-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-
Jessica Walter Revisits Her Acting Origins…
Susan Sullivan Returns to Her Theater Roots …
Charles Busch Reunites with Original Cast of DIVINE SISTER …
2016 SUMMER SEASON Announced at
BUCKS COUNTY PLAYHOUSE
New Season Also Includes the Tasty New Musical “Cake Off,”
Two Revivals and the Annual Oscar Hammerstein Festival
NEW HOPE, PA (3/15/2016) – Jessica Walter and Susan Sullivan will star in a new revival of “Steel Magnolias” and the entire original New York cast of the acclaimed 2010 off-Broadway comedy, “The Divine Sister” — Charles Busch, Alison Fraser, Julie Halston, Amy Rutberg, Jennifer Van Dyck and Jonathan Walker — will reprise their roles as part of Bucks County Playhouse’s 2016 Summer Season.
Producers Alexander Fraser, Robyn Goodman, Stephen Kocis and Josh Fiedler announced the casting and other details about the historic Playhouse’s new season, which will official kick off in May with a new production of “Steel Magnolias.”
“This season we have four terrific productions in store — beginning with the hilarious and moving classic ‘Steel Magnolias’,” says Goodman. “We thrilled to have Susan Sullivan and former Playhouse apprentice Jessica Walter in the cast under the direction of Marsha Mason. I can’t think of a better way to start our subscription season.”
Having earned acclaim and a new generation of fans for her recent television appearances as Lucille Bluth in “Arrested Development” and for voicing the role of Malory Archer on the popular FX animated series “Archer,” Walter, a Golden Globe nominee for “Play Misty for Me,” is returning to the Playhouse where she first appeared onstage as a teenager.
“I am truly excited to be returning to the place where I started my career. At 17, I apprenticed at Bucks County Playhouse and it was there, in a role in Paddy Chayefsky’s play ‘Middle of the Night,’ that got me get my Actors Equity card,” says Walter. “I really look forward to getting to working with Marsha Mason and a talented cast on Robert Harling’s funny and moving play.”
Walter will star opposite Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, Susan Sullivan, who is familiar to audiences for her long-time roles on the “Falcon Crest” and “Dharma & Greg” and is currently seen on ABC TV’s “Castle.” Additional casting will be announced soon. “I am delighted to return to my theatre roots — especially at the iconic Bucks County Playhouse … cradled in the lush beauty of New Hope, Pennsylvania,” says Sullivan. “What could be more enlivening!”
“Steel Magnolias” will be followed by a new production of the bio-musical, “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” directed by Bucks County Playhouse’s Artistic Associates, Hunter Foster and choreographed by Lorin Latarro. Latarro’s work is currently represented on Broadway in the new musical, “Waitress.” Foster and Latarro helmed the Playhouse’s 2015 production of “Company,” which was honored as the “Best Theater of 2015” by the “Wall Street Journal.”
Charles Busch is making a rare regional appearance at the Playhouse – bringing with him director Carl Andress and the entire original cast — Alison Fraser, Julie Halston, Amy Rutberg, Jennifer Van Dyck and Jonathan Walker — as well as the creative team from his Off-Broadway smash, “The Divine Sister.” The play was produced in New York at the SoHo Playhouse following a developmental engagement Theater for the New City earlier that year. The production ran for 253 performances and was considered by audiences and critics as one of the funniest American comedies in recent years.
“I love that we are able to reunite Charles Busch and the original New York cast of his hilarious convent comedy “The Divine Sister”, which I co-produced when it debuted off Broadway in 2010,” said the Playhouse’s Tony-Award winning producer, Alexander Fraser.
“Bucks County Playhouse was for years one of the jewels of the straw hat circuit, and I am so excited to be at last trodding the same boards as Grace Kelly, Lillian Gish, Helen Hayes and Imogene Coca,” says Charles Busch. “And what a treat to recreate ‘The Divine Sister’ with the original New York cast! I look forward to donning the habit once again with my buddies Julie Halston and Alison Fraser and raising a wacky theatrical ruckus in New Hope this summer!”
The season also will include Sheri Wilner, Julia Jordan and Adam Gwon’s “Cake Off,” a new musical that warmly received at the Signature Theater (VA) Women’s Voices Theater Festival this past fall.
“’Cake Off’ continues our commitment to fostering new work,” says Fraser. “Audiences will get an opportunity to preview the show in April, when portions of the show are presented as part of the Oscar Hammerstein Festival, the Playhouse’s musical development program.”
The Playhouse’s subscription season also will include an additional show to be announced shortly.
