launching pad for some of the most groundbreaking new works for the American theater, with countless subsequent productions in New York City, regionally and internationally. Notably, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and Stephen Karam’s The Humans—the 2016 Tony® winners for Best Musical and Best Play, respectively—received early development at Powerhouse, and Powerhouse presented first-look productions of two daring new works that were named finalists for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, which moved directly from its Powerhouse premiere to celebrated runs at The Playwrights Realm and Lincoln Center Theater in NYC; and Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. They are joined by dozens of other celebrated recent projects that trace their roots to Powerhouse and New York Stage and Film, including: Hadestown, the Anaïs Mitchell musical currently on Broadway; the Lynn Nottage/Duncan Sheik/Susan Birkenhead musical The Secret Life of Bees off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company; the Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater/Jessie Nelson musical Alice By Heart off-Broadway at MCC Theater; Halley Feiffer’s The Pain of My Belligerence off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons; the David Bryan/Joe DiPietro musical Diana at La Jolla Playhouse; Colman Domingo’s Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole at the Geffen Playhouse; Maddie Corman’s Accidentally Brave off-Broadway at DR2; Tim Blake Nelson’s Socrates off-Broadway at The Public Theater; Brian Quijada’s Kid Prince and Pablo at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and many more.

The upcoming 35th Powerhouse Season will feature two main stage productions in the Powerhouse Theater:

the bandaged place (June 27 – July 7) by Harrison David Rivers, directed by David Mendizábal

Jonah is a dancer.
Jonah is injured.
Jonah has an ex-boyfriend.

When a former lover resurfaces, re-opening a painful wound, Jonah is forced to turn to his funny, precocious daughter and tough-love grandmother for support. A brutal and lyrical portrait of the things we hang on to and the price of moving forward, this Relentless Award-winning play tells of one man’s attempt to free himself from the abuses of his past.

Written by NYSAF’s 2015 Founders’ Award Winner and 2018 Relentless Award winner Harrison David Rivers, the bandaged place received additional development as part of NYSAF’s 2019 Winter Season.

The cast of the bandaged place features Caroline Clay (The Little Foxes), Sam Encarnacion (“Jessica Jones”), Milan Marsh (“Law & Order: SVU”), Phillip Johnson-Richardson (Hamilton), and Michael Hsu Rosen (Torch Song). The creative team includes Wilson Chin (scenic design), Ásta Bennie Hostetter (costume design), Stacey Derosier (lighting design), Mauricio Escamilla (original music and sound design), Rocio Mendez (fight and intimacy direction), and movement by Jeremy McQueen.

Lightning (or The Unbuttoning) (July 18-28) by Beth Henley, directed by Mark Brokaw

In a cabin high on a peak surrounded by the blue mountains and a vibrant, swirling sky, a young woman is visited by a traveling salesman as a lightning storm brews. A mysterious, mystical visitor, he awakens in her the promise and the peril of something more. Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley returns to Powerhouse with this story of resilience and determination in an unforgiving world.

Lightning was developed in part through NYSAF’s 2017 NYC Reading Series.

The cast of Lightning (or The Unbuttoning) features Alex Breaux (The Real ThingRed Speedo), Stephanie DiMaggio (A Free Man of Color), and Obie Award winner Alfie Fuller (Is God Is,BLKS). The creative team includes Kimie Nishikawa (Scenic Design), Michael Krass (Costume Design), Scott Zielinski (Lighting Design), David Van Tieghem (Sound Design), and Dave Anzuelo (Intimacy/Fight Direction).

The musical workshop presentations, in the Vogelstein Center for Drama & Film’s Martel Theater will include three exciting new projects:

Annie Salem: An American Tale (July 5-7)adapted from the novel by Mac Wellman, book by Rachel Chavkin, music by Heather Christian, lyrics by Heather Christian and Rachel Chavkin and directed by Rachel Chavkin

An otherworldly journey into the jagged heart of rust-belt Ohio, where blue monkeys play in the wreckage of post-industrial America, and where high school boy Jack Scan is in love with the prettiest girl in town. This timely adaptation of Mac Wellman’s wry, surrealist coming-of-age story, adapted by Tony Award-winner Rachel Chavkin (HadestownThe Great Comet) and Obie Award-winner Heather Christian (Animal Wisdom), travels through time and space, to Mars and back again as it tries to make sense of the forces lurking in the American woods.

The cast of Annie Salem: An American Tale features David Abeles (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Tattiana Aqeel (“Grown”), Tony Award nominee Stephen Bogardus (Girl From The North Country), Lucille Lortel Award nominee Clifton Duncan (Carmen Jones, “Flesh and Bone”), Danaya Esperanza (Men On Boats), Brian Flores (Head Over Heels), Ari Groover (Alice By Heart), Christopher Sears (Gently Down the Stream), Drama Desk Award nominee Margo Seibert (RockyOctet), and Obie Award winner Ching Valdes-Aran (A Man’s A Man).

The Elementary Spacetime Show (July 12-14) music and lyrics by César Alvarez, book by César Alvarez with Emily Orling and directed by Sarah Benson

You can die, you just have to answer a few crazy questions first. And sing. And dance.

A young girl attempts suicide and wakes up trapped in a cosmic vaudevillian game show that she must win in order to enter the void of death. But the more she wants to die, the harder she has to work. A new musical of why to exist when you no longer want to, with up-tempo genre-bending songs and a healthy dose of the absurd from the creators of Futurity.

The cast of The Elementary Spacetime Show features Jay Adana (The Woodsman), Lucille Lortel Award winner Andrew R. Butler (Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future), Cosmo Castaldi, Joshua Dominque, Sofia Dobrushin (“High Maintenance”), Jari Jones (“Tales of the City”), Mason Alexander Park (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), MiMi Scardulla (We Are the Tigers), and Terran Scott.

Goddess (July 26-28)conceived by Saheem Ali, music and lyrics by Michael Thurber, book by Jocelyn Bioh and additional lyrics by Mkhululi Z. Mabija and directed by Saheem Ali

A young man returns home to the African coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya, to marry his betrothed and step into his family’s political dynasty. But when he visits Moto Moto – a steamy afro-jazz club and the stomping ground of his youth – he finds himself drawn to a beautiful, mysterious new singer. Soon, he must decide whether to fulfill the legacy of his lineage, or give in to his love of music and a newfound attraction. A story of love, destiny, the spirit world, and the power of passion, inspired by the ancient myth of Marimba, the goddess of music.

This summer’s ‘Inside Look’ Workshops to be presented in the Martel Theater and Susan Stein Shiva Theater are:

…and the horse you rode in on (June 20-22) by Zach Helm and directed by Kate Whoriskey

The story of Ben, a young hacktivist federally incarcerated for digital civil-disobedience, who attempts to bring the entire US Judiciary to its knees from the inside. While he creates computer code he thinks will combat totalitarianism, his mother attempts to negotiate for his freedom and mental health. The first of a cycle of plays by celebrated theater, film, and television writer Zach Helm set in the world of international cyber-espionage and the human lives it has torn apart.

The cast of …and the horse you rode in on features Lucille Lortel Award nominee Victor Alamanzar (Between Riverside and Crazy), Joshua Boone (Network), Alejandro Hernandez (“New Amsterdam”), Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox (Doubt), Reynaldo Piniella (“Sneaky Pete”), Outer Critics Circle nominees Noah Robbins (Brighton Beach Memoirs), Cesar J. Rosado (“Manifest”), and three-time Screen Actors Guild Award winner Constance Schulman (“Orange Is The New Black”)

…and the horse you rode in on received initial development as part of NYSAF’s 2018 NYC Reading Series.

The Best We Could (a family tragedy) (July 25-27) by Emily Feldman and directed by Daniel Aukin 

A daughter’s road trip with her father becomes a theatrical journey across more than just state lines. This funny, wise, and heartbreaking debut from an exciting new writer will be brought to vibrant life by director Daniel Aukin.

This summer’s readings will include free public presentations of works in progress, including:

The Notebook, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, music and lyrics by Ingrid Michaelson, book by Bekah Brunstetter, directed by Michael Greif (June 23 at 3pm)

Galileo, book by Danny Strong, music and lyrics by Michael Weiner and Zoe Sarnak, directed by Michael Mayer (June 29 at 4pm)

Sanctuary City by Martyna Majok, directed by Rebecca Frecknall (July 13 at 5pm)

Becky Nurse of Salem by Sarah Ruhl (July 19 at 8pm)

Delusion by Proxy by Brooke Adams, directed by Ethan Silverman (July 20 at 12pm)

The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin by Jessica Huang, directed by Lee Sunday Evans (July 20 at 5pm)

The Excavation of Mary Anning by Ian August, directed by Sammi Cannold (July 21 at 4pm)

Additional projects and artists in residence include Williamsburg, book by Jason Katims, music by Tom Kitt, lyrics by Marcy Heisler; Like Water For Chocolate, a new musical adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s novel by Lisa Loomer and La Santa Cecilia, directed by Michael Mayer; and the Lark Play Development Center.

