A Battle for Supremacy on the Streets of New York City: West Side Story Opens at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Lisa Higgins • 610.282.WILL, ext. 4
June 13, 2016 Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org

Center Valley, PA – The groundbreaking musical West Side Story opens on the Main Stage at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and officially launches the company’s 25th anniversary season.

Directed by PSF’s Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, West Side Story previews June 15 and June 16 for the preview performances, opens June 17, and continues through July 3. The production is sponsored by Alvin H. Butz, Inc. and co-sponsored by Air Products.

Advance ticket sales exceed 85% of the total 10,410 seat capacity for all 22 performances. The production may match or exceed last season’s record-breaking attendance of 10,678 of Les Misérables.

 “West Side Story remains one of the greatest achievements in the American musical theatre,” says director Dennis Razze. “Few Broadway scores are as successful and memorable as Leonard Bernstein’s, and Robbins’ choreography set the standard for all of the dance musicals that were to follow.”

In Jerome Robbins’ timeless tale, tensions run high in the streets of New York City. The Jets, led by Nathan Madden as Riff, vie for city turf with the Sharks, a newly-arrived Puerto Rican gang, led by Charles South as Bernardo. While they fight, Bernardo’s sister Maria, played by MaryJoanna Grisso, falls in love with Riff’s best friend Tony, portrayed by Austin Colby. To protect each other, Maria and Tony keep their romance secret. Riff challenges Bernardo to a fight to determine which gang will run the streets once and for all.

Karli Dinardo portrays Anita, Bernardo’s lover; Joe Vincent as Doc, with William Zielinski playing Lieutenant Shrank. Julian Alvarez is Pepe, with Kelsey Denae playing Rosalia, and Gaby Gamache as Consuela.

Stephen Casey returns to PSF this season to restage Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. Nathan Diehl serves as Music Director/Conductor for this musical masterpiece. Tony-nominee Michael McDonald designed costumes. The design team includes Steven TenEyck, sets; Eric T. Haugen, lights, and Ian P. Carr, sound. Arianna Knappserves as projection supervisor and Michael Rossmy is fight director.
Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm; Tuesdays at 7pm; Sunday, June 19 at 7:30pm; 2:00pm matinees are Wednesday June 22 and 29, Saturday June 25 and July 2, and Sunday June 19, 26 and July 3. An audio described performance will be held on Wednesday, June 29 at 8pm. Single tickets start at $25; youth prices are available.

Dinner with Dennis and Deb, a specialty dinner themed to the production that offers behind-the-scenes insights, are Saturday, June 25 and Wednesday June 29 at 5:30pm. Meet the cast for an informal talk back after the show on Thursday, June 23 and 30.

The Festival’s 25th season also includes: The Little Mermaid (through August 6); Julius Caesar (June 22-July 17); The Taming of the Shrew (July 13-Aug 7); Blithe Spirit (July 21-Aug 7); Love’s Labour’s Lost (July 27-August 3) and Shakespeare for Kids (July 27-Aug 6).

One-night events include the return of the The Great Divorce, a one-man performance by Philadelphia actor Anthony Lawton, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis. The performance will take place on Monday, June 27th at 7:30pm. Tenor Mike Eldred, who played Valjean on Broadway and in PSF's acclaimed production of Les Misérables last season, will return with pianist Jeff Steinberg for Songs of Life and Love, a medley of Broadway songs on Monday, August 1st at 7:30pm. Both performances are on the Main Stage.

Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan are serving as season sponsors for the third time in the Festival’s 25-year history. Associate season sponsors are the Harry C. Trexler Trust, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Dr. James and Penny Pantano and the Szarko Family. The season media sponsor is 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.

For ticket information, contact PSF at 610-282-WILL [9445], ext. 1, or online at www.pashakespeare.org.
Media representatives: High res photos available. Please contact: Lisa Higgins, 610.282.WILL [9455] or Lisa.Higgins@pashakespeare.org

Principal Artist Bios

Dennis Razze (Director; West Side Story; PSF Associate Artistic Director) is the chairman of the theatre department of DeSales University where he has been a faculty member for the last 31 years. He is also a founding member of PSF. Last summer, he directed PSF’s critically acclaimed production of Les Misérables. He has directed many of PSF’s productions including Fiddler on the RoofOklahoma!Sweeney ToddSouth PacificA Funny Thing…Forum1776Cyrano de BergeracMy Fair LadyAmadeusMan of La ManchaThe Taming of the ShrewTwelfth NightA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and As You Like It. Mr. Razze also composed musical scores for PSF’s CyranoThe TempestThe Merry Wives of WindsorTwelfth NightRomeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was awarded Certificates of Merit from the American College Theatre Festival for his direction of Fiddler on the RoofOklahoma! and The Music Man and he was the guest director for Lehigh University’s production of The Music Man at Zoellner Arts Center in 2003.