Bucks County Playhouse will kick off the season with the 2nd Oscar Hammerstein Festival, April 29 – May 1. A weekend celebrating musical theatre development focusing on the importance of lyrics in the creation of new musicals, the Festival debuted in Fall 2014 and is being permanently moved to the spring to launch the summer season. Named in honor of the master writer whose countless accomplishments during his illustrious career include having mentored a young Stephen Sondheim at Hammerstein's Bucks County farm – the Festival is a year-long program that offers expert mentorship to early career composers and lyricists. A special concert on Saturday, April 30 will feature “Don’t Ever Leave Me: The Love Songs of Oscar Hammerstein II,” a benefit concert created and hosted by Ted Chapin, head of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, and features a cast of Broadway stars including Laura Osnes, Victoria Clark, Santino Fontana and Lewis Cleale (please see release dated February 29 for more details).
Season details follow:
May 27 - June 18
By Robert Harling
Directed by Oscar nominee Marsha Mason
Starring Susan Sullivan (“Castle,” “Falcon Crest,” “Dharma & Greg”) and Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development,” “Play Misty For Me”). At Truvy’s Beauty Salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana the hair is big and the gossip is juicy. While their coifs are perfected and daily lives debated, six distinctly different women forge a unique bond of sisterhood — one that even when put to the test, only grows stronger! Infused with heart and humor, “Steel Magnolias” is a hilarious story of love, loss, and enduring friendship.
BUDDY: The Buddy Holly Story
June 24 - July 16
Book by Alan Janes
Music and Lyrics by Buddy Holly
Directed by Hunter Foster
Choreographed by Lorin Latarro
From his meteoric rise to fame in 1957 through his tragic death less than two years later, Buddy Holly influenced modern music like no other performer of his generation. Featuring more than 20 of Holly’s greatest hits, including “That’ll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy” and many more!
The DIVINE SISTER
July 22 - August 13
By Charles Busch
Directed by Carl Andress
Starring the original New York cast — Charles Busch, Alison Fraser, Julie Halston, Amy Rutberg, Jennifer Van Dyck and Jonathan Walker. Take a not-so-veiled look under the habit in this twisted, madcap comic homage to nearly every Hollywood ‘nun film’ ever made! The Convent at St. Veronica’s of Pittsburgh desperately needs a new school. Mother Superior is determined to get it built, but first she must deal with a host of colorful, hilarious characters that stand in her way.
August 19 - September 10
Based on the original play “Bake Off” by Sheri Wilner
Book by Sheri Wilner and Julia Jordan
Lyrics by Adam Gwon and Julia Jordan
Music by Adam Gwon
Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch
Ready. Set. Bake! At the 50th Annual Millberry Cake Off, the stakes are high — one million dollars for the best homemade sugary delight! Things start to heat up when men are allowed to compete for the first time. Paul and Rita don their aprons, strap on their oven mitts and square off.
The subscription season also will include an additional show to be announced shortly.
Subscriptions are now available for all five productions; single tickets will go on sale on April 5.
Tickets and passes to the Hammerstein Festival are also currently on sale. Visit www.buckscountyplayhouse.org or call(215) 862-2121.
ABOUT BUCKS COUNTY PLAYHOUSE
Bucks County Playhouse, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, is the oldest and largest professional Equity performing arts center in Bucks County, and provides the finest theatrical entertainment for visitors and residents of New Hope, Doylestown, Lambertville and the Delaware Valley. Under the direction of Tony Award-winning Producers Alexander Fraser and Robyn Goodman, its mission is to present first class professional entertainment and regain the Playhouse’s historic place in the national theatrical landscape; and to stimulate, support, inspire and celebrate the performing arts via community programs, partnerships and arts education.
Located between Philadelphia and New York, Bucks County Playhouse opened in 1939 in a converted 1790 gristmill after a group of community activists, led by Broadway orchestrator Don Walker and playwright Moss Hart, rallied to save the building. The Playhouse quickly became one of the country’s most famous regional theaters, featuring a roster of American theatrical royalty including Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, George S. Kaufman, Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, Bert Lahr, Walter Matthau, Angela Lansbury, Bernadette Peters, Alan Alda, Tyne Daly, Liza Minnelli and Audra McDonald and remained in continuous operation until December 2010. In 2012, the Playhouse re-opened thanks to the efforts of the Bridge Street Foundation, the nonprofit family foundation of Kevin and Sherri Daugherty, and Broadway producer Jed Bernstein.
Since its renovation, significant productions include Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons” starring Tyne Daly which moved to Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards; “Misery” by William Goldman based on the Stephen King novel which opened on Broadway in fall, 2015, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”, starring Marilu Henner and playwright Christopher Durang, and this summer’s hit production of “Company” starring Justin Guarini, which the Wall Street Journal claimed “borders on the miraculous. The Playhouse is surely headed back into the spotlight.” In December, the Journal also named two of the Playhouse’s productions as among the “Best Theatre of 2015.”
*High-resolution images are available upon request.