Members of the noted Powerhouse Theater Training Program will present William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (July 12-14) adapted and directed by Devin Kawaoka, and The Winter’s Tale (July 19-21) adapted and directed by Andrew Willis-Woodward, both at the Environmental Cooperative at the Vassar Barns. Members of the Training Company will present Keep Your Head Above Water so as Not to Sink: A Soundpainting Performance

(July 4, 11, 18, 25), composed and directed by Max Reuben, at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center; Workshop Performances of From One to Another: Rites of Passage for our Times (July 21-22), created and directed by Emily Mendelsohn, with members of the Training Company; as well as the New Works Play Festival (July 27), written and directed by members of the Training Company. Young actors, playwrights, and directors from around the country and internationally, along with an exceptional faculty of artists, comprise this important component of the Powerhouse artistic community. For updated Training Company production and workshop information, please visit

Keelay Gipson will receive the 2019 Founders’ Award, Nell Bailey and Louisa Melcher will receive the 2019 Epstein Fellowships, Erika Dickerson-Despenza will receive the 2019 Dramatists Guild Fund Fellowship, and Ben Randle will receive the 2019 Leo Shull Musical Theater Directing Fellowship, in partnership with the Drama League.

In addition to the aforementioned artists and projects, New York Stage and Film’s Filmmakers’ Workshop will be on campus for the annual Summer Residency. During the residency, early-career screenwriters and TV writers engage in one-on-one feedback sessions with professional mentors, panel discussions, screenings, developmental readings, and production discussions designed to bring their projects closer to completion. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of the Powerhouse Season, they form a unique cohort and are active participants in the Powerhouse community. Writers and projects will be announced in June.

Now in its 35th year, Powerhouse Theater is a collaboration between Vassar College and New York Stage and Film dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works for theater and film. The Powerhouse program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 350 professional artists and 50 students in the Powerhouse Training Program live and work together to create new theater works. In 2018/19, ten projects premiered in New York City that had been developed by New York Stage and Film: Hadestown (Broadway); Head Over Heels (Broadway); Alice By Heart and Transfers (MCC Theater); India Pale Ale (Manhattan Theatre Club); The Secret Life of Bees(Atlantic Theater Company); The Pain of My Belligerence (Playwrights Horizons); Accidentally Brave (DR2); Joan (Colt Coeur); No One Is Forgotten (Rattlestick); and Socrates (The Public). Other projects developed at the Powerhouse include the Tony Award-winning Side Man and Tru; the multi-award-winning Doubt by John Patrick Shanley; the groundbreaking Broadway musical American Idiot; and A Steady Rain.

New York Stage and Film (Johanna Pfaelzer, Artistic Director; Christopher Burney, Incoming Artistic Director; Thomas Pearson, Executive Director; Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer, Leslie Urdang, Producing Directors) is a not-for-profit company dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development of new works for theater and film. Since 1985, New York Stage and Film has played a significant role in the development of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for residents of the Hudson Valley and the New York metropolitan region  

Vassar College (Ed Cheetham, Michael Sheehan, Producing Directors) is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, Vassar is renowned for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the natural and architectural beauty of its campus. More than 50 academic departments and degree programs — from Anthropology to Cognitive Sciences to Urban Studies — encompass the arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and social sciences, and combine to offer a curriculum of more than 1,000 courses. Vassar College is sited in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email:

Out of Town

New York Stage and Film Announces Early Casting, Residencies, Leadership Additions



New York Stage and Film, considered “one of the preeminent incubators for theater in the country,” announced initial casting for the 2023 Summer Season July 14-August 6 at Marist College. Jo Bonney has signed on as director for Soft Target and Colette Robert joins the Paradise Ballroom creative team as director. The one man new play, Like They Do In The Movies, written and performed by Laurence Fishburne has shifted dates to August 5 and 6 due to a scheduling conflict.

NYSAF also announced Individuals and Teams in Residence for the Summer Season, including: Boys State (Molly Beach Murphy, Jeanna Phillips, Annie Tippe), the Dramatists Guild Foundation (Aaron Coleman, Nicholas Connors, Joriah Kwamé, Matthew Libby, Julian Mesri, April Dae Okpwae, Gloria Oladipo, SMJ); Ensemble Studio Theatre (Estefanía Fadul, Graeme Gillis); King Mother (Didi O’Connell, Lila Neugebauer, Heidi Schreck); Lost City Radio (Joel Perez, Benjamin Velez); Post-Mortem (Sheryl Kaller, Beth Levison, Marilyn Ness); Raimuda (Noelle Viñas, Michelle J Rodriguez); Ripper the Musical (Dwight Howard, Kimille Howard); Untitled Residency (Mikhail Fiksel, Sarah Lunnie, Erin Markey, Gaye Taylor Upchurch); Wakefield (Maria Alfonsine, Damian de Boos, Kristen Dunphy, Amy Tinkham); and Individuals (Juliet Pearson, Nia Akilah Robinson).

Individuals joining the 2023 Companies in Residence this summer include: Breaking the Binary Theatre Co (Garrett Allen, Dominique Rider, George Strus, Zach Ezer); Tbe Latiné Musical Theatre Lab (Marjuan Canady, Christin Eve Cato, Ryan Morales Green, Juju Nieto, SMJ); The Movement Theatre Co (Ryan Dobrin, Deadria Harrington, Eric Lockley); and The Recovery Project (Jake Brasch, Alexis Hauk, Gwydion Suilebhan, Brant Russell, Ana Bess Moyer Bell)..

For 38 years, NYSAF has operated as a vital incubator for artists and their work, a catalyst for stories that continue across the country and around the world.

The 2023 Summer Season at Marist will begin with a VIP Reception and Kick-Off concert on July 14 with “Joe Iconis & Family.” Proceeds from the Reception will go towards NYSAF’s Early Career Apprentice Program and scholarships for Marist College’s Summer Pre-College Program. The season will also include a new play workshop written and performed by Laurence Fishburne; a new musical workshop of A Wrinkle in Time; the launch of a new initiative to develop dance-driven musicals with Paradise Ballroom, created by Princess Lockerooo and Harold O’Neal; and play readings by Sopan Deb, Beth Henley, Emily Kaczmarek, and Jason Kim. Casting by Telsey + Company.

All performances will be held on the Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY campus

VIP Reception & Kick-Off Concert: Joe Iconis & Family

Directed by John Simpkins
Friday, July 14
VIP Reception: 5:30 PM in Symphonic Hall Concert: 7:00 PM in Nelly Goletti Theatre

Line up includes Laura Dadap, Seth Eliser, Morgan Siobhan Green, Molly Hager, Lorinda Lisitza, Lauren Marcus, Eric William Morris, Jeremy Morse. Jason Tam and Jason SweetTooth Williams

Prior to the concert, there will be an exclusive VIP Reception with Joe Iconis and the NYSAF artists-in-residence, as well as a toast to the start of the committed collaboration with NYSAF and Marist leadership. Proceeds from the event will go towards NYSAF’s Early Career Apprentice Program and scholarships for Marist College’s Summer Pre-College Program.

Joe is hugely inspired by Robert Altman, Dolly Parton, The Muppets, and the Family of artists he frequently surrounds himself with.

New Play Workshop: Like They Do In The Movies

Presentations: Saturday, August 5 and Sunday, August 6 at 3:00 PM in Nelly Goletti Theatre (new dates)

A world premiere one man tour-de-force, written and performed by Tony Award winner, Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do with It?, The Matrix Trilogy, Apocalypse Now, Thurgood, August Wilson’s Two Trains Running). Mr. Fishburne describes this unique and intimate evening as “The stories and lies people have told me. And that I have told myself.”

New Musical Workshop: A Wrinkle In Time adapted from the novel by Madeleine L’Engle

Book by Lauren Yee
Music & Lyrics by Heather Christian Directed by Lee Sunday Evans

Presentations: Friday, July 21 and Saturday, July 22 at 7:00 PM & Sunday, July 23 at 1:00 PM in Nelly Goletti Theatre

Casting includes Leanne Antonio, Kim Blanck, Ashley Perez Flanagan, Robi Hager, Emily Xu Hall, Katrina Lenk, Diego Lucano, Kenita Miller, Mia Pak, Martín Solá, Phillip Taratula, Adrienne Walker, Jayke Workman.

Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger. “Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.” Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart- stopping journey through space?

Lauren Yee (Book; She/Her). Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, with music by Dengue Fever, premiered at South Coast Rep, subsequent productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Victory Gardens, City Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Signature Theatre, and Jungle Theatre/Theater Mu, and is currently touring. Her play The Great Leap has been produced at the Denver Center, Steppenwolf, Seattle Repertory, Atlantic Theatre, the Guthrie Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Arts Club, Pasadena Playhouse/East West Players, InterAct Theatre, and Asolo Rep. Honors include the Doris Duke Artists Award, Whiting Award, Steinberg/ATCA Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters literature award, Horton Foote Prize, Kesselring Prize, Primus Prize, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton, and the #1 and #2 plays on the 2017 Kilroys List. She’s a Residency 5 playwright at Signature Theatre, New Dramatists members, Ma-Yi Writers’ Lab member, and Playwrights Realm playwright. TV credits: Pachinko (Apple), Soundtrack (Netflix). Upcoming TV credits: Interior Chinatown (Hulu), Billions (Showtime), The Sterling Affairs (FX). She has developed pilots for Apple and Netflix. Current commissions include Arena Stage, Geffen Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, Second Stage, South Coast Rep. B.A: Yale. M.F.A: UCSD.

Heather Christian (Music and Lyrics) is a Lortel, Drama Desk and two time Obie Award winning composer/performer making music centered shows and rituals. She is a 2021 Richard Rodgers Award winner, 2022 Stephen Schwartz Outstanding New Composer awardee and Sundance Institude Time Warner Fellow. Recent composing/performing credits include her own work Oratorio for Living Things (Ars Nova), Animal Wisdom (The Bushwick Starr, now a motion picture made in collaboration with Woolly Mammoth in DC and American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco), I am Sending You the Sacred Face (Theater In Quarantine/ YouTube— Named Vulture’s #5 Theater Experience of 2020), Prime: A Practical Breviary (Playwrights Horizons Soundstage—named IndieWire’s #1 Podcast Episode of 2020) in addition to being a lead artist on devised works Mission Drift (Nat’l Theater London), The World Is Round (BAM). Film composition credits include The Craft: Legacy (Sony Pictures/ Blumhouse 2020), Lemon (2017 Sundance Film Festival and SXSW), Gregory Go Boom (Sundance Grand Jury Prize), Adult Swim series Teenage Euthanasia and The Shivering Truth

Lee Sunday Evans (Director) is a New York-based, two-time Obie award-winning director and choreographer. Lee most recently directed the acclaimed production of Heather Christian’s Oratorio For Living Things (Lucille Lortel Award for Best Director). She is developing a TV project for A24, and directed The Courtroom, a feature-length film written by Arian Moayed. Notable credits include Dance Nation by Clare Barron (Playwrights Horizons, OBIE and Lortel Awards), The Courtroom (Waterwell; NYTimes Best Theater of 2019 List), Detroit Red by Will Power (ArtsEmerson), Sunday by Jack Thorne (Atlantic Theater Company), In The Green by Grace McLean (LCT3), Miller, Mississippi by Boo Killebrew (Dallas Theater Center, Long Wharf

Theater), The Winter’s Tale (The Public), Home (BAM), Farmhouse/Whorehouse by Suzanne Bocanegra (BAM), Bull in a China Shop by Bryna Turner (Lincoln Center/LCT3), Caught by Christopher Chen (The Play Company), [Porto] by Kate Benson (WP Theater/The Bushwick Starr), A Beautiful Day In November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes by Kate Benson (OBIE Award; WP Theater, New Georges). Lee’s work has been also presented and developed at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Sundance Theater Lab, BAX, CATCH, LMCC, Robert

Wilson’s Watermill Center, and Juilliard among others. She is the Artistic Director of Waterwell.

Stories That Move: Developing Dance Musicals: Paradise Ballroom

Co-Created by Princess Lockerooo & Harold O’Neal Book and Lyrics by Princess Lockerooo
Music by Harold O’Neal
Directed by Colette Robert

Choreographed by Princess Lockerooo

Castsing includes Tristan André, William Louis Bailey (Jada Valenciaga), Tyrone Bevans, and Tytus Larue James Gibson-Jackson.

Princess Lockerrooo (Book and Lyrics & Choreography) is a visionary in the dance industry, known for her exceptional work as a producer, public speaker, event curator, director, and choreographer. With a reputation for excellence and numerous accolades, including a Bessie award for Breakout Choreographer and a nomination for Sustained Achievement as a fellow of the RSA, Princess is a highly regarded artist and leader in the dance world. In 2022, she founded The Fabulous Waack Dancers, a dance company, and the Waack dancer training program, showcasing her commitment to preserving the legacy of Waacking. Through her passion and expertise, she has brought the art of waacking to communities around the world, promoting self-love, building communities, and inspiring confidence. Princess is dedicated to preserving the history of waacking and conducted the interview for the oral history of Choreographer and Waacking Pioneer Bill Goodson for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Lockerooo has been featured on leading television platforms such as So You Think You Can Dance? and America’s Got Talent, and has collaborated with renowned pop artists such as Madonna, Jody Watley, Icona Pop, Bob The Dragqueen, Pangina Heals, and more. Her productions have been showcased at world- renowned venues including Lincoln Center, The Guggenheim Museum, NYBG, Summerstage, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, HATCH, Original Thinkers, ASAP NextGen, and the United Nations. Her impact on the dance world has earned her recognition from prestigious press outlets, including the New York Times, which featured her on the cover of the Sunday Times Metro section for her pioneering work in the resurgence of Waacking. She has also been featured in Brut, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, The Medium, Document Journal, and Get Out Magazine. Princess is not only an artist but also a philanthropist and activist for LGBTQ rights, producing a night of entertainment for Global Ambassadors at the United Nations event F4D, and working with and raising funds for organizations such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Omomuki Foundation, The Center, GMHC, and NYC Pride. Lockerooo continues to push the boundaries of her art and industry through her current role as co-director of an untitled feature film with an Academy Award-winning team, and as writer and director of a new musical, Paradise Ballroom, supported by the Musical Theater Factory. She is an Artist in Residence with Guggenheim Works & Process and will be producing events with The New York Public Library for The Performing Arts and Lincoln Center in the summer of 2023.

Presentations: Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5 at 7:00 PM & Sunday, August 6 at 1:00 PM in Nelly Goletti Theatre

After being rejected by his conservative parents, Teddy flees Buffalo and finds refuge and community at the Paradise Ballroom—an underground LGBTQ+ safe-haven in West LA. Surrounded by supporters and mentors, Teddy develops his dancing skills and learns the ways of waacking, but when a shady producer promises fame and success, Teddy turns on his found family and loses his way. A musical about forgiveness, community, and

the importance of living one’s truth.

Harold O’Neal (Music) is a versatile musician, producer, pianist, composer, public speaker, and storyteller, renowned for his association with the legacy of jazz pianists. He has worked with a diverse range of artists across various musical genres, including Jay Z, Damien Rice, Bob Geldof, and Lupe Fiasco. His work has garnered widespread recognition in top media outlets such as NPR, Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter, and Fortune Magazine. Recently, O’Neal brought his expertise to Pixar’s Academy Award-winning film, Soul, as a creative expert. He has also made a name for himself as a sought-after director and producer, working on high-profile events like Electric Burma with U2, the CNN All Star Tribute, and The Albie Awards with The Clooney Foundation. O’Neal’s captivating presentations have been delivered to a diverse range of innovation leaders, including Salesforce, TIME, Google, McKinsey & Company, United Nations Ambassadors, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and The World Economic Forum at Davos. Currently, O’Neal is working on a range of exciting projects, including producing and scoring a feature-length film with an Academy Award-winning director. With his impressive track record, O’Neal continues to make waves in the entertainment industry and beyond, inspiring audiences with his passion for creativity and storytelling. Cotillion In The Grand Ballroom Of The Renaissance Hotel (The Movement Theatre Company/New Georges.) Other New York directing credits include: the first New York revival of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs From The Table Of Joy (Keen Company), and the world premieres of STEW (Page 73, Pulitzer Prize Finalist) and Behind The Sheet (Ensemble Studio Theatre). Regional credits include THE WANDERERS (City Theatre Company), Weathering (Penumbra Theatre), Egress (Salt Lake Acting Company), and Celebrating The Black Radical Imagination: Nine Solo Plays (Williamstown Theatre Festival). She was the Associate Director for the Broadway revival of Caroline, Or Change. Colette is a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, a New Georges affiliated artist, and an adjunct lecturer at NYU. M.A., RADA and King’s College, London. B.A., Yale University. Member, SDC. SDCF Denham Fellow.

