South Pacific cast includes leading actor direct from Broadway opposite Emmy nominee at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 1, 2011
Contact: Lisa Higgins, 610.282.9455, ext. 4
Center Valley, PA – The opening production of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 20th season, South Pacific, features several historic firsts:
For the first time, an actor will arrive direct from a Broadway production to appear in the same role on the PSF main stage: William Michals, who played Emile de Becque in South Pacific at Lincoln Center will perform the role in PSF’s production.
For the first time, a former PSF intern, Marnie Schulenburg, returns to the PSF stage since earning a Daytime Emmy nomination; she’ll play opposite Michals as Nellie Forbush.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s legendary musical, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by James Michener, previews June 15 and 16, opens June 17 and runs through July 3 on the Festival’s Main Stage.
The story focuses on a young U.S. Navy nurse who falls in love with an Island plantation owner during World War II. When the musical debuted in 1949, it won the Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and nine Tony Awards.
“The genius of South Pacific is this: it turns out to be a musical which was both deeply rooted in its time and feels timeless today,” wrote Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, on the 50th anniversary of the musical. The 2008 revival won five Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical Revival and garnered 11 Tony nominations, including best revival, director, choreographer, all four acting categories and all four design categories. It won best revival and six other Tonys.
Songs from the production have become worldwide standards: “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Bali Ha’i,” and “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame.”
The production sponsor is Alvin H. Butz, Inc., co-sponsors are Dr. and Mrs. Frank J. Szarko, and director sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.
Fresh off of last season’s acclaimed production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Dennis Razze directs a stellar cast: in addition to Michals and Schulenburg, Amy Jo Phillips is featured as Bloody Mary, a role she played in several national tours. Spencer Plachy, a PSF veteran who played Jefferson in 1776 at PSF in 2009, performs as Lt. Joe Cable.
Luther Billis is portrayed by Anthony Lawton, a renowned Philadelphia-area actor. David Jack, a recording artist known for his children’s music, is playing Commander Harbison.
Stephen Casey and Nathan Diehl return to PSF as choreographer and music director/conductor, respectively. PSF veteran Will Neuert has created the Pacific landscape. Eric T. Haugen is the lighting designer. Sam Fleming, whose designs have been seen across the nation, has designed the costumes. The sound design has come from Matthew Given, production manager and PSF’s resident sound designer. Robin Grady serves as stage manager.
The production previews June 15 and 16, opens June 17 and runs through July 3 in the Labuda Center’s Main Stage Theatre. Performances are 7pm Tuesday, 8pm Wednesday through Saturday, Sunday at 2pm. One Sunday evening performance is offered at 7:30pm on June 19. Two Saturday matinees are scheduled June 25 and July 2 at 2pm.
Single tickets, subscriptions and packages that include tickets to South Pacific are available at www.pashakespeare.org and by contacting the Box Office at 610.282.WILL .
The 2011 Festival also features Hamlet and Pride and Prejudice in repertory with the same cast (June 19 – August 7 on the Main Stage), The Comedy of Errors (June 22 – July 17), The Two Noble Kinsmen (July 27 – August 7), Sleeping Beauty (June 3 – August 6) and Shakespeare for Kids (July 27 – August 6).
Season Sponsors are Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy Nolan; Associate Season Sponsors are The Morning Call, Service Electric Cable TV & Communications and the Harry C. Trexler Trust. Director Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth and a professional, not-for-profit, theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations. 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, Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Shakespeare Theatre Association.
PRINCIPAL ARTISTS’ BIOGRAPHIES
WILLIAM MICHALS, Emile de Becque, most recently starred as Emile de Becque in the Tony Award winning Lincoln Center revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, and made his Broadway debut as the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Other roles in NYC and around the globe include Javert in Les Miserables, Lancelot in Camelot, Billy in Chicago, Chauvelin in The Scarlet Pimpernel, and the title roles in Man of La Mancha, The Music Man, and Phantom. Mr. Michals sings with the nation’s premier orchestras at venues including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and in operatic productions across the country. His CD William Michals: Broadway in Concert includes some of Broadway’s greatest hits. www.WilliamMichals.com
MARNIE SCHULENBURG, Nellie Forbush, NY Theatre: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (On The Square), Anais Nin Goes to Hell (MT Works/NY Fringe) The Yellow Wood (NYMF dir. B.D. Wong), The 24hr Musicals (24hr Co dir. Moises Kaufman), The Angel Eaters, Pretty Theft (Flux Theatre). TV/Film: Alison Stewart on As the World Turns, The Young and the Restless, and LA Diaries, as well as Guest Star roles on Royal Pains, Army Wives, Canterbury’s Law, Fringe, and Made For Each Other.
STEPHEN CASEY, Choreographer. PSF credits: …Forum, 1776. From 1996 to 2010, he served as the artistic director and resident choreographer for the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pa., where he directed and choreographed more than 70 mainstage productions. Credits: National and European touring companies of 42nd St., A Chorus Line, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, North Carolina Theatre, Artpark, Dallas Musicals, and Cleveland Opera.
