Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Announces 2022 Season, Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy’s Final Season at the Helm
Center Valley, PA: November 11, 2021—Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival announced today the 2022 summer season. The upcoming season will be the Festival’s 31st summer of productions, and the final season led by Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy. The Festival team has assembled a season of scope and dimension including a cherished romantic comedy by William Shakespeare, a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama by August Wilson, a celebrated 20th-century iconic musical, a limited engagement staged reading, two children’s theatre productions, and a group of acclaimed directors. After 19 transformative years at the helm, Mulcahy recently announced that he will step down from his role and return full-time to the DeSales University faculty at the conclusion of the upcoming season in August 2022.
“For me and for the Festival, this is a season of both renewal and metamorphosis,” says Mulcahy. “It’s regenerating to return to full attendance indoors, as well as moving forward again with productions planned for previous seasons. And there are also new directions for us in the lived and cultural experiences of this season’s featured characters, settings, and narratives. Our mission has always been to reach the widest possible audience with great theatre and I’m pleased that my final season will reflect a further step to animate and actualize that mission.”
In summer 2022, the Festival will return to full-capacity attendance for live indoor performances June 3 through August 7 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.
The season will open in the intimate Schubert Theatre with Every Brilliant Thing, by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe, a poignant and stirring story examining a family’s resilience in the face of severe depression through laughter and a bittersweet appreciation for life. In this captivating one-actor play, a person confronts from youth to adulthood the joy and grief surrounding us all. An affirming alchemy emerges in the accounting of life’s everyday blessings and a witnessing of what we’ll do to save the ones we love.
Director Anne Hering brings a wealth of experience, having directed this play before, as well as Shakespeare and other classic and contemporary plays at Orlando Shakes and other regional theatres. Anne serves as education director at Orlando Shakes and holds an MFA in Acting from Ohio State University.
The Main Stage theatre will open with the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Chorus Line, which was originally slated for the interrupted 2020 season. An icon of American musical theatre, this “singular sensation” came from the genius of choreographer Michael Bennett and the legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch. In a brilliant mix of song, dance, and compelling drama by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, A Chorus Line illuminates the ambitions of ensemble dancers in the final chorus audition for an upcoming Broadway show. One of the longest running Broadway musicals of all time, A Chorus Line boasts classic numbers such as “What I Did for Love,” and “One.”
The production will be under the helm of Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, who returns to the musical director’s chair following his highly lauded PSF productions of Ragtime (2018), Evita (2017), West Side Story (2016), and Les Misérables (2015).
“I am thrilled that PSF is able to bring back live musical theatre this season, and especially excited that we will be back with one of the most famous musicals in the modern American theatre–A Chorus Line,” says Razze. “Michael Bennett’s masterpiece celebrates the dancer in musical theatre and by extension, all of the creative artists who give so much of themselves to bring this penultimate American artform to life through their love of the art and their devotion to performing.”
The season will continue in the Schubert Theater with William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. With a zest for love and a love of life, Shakespeare’s spirited comedy offers a tale of two courtships. Beatrice and Benedick elevate the art of the quarrel in their duel of glittering wordplay, while Claudio and Hero have their true love put to the test. Dastardly villains are challenged by comical officers, as honor and desire collide to create much ado about laughter and love.
Following his directorial success of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this past summer, Matt Pfeiffer will return for his 23rd season. Pfeiffer’s extensive regional credits have earned him multiple awards and critical praise across the country. His signature approach to Shakespeare has allowed him to become a stalwart of the canon, with critical recognition as “the region’s most reliable director of William Shakespeare.” His directing credits include PSF’s Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and The Taming of the Shrew; and regionally at Arden Theatre Company, People’s Light, Delaware Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, 1812 Productions, and numerous others. Pfeiffer is a two-time Barrymore Award winner for Best Director and recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award.
The season will conclude on the Main Stage with August Wilson’s groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama Fences, which was also originally slated for the 2020 season. An epic work of stunning poetry by a Pennsylvania native, Fences has been hailed by critics as “a blockbuster piece of theater” and “the strongest, most passionate American dramatic writing since Tennessee Williams.” Fences depicts the yearnings and struggles of the Maxson family led by their patriarch Troy, a former home run king of the Negro baseball leagues who now supports his family as a garbage collector. Set in 1950s Pittsburgh against the backdrop of a rapidly changing America, Fences is a timeless American story of fathers and sons, husbands and wives, dreams and realities.
The Festival is thrilled to welcome director Ryan Quinn, who will make his PSF directorial debut with Fences. Quinn is the artistic director and a co-founder of the Esperance Theater Company in New York City. His other directing credits include Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF), Milwaukee Repertory Theater, NYU’s MFA Playwriting Program and NYU’s Atlantic Acting School. He received his MFA from the Yale School of Drama, and has performed in leading Off-Broadway and regional theatres.
In addition to its full-scale productions, PSF will present a limited engagement of a live staged reading of The River Bride, written by Marisela Treviño Orta. Brazilian folklore and lyrical storytelling combine to weave a magical tale of love, fate and transformation. The river holds many secrets, including a mysterious visitor who arrives just before a much-anticipated family wedding. Set in a small Brazilian fishing village, two sisters grapple with their own happily-ever-after as they are tested to remain true to themselves and to each other.
The production will be directed by KJ Sanchez who helmed PSF’s first-ever staged reading, Native Gardens in the 2021 summer season. KJ Sanchez is the founder and CEO of American Records, dedicated to making theatre that chronicles our time, theatre that serves as a bridge between people. She is head of the MFA playwriting and directing programs at University of Texas at Austin. KJ’s productions, as a director and playwright, include: Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, Goodman Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Playmakers Repertory, Asolo Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Two River Theater, Frontera Repertory, Round House, Studio Theatre in D.C., and Cornerstone Theater; Off-Broadway at Urban Stages, HERE Arts Center, and the Gene Frankel Theatre. She is also the voice of many characters on the cartoons Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go!.
Integral to PSF programming since its inception, children’s productions will continue to delight families in the Schubert Theatre with a fun and feisty fairytale mash-up entitled Little Red, by Andrew Kane; and Erin Sheffield’s high-energy Shakespeare for Kids returns to the Main Stage. PSF also anticipates opening up the opportunity to attend its annual Young Company Shakespeare Project to our patrons again, with more information to come.
Subscriptions for the 2022 season will go on sale in January and single tickets will be available to purchase on February 14. Visit pashakespeare.org for updates and online purchase options.
PSF will keep patrons updated on safety protocols closer to the summer season opening.
The 2022 Season Sponsors are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Douglas Dykhouse, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.
Main Stage: A Chorus Line: June 22 – July 10; August Wilson’s Fences: July 27 – August 7;
Shakespeare For Kids: July 27 – August 6.
Schubert Theatre: Every Brilliant Thing: June 7 – June 19; The River Bride: July 1 – July 3; Much Ado About Nothing: July 13 – August 7; Little Red: June 3 – August 6.
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 normally 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 in recent summers 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. Traditionally, with 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 30 years, PSF has offered 200+ total productions (82 Shakespeare), and entertained 1,000,000+ 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 to schools. 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, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA). 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 theatre.