Saturday Play Readings
All At 3:00pm in Fusco Recital Hall Unless Otherwise Noted:

This Way To The Fire

Written by Jason Kim Directed by Danny Sharron Presentation: July 15

Casting includes Kelley Curran, Greg Keller, Sue Jean Kim and Jon Norman Schneider

Jason Kim (Playwright) is a multiple Emmy nominated screenwriter, playwright, and producer. He received a Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series for Barry in 2022 and 2019, and won the Writers Guild Award for Best Comedy Series for Barry in 2020. In addition to writing on HBO’s “Girls,” he was a consulting producer for HBO’s “Divorce” and the Netflix series “Love.” He is currently in an overall television deal with 20th and Onyx Studios at Disney. In film, he is writing the spinoff to Crazy Rich Asians and adapted the true crime book The Flawless for Fox Searchlight Pictures. Along with Stacey Sher, he is producing an adaptation of the New York Times best seller Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner for Orion. In theater, his musical KPOP opened on Broadway at Circle in the Square in Fall 2022. The 2017 off-Broadway production of KPOP won the Richard Rogers Award, the Off-Broadway Alliance Award, and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. MFA in Playwriting. Acclaimed Beyonce historian.

Danny Sharron (Director) is a Brooklyn-based Middle Eastern-American theater director with a focus on developing new plays and musicals. He is committed to creating work about the LGBTQ+ and MENA communities, and providing a platform from which those voices can be heard. Danny is the Senior Associate Director for the Tony Award-winning Dear Evan Hansen (Broadway/West End/Toronto/Tour). He has developed and directed work with The Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Ars Nova, LAByrinth Theater Company, Primary Stages, Ma-Yi, and The Lark. Danny was most recently a 2021-2022 Next Stage Directing Resident with The Drama League. He is also a recipient of New York Theatre Workshop’s 20.

Set in the near future, This Way to the Fire imagines how racism is invented inside the walls of a marketing office — as a PR campaign — and the disastrous and violent impact it has on the world.

Fellowship, Williamstown’s Bill Foeller Fellowship, The Drama League’s New York Fellowship, and is an alumnus of the Ars Nova Director’s Troupe. BA/BS University of Florida. Proud member of SDC.

Soft Target

Presentation: July 22

Something bad has happened to 9-year-old Amanda, and her toys – Jonah, a stuffed penguin; Molly, an American Girl Doll; her trusted Diary; and newcomer Ugly, a weighted “emotional support” bunny – find their once-peaceful world thrown into darkness and chaos. Soft Target is a play about childhood, guns, and all the wounds we can’t see.

Written by Emily Kaczmarek Director Jo Bonney

Emily Kaczmarek (Playwright) is an LA-based writer for TV, theatre, and film. Her TV credits include Monsterland for Hulu and The Staircase for HBO Max (for which she was nominated for a 2023 Writers Guild Award), among others. Her plays and musicals have been produced and developed at numerous theaters across the country, including the 5th Avenue Theatre, Second Stage Theater, American Conservatory Theatre, WP Theatre, and many others. Emily is a 2019 Princess Grace Award finalist, a 2019 Kilroys Honorable Mention (for Sam & Lizzie), a 2018 Jonathan Larson Award winner, and a 2018 Kleban Prize finalist, and has been in residence at SPACE on Ryder Farm, the Orchard Project, the O’Neill, the Hermitage Colony, Goodspeed, and more. Emily is the book writer of the original musicals Afterwords and Afloat (music and lyrics by Zoe Sarnak), and is currently writing a feature and several TV projects for Amazon, Sony, and Fifth Season.

Jo Bonney (Director) has directed premieres of plays by: Alan Ball, Hilary Bettis, Eric Bogosian, Eleanor Burgess, Hammaad Chaudry, Culture Clash, Eve Ensler, Jessica Goldberg, Isaac Gomez, Danny Hoch, Ione Patricia Lloyd, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Martyna Majok, Lynn Nottage, Dan O’Brien, Dael Orlandersmith, Suzan-Lori Parks, Darci Picoult, John Pollono, Will Power, David Rabe, Jose Rivera, Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, Christopher Shinn, Diana Son, Universes, Naomi Wallace, Michael Weller. Productions of plays by: Caryl Churchill, Nilo Cruz, Anna Deavere Smith, Charles Fuller, Lisa Loomer, Paul Lucas, Carey Perloff, Lanford Wilson. Tony Award nomination for Cost of Living, two Obie Awards for Sustained Excellence of Direction,

Lucille Lortel Best Musical and Lucille Lortel Best Revival, Drama Desk nomination for Direction of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark. Audelco Award for Father Comes Home from the Wars. Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. Alliance and Lilly Award. Editor of Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance

Texts from the Twentieth Century (TCG).

The Good Name

Written by Sopan Deb Directed by Trip Cullman Presentation: July 29

Casting includes Siraj Huda, Keshav Moodliar, Reshma Shetty. Alok Tewari and Rita Wolf.

Vikas Choudhury is a thoughtful but aimless young man living with his aunt and uncle in the New Jersey suburbs as he grieves the death of his parents. A mysterious bag appears at the door, sparking revelations that help them face ignored truths and a quietly buried past. As each family member wraps their hopes and fears up in the bag’s contents, they find themselves unraveling their relationships to each other. The Good Name is an examination of

duty and cultural expectations, grief and forgiveness, and the love we have for our children.

Sopan Deb (Playwright) is a writer for The New York Times, where he has covered sports and culture. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novel “Keya Das’s Second Act,” and a memoir, “Missed Translations: Meeting The Immigrant Parents Who Raised Me.”

Trip Cullman(Director). Broadway: The Rose Tattoo, Choir Boy, Lobby Hero, Six Degrees of Separation, Significant Other. Select Off Broadway: Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow, YEN, Punk Rock (Obie Award), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Gynecologic Oncology Unit At Memorial Sloan

Kettering Cancer Center Of New York City (MCC); Days Of Rage, The Layover, The Substance of Fire, Lonely I’m Not, Bachelorette, Some Men, Swimming In The Shallows (Second Stage); Unknown Soldier, The Pain Of My Belligerence, Assistance, A Small Fire (Drama Desk nomination), The Drunken City (Playwrights Horizons); Choir Boy (MTC); Murder Ballad (MTC and Union Square Theatre); The Mother, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard (Atlantic); Roulette (EST); The Hallway Trilogy: Nursing (Rattlestick); The Last Sunday In June (Rattlestick and Century Center); Dog Sees God (Century Center); US Drag (stageFARM); and several productions with The Play Company. London: The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, PA (Tricycle). Select regional: Geffen, Alliance, Old Globe, La Jolla, South Coast Rep, Bay Street, Williamstown Theater Festival.

Downstate Neighbor

Written by Beth Henley
Directed by Jaki Bradley
Presentation: July 29 at 7:00pm (New Date)

Casting includes Carolyn Braver, Lily Harris and Will Turner

A waning playwright, Old Low, is trying to write a play in seven days, because her time is limited. The play is set in 1970s Tarson, Mississippi. Sharon Bunn, a pornographic puppeteer, moves into the downstairs apartment below Wayne Purvis and Young Low, and things go bad. Tilting between the struggle to write a play and the struggle within the play, a chaotic, horrific, and effervescent vision of creation is revealed.

Beth Henley (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and professor. Her plays include Crimes of the Heart (Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play) The Wake of Jamey Foster, The Miss Firecracker Contest, Am I Blue, The Lucky Spot, The Debutante Ball, Abundance, Control Freaks, Impossible Marriage, Family Week, Ridiculous Fraud, The Jacksonian Laugh, and The Unbuttoning. Her plays have been produced on Broadway and across the country as well as internationally and translated into 12 languages. Originally from Mississippi, Ms. Henley now lives in Los Angeles.

Jaki Bradley (Director) is a director for theater, TV and film. Recent theater projects include The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin (IRT), How to Load a Musket (LTR) White Noise (Berkeley Rep); Radio Island and Good Men Wanted (NYSAF); House Plant and 1969: The Second Man (NYTW: Next Door); Mama Metallica (Denver Center); and Playing Hot (Ars Nova). She has developed and presented work with The Public, Williamstown, Soho Rep, Clubbed Thumb, the O’Neill, and Arena Stage, among others. She has been a member of the Civilians R&D Group, an artist-in-residence at Ars Nova, a Drama League artist-in-residence and TV/Film Fellow, the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, Williamstown Directing Corps, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. In TV and film, she has written for Netflix, FX, AGBO, Chernin, and Paramount and is in development with her feature directorial debut starring Adria Arjona, Nicholas Hoult and Riley Keough

The 2023 NYSAF Summer Season is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by leadership support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the Board of Directors of New York Stage and Film.

