See and Be Scene: Previewing the 46th season of Philadelphia Theatre Company

-Amaris Pollock, with descriptions of the plays obtained from the Philadelphia Theatre Company

PhilaThCo2On Monday night, Philadelphia Theatre Company invited Philadelphia’s theatre lovers to come out to a unique event at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. See and Be Scene, now in its third year, is a one night only preview of potential work for the company’s 2020-2021 season. For this upcoming season, Producing Artistic Director Paige Price is looking to add some comedies and musicals into the mix of PTC’s already excellent variety of content. Excerpts from the following shows were performed at See and Be Scene:

Sweeney Todd by Hugh Wheeler and Stephen Sondheim
Direction by Paige Price
Sweeney Todd has become a worldwide success since being awarded eight Tony Awards (including Best Musical) in 1979. In the infamous tale set during nineteenth century London, Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, seeks vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop above which he opens a new barber practice. Todd’s thirst for blood inspires a new recipe for her meat pies that has the people of London lining up! (Featuring Scott Greer as Todd and Jennifer Childs as Mrs. Lovett)

John Proctor is the Villain by Kimberly Belflower
Direction by Kathryn MacMillan
In present-day Appalachian Georgia, an English assignment to study The Crucible becomes uncomfortably relevant when scandal swirls and old heroes are questioned.  What does it mean to inherit centuries of trauma and to come of age in a world that has always prioritized a man’s reputation above a woman’s experience? The line between witch and heroine blurs in this post-#MeToo examination of power, literature, and sex education. (Featuring Jessica Johnson as Nell, Stephanie Hodge as Raelynn, Alison Ormsby as Shelby, and Campbell O’Hare as Beth.)

Alabaster by Audrey Cefaly 
Direction by Kathryn MacMillan
A dark comic southern drama about love, art, and the power of women.  This heart-wrenching story of a reclusive Alabama folk artist won the David Calicchio Emerging American Playwright Prize. After a tornado barrels through town, leaving nothing but death and destruction—only June and her pet Goat Weezy live to tell the tale.  When a prominent photographer visits to take pictures of June’s scars, both are forced to reconcile the pain of loss and recovery. This Kilroys List drama explores the meaning and purpose of art and the struggle of the lost and tortured souls that seek to create it. (Featuring Campbell O’Hare as June, Joey Liao as Alice, and Kathryn MacMillan as Weezy).

Too Heavy for Your Pocket by Jiréh Breon Holder
Direction by Amina Robinson
In the summer of 1961, the Freedom Riders are embarking on a courageous journey into the deep South. Twenty-year-old Bowzie Brandon gives up a life-changing college scholarship to join the movement and he’ll have to convince his loved ones (and himself) that shaping his country’s future might be worth jeopardizing his own. (Featuring Brandon Pierce as Bowzie, Walter Deshields as Tony, Jessica Johnson as Sally, and Donnie Hammond as Evelyn.)

Triangle book by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore, and Joshua Scher.  Music by Curtis Moore and lyrics by Thomas Mizer.
Direction by Paige Price
Triangle tells two love stories set in the same New York City building, but a hundred years apart. As lives begin to weave together across the century, long-buried secrets are uncovered and ghosts of the past begin to influence the future.  Although its combination of romance, mystery, and humor is timeless, Triangle asks a very timely question: In a world that seems more dangerous and divisive every day, where people can be taken away from us in an instant, how do we overcome fear and instead choose love? (Featuring Michaela Shuchman as Sarah, Anne Tolpegin as Chaya, Blake Stadnik as Vincenzo, and Todd Lawson as Howard).

The First Deep Breath by Lee Edward Colston II
Direction by Steve H. Broadnax III
The First Deep Breath tells the story of Pastor Albert Jones and his family as they plan a special church service to honor their late daughter on the sixth anniversary of her passing.  But when Abdul-Malik, the son blamed for her death, returns home from prison, the entire Jones family is forced to confront a hornet’s nest of long-buried family secrets.  Old skeletons claw their way to the dinner table, picking at the scraps of Mother Bethel Baptist’s First Family. The First Deep Breath finds each member of the Jones family desperately fighting to stay afloat, but sometimes the family that stays together drowns together. (Featuring Walter Deshields as Abdul-Malik, Brandon Pierce as Tyree, Damien Wallace as Albert, and Donnie Hammond as Dee-Dee)

Tell Me I’m Not Crazy by Sharyn Rothstein
Direction by Claire Moyer
Forced into retirement and unsettled by the changing world around him, Sol Koening buys himself a gun. His wife Diana thought they’d spend more time together and with the grand kids, but Sol’s new hobby puts a bullet in that plan. Meanwhile, their son Nate is trying to be a good stay-at-home dad while his jet-setting wife Alisa climbs the corporate ladder, and school is calling with concerns about their kid. Sharyn Rothstein’s comedy asks how one small firearm redefines a family and how two generations confront what it means to succeed and to sacrifice in America today. (Featuring Todd Lawson as Nate, Erlina Ortiz as Alisa, Scott Dreer as Sol, and Jennifer Childs as Diana)

Sweet Smell of Success book by John Guare. Music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Craig Carnelia
Direction by Paige Price
It’s New York, 1952.  Welcome to Gotham, the glamour and power capital of the universe. J.J. Hunsecker rules it all with his daily gossip column in the New York Globe, syndicated to sixty million readers across America.  J.J. has the goods on everyone, from the president to the latest starlet. Everyone feeds J.J. scandals, from J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joe McCarthy down to a battalion of hungry press agents who attach their news to a client they hope J.J. might plug. When a young press agent tries to hitch his wagon to J.J. while keeping secrets about his client’s new relationship with J.J.’s sister, he learns that you can become no one if J.J. turns on you. (Featuring Blake Stadnik as Dallas and Anne Tolpegin as Susan)

 

After the seeing several scenes from the theatre’s above-named plays, Paige Price invited audience members to stay for a Q&A session. Overall, the audience’s feedback resulted in a resounding positive outlook on the new season. 

Amongst all the scenes that were performed, the cumulative feedback from everyone who attended pointed to Triangle as the favorite of the evening. With their equally impressive melodic voices, Anne Tolpegin (who has been in Broadway’s Les Misérables and Tale of Two Cities, as well as national tours of Ragtime, Mamma Mia!, and Kinky Boots) and Blake Stadnik (Sweeney Todd, Newsies, and NBC’s This is Us) captivated everyone’s attention as they performed a musical number from Triangle

As for the well-known musical Sweeney Todd, I look forward to Director Paige Price’s take on it, and how she will incorporate PTC’s history of bringing relevant issues of today to the thought-provoking stage.  You will probably find me attending several other up-coming performances as well. 

For more information about the Philadelphia Theatre Company at The Suzanne Roberts Theatre or to purchase tickets to upcoming shows, click here, or call (215) 985-0420.

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