Arianna Knapp (Projection Supervisor) is the Vice President of SenovvA, Inc. (www.senovva.com) and a director of SenovvA Europe. She brought four shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival including two original musicals. Her work as video production supervisor brought her to The Ahmanson Theatre in L.A., The Royal Alexandra in Toronto, Berkeley Rep in California, the Alliance in Atlanta, and Center Stage in Baltimore. Arianna served as the Artistic Director of North Shore Music Theatre (NSMT) for three years in Beverly, Massachusetts. Broadway credits include American Idiot, Bring It On and Something Rotten.

Stephen Casey (Choreography) PSF: Les Misérables, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Forum, 1776. For Bristol Riverside Theatre, he choreographed Man of La Mancha, Ragtime (Barrymore nomination), What a Glorious Feeling, Pride and Prejudice, Rent, and Little Shop of Horrors (Barrymore nomination).  For The Montgomery Theatre he directed and choreographed Forever Plaid, The Great American Trailerpark Christmas Musical, Marry Me a Little, and The Musical of Musicals (Barrymore nomination).  For West Virginia Public Theatre he directed and choreographed Footloose, All Shook Up!, Tommy, and choreographed Anything Goes and Dames at Sea. For Arizona Broadway Theatre he directed and choreographed White Christmas and Carousel, and will return this fall for A Christmas Story

Nathan Diehl (Music Director/Conductor) returns to PSF for his sixth season at PSF having most recently conducted Les Misérables. At DeSales, Nathan has musical directed, conducted, and accompanied more than a dozen Act 1 productions. As an educator, he teaches elementary music and serves as music department coordinator at Moravian Academy in Bethlehem

Steven TenEyck  (Set Designer) Companies include Madison Opera, Syracuse Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Tacoma Opera, Anchorage Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, Syracuse Stage, TACT–NYC, Big Art Group NYC, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Kitchen Theatre Company, The Hangar Theatre, Merry-go-Round, Ensemble Theatre, and The Herson Group Ltd. Beyond his freelance work, Steve teaches lighting design at Ithaca College and received his MFA from the University of Washington in Seattle and is a member of United Scenic Artists 829.

Michael McDonald (Costume Design) Broadway & London West End: Hair (Tony, Drama Desk and Hewes Award nominations). Off-Broadway: Straight (Theater Row) The Irish Curse (Soho Rep), A Perfect Future (Cherry Lane Theater), Jericho (59E59), Almost Home (The Directors Co.), Amahl and the Night Visitors (Lincoln Center). Regional: La Cage Aux Folles (Goodspeed); God of Carnage, [Title of Show], Sex with Stranger (George Street Playhouse); Oklahoma! (PSF); Take Me Out (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); Johnny Baseball (American Repertory Theater); All The Way, Dirty Blond, Spring Awakening, Omnium Gatherum and Crowns (Zachary Scott Theatre).

Eric T. Haugen (Lighting Designer) In recent seasons, Eric has designed the lighting for some of the more memorable PSF productions such as: Les Misérables, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, King Lear, Amadeus, and My Fair Lady, among others. His theatrical lighting has been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. Eric’s Orlando, FL based company, Luminous Design Studios, provides lighting designs for television, themed entertainment, and architectural projects worldwide.

Ian P. Carr (Sound Designer) Ian has spent the last few years as sound engineer of Broadway national tours including Legally Blonde: The Musical, Rock of Ages, and Sister Act the Musical. Recent PSF designs include Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables. Currently, Ian is Head of Sound on the 1st National Tour of Disney’s Newsies.

Michael Rossmy (Fight Director) PSF: Tybalt (Romeo and Juliet) Broadway: A Tale of Two Cities. Regional: Yale REP, The Atlantic, The Geffen Playhouse, Westport Country Playhouse, The Old Globe, The Long Wharf, Primary Stages, Delaware REP, Red Bull Theater, SoHo REP, The MUNY, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Goodspeed Opera House, Paper Mill Playhouse, The Public, Huntington, and others. Michael teaches Stage Combat at the Yale School of Drama and is the Stage Combat Supervisor for undergraduate productions at Yale College.

Julian Alvarez (Pepe) London/ West End: West Side Story (Chino). Select regional: RENT (Angel) at BRT, Evita (North Carolina Theater), The Pirates of Penzance (Sergeant) at BRT, Miss Saigon (Merry-Go-Round), The King and I (Ogunquit Playhouse) and The 50TH Anniversary World Tour of West Side Story.