Leadership support for Stories That Move: Developing Dance Musicals, inspired by Jerome Robbins, provided by the Jerome Robbins Foundation with additional support provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Frederick Loewe Foundation and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation

Ticket Information:

New York Stage and Film’s Summer Season runs July 14 to August 6 at Marist College. Tickets to the Kick-Off Concert: Joe Iconis & Family on July 14 are $50.

Tickets to the Kick-Off Concert: Joe Iconis & Family plus the VIP Reception are $250. Proceeds from the VIP Reception will support education initiatives for both NYSAF and Marist College.

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Tickets are on sale now at 845-293-2934.

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Stratford’s Rent Soars with Scrappy Energy and Talent




It’s all heart-wrenching “glory, from the pretty boy frontman“, as Stratford Festivalmagnetically brings to life the epic Rent, the rock musical that slices together Puccini’s 1896 opera La Bohème with the deep emotional saga of a group of young starving artists struggling against all odds to survive and create in NYC’s East Village. It’s the thrilling dark and stormy days of bohemia in Alphabet City, heaving breathlessly under the shadow of HIV/AIDS, with awe-inspiring music, lyrics, and book by the magnetic and too-soon departed Jonathan Larson. The tale is tight and strong with a captivating emotionality, digging deep into love and loss in the most energetic of ways possible under the watchful eyes of illuminated apartment windows thirsty for more. It is filled with emotion, this production, taking me back to that thrilling moment in my theatrical history when I first saw the musical in previews on Broadway back in 1996 after it transferred from the New York Theatre Workshop to great acclaim.

I was a young 32-year-old gay man, living and struggling with life in the East Village of New York City. And I knew the distress and exhilaration well. The creation of Rent has a well-known story now, thanks to the numerous documentaries mapping out its birth, as well as the majestic filming of Larson’s “tick, tick…BOOM!” that gives us a strong sense of all that had to happen in order to get this rock opera to the stage. Rent is somewhat of an autobiographical piece of work, as Larson lived and breathed so many of the elements that became part of the details of his show. He lived in New York pushing hard and deliberate as a starving artist with a goal and a dream. He shared many of the same hopes and fears as the epic characters that endeared in Rent, struggling day to day with some of the same poor living conditions, like the illegal wood-burning stove in the middle of their apartment, a bathtub sitting center in his kitchen, a broken door buzzer that made it imperative that his guests call up from the pay phone across the street. These slices of authenticity made their way into the musical creating a piece that breathes with an air of honesty, and Stratford, in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on, has unearthed that same quality, energy, and connection. It feels scrappy yet so solidly produced and performed by a strong cast of singers and actors that give you the right combination of youthful edge and strong fiery devotion to the tale at hand. As directed by Thom Allison (Stratford’s Into the Woods; Broadway’s Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Rent shockingly does the impossible. It finds its way through, giving you the desperate energy of a young artist, mixed with vocals that soar with the material and the emotional heart of a caring complicated community that fight and love equally. Just like that first batch of actors/singers that I saw when Rent first opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre back in 1996.

Nestor Lozano Jr. (centre) as Angel Dumott Schunard with members of the company in Rent. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

The cast is a unit to be reckoned with, drawing you into each of their personal battles, some more successfully than others, yet none fail to engage, especially when they start singing any and all of Larson’s diabolically good songs. On Broadway, Rent was celebrated, gaining popularity fueled by enthusiastic reviews, and winning several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical. Stratford has miraculously tackled this well-loved piece, making it their own on that thrust stage of the Festival Theatre. Designed with an impeccable eye for energy and edge by Brandon Kleiman (Musical Stage/Canadian Stage’s Blackout), with superb lighting by Michael Walton (Stratford’s Chicago), projections by Corwin Ferguson (Shaw’s Brigadoon), and sound by Joshua D. Reid (Broadway’s A Christmas Carol), fear doesn’t grab hold here, as they, assisted strongly by the musical director, Franklin Brasz (Mirvish’s Billy Elliot), dig in deep, fleshing out the drama without ever losing track of their human soul.

Usher us through, Robert Markus (Stratford’s Tommy; Mirvish’s Dear Evan Hansen) magnificently delivers us into bohemia as the solitary stand-in for Larson, Mark Cohen, the videographer who is trying desperately to create a sense of community with his fellow artists and friends. His energy is exacting and dynamic, as is the captivating Kolton Stewart (Stratford’s Macbeth; Disney’s “Disenchanted“) as the sexy tortured musician, Roger Davis, struggling with a heap of personal trauma all of his own. Stewart’s voice soars, filling in the spaces with utter grief and despair quite beautifully, finding as much pain and sadness within his songs as Andrea Macasaet (Broadway’s Six) does in her powerfully raw portrayal of the exciting marvelous mess that is Mimi Marquez. The danger and fragility she brings to the part are as electric and thrilling as Erica Peck (Stratford’s The Rocky Horror Show) and Olivia Sinclair-Brisband (Shaw’s Damn Yankees) portrayals of the quarreling firebrand lovers, Maureen Johnson and Joanne Jefferson. It’s explosive powder, just waiting to be lit, filled with love, fear, and fire. Both, and all really, are ready to fly over the moon or ignite and blow everyone away with their power and passion. Take me or leave me (and trust me, you’ll be taking with pleasure; every ounce offered).

Andrea Macasaet (left) as Mimi Marquez with Kolton Stewart as Roger Davis in Rent. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

Each and every one of these actors, costumed solidly and Broadway-reminiscent by Ming Wong (Bad Hats’ Alice in Wonderland), find their space and their fury, capturing us in their vocal power while delivering us into that very special place we long for. But the true beating heart of the musical lives and breaths in the desperately well-written character, Angel Dumott Schunard, played nimbly and perfectly by Nestor Lozano Jr. (Globe’s Shrek The Musical), and the love that is shared with captivating Tom Collins, embodied by the man with that voice, Lee Siegel (Broadway’s Paradise Square), giving us goosebumps of delight and despair when that richness of voice and heart align and unleash. It is in their attachment that the essence of this musical draws out the tears and the tremors of love and devotion, and for that, we are truly blessed.

The musical, even when unpacking almost melodramatic operatic tones to abundance, finds a way to transcend all that and engineer a connection that registers, thanks to the combustible choreography of Marc Kimelman (The Rev’s State Fair), who delivers empowerment and anger in the unifying nature of movement. I did miss the heightened dynamics of the Life Cafe’s long table, giving stage to the energy of “La Vie Bohème” and the joy, epic representation, and inclusive love within. The square, somehow, didn’t really do the trick that was needed, but that raised square space did work numerous times as a makeshift boxing ring for the battles delivered between, for example, Peck’s powerful Maureen and Sinclair-Brisbane’s ferocious Joanne.

From left – Robert Markus as Mark Cohen, Nestor Lozano Jr. as Angel Dumott Schunard, and Lee Siegel as Tom Collins in Rent. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

It also worked its magic when Stewart’s Roger and Markus’ Mark set fire to their frustration during the magnificent “What You Own” and join the others for the emotional hurricane that is “Goodbye Love.” That song forever rips my heart in two, as it also does every time I hear Mimi and Roger’s “Without You” and Angel and Tom’s tear-producing “I’ll Cover You“. The tension and energy are palpable, delivered with a youthful quality that ushers forth desperation and electricity, even if Stewart’s body language tends to exert itself at only a few temperatures and forms. A minor criticism, in a pool of awesome performances.

The musical remains strong and powerfully moving. But it’s the forever magnificent and emotional “Seasons of Love,” with the exceptionally fine work by soloists; Masini McDermott and Matthew Joseph, that, once again, fill me completely, ushering me back to the time when this young theatre junkie found himself overflowing with tears in the balcony of the Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre. It was a moment of connection that I will never forget, and this Stratford revitalization has done the impossible, with love, taking me back to that place and time. Holding my hand and allowing me to cry once again for Rent‘s savage beauty, its utter brilliance, for the loss of its creator, and all the others who died from AIDS who I knew (or didn’t know). Being an older gay man who lived many of his early years in the East Village, who went to maybe more funerals in his twenties and thirties than Sunday brunches at the Life Cafe, Larson created a piece that fostered a strong and scrappy art culture that lived and breathed in its “One Song Glory.” And within those Stratford theatre walls and on that stage lives a space where his musical thrives. Sadly Larson didn’t live to see the opening night at this downtown Off-Broadway theatre. Larson died suddenly at the age of 35 of an aortic aneurysm the night before Rent’s first preview, but the rock musical lives on, fueled by the same passion that created it, shaping a generation with its spectacular (award-winning) glory; a generation that includes me as one of its ardent fans. And I couldn’t be happier to have experienced it all again at the Stratford Festival.

