Shakespeare’s Epic Masterworks will command the stage in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 2019 Summer Season

Contact: Tina Slak, 610.282.WILL [9455]
Tina.Slak@pashakespeare.org

Center Valley, PA – Recently recognized by Playbill.com as one of the “Must Know Regional Theatres” in the nation, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s upcoming season will feature Shakespeare’s powerful and passionate Antony and Cleopatra and the epic history play Henry IV, Part 1, along with a Tony Award-winning musical and two comedic classics in its 28th season, May 31 through August 4, 2019.

The Festival will open with Ken Ludwig’s Tony Award-winning musical comedy Crazy for You, followed by the gothic spoof The Mystery of Irma Vep, and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra in rotating repertory with Noël Coward’s popular comedy Private LivesHenry IV, Part 1 will conclude the season in PSF’s“Extreme Shakespeare” tradition.

“This season is designed to be transporting,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director. “The Shakespeare plays each feature characters in search of transcendence, the comedies can carry us away on waves of rolling laughter, and the surpassing power of music and dance to lift us out of our daily rhythms will make Crazy for You irresistible. After five seasons of profound and weighty musicals, we thought it was time for some high-octane toe-tapping delight.”

Treasured Gershwin songs meet sparkling, sensational dances in Crazy for You, the ultimate feel-good musical comedy that will kick-off the summer season on PSF’s Main Stage on June 12. From acclaimed Lend Me a Tenor and The Three Musketeers funnyman playwright Ken Ludwig, Crazy for You features some of the most well-known standards of the American songbook including, “I’ve Got Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It.”

The musicalwill be helmed by director and Broadway actress Gina Lamparella, who has directed several productions for the Festival including last season’s King Richard II, the Linny Fowler WillPower Tour productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet; and as an associate director of The Taming of the Shrew.  Her appearances on Broadway include The Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music, Fiddler on the Roof, Gypsy, and Les Misérables.

The Obie-winning gothic spoof, The Mystery of Irma Vep − A Penny Dreadful will open the season in the intimate Schubert Theatre. Lauded as “the funniest two hours anywhere,” by The New York Times and “lunatic fun that keeps you in stitches,” by The Daily News, playwright Charles Ludlam delivers a hilarious sendup of Victorian melodrama. This comedic, quick-change tour-de-farce features an unforgettable cast of characters —all played by two actors. PSF veteran actor and director Jim Helsinger returns to direct Irma Vep, a PSF favorite which he directed to rave reviews in 2007. Notable PSF directing credits include The Hound of the Baskervilles (2017), The Foreigner (2015), Lend Me a Tenor (2014), and The Tempest (2012).

For the ninth consecutive season, PSF will produce two plays in repertory on its Main Stage: Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra andNoël Coward’s Private Lives.

Antony and Cleopatra isone of history’s greatest love stories, an intriguing tale that illuminates the collision of power and passion. Shakespeare’s dark and intimate portrait of this storied affair features some of the most transcendent poetry on love and loss in the canon,” says Mulcahy.

Antony and Cleopatra will be directed by Eleanor Holdridge, acclaimed director and playwright, whose Off-Broadway and regional directing credits include twenty-four of Shakespeare’s plays and numerous world premieres including David Grimm’s adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac at Cincinnati Playhouse and the Roundhouse Theatre’s production of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.

Following his powerful interpretation of last season’s musical Ragtime, PSF’s Associate Artistic Director, Dennis Razze will direct Noël Coward’s dazzling comedy Private Lives. Razze, who has directed every musical PSF has produced, returns to the director’s chair for his first PSF non-musical since Cyrano de Bergerac in 2008.  With the comedic weaponry of Coward’s lightning cleverness and razor-sharp wit, this delectable comedy of manners delivers scintillating satire—shaken, not stirred.

“I’m a big fan of British comedy—and Noël Coward’s Private Lives is one of the finest and most enchanting high comedies ever written,” says Razze.

I’ve been directing epic musicals for quite a few years now and this will be a refreshing change of pace!”

The Festival continues its sequential progression through the Henriad following its summer 2018 production of King Richard II, starring Christian Coulson of Harry Potter fame. PSF will produce the next chapter of Shakespeare’s epic cycle, Henry IV, Part 1—Shakespeare’s richly layered coming-of-age tale.  Prince Hal is called upon to emerge from the raucous hilarity of Falstaff and his antics at the Boar’s Head Tavern to the valor of the battlefield, where he must earn his place as the next great ruler of this “sceptered isle.” With this production the Festival will continue its tradition of closing the season with “Extreme Shakespeare.” Rehearsed akin to the way Shakespeare’s company would have: actors arrive with their lines learned, rehearse on their own, wear what they can find, and open in a matter of days. No director, no designers. Just great actors, a brilliant play, pure adrenaline, spontaneity, and creativity.

Children’s programming opens in the Schubert Theatre on May 31, with The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian— Righting wrongs and making quick escapes are only half the fun. Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and a merry band of adventurers seek freedom and vitality in Sherwood Forest; and on the Main Stage, July 24 through August 3, children and their adults can experience a fun and interactive introduction to the Bard’s language and characters in PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids.

Casting announcements are forthcoming and updates can be found at www.pashakespeare.org.

The 2019 Festival Season Sponsor is Valerie Moritz Smith. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Subscription renewals will be available mid November; new subscriptions and single tickets will go on sale February 4, 2019.

For more information, please visit www.pashakespeare.org or call the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

The professional theatre company at DeSales University, PSF features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and other major theatre awards, from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and around the country.

Summer 2019 Season:

Main Stage: Crazy for You (June 12 to June 30), Antony and Cleopatra (July 10 to Aug 4), Private Lives (July 18 to Aug 4), Shakespeare for Kids (July 24 to Aug 3).

Schubert Theatre: The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian (May 31 to Aug 3), The Mystery of Irma Vep (June 20 to July 14), Henry IV, Part 1 (July 24 to Aug 4).

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF was among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.
The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, Playbill.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 27 years, PSF has offered 168 total productions (72 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a doubling of annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre.  He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage.  He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare in Love. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.