NATHAN DIEHL, Musical Director/Conductor, has conducted and performed with area orchestras, choirs, and chamber groups. He also teaches and serves as music department chair at Moravian Academy. Nate holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Moravian College and a Master of Music degree and Orff Certification from West Chester University.
MATTHEW GIVEN, Sound Designer. PSF: fourth season as Production Manager and eighth season as Resident Sound Designer. PSF credits include: A Winter’s Tale, King Lear, Dracula, Romeo & Juliet (’10), and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Other: The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, The Centenary Stage Company, and Arcadia University. Matthew holds an M.F.A. in sound design from Ohio University.
SAM FLEMING, Costume Designer. Her designs have been seen at theatres across the country including the Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, Alley Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Arizona Theatre Co, Playmaker’s Repertory, Hartford Stage, Denver Center, Peterborough Players, Center Stage, Houston Opera Studio, Skylight Opera, ACT Seattle, Georgia Shakespeare Festival and Berkeley Rep. She designed more than 50 productions for Milwaukee Repertory Theater during 14 seasons. NYC credits include Pearl Theatre, and The Mint. She is the associate costume designer for The Phantom of the Opera USA. She is also designing PSF productions of Hamlet and Pride & Prejudice.
DAVID JACK, Commander Harbison. A noted children’s recording artist, David has twice been featured on NBC’s Today program, performed at The White House three times and starred in an eleven-year run of his own musical show at the Sesame Place Adventure Park. His six CDs have received national awards including the Parents’ Choice Award. Theatre credits: Victor Fleming in Moonlight and Magnolias (Montgomery Theater), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Bucks County Playhouse) and South Pacific (Jenkintown Music Theatre).
ANTHONY LAWTON, Luther Billis, Philadelphia credits: George in Of Mice and Men and Bill Sikes in Oliver! (Walnut St. Theatre); Gideon in Playland (Wilma Theatre); Austin in True West, Feste in Twelfth Night, and Coleman in The Lonesome West (Lantern Theatre); Stephano in The Tempest, Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons, and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (PSF); “man” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1812 Productions); and The Devil and Billy Markham, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters — solo shows produced by his own company, the Mirror. TV/Film: Unbreakable, Invincible, Hack, and Cold Case. In 2003, he was awarded an Independence Foundation grant to develop his first original play, The Foocy, which received five Barrymore nominations. www.anthonylawtonactor.com.
WILL NEUERT, Scenic Designer. Recent PSF credits: …Forum, 1776, Cyrano de Bergerac, Amadeus and As You Like it. He has created the scenic designs for all DeSales University Act 1 productions for the past 18 years. He is a founding artist and board of director’s member of PSF. He served as the Festival’s resident designer for its first ten years. He has worked at the North Shore Music Theatre, Ogunquit Playhouse, Peninsula Players, St. Michael’s Playhouse, University of Notre Dame, The Ohio State University, and Walt Disney Imagineering. He holds a B.A. from St. Michael’s College and an M.F.A. from The Ohio State University.
AMY JO PHILLIPS, Bloody Mary. Broadway: Show Boat (Queenie cover) and Tom Sawyer (Widow Douglas cover), ‘Encores’: St. Louis Woman (starring Vanessa Williams). National Tours: South Pacific (Bloody Mary, starring Robert Goulet), The Tap Dance Kid (Emma stand by) and The Me Nobody Knows (Melba). Off- Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors (Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon), and Pretty Faces (original Daphne). Other credits: Man of La Mancha, Nunsense, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Carmen Jones, Porgy & Bess and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (all women). Films: The Devil’s Own, Malcolm X, Music of the Heart, and We The Peoples. Commercials & Voice-overs: Levi’s, McDonald’s, and Mobile.
SPENCER PLACHY, Joe Cable, PSF credits: 1776 (Jefferson), Cyrano de Bergerac (Christian), My Fair Lady (Freddy), Amadeus (Venticelli), and Antony & Cleopatra (Agrippa). Most recently he appeared in The 39 Steps (Richard Hannay) at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and Florida Repertory Theatre. National tours: Oklahoma! (Curly) and Fiddler on the Roof (Perchik). He’s originally from the Houston area where he performed at The Alley Theatre: Rock ‘N’ Roll (Stephen), A Christmas Carol (Fred), and The Man Who Came To Dinner (Richard Stanley).
DENNIS RAZZE, Director, South Pacific; Associate Artistic Director, PSF. Chair of the Theatre Department of DeSales University and a founding member of PSF who has been part of all twenty seasons. PSF: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, 1776, Cyrano de Bergerac, My Fair Lady, Amadeus, Man of La Mancha, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and Gaslight. Mr. Razze also composed musical scores for PSF’s Cyrano, The Tempest, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
PATRICK MULCAHY (Director, Hamlet; Producing Artistic Director, PSF) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mr. Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, rebuilt the professional company of artists, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include five awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, including PSF’s first, 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 50% 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. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Basset, 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, The Roundabout Theatre, 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 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). He holds an M.F.A. from Syracuse University.