Robert Markus (left) as Mark Cohen and Kolton Stewart as Roger Davis with members of the company in Rent. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by Jordy Clarke.

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Monty Python’s Spamalot Finds its Grail Hilariously at the Stratford Festival 2023




Always look on the bright side of life“, that’s what they sing, so enthusiastically to all of us, with automatic head-bobbings from one joyous side to another in happy unison, and inside Stratford Festival‘s magnificent production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, there really is no other way to go. It’s deliciously fun and utterly ridiculous, as any Monty Python engagement should ultimately be, with stellar comedic performances riding in most delightfully to the sound of coconut shells banging together with determination by those that follow. Within seconds, after our surprising side trip to Finland, all hesitations are entirely washed away by the utter skillful hilarity of all involved. Purposefully directed with sharp clever focus by Lezlie Wade (La Jolla/Broadway’s Jesus Christ Superstar), the quest for extreme merriment is “steady and over we go” inside the Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario as it is achieved wholeheartedly at every turn of phrase. And that is something no “doubting Dennis” will argue about.

From left – Aidan DeSalaiz, Liam Tobin, Jonathan Goad, Eddie Glen, Aaron Krohn and Josh Doig in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

Ripped expertly off from the motion picture “Monty Python and the Holy Grail“, this stunningly funny staging of the Broadway stage musical that in 2005 received 14 Tony Award nominations, winning in three categories, including Best Musical, finds its grail time and time again, delivering forth joke after silly joke with an expertise that is golden and holy. With a score by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, and lyrics and book by Idle, this superb parody of epic proportions is completely entertaining and non-stop irreverent, in the best of all possible ways. Playing parody with Arthurian legend, Spamalot leads itself in at the instruction of the Historian, played to perfection by Henry Firmston (Stratford’s Chicago). It’s all about the tale of King Arthur, hilariously well portrayed by Jonathan Goad (Stratford’s To Kill a Mockingbird) and his trusting right-hand coconut-wielding sound man, Patsy, awesomely embodied by Eddie Glen (MTC’s The 39 Steps), by his side. They are out on an expedition, searching for and trying to recruit a knightly army of men to serve and follow him. That is once we get our location settings all in order.

Jonathan Goad (centre) as King Arthur with (from left) Anthony MacPherson, Jason Sermonia, McKinley Knucle, and Devon Michael Brown in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

Now that we find ourselves (correctly) in dreary dark England, with penitent monks bashing themselves on the head to the beat of some drum, King Arthur hooves his way before us with his trusted sound man behind him, mimicking him to perfection. How do we know he’s the King? Well, “he hasn’t got shit all over him” is about the best response one could have, as the two go door to door trying to form a troupe of knights to sit at the round table in Camelot (and I must add, after watching the most recent revival of Camelot at the Lincoln Center Theatre a few months ago, this is the one I’d most like to hang out it, in spades). And as they say, whatever happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot.

Slowly but surely, they gather together this band of merry ridiculous men; Sir Robin, portrayed with song and dance in his heart by Trevor Patt (TIP’s Jersey Boys); Sir Lancelot, played tremendously (and violently) well by Aaron Krohn (Broadway’s The Lehman Trilogy); Sir Bedevere, cagedly portrayed with glee by Aidan DeSalaiz (Winter Garden’s Into the Woods); and Sir Dennis Galahad, beautifully embodied by the beautifully coifed (and very funny) Liam Tobin (Broadway’s The Book of Mormon). Even if his politically radical mother, Mrs. Galahad (DeSalaiz) is against it from the get-go. She states, most wisely, that they all must deny any king who has not been elected by the people, and therefore, Arthur has no legitimate right to rule over them. Well said. But it doesn’t really matter in the end. Just ask that Lady in the Lake, played magnificently by the oh-so-talented Jennifer Rider-Shaw (Stratford’s Chicago). She has another plan floating within her.

Sir Robin and Sir Lancelot need to navigate the Not Dead Yet Fred (Firmston) and his lively riotous number, “He Is Not Dead Yet.” Gloriously grand. But it’s Sir Galahad (and his mother) that needs to be convinced by the mighty charms and voice of the Lady of the Lake who has to prove to them that the story of Excalibur is real and true. Cheered on by the “Laker Girls Cheer“, she turns Dennis into the dashingly handsome Sir Galahad and together, they sing the most generic (and wonderfully long) Broadway love song, “The Song That Goes Like This“, complete with a falling chandelier and swampy boat ride in order to win out the day. With a grand fling of his locks, he happily joins Sir Robin and Sir Lancelot, and together with cagey Sir Bedevere and the “aptly named” Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Show (Knuckle), they all set off for Camelot and the adventurous quest that leads them through this ridiculously funny skit-filled show.

Liam Tobin (left) as Sir Dennis Galahad and Jennifer Rider-Shaw as Lady of the Lake with members of the company in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

If it isn’t some sentries debating whether or not one or two swallows are needed to successfully carry a coconut to this non-tropical land, or being taunted by a few lewd French soldiers high up on a wall that even an empty rabbit won’t remedy, it’s some singing and flying nuns and monks dancing the mamba that keep delivering the laughs time and time again. It’s brilliantly funny, and superbly choreographed, thanks to the work of Jesse Robb (Ogunquit’s Ragtime) and the fabulously talented ensemble. It gives and it gives in abundance, just like Rider-Shaw who keeps reappearing to remind us all of her glory. “Whatever Happened to My Part?” is the question she asks, and I couldn’t agree more because every time she steps on that stage, she brightens the moment with her wit and voice (Sweet aside, I was lucky enough to be in the Broadway audience for the first show after the 2005 Tony Awards and joined in with the standing ovation for Sara Ramirez, who just two nights prior had won the Tony Award for her portrayal of the Lady of the Lake. It was a glorious moment, one that I won’t forget.)

This “All for One” mentality wins big on a stage perfectly constructed by designer David Boechler (Stratford’s Chicago) with solid lighting by Renée Brode (Stratford’s Patience), spot-on projections by Sean Nieuwenhuis (Broadway’s Dr. Zhivago), and exacting sound by emily c. porter (Stratford’s Little Women). It shifts, shuffles, and presents found shrubbery with pizzazz throughout with some pretty magnificently funny and entertaining numbers, deftly presented by music director Laura Burton (Stratford’s You Can’t Stop the Beat), that zing and sing with exacting precision. There are some Broadway hopes that rely on finding some specifics, but one of the funniest bits revolves around Sir Lancelot who receives a stabbing letter from what he assumes to be a young damsel in distress. But it turns out, he is actually an effeminate young man by the name Prince Herbert, wonderfully portrayed by Josh Doig (Theatre Aquarius’ Hairspray) whose brutish father, the King of Swamp Castle (Tobin), is forcing him into an arranged marriage. And, even more horribly, refuses to let the boy sing and dance to his heart’s content.

As any great knight would do, Lancelot saves the young man, and then delivers a heartfelt speech about honoring his son’s gentle sensitivity. In return, Lancelot is outed as a homosexual, naturally, and the cast gyrates forward into a big wild disco dance number in celebration and acceptance of it all, and the fun we are having. “His Name Is Lancelot” is the Pride Month anthem of the show, and setting the puppet-controlled killer rabbit aside, this number, and Monty Python’s Spamalot as a whole, plays proud and hilarious to the end, thanks to its ridiculous roots and its perfect placement. After pondering the final stoney clue, with Arthur admitting that they’re all “a bit stumped“, God points it all out, rewarding the holder with a small trophy and a Polaroid photo. The grail is found, finally, and the marriage mamba can begin. We all rise in celebration, and join in with the welcomed repeat of the glorious “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” feeling completely entertained, overjoyed, and emptied of every laugh one could possibly have had inside their happy head.

