Philadelphia Theatre Company is ready to take off into the future. The company announced its first produced season under its new leadership team, Producing Artistic Director Paige Price and Managing Director Emily Zeck, to an audience in the theatre’s space in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. PTC announced that this inaugural season under new leadership includes a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Lynn Nottage that takes place in Pennsylvania, a World Premiere from the 2017 Kilroys List, and a TONY-winning Jason Robert Brown musical set in the Midwest during the 60s based on a popular bestselling novel. The theatre also announced the return of a wildly popular show for its youngest audiences. Subscriptions, Memberships, and more information are available online at www.philadelphiatheatrecompany.org.
“PTC is returning to material that features strong storytelling. All three plays have complex narratives and characters who are reconciling their dreams with their realities,” said PTC Producing Artistic Director Price. “Each play illuminates the emotional lives of people who could be our neighbors. I hope that they trigger in our audience an empathy for people that we might not think about on a day to day basis, but who move about in the world right next to us. It’s our job, as theatre makers, to elicit empathy - to portray stories in a manner that makes audiences step into the shoes of the people they see on stage.”
PTC is set to open its 2018-2019 season with the Philadelphia Premiere of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Sweat. Sweat will run October 12-November 4. Filled with warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets, and laughs while working together on a factory floor in Reading, PA. However, when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in a heart-wrenching fight to stay afloat. The play was nominated for the 2017 Drama Desk Award-Outstanding Play and received three 2017 Tony Award nominations: Best Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for both Johanna Day and Michelle Wilson.
Lynn Nottage began working on the play in 2011 by interviewing residents of Reading, which at the time was, according to the United States Census Bureau, officially one of the poorest cities in America, with a poverty rate of over 40%. Nottage was particularly influenced by a New York Times article reporting on the city specifically, and by the Occupy Wall Street movement more generally. She particularly examined the loss of heavy industry and a changing ethnic composition of the region.
Added Price, “I thought it was important for us to bring this Pennsylvania story to life."
The season continues with a short-lived highly regarded Broadway Musical. PTC Is excited to present the Philadelphia premiere of The Bridges of Madison County with a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown February 8, 2019-March 3, 2019. In this intimate version of this soaring romance, Francesca Johnson, a beautiful Italian woman who married an American soldier to flee war-ravaged Italy, looks forward to a rare four days alone on her Iowa farm when her family heads to the 1965 State Fair. When ruggedly handsome National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid pulls into her driveway seeking directions, what happens in those four days may very well alter the course of Francesca's life.
Price saw The Bridges of Madison County on Broadway. It had a singing ensemble in addition to the eight principal characters. Price always thought it would be great to see a more intimate staging of the production and is excited to present that to Philadelphia audiences. Price also compared the show to The Light in the Piazza, Adam Guettel’s Barrymore-winning masterpiece, which was a smash hit at PTC years ago.
“I thought that the central story was so huge, so epic, that the others were intruding upon it. I have since learned that the show was initially written for that smaller principal cast and I’m so excited to have PTC realize that version,” said Price. “The score, and the heartbreaking choice at the center of the piece for our heroine. Her life is not what she expected, and she has the chance to run away from it, perhaps to find unimaginable joy and happiness. It explores the road not taken, which I think every person on the planet can relate to.”
Price wants to commit to producing one work from The Kilroys list every year. The first will be the rolling World Premiere of Christina Anderson’s How To Catch Creation. This inspirational story will run March 22-April 14, 2019. In the mid-1960s, a black, queer, feminist writer’s life is changed when her girlfriend tells her some unexpected news. 50 years later, the reverberations of that moment still echo in the lives of four individuals in the rapidly changing city of San Francisco. Christina Anderson’s stunning and complex examination of the universal act of creation—creation of life, of family, of art—spans space and time to inspire a new generation of makers and lovers.
Price saw a reading of this work at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. “I sought out plays that were on the Kilroys List and was delighted that the show that so moved me in Chicago was on the list,” said Price. “The show touched me, drawing a connection between generations, and drawing contrasts to the world in the 1960s and today, especially through the lens of a feminist queer writer. This writer also made choices that impacted the lives of others forever, so it fits the theme that emerged this season.”
Added Price, “This play is for the PTC loyalists and those in the theatre community who told me time and again that they loved when PTC was a leading producer of new work. If I don’t say so myself, it’s the boldest choice we could have made in our first year of producing again.”
While the theatre still considers other shows to present next season, PTC is ready to announce the return of one of its most popular presented shows from this season. The princesses and some princes are back for a Holiday Princess Concert. This time there will be two performances, including a relaxed performance on December 16. More of everyone’s favorite princesses will take over the Suzanne Roberts Theatre for a special holiday treat for audiences of all ages.
The leadership team of the theatre set out to look at how they work together, how to produce impactful work that isn’t safe, but doesn’t put the organization at risk, and to prove audiences that standards will always be high. The theatre is also looking to find its “voice.”
Explained Price, “I think our choice of next season’s shows starts to get us there. The way the season is laid out, we hope to take audiences on a journey from a realistic and visceral modern-day experience, through a sweeping musical memory play set in Iowa in 1965, and finish with a generation-spanning daring new American piece that Philadelphia audiences will be part of discovering for the first time. We will also bring back our See and Be Scene night for loyalists and subscribers. I love the give and take of this evening and it also gives me another opportunity to see the work of local artists.”