Austin Colby (Tony) National Tour: The Sound of Music (dir. Jack O'Brien); Regional: Signature Theatre: West Side Story, Simply Sondheim, Crossing; Arena Stage: Smokey Joe's Cafe; Olney Theatre Center: Forever Plaid, Spring Awakening; Theatre by the Sea: Disney's Little Mermaid; Cortland Repertory Theatre: Joseph…Dreamcoat. Education: James Madison University.

Kelsey Denae (Rosalia)is making her PSF debut with this beautiful and timeless story. A Wisconsin native (GO PACK GO!), Kelsey holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and now resides in New York City. NYC: Shark Attack!, Joan of Arc, Bloodlines. Regional: 9 to 5, Always...Patsy Cline, On Golden Pond, Les Misérables, SHOUT!, Wonderful Town, Rent.
Karli Dinardo (Anita) The Melbourne born Aussie's credits include: Anita in West Side Story (Engeman), Graziella/Shark Girl in West Side Story (Carnegie Hall), Alex Owens in Flashdance The Musical (National/Canada Tour), Revolution In The Elbow… (Minetta Lane Theater, Off-Broadway), 42nd Street (ACCC), The Pajama Game (GP).

Gaby Gamache (Consuela; Anita u/s) PSF Debut, West Side Story #3! Carnegie Mellon University graduate. Credits include: National tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Hello, Dolly! (The Muny), Chicago (North Shore Music Theater), Anything Goes (Stages St. Louis), and Funny Girl (Riverside Theatre.) You can also catch Gaby on the Netflix show The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 1: “Kimmy Rides a Bike!”)

MaryJoanna Grisso (Maria)is glad to join PSF to return to her dream role, one she has played more than 500 times. After performing on the Broadway National Tour, she continued her West Side Story journey at regional theatres across the country. She was recently nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for her work at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Credits include Les Misérables (Cosette), NYMF’s Propaganda! The Musical (Fired Girl), Guys & Dolls (Sarah Brown), Urinetown (Hope), The Sound of Music, High School Musical, Peter Pan, The Marriage of Figaro (Barbarina), The Telephone (Lucy). Concerts: Mozart’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, Beethoven’s Fifth at Clay Center, Broadway Rocks with Marvin Hamlisch at Heinz Hall.

Nathan Madden (Riff) Nathan is a graduate of the Juilliard School, has danced with BJM DANSE, Twyla Tharp's tour of "Come Fly Away," made his Broadway debut with the cast of Chicago, and was an original cast member of An American In Paris. He has performed in regional theater productions and has assisted, taught and choreographed internationally for both the screen and stage.

Charles South (Bernardo) lead the international touring production of West Side Story all over Europe and the West End. Bernardo is placed close to his heart and he is honored to revisit the role. He recently returned from Paris where he helped originate and performed in Alex Lacamoire’s Carmen la Cubana. NYC labs/workshops credits: Bull Durham, King Kong, Up Here. International tours: West Side Story, Carmen la Cubana. Regional: Goodspeed Opera House, La Jolla Playhouse, Hartford stage, Conn Rep theatre, Fingerlakes, others.  

Joe Vincent (Doc) Credits include a combined 36 years at the Oregon, California, Old Globe, Alabama, Utah, Pennsylvania and Orlando Shakespeare Festivals, in 62 productions of 33 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays. He has also performed more than 50 major musical theatre roles, including Tevye in 2014 here at PSF. In 2008, Vincent made his Broadway debut as Max in Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll directed by Trevor Nunn.

William Zielinski (Lt. Shrank) returns to PSF after last season’s Henry V. Recent: They Don’t Pay, We Won’t Pay, Portland Stage Company; The Seafarer, Florida Repertory Theatre; Row After Row, People’s Light and Theatre; Down Past Passyunk, InterAct Theatre, and The Exonerated, Delaware Theatre Company. Film/TV: Dead Man Down, Do No Harm, Flikken Maastricht, Night Catches Us, The Wire, and Shot in the Heart. Bill is a seven-time Barrymore nominee, and was a member of four Barrymore winning ensembles.

Patrick Mulcahy (PSF Producing Artistic Director). Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, built the professional company of artists, oversaw the quadrupling of the endowment, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF’s first-ever awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 75% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season.

As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Bassett, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O’Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Macbeth (2014), Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter’s Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). Also head of acting at DeSales, Patrick holds an MFA from Syracuse University. 

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