From top to bottom – Aaron Krohn as The French Taunter, Anthony MacPherson as French Guard, Jason Sermonia as French Guard, and McKinley Knuckle as French Guard in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

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Stratford Festival’s King Lear 2023 Struggles in the Controlled Column of Rain




It smells of mortality,” this King Lear, as the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums parade us into the opening night of the Stratford Festival in beautiful Stratford, Ontario. I must admit freely that I was thrilled. To be invited to all the openings of this world-renowned Festival is a dream, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Yet, I also couldn’t help but contemplate that moment in 2018, when, after watching The Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear at BAM, I surprised myself by thinking that I wasn’t quite sure I wanted another Lear viewing for some time coming. Don’t get me wrong. I love the play, with all its rich unfolding divisions around love, blindness, sanity, and a certain kind of madness that lies awaiting deep inside the sharp illumination of darkness and ego. Yet, this Shakespearian contemplation written with all the complexities of love, duty, and deceit intermingled is not my favorite of the bunch (honestly, I think that might be Macbeth). But it certainly isn’t my least favored either.

Yet after seeing that RSC production at BAM, which starred the incomparable Sir Antony Sher, I watched in awe as it dragged itself forward like an old Cleopatrian relic, spreading itself out slowly and ceremoniously in a way that made me slouch in my seat wishing for bed. That King never fully emotionally engaged, even with the hard-at-work Sher, one of Britain’s most esteemed classical actors, giving it his all. He enthrallingly stated in the program that once you play Lear, there’s really “nowhere else to go, Shakespeare-wise“. The part is a virtuoso solitary climb; a battle against time and importance; a “shouting at, arguing with, a storm.” And what could be better than that? It’s the ultimate human duel with the force of nature and existence, crackling with lighting and fury (as it should be). So it’s no wonder that I found myself, once again, ready and willing to engage, with this text and the trauma that is at the heart of this family breakdown.

Michael Blake (left) as Edmund and André Sills as Edgar in King Lear. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

My fingers were crossed, as the trumpets signaled us all to our seats. They beaconed us most impatiently, ushering us into the dynamic and expansive Stratford Festival‘s 2023 season with ceremonial aplomb, and I couldn’t be happier. This was the first opening of the season, and the energy of the event was electric, just as it was within those first few moments of this King Lear, with Gloucester, played captivatingly by Anthony Santiago (Citadel’s Of Mice and Men), talking uncomfortably to those men nearby about women and sex; as well as legitimacy and illegitimacy, in such degrading and callous terms. I couldn’t help but squirm inside the deafness of his speech, especially as he boasts about it all in front of his “bastard” son, Edmund, played anti-heroically by the wonderfully charming and talented Michael Blake (Arts Club’s Topdog/Underdog). No wonder Edmund has become the man he shows himself to be; to his father, and to his half-brother, Edger, played touchingly by André Sills (Stratford’s Coriolanus).

With utter diligent determination, this epic “crawl towards death” digs itself into the stark walled stage with clarity and the love of Shakespearean text. Designed with unique and compelling lines and lit boundaries by Judith Bowden (Shaw’s Desire Under the Elms), the impact from that first scene registers undeniably strong, brilliantly illuminated by sharp shards of light designed most impressively by Chris Malkowski (Shaw’s Chitra). It gives structure and significance to the geometric lines of space and power, never letting us disengage from the sanity and insanity of the form and the falling from start to finish. It truly is a brilliantly constructed visual, not exactly matched by the characters in its midst.

Parcelled in that frame, this King Lear is determined, mainly because of the casting of Paul Gross (“Slings and Arrows“; Stratford’s Hamlet) in the title role. He enters strong and vital, powerful and emotionally cut to the bone. He doesn’t look like a man ready to give up his throne, yet for some reason, he has come to this untimely decision, and I couldn’t help but lean in wondering how this will unfold. This becomes the question of the night. How will this Lear develop, giving clarity and a deeper understanding to his untimely rationale of departure and dependence? Will he let us in to see the “Why now?” that is at the heart of his King? With an impressive head of long white hair, Gross finds an engagement inside the text that delivers expressively, but maybe not entirely finding the answer. It’s smart and clear-minded, yet he doesn’t, at least in the beginning, give off an air of being “old before your time“. Yet it’s there, slowly, and with a tense heart-pounding pulse and a clutching of his chest. It lives somewhere in the pained heart; the idea that this man knows a thing or two about mortality and disease, whether conscious or not, and needs something (or someone) else to help him manage, to take hold, without the losing of his regal form, and without having to ask for it directly. Pride is a formulation that doesn’t serve this King well, and arrogance. That we all know.

The historical framework of Gross’s return to Stratford is one for celebration and excitement. And I was totally there for it from the moment I read of his casting. The construction seems sublime and timely as Gross played Hamlet on this very stage back in 2000. That appearance mimicked one of my all-time favorite television shows, the Canadian “Slings and Arrows.” The series unearthed a fascination with and an understanding of the three powerhouse roles for an actor: Hamlet, Macbeth, and, more importantly, King Lear (I would have said ‘male actor’ but I’m hoping that gender specificity is receding somewhat, especially after watching Glenda Jackson give us a Lear to remember). The television show relished over three seasons the idea of exploring the three stages of man, one per season. (If you haven’t seen this brilliant and funny look at art and commerce within the world of Shakespearean Summer Festivals, find it immediately and dig in.) Romeo and Hamlet mark the beginning of engagement, Macbeth takes on the middle years with a conflictual urgency, and King Lear, one of the greatest parts for an older actor, unleashes the madness in the grand finale. It seems Gross has decided to skip the Scottish play and run headlong into the storm that is King Lear. For that, I am intrigued. I couldn’t help but wonder, what does he have in store for us after all these years away.

As directed by Kimberley Rampersad (Shaw’s Man and Superman), the play somehow doesn’t find its way to the emotional core, seeming uncomfortable and surprisingly traditional in its unraveling of the inherent drama. It does hold some intellectual grace, and a great deal of found humor within its delivery, yet it somehow rolls in like a controlled storm without a clear unique fierce vision. Through its epic arc of realization in the face of betrayal, this production somehow struggles to clarify itself, attempting to give a darker meaning to blind needy arrogance and narcissism, yet never really unpacking its true personal ideology. It plays itself so straightforward with a direct clarity of the language, spinning the traditional yarn gracefully, but I wondered where this production’s true underlying vision lies. Or is it blindly wandering through the heath without a strong hand to guide it? I wanted a compelling vantage point to usher us through the known wild storm of Lear and into something fresh and exciting, one that matched the wild inventiveness of the stage and its structural illumination. Yet it feels flat and formulaic, even in its fine standardized telling. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, it played itself out with a textual honoring that unpacks Lear’s slow mental decline well, even inside the youthful appearing body of the old man. But I wanted some contextual understanding that wasn’t so obvious and laid out. Something that made this Learcrackle like the storm that is coming.

Paul Gross as King Lear in King Lear. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

The strongest symbol of its unfortunate undoing is the visual impact of the storm. Years ago, when I was in my teens, I saw a production of King Lear that helped solidify it as one of my favorite Shakespearian tragedies.  It starred Peter Ustinov standing center stage at the same Festival Theatre (1980, directed by Robin Phillips), with a torrential rain and wind storm blasting him from every direction, almost ripping him apart. It was a powerful moment that stayed with me, but nowhere in this current production did I get the sense that Gross’s Lear could actually be blown to bits. The ‘rain’ did fall down on him, steady and straight, dampening his hair and his spirit, but there was no danger in it. No wind. No uncontrollable gusts. Just a steady stream of ‘rain’ that fell in a controlled small pool of light. Nothing to be afraid of here, I thought.

It has been said that Lear is somewhat of a paradox. He’s known for his wild and windy battles against the storm of dementia, but at the beginning of this tale, he feels technically sane, looking strong and centered in his proud but narcissistic insolence, even as it is clear that the stance is highly misguided. As portrayed by the compelling Gross, his almost youthful arrogance struck true, fortified by an absurd desire to hear only praise and levels of love that makes no sense. His older two “pelican daughters“, portrayed by the stern Shannon Taylor (Crow’s Uncle Vanya) as Goneril, and Déjah Dixon-Green (Grand’s The Penelopiad) as the violent secondary Regan, willing play the insincere game, showering him measurably with adoration that borders on the ridiculous. But Lear doesn’t hear that quality, he only registers the over-wrought deceptive venerations and digs his heels in with delight. The older sisters understand their father’s prideful need for idolatry, and praise him with words that are actually too grand and quite foolish in idea and theme. They stand, without any backstoried clarity (something that I blame on the interesting new play, Queen Goneril after seeing it at Soulpepper. I will always now look for hints and side glances of the problematic familial history, trauma, and the reasonings for these two older sisters’ heartless cruelty. But I wasn’t going to get that here, as the subtext wasn’t available to be seen). They are dolled up in detailed costumes designed confusingly by Michelle Bohn (CSC’s A Four Letter Word) that appear initially as somewhat symbolically bold and classical, yet unfurl and start to feel somewhat weird, haphazard, and unfocused, bringing at least one-time giggles from the audience because of one ‘funny thing happened on the way to the forum’ yellow frock. I just couldn’t understand the choices made in those sisters’ getups, just like I couldn’t fathom some of their overly melodramatic responses.

