Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Announces Casting for the Musical Ragtime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            Contact: Tina Slak, 610.282.WILL [9455]
April 16, 2018                                                    Tina.Slak@pashakespeare.org

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival announced casting for the forthcoming musical Ragtime, and will star veteran artists from Broadway, film, television, and international opera.

Ragtime, based on E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel and featuring a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens will run June 13 - July 1 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Set in the volatile melting pot of New York, three distinctly American tales are woven together—that of a stifled but determined upper-class homemaker, an indomitable Jewish immigrant, and a daring young Harlem musician—united by their courage and their pursuit of the American dream, against extraordinary odds. Ragtime was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won for best score, book, and orchestrations.

Destinee Rea will play the role of Sarah, the mother of the child of Coalhouse Walker, Jr., the aspiring ragtime pianist. Rea has performed in Broadway’s Amélie, the National Tour of Junie B. Jones, and has numerous regional theatre credits including Dreamgirls at the North Shore Music Theatre.

The role of Coalhouse Walker, Jr. soon to be announced.

Samuel Druhora will play Tateh, Bryant Martin as Father and Richard White as Grandfather.

Samuel Druhora has played principal roles across continents in theatre, film, and opera. Career highlights include Jean Valjean (Les Misérables) at Transilvanya Hungarian Theatre, Candide (Candide) with Romanian National Opera, and The Phantom of the Opera at Bucharest Musical Theatre.

Bryant Martin has multiple theatre, film, and television credits, notably at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; and co-starred on the ABC television series Quantico.

Richard White is best known for voicing the character of Gaston in the 1991 animated Disney film, Beauty and the Beast. Credits include National Tours of Urinetown, The King and I, and Camelot; and on television in Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and PBS, Great Performances.

Many turn of the 20th century historical figures are featured in Ragtime including Harry Houdini who will be played by Freddie Kimmel (National Tours The Phantom of the Opera and Billy Elliot); Jack Doyle as Henry Ford (Broadway’s Young Frankenstein, The Music Man, and The Will Rogers Follies); Rod Singleton as Booker T. Washington (Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Virginia Shakespeare, and Off-Broadway); and Michele Ragusa as Emma Goldman. Ragusa starred in the original Ragtime production on Broadway (1998); and has also been seen in Broadway’s Young Frankenstein, Titanic and the National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof.

The production will also feature stage and television actor Brent Bateman as Willie Conklin. Bateman’s theatre credits include performances at Radio City Music Hall, Hartford Stage, Alliance Theatre, and Jud Fry in PSF’s 2013 production of Oklahoma!

As previously announced, the production will be directed by Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, who directed PSF’s lauded and completely sold out productions of Evita (2017), West Side Story (2016), and Les Misérables (2015).

“The poetic lyrics of Lynn Ahrens are wonderfully evocative and powerful for actors to sing and are terrific examples of the best of what modern American musical theatre can be,” says Razze.

The creative team for Ragtime includes choreographer Steven Casey, music director J. Bennett Durham, conductor Nathan Diehl, costume designer Courtney Irizarry and original costumes by Tony Award-winner Santo Laquasto, scenic design by Steve TenEyck, lighting design by Eric Haugen, and sound design by Matt Kraus.

Ragtime previews 8pm, June 13 and 14. Opening night is Friday, June 15 at 8pm and runs through July 1. Single tickets start at $25   and can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Similar to the last three seasons, PSF expects the majority of performances to sell out. Order early for the best seating options.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th summer season launches with Ragtime on June 13, and features William Shakespeare’s popular comedy Twelfth Night; Shakespeare’s King Richard II playing in repertory, with the same cast alternating performances daily and often on the same day, with the play Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard; and an actor-driven production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well

The season will run June 1 to August 5 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the bucolic Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

Children’s programming opens on June 1 with Alice in Wonderland and runs through August 4.  Celebrating its ten-year anniversary is PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids, a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. On the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Noland and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust. The Production Sponsor for Ragtime is Alvin H. Butz, Inc.

New subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at: www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Summer 2018 Season:

Main Stage: Ragtime (June 13 to July 1), Shakespeare in Love (July 11 to Aug 5), King Richard II (July 19 to Aug 5), Shakespeare for Kids (July 25 to Aug 4).

Schubert Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (June 1 to Aug 4), Twelfth Night
(June 21 to July 15), All’s Well That Ends Well (July 25 to Aug 5).

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 will be 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, 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 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 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.

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