Extraordinary Attendance and Productions at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival This Summer Prepares Company for 25th Anniversary Season in 2016
Center Valley, PA – With landmark attendance, ticket revenues exceeding $1,000,000 for the first time, a 45% increase in subscriptions and a main stage production playing to 103% capacity, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 24th season closed Sunday, August 2.
“We are grateful to our growing base of patrons for their tremendous encouragement and support this season,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director. “From Les Misérables— which completely sold out its entire, glorious run of 22 performances, playing to a total audience of 10,700 —to Shakespeare’s Henry V and Pericles, patrons experienced what some of the finest theatre artists in the nation can do when they join the PSF team here in Center Valley.”
The season’s success complements a $3.5 million campaign designed to fund world-class work close to home and to continue making artistic and education programming available to the widest possible audience. Funds raised will double the endowments that fund these programs, increase the company’s annual operating funds, and fund equipment and technology upgrades. To date, the campaign has raised $3 million towards its goal.
In addition, the annual fundraising Gala set a records for attendance.
The Festival’s 140+ performances of seven productions featured 33 professional Equity actors as part of a seasonal company staff of more than 200 artists and artisans from 23 states, including award-winning directors and designers.
Les Miz opened the Main Stage to critical acclaim with testaments to its enduring power and to Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze’s direction: “The stupendous version of Les Misérables … certifies the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival as one of the region’s major producers of musicals,” wrote Howard Shapiro of WHYY/Newsworks.
Henry V won praise from The Reading Eagle’s George Hatza as “breathtaking,” and praised Zack Robidas performance in the title role for “(finding) all of Henry’s nuances…. It is a powerful turn, worthy of an actor who has accepted the challenge and triumphed.”
The Festival’s fourth “extreme Shakespeare” production, Pericles won raves from audiences and critics alike: “Shakespeare Fest’s ‘Pericles’ is a wild, satisfying ride,” wrote Kathy Lauer-Williams of The Morning Call. “It is astonishing to see what a group of talented actors can do with a script after only four days of rehearsal.” (PSF customarily rehearses 3.5 weeks.)
“What impressed me most about what the actors accomplished with Pericles was an exquisite balance and fluidity between the whimsical and free-spirited atmosphere one might have found in an Elizabethan playhouse and the poignancy and impact of the emotionally richer moments in the play,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director, who cast Pericles. “I’m so pleased our audience had a chance to experience this lesser-known but fascinating work and to do so in a production that I heard most often described as ‘magical.’”
For the fifth year, PSF performed two plays in repertory with the same actors on the Main Stage: this season, Henry V alternated with Larry Shue’s comedy The Foreigner, which set a record as the highest attended rep production and sold more tickets than any non-musical in the past seven years. In the Lehigh Valley Press, Paul Willistein wrote, “The production crackles with energy” and described it as “side-splitting comedy…a definitive interpretation.”
A PSF audience favorite ten years ago, Around the World in 80 Days, adapted by Mark Brown from Jules Verne, was equally well received this season and a performance was added to accommodate demand. Lauer-Williams of The Morning Call wrote: “(Around the World in 80 Days) proves that with skillful actors and deft direction, you can fill a stage with dozens of characters, exotic locales and hilarious situations.”
Integral to PSF programming since its inception, children’s shows continued to delight families. The PSF-commissioned Rapunzel came close to setting an attendance record, as did this summer’s Shakespeare for Kids.
Overall attendance of 38,615 represents the highest since the Festival was founded in 1992, and 15% growth over 2014.
“Reaching the widest possible audience is as much a part of our mission and vision as producing world-class theatre,” says Mulcahy. “It’s a great season when we do both.”
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is a professional company in residence on the idyllic Center Valley campus of DeSales University, featuring acclaimed actors from New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, with Broadway, television, and film credits. DeSales theatre majors have the chance to intern at the Festival, filling in as ensemble members and learning from a cast of seasoned, working professionals.
The 24th season also featured two one-night-only performances Dan Hodge’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece, and a concert by Jeremiah James, who made his debut earlier in the season as Javert in Les Miz.
The 2015 Season Sponsor was Amaranth Foundation. Associate Season Sponsors were Dr. James and Penny Pantano, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, the Szarko Family, and The Harry C. Trexler Trust.
The 2016 season will be announced soon.
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 generous 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, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.
Contact: Lisa Higgins