Standing in the background throughout, struggling in her own way, is the favored daughter, Cordelia, the youngest and most clear-minded, played somewhat flatly and blandly by Tara Sky (Soulpepper/Native Earth’s Where The Blood Mixes), who decidedly fails to play up to the arrogance and desperate needs of her father, the King. It’s an act of bravery, in a way, believing her unquestionable love will be seen, felt, and known by her father, but she is not, finding herself cast off, thrown away, betrayed most callously by her honesty and candor. The tides of joy turn dark, like white fluffy clouds that quickly darken and turn ominous with the changing of the wind. Dementia and madness start to blow in, and we watch as that seed takes hold and twists the King’s form and face into something quite scary, and then sad and despondent. The moment doesn’t actually fully resonate, but as she is packed off to France, we sit wondering what just happened, and why it never felt truly heart-breaking.

The Earl of Kent, played with an undetermined tone of voice and character by David W. Keeley (Stratford’s Coriolanus), attempts to stand up to the King, defending Cordelia’s public declaration of love for her father, but to no avail. He, like her, is not heard through the stubborn barriers that enclose this King. He and Cordelia are chastised and ordered away, and the two elder eager daughters take control of the kingdom, gaining power over all, including their father. Why the King doesn’t recognize Kent when he returns to serve him I can’t say. He has changed nothing about his appearance, yet we are instructed to believe, and so we shall. With some effort.

Paul Gross (centre) as King Lear with members of the company in King Lear. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

This is not going to end well for the old King, but as he brandishes his bullying privilege over Goneril and her court, we struggle to get under the skin of his or her predicament. Something about that first formulation of banishment and dismissal didn’t register in the way it somehow should have. We must almost instantly align ourselves with the discarded pair, or it seems the reformation doesn’t really stand a chance to fully emotionally engage. Cordelia is scantily only given that initial scene to connect to our collective heart, yet standing there, in her oddly fitted prom dress, our bond with her falls flat at her feet, hobbling the future traumatic undoing mainly because of this detached uneven first engagement.

Something isn’t sitting right, yet we know how this will run its course. We see it from the very beginning, and although King Lear in the hands of director Rampersad hasn’t fully captivated us or made us understand the director’s vantage point, the engaging Gross works hard to create a father and a King that is proud, argumentative, and sharp as a claw. We know, or at leastbelieve that the torturous journey through the wastelands will somehow cake his frame with mud and bruises, but somewhere along the path, we are challenged to see it, even though it never fully formulates itself strongly. His progression to his undoing staggers forward sneakily, with the wonderfully sly Fool, played with clever intuition by Gordon Patrick White (Neptune’s The Devil’s Disciple) delivering the truth through his sharply barbed tongue. It’s a wonderfully detailed deliverance, but I would have favored some more physical affection between the King and his fool, well, from anyone to be honest, as the play fails to touch and be touched with any kindness and connection, even as he derails himself against the approaching storm that never really materializes.

In the first and only subplot to be found in this Shakespearian tragedy, the bastard son Edmund (Blake) is also quite the devious and deceiving child. He orchestrates a well-thought-out and structured plot to forge mistrust between his father, the Earl of Gloucester (Santiago) and his legitimate son, Edgar (Sills). Paralleling the familial betrayal between parent and child, the deceitful Edmund finds a dark sensual stance to play out his cruel plot with ease and a coolness that registers, flying forward with heartless glee. He throws his half-brother underfoot, forcing the man to flee in a confused flurry of accusations, only to find himself later leading his blinded father through the same wasteland of distrust and deceit. Blake’s charming approach to deception is captivatingly engaging, selling the moment, even if initially Sills’ approach to Edgar doesn’t feel fully formed. At least not in those first moments. It deepens as the anguish builds.

Gordon Patrick White (front, left) as Fool and Paul Gross as King Lear with members of the company in King Lear. Stratford Festival 2023. Photo by David Hou.

Now both fathers find themselves caught in the storm of misguided betrayal, but both are there, wandering through the wasteland unprotected solely because of their own doing and arrogance, believing in lies and flattery, even when it goes against their better judgment. The Earl of Gloucester has also been dutifully wronged, cut down, and gruesomely gored by the same plot and ploy, but we feel we understand, at least a little, why his illegitimate son would hate him so. (It isn’t so clear why Regan would though.) The destroyed son leading his blind accuser through the wasteland is one of the more fragile and clearly intimate moments of kind compassion seen between child and father. The image elevates the pain that has been forged by the cold-hearted damaged child, Edmund. Is this what happens when mothers are not anywhere to be seen?

It is said that with Lear, you do it big, or go home.  But delivering a revisitation of the compelling tale without a clear answer to the “why now?” question, both in terms of the production and the characterized stepping down of this King Lear, beyond some obviously broad strokes, becomes the central problem and obstacle. Returned from her banishment, Cordelia sits at the bedside of the found mad Lear, his sad confusion registers, but not completely. It’s painful to watch the struggle, as we know what the inability to recognize means, and what is in store for the poor upset former King as he lovingly remembers both his favorite daughter and his loyal Kent. The look is all the more engaging knowing how much he has lost out of pride and fury.

Yet when the King returns with her lifeless body, we are surprisingly not moved. The production didn’t lead us in deep enough to engage with the dark well of tragedy and sense of loss. Gross’s Lear nods himself off into death, unceremoniously, leaving us to wonder where our emotional pain and connection has gone. It’s sad that we aren’t that moved by Rampersad’s King Lear, even though it gives some insight metaphorically to the blind and foolish, especially through its diligent delivery of the text. But as a whole, it failed to sit heavy nor forcible in my heart. No tears of grief came to my eyes when the struck-down King sees the ridiculousness that lived inside his ego, and the destruction it has brought forth. And that’s a shame, as there is something clever inside Gross’s return to the stage, and his interpretation of his damaged and dying King Lear.

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Out of Town

A Dancing Dolly 



Hello, Dolly! is a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955. The musical follows the story of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a strong-willed matchmaker, as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. The show, directed and choreographed by Gower Champion and produced by David Merrick, moved to Broadway in 1964, winning 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. These awards set a record which the play held for 37 years. The show album Hello, Dolly! An Original Cast Recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. There is no denying that Jerry Herman never wrote a bad song and that you will go home singing at least one if not several of these wonderfully tuneful songs.

In this neck of the woods, Stephen Casey is well-known for his high- stepping choreography and in the Act II production of Hello, Dolly!, he does not disappoint. Everyone in this show dances. The dance numbers are many and lengthy. And The Waiters Gallop number at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant is especially applause worthy.  The pared down chorus is just as proficient at singing as they are at dancing. And the small stage at Act II is ingeniously used to give an appearance of a much bigger space. Jenny Eisehower is a very lively and likeable Dolly Levi, in contrast to Scott Langdon’s delightfully cantankerous Mr. Vandergelder. Ms. Eisenhower’s statuesque height plays well off the shorter Mr. Langdon.We know she is a woman who is always in control. Elyse Langley displays a mature soprano rendering of “Ribbons Down my Back” as Irene Malloy. Lee Slobotkin is quite endearing as Barnaby Tucker and Jeremy Konopka is a young Tommy Tune with his longer than you can believe it legs.

The costumes by Millie Hiibel were bright and playful and worked in tandem with the simple set design by Dirk Durossette. The score is fully orchestrated though, unfortunately it’s in the “can” which for me takes away from the excitement you get from a live musical.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the show as much as I would have had the minor characters not been instructed or simply encouraged to mug to the audience. Every time this happened it brought me right out of the show. In 1812’s producton of The Play That Goes Wrong many of the actors were mugging their pants off and playing it over the top — but they were forgiven because they were supposed to be a terrible community theatre company.

And yet, if you like Jerry Herman and a lot of dancing you will enjoy this show and understand why it’s been revived so many times.

Tickets are available online at, by calling the Act II Box Office at 215-654-0200, or in-person at the Box Office at 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, PA. The Box Office is open Mon-Sat, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Student tickets are $15 and group discounts are available.

Hello, Dolly! Directed and Choreographed by Stephen Casey. Running now through June 18, 2023 at Act II Playhouse                                                                     56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, PA 19002

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