Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Is Thrilled To Announce the 2024 Summer Season
[Center Valley, PA] –October 17, 2023– Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to reveal its upcoming season following a summer filled with an impressive 145 performances of nine productions in just nine and a half weeks. Co-leaders Jason King Jones and Casey William Gallagher have carefully curated a compelling line-up centered around the theme of “Persistence of Love.”
“Whether it’s love for your family, your community, your partner, or an idea, love persists and always seeks to make the world a better place. This theme is reflected in each play or musical we’ve selected,” says Jones, Artistic Director. “We hope the ‘Persistence of Love’ season fosters empathy and ignites meaningful conversations through the medium of theatre.”
The Festival’s 33rd season will run May 29 to August 4 featuring three Shakespeare plays The Comedy of Errors, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Cymbeline; along with two musicals, The Color Purple and The Last Five Years; and, in a new collaboration, PSF will present 1812’s production of The Play That Goes Wrong. Additionally, there are two children’s theatre productions, Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends and Shakespeare for Kids.
Single tickets for the 2024 season will be available for purchase in February, with an exclusive presale period for PSF subscribers starting in November.
The 2024 Season Sponsors are Lee and Dolly Butz.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival performs on two stages at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania. The Festival will also present a community tour throughout the Lehigh Valley region and will host a Community Day at DeSales on July 6.
The 2024 Summer Season—
“Play On!” Community Tour: The Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jessica Bedford
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s “Play On!” Community Tour brings free performances of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors to libraries, parks, and community centers all over the region. The inaugural tour launched during the summer of 2023 with A Midsummer Night’s Dream and played to over 1100 attendees across 13 locations. With a goal of strengthening collaborative relationships with community partners, the tour marked an important step in PSF’s commitment to increase accessibility to theatre for under-resourced populations in the region.
The Comedy of Errors follows the entertaining escapades of two sets of identical twins separated at birth and residing in the same town. Mistaken identities make for hilarious complications until chaos gives way to clarity, and mayhem to mirth, when brother is reunited with brother and a town turned upside down is turned right-side up.
Jessica Bedford will direct, following last season’s Sense and Sensibility. Bedford is a Philadelphia based actor, director, dramaturg, playwright and an assistant professor of theatre at DeSales University. As a writer, she recently received six Barrymore Award nominations for her co-written version of Jane Eyre at Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.
On the Main Stage
The Play That Goes Wrong
By Henry Lewis, Henry Shields & Jonathan Sayer
Directed by Jennifer Childs
Philadelphia’s all comedy theatre company, 1812 Productions present their smash hit The Play That Goes Wrong as the opener on PSF’s Main Stage. This comedic sensation had captivated audiences on Broadway and in London’s West End with sold-out performances before making its regional debut at 1812 last year. Now some of Philadelphia’s finest and funniest performers will reunite to stage the revival, featuring Sean Close, Melanie Cotton, Scott Greer, Justin Jain, Tony Lawton, Eli Lynn, Karen Peakes, and Ian Merrill Peakes. In this Agatha Christie meets Monty Python farce, The Play That Goes Wrong will have you laughing all the way to the final curtain call. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), it’s “a riotous explosion of comedy” (The Daily Beast) and “tons of fun for all ages” (HuffPost).
Jennifer Childs (Director) is the Producing Artistic Director for 1812 Productions. For 1812 she has created over 25 original works of theatre including The Carols, To the Moon, It’s My Party: The Women and Comedy Project, and the annual political humor show This Is The Week That Is. Her solo shows, Why I’m Scared of Dance and I Will Not Go Gently have been performed across the country.
The Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
In this merry romp, the irrepressible rogue Sir John Falstaff hatches a harebrained scheme to woo two wealthy wives in hopes to secure their fortunes. Unbeknownst to him, these merry wives craft clever retaliations to rebuke his advances. The result is a whirlwind of misadventures and bellyaching laughter. As the story unfolds, we witness a colorful array of characters including a Welsh Priest, a zany French swordsman, and a jealous husband in disguise. Shakespeare’s witty banter and comedic escapades shine through, making The Merry Wives of Windsor a charming celebration of love, laughter, and the craft of clever deception.
