The once and future 'Broadway Ed'
After five months on Broadway, the a cappella musical In Transit with Doylestown's Justin Guarini closed last week. I called one of the investors, Ed Rendell, to get his take on being a show backer.
The former mayor and governor calls the experience "very positive. I loved the show, loved the cast, with 11 incredibly talented people," he said. "A sound track CD is coming out, and the show may even go on tour. So we may get our money back – the majority of investors in shows don't."
Would he do it again? "I would," Rendell says. "But it would have to be a show that really got to me."'
Oscar, Shirley, and the Cassidy Bunch
This weekend, the Bucks County Playhouse celebrates its third Oscar Hammerstein Festival, with a Saturday gala celebrating the theater's ties with famed lyricist (and Doylestown resident) Oscar Hammerstein III.
Western Pennsylvania's Shirley Jones, who rose to fame in film versions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and Carousel, was to receive an award, but she was injured in a fall. She'll send an emissary. Actor/singer Patrick Cassidy, her son with first husband Jack Cassidy, will accept the award and perform.
Patrick - half-brother of former teen idol David Cassidy, brother of other former teen idol Shaun Cassidy, and father of Jack Cassidy of The Voice fame - says his mom used to visit the playhouse when dad was performing there. "She also recalls staying at Oscar Hammerstein's home," he says. At the Saturday gala, Patrick will sing "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin' " from Oklahoma! and, from Meredith Willson's The Music Man, "Till There Was You."
"The Music Man was the movie during which my mom discovered she was pregnant with me," he says.
Lynn Nottage won the 2017 Pultizer Prize for drama (her second), for Sweat, based on her interviews with locked-out steelworkers in Reading.
Two big Nottage productions are upon us. Intimate Apparel plays at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton May 5-June 4. And One More River to Cross: A Verbatim Fugue is getting its world premiere, playing first at Pulley & Buttonhole Theatre Company in Jenkintown (May 12-20) and then at Philadelphia's Latvian Society (May 26-June 11).
Emily Mann, artistic director at McCarter, says Nottage's work "brings the stories of forgotten, overlooked, and often oppressed characters to life." James Jackson, director of River, says, "It's a very exciting piece made of voices that had no exposure for four and a half generations since the Emancipation Proclamation. The dialogue comes from [1936-38] Works Projects Administration interviews with America's last living freed slaves."