For Immediate Release, March 26, 2020
Act II Playhouse Announces 2020-2021 Season
Leap of Faith for Regional Theatre Company
Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA announces its 2020-2021 season. “The timing could not be more challenging and this is a decision we did not make lightly,” said Tony Braithwaite, Artistic Director. “Our production model is year round and we launch our seven-show mainstage season in July.” He added, “We have already invested in the production rights, we have the full support of our board, and our subscribers were asking when we’d announce. This is a stressful time for both theatres and patrons, and we wanted to offer something to look forward to. We are all taking a leap of faith together.”
“This season is filled with shows that will both impact and entertain our audience and they’ll fit squarely into our little vest-pocket theatre,” continued Braithwaite. “In 2018-2019, we started experimenting with a year-round, 7-show mainstage season hoping our audience would stay with us, and they resoundingly did, so we plan to stay the course.” The season is a celebration of the Great American Songbook, election-year political humor, Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, a tour-de-force homage to a beloved film, women writing about women, and legendary tales of Hollywood. In addition to the 7-show mainstage season, Act II is producing a chapter of their wildly popular and holiday-inspired mystery series for kids.
Productions run July 14, 2020 through June 27, 2021. Subscriptions are available online at act2.org, by calling the Box Office at 215.654.0200, or by mail at Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler, PA 19002. Subscribers create their own 7, 5 or 4-show packages. Single tickets go on-sale May 15 for the first show, and July 1 for the full season. The Box Office is closed to retail traffic due to the mandated state and county closures; however, all staff are working off-site.
Braithwaite added, “We met our important subscription goals last season, and are extremely grateful for the support. Subscriptions are the early indicators of a season’s potential for success.” As part of a newly-introduced loyalty program, past subscribers can renew and be seated now, and new subscribers will be seated starting April 16. “We know this is not typical for the industry,” stated Braithwaite, “but we want to reward our subscribers and guarantee them seats in exchange for the trust they place in us.”
The mainstage season opens with Too Darn Hot: An Evening of Cole Porter, running July 14 – August 9. Composer and lyricist Cole Porter wrote over 300 songs for Hollywood, Broadway and individual vocalists, helping to define what has become known as the Great American Songbook. He was recorded by dozens of artists, including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Ella Fitzgerald, Eydie Gorme, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Peggy Lee, Ann Miller, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughn, and many others, including most recently, Harry Connick, Jr. “We love producing summer programming that is pure entertainment and our space is perfect for a music event showcasing Porter’s vast repertoire,” said Braithwaite. Sonny Leo is Director and Choreographer.
Just in time for the comic gold that is an election season, Electile Dysfunction: Hindsight is 2020 hits the stage August 25 – September 27. The right, left and middle are equally skewered as Tony Braithwaite and a cast of shameless pols guide us through the mayhem. Each performance includes random acts of improv, “citizen-on-the-street” interview footage and since all politics is local – the inside scoop on Ambler. “We’re holding our breath on this new show,” commented Braithwaite, “If 2020 thus far is any indication, we may be writing until the last moment.”
Pulitzer Prize-winner, Doubt, A Parable by John Patrick Shanley is on stage October 20 – November 15. This riveting play, based in the mid-1960’s, is a story of the clash between the power of moral certainty and the fragility of faith when Sister Aloysius determines to stake her vows on the conviction that Father Flynn has breached his own. “Doubt” went on to become an award-winning film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The highlight of the holiday season is This Wonderful Life, by Steve Murray. Tony Braithwaite will reprise his roles of George Bailey, Uncle Billy, Mary, the guardian angel Clarence Odbody, Harry Bailey, and Mr. Potter, all in the wintry world of Bedford Falls in a one-person tour de force of the famous Frank Capra film, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. This Wonderful Life runs December 1 – December 27.
The new year launches with the funny and unexpectedly honest Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End, by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel that runs January 26 – February 28, 2021. Famous for her quips and sincerity (“If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it”), Bombeck was the nationally syndicated humorist and best-selling author who became the voice of an entire generation of women by recognizing the sense of humor and hard work it takes to run a household, raise a family, be a spouse and build a career.
Moonlight and Magnolias, by Ron Hutchinson, runs March 23 – April 25. In the glamour era of Hollywood, filming of “Gone With the Wind” has run amok, and producer David O. Selznick decides the only way to save the movie is to fire everyone, lock himself in a room for 5 days with a new director and screenwriter, and hope his project can be resurrected. Moonlight and Magnolias is the imagined story behind a true event – what actually happened behind those office doors that turned a 1000 page novel into one of the highest grossing films of all time?
Neil Simon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Lost in Yonkers runs May 18 – June 27. Teen brothers who recently lost their mother are forced to leave Brooklyn and live with their grandmother in the far-flung reaches of Yonkers. While their father looks for work to pay for medical bills, their Uncle Louie gets involved with gangsters and Aunt Bella plans to marry her theater usher boyfriend, the boys are scheming how to get the family back to Brooklyn. “Neil Simon’s work has enjoyed a resurgence in New York,” noted Braithwaite, “and Act II has a long-standing tradition of producing his plays. Our audience loves them as much as we do because the characters are always authentically funny and relatable.”
The holiday season includes Bill D’Agostino’s Mikey the Elf and The Case of The Terrifying Tinsel, an Act II exclusive “Toyland Mystery Series” installment that includes the youngest audience members in solving the case. Ticket pricing is family-friendly and the experience is created to instill a love of live theatre in kids. “Mikey the Elf” runs December 18 – 30.
Act II Playhouse is committed to creating and producing new, classic, and contemporary plays and musicals that reflect the highest artistic standards, and presenting in a venue whose intimacy draws audiences and actors into dynamic interaction. Act II is committed to theatrical work that is both accessible and entertaining. Act II Playhouse was founded in 1998 and in 2012, Tony Braithwaite became the third Artistic Director in the Company’s history. The Company has received 39 Barrymore nominations and six Barrymore Awards, two in 2010 for Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical (Tony Braithwaite & Jim Stanek in The Story of Life) and the Independence Foundation Award for Outstanding New Play, Bruce Graham’s Any Given Monday (a co-production with Theatre Exile). Act II also received the 2006 Charlotte Cushman Award for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play (Susan Riley Stevens in Bad Dates), the 2005 Best Actor in a Musical Award (Tony Braithwaite in The Big Bang), the 2004 Outstanding Lighting Design Award (James Leitner, Mary’s Wedding), and the 2003 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play Award (Kraig Swartz in Fully Committed, a co-production with Philadelphia Theatre Company).