The production will be directed by Barrymore Award–winner Matt Pfeiffer, who has been directing at the Festival for 23 seasons, including this last season’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again], Much Ado About Nothing (2022), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2021), and many more. Select other credits include Arden Theatre, People’s Light, Bristol Riverside, Lantern Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, 1812 Productions, Delaware Theatre Company, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and DeSales University.
The Color Purple
Book by Marsha Norman
Music & Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray
Directed by Amina Robinson
The epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker comes to life in an emotional tour de force musical infused with a soul-stirring score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. Set against the backdrop of the American South in the early 20th century, the story follows the transformative journey of Celie, a young African American woman who courageously navigates a life marked by abuse, separation, and discrimination to discover the strength to break free from oppression and find her own voice. From the hauntingly beautiful “I’m Here” to the exuberant celebration of “The Color Purple,” this sensational Tony Award-winning musical is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring power of love.
Amina Robinson returns this summer to direct PSF’s The Color Purple following last season’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill; and on the heels of winning a 2022 Philadelphia Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical for The Color Purple at Theatre Horizon. She was recently nominated for a 2023 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Direction of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Arden Theatre.
In the Schubert Theatre
The Last Five Years
Written and Composed by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Jason King Jones
There are two sides to every love story, and both will captivate you in this stirring musical following two aspiring artists in New York City who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The show unfolds with Cathy reliving her story backwards from the end of their relationship, while Jamie experiences his chronologically from the beginning. With music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown, this almost entirely sung-through musical has captivated audiences and critics alike, earning a Drama Desk Award (music and lyrics), a film adaptation, and productions around the world. The Last Five Years will leave a lasting impression with anyone who has ever loved, lost, and yearned for something more. Don’t miss this intimate and beautifully crafted exploration of the human heart.
Jason King Jones directs following his PSF directorial debut of Shakespeare’s The Tempest last summer. Prior to his appointment as PSF’s Artistic Director he spent ten years at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where he directed over twenty productions and served as Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players, America’s longest-running touring theatre company.
By William Shakespeare
Shakespeare meets The Princess Bride in this romantic adventure seamlessly weaving elements of the Bard’s comedy, tragedy, and history into one epic fairy tale of magic and power. When Imogen’s father unjustly banishes her beloved, the princess embarks on a mythic quest to prove her loyalty, outwit her wicked stepmother, and reclaim her true love. In this captivating masterpiece, from the zenith of Shakespeare’s creativity, a courageous heroine, kind strangers, sinister adversaries, divine beings, poisoned potions, and forgotten princes all play a role in the path toward a happily ever after.
This production will be rehearsed akin to the way Shakespeare’s company would have—actors arrive with their lines learned, rehearse on their own, wear what they can find, and open in a matter of days. No directors, no designers. Just great actors, a brilliant play, pure adrenaline, spontaneity, and creativity.
Children’s Theatre Productions
Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends | Schubert Theatre
Based on the classic stories from A.A. Milne
By Jason King Jones | Directed by Jenna Place
Step into the enchanting world of the Hundred Acre Wood in this heartwarming story inspired by A.A. Milne’s timeless tales. Join Christopher Robin and his beloved pals Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and others as they set out on a whimsical journey filled with joy, camaraderie, and, of course, honey! Whether you’re a youngster or young at heart, Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends will leave you with a newfound appreciation for the wonder of imagination and the bonds of friendship.
Shakespeare for Kids presents Twelfth Night | Main Stage
By Erin Sheffield | Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
A high energy one-hour production designed for children ages 4 to 10 to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. S4K activates imaginations and generates laughs for the entire family. Using a combination of songs, puppets, and scenes from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, S4K provides families with the opportunity to introduce children to Shakespeare in a welcoming, super kid-friendly environment.
Visit pashakespeare.org for the most current information and to sign-up to receive emails for future announcements.
Artists are subject to change.
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Artistic Leadership
Jason King Jones, Artistic Director
Casey William Gallagher, Managing Director
About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival 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 repertory 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 over ten weeks, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 32 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 premiere Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference. The Festival’s vision is for world-class theatre.