Philly slays at Tony Awards Who else thinks the Tony Awards destroy the Oscars, Grammys, and Golden Globes? Let's see some hands! More talent per cubic inch than anywhere. The Philly area scored big: J.T. Rogers' Oslo, developed in part at the PlayPenn workshops, took best play (adding to its Obie for the Off-Broadway run), and Dear Evan Hansen took best musical - and best original score, for Justin Paul and Friends' Central School alum Benj Pasek. Mimi Lien, a MacArthur Fellow and company member of Pig Iron Theatre Company, won for scenic design for Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. And here's to UArts alum Lucas Steele! Though he didn't win for his role in Natasha, he worked wonders just to get there.
A 'Buddy' story. "I think we may do Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story yet again at the Bucks County Playhouse," says Alex Fraser, producing director there. Buddy packs up this weekend and breaks south to the Perelman Theater for a June 24-July 9 run. But first, it's going to break its own house record for ticket sales (set in summer 2016). Another tidbit: John Dewey, who plays Buddy, will again act the Texan rocker in Rock and Roll Man, the bio-play about Alan Freed, running Sept. 12-Oct. 1 at the Bucks County Playhouse.
Realistic optimist. "Comedy means a lot to me," playwright Ken Ludwig said last week as a car took him to the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley. His mission: to lead the first rehearsal for his The Three Musketeers, which swashes and buckles July 12-Aug. 6. (There's usually a Ludwig near you. Stagecrafters Theater in Chestnut Hill is doing his Shakespeare in Hollywood through June 25, and the Walnut Street Theatre will stage Baskerville Jan. 2-Feb. 4.)
Ludwig calls comedy "a realistic sense of optimism, not Pollyanna-ish. It's more the sense that if we try to be kind to each other, we push the ball toward a better society."
Ludwig has had success across the land, especially in regional theater. "My work tends to be either original works or adaptations like Three Musketeers," he says, "and I'm equally proud of both." Musketeers at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is directed by old friend and eminent fight director Rick Sordelay, who has always wanted to direct the show.
"We have a great comic tradition," Ludwig says, "from Shakespeare right through the 18th-century ones, She Stoops to Conquer, The Rivals - such great plays. They give us a deep sense of satisfaction and joy, of a kind tragedy can't deliver in the same way. I find it mystifying that people love the comedies but don't spend as much time studying them."
Youth dramatist kudos. Congrats to the prizewinners at the first Philly Youth Theatre Festival at the Prince Theatre on June 7. Among winning institutions were St. Joseph's Prep Cape and Sword Society; the Shadow Company of Yes! And . . . Collaborative Arts; the Academy at Palumbo; and Childhoodslost. Winning monologues were written by Olivia Tyrell, Emma Gantard, and Aurora DiFranco of Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Do it again next year!
Can't Wait to See:
The New & Improved Stages of Grief, by Mary Carpenter, at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, July 5-16. If grief can be funny, Mary can make it so.