Attendance at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Shatters Records: Professional Theatre Company at DeSales University Celebrated 25th Anniversary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      Contact: Lisa Higgins, 610.282.WILL [9455]
August 8, 2016                                             Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org

Center Valley, PA -- With three plays by Shakespeare, a musical based on Shakespeare, a classic British comedy, and two plays for children, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival celebrated 25 seasons—and set attendance and ticket revenue records for the second year in a row. After nearly 150 performances in just under ten weeks, the season closed Sunday.

The season’s estimated 39,750 patrons and $1.2 million in ticket revenues topped 2015’s 38,567 patrons and $1.1 million in ticket revenues—a 3% and 4% increase, respectively. The season’s opening Luminosity Gala also set records in attendance, 514 people, and revenue, $150,000+. The Festival employed a record 44 members of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional stage actors and stage managers.

“The numbers tell only part of the story,” says Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy. “To me, the real story is that all those 39,750 patrons chose to spend their precious time, energy, and dollars in a particular way. They chose to engage with the arts, in this case professional theatre.

“It underscores for me that the arts are not optional: they fulfill fundamental human needs. Our need to move up close to that which is beautiful drives so much in human behavior, especially in difficult times. The arts have a way of not only entertaining, but also providing encouragement that a world that makes room for such things also makes room for hope.

“Every summer, a collection of artists and artisans, staff and volunteers, about 400 total from 21 states, aspire to give our community world-class theatre—the kind of theatre that stands up in fundamental quality to any artistry anywhere.”

The accolades started with Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze’s production of West Side Story. Philadelphia Inquirer Theatre Critic Julia M. Klein wrote:

“With controversy over immigration, nativist tensions and gun violence dominating the news, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's elegant production of West Side Story has a ripped-from-the-headlines feel.”

And George Hatza of the Reading Eagle posted:

“The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's wrenching and astute production of the celebrated Leonard Bernstein musical ‘West Side Story,’ as staged by perhaps one of the most talented directors of musicals in the region, Dennis Razze, is a whirlwind of emotion: love so strong it rattles the theater; hate so powerful it can't help but to kill.

"At 2 hours and 40 minutes, this flawless production seems to fly to its conclusion, as if time itself has become irrelevant.”

West Side Story was the second most attended production in the Festival’s history, just 1% less than the record holder, last season’s Les Misérables. The Little Mermaid set an attendance record for a children’s show, more than 9,700.

Mulcahy’s production of Julius Caesar, which played to more than 90% capacity, garnered equal praise from The Inquirer as “brilliant and riveting,” adding, “Director Patrick Mulcahy's fine cast carries the show. Julius reaches its dramatic peak with the famous funeral oration of Marcus Antonius, magnificently delivered by Spencer Plachy.”

The high praises continued throughout the season for all nine productions and events, concluding with raves for the Festival’s fifth “extreme Shakespeare” production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, rehearsed and produced in the way Shakespeare’s company likely would have: actors arrive with their lines learned and rehearse for four days without a director.

Kathy Lauer-Williams, theatre critic for The Morning Call, wrote:

“Raucous and playful, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's ‘Love's Labour's Lost’ is a delightful example of how fun ‘extreme Shakespeare’ can be... the actors have stitched together a light-hearted and inventive take on one of Shakespeare's earliest romantic comedies that is wonderfully engaging and imaginative.”

“Reviewers said some wonderful things, which we deeply appreciate. The many accolades from our patrons are especially meaningful though,” says Mulcahy. “The completion of the art object lies in their hearts and minds, not on our stages.”

The season was dedicated to the memory of its founder, Rev. Gerard J. Schubert, O.S.F.S., who died in December, and his life’s work was celebrated and recognized at each performance and several special events.

Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan served as season sponsors for the third time in the Festival’s 25-year history. Associate season sponsors were the Harry C. Trexler Trust, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Dr. James and Penny Pantano and the Szarko Family. The season media sponsor was The Morning Call. PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.

Media representatives: please contact Lisa Higgins, 610.282.WILL [9455] or Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org