CENTER VALLEY, PA
Artistic Director Jason King Jones and Managing Director Casey William Gallagher are pleased to announce the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival 2023 season inspired by the theme Brave New Worlds. The programming runs May 31 through August 6 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University and offers a thrilling line-up and a summer robust with fantastic opportunities for audiences of all ages to enjoy a live theatre experience.
“This summer we’ll be centering our season on the theme Brave New Worlds. Not only does the phrase come directly from The Tempest, which we’ll be producing in July, but it also perfectly encapsulates the sheer variety of stories we will tell and the communities with whom we’ll be telling them,” says Jason King Jones.
Musicals abound this summer, beginning on the Main Stage with In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pre-Hamilton breakout, and ending in the Schubert Theatre with the songs and stories of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Shakespeare also abounds with Henry IV, Part 2 and The Tempest inside, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] outdoors, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the road touring throughout the Lehigh Valley. Add to that line-up a brilliant adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, plus children’s shows that include the lovable fantasy James and the Giant Peach and the high-energy Shakespeare for Kids.
The Festival season launches in the Schubert Theatre with Henry IV, Part 2, the next chapter in Shakespeare’s epic cycle and a play not yet produced by PSF. Falstaff, Hal, and King Henry IV return in Shakespeare’s dramatic tale of family, betrayal, rebellion, and the making of a monarch. Henry IV, Part 2 marks the return of “Extreme Shakespeare.” The production will be rehearsed akin to the way Shakespeare’s company would have—actors arrive with their lines learned, rehearse on their own, wear what they can find, and open in a matter of days. No director, no designers. Just great actors, a brilliant play, pure adrenaline, spontaneity and creativity.
Before there was Hamilton, there was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s breakout hit musical In the Heights, which opens the season on the Main Stage. Set in the vibrant Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights, New York, this Broadway sensation pulsates with music and numerous show-stopping dance numbers weaved through the universal story of chasing your dreams and finding family within your community. PSF is thrilled to present this winner of four Tony Awards including best musical and best score.
This summer PSF will launch its inaugural “Play On!” touring program bringing Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream to libraries, parks, and community centers all over the region. “These free performances offer people of all ages the opportunity to experience one of the Bard’s classics this summer in their own backyard,” says Managing Director Casey Gallagher. “A hallmark of our commitment to education, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed by members of PSF’s Young Company.”
Up next, PSF will be heading outdoors for an updated revival of the raucous comedy, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] (again). Patrons can laugh along as three well-intentioned but misguided actors attempt to tackle Shakespeare’s entire canon in 99 minutes. Bring the family and be prepared to laugh until it hurts in this freshly revised version of an old favorite in a new outdoor theatre space.
Productions in repertory return this summer—in a single day audiences can experience one company of actors in rotating repertory performing Shakespeare’s magical farewell to the stage The Tempest and an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Regency Era romance Sense and Sensibility. The Tempest will be directed by PSF’s Associate Artistic Director Dennis Razze, who began as a founding member 32 years ago in the inaugural season and will be retiring from the Festival at the end of the summer.
“Dennis Razze has been a fixture at PSF since Father Schubert launched this Festival. His artistic contributions over the years have been unmatched, from musicals to Shakespearean productions. I can’t wait to see how he directs this play,” says Gallagher.
For the final show in the Schubert Theatre, patrons are transported to a late-night bar in 1959 Philadelphia to encounter Billie Holiday sing her favorite songs and share a few salty stories, in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Audiences will get a front row seat to experience a night of song, storytelling, and surprises. “Lanie Robertson has written an engrossing tour-de-force for the actor who plays Billie Holiday near the end of her life. It’s a must-see musical for the summer,” says Jones.
In addition to the ambitious line-up, PSF will present several special events including the annual Luminosity Gala, pre-show dinners with the Directors and Shakespearean scholars, and community weekends. More details will be shared in upcoming announcements.
Current PSF subscribers can renew their subscription by calling 610.282.WILL  or by visiting the PSF box office at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. New subscriptions and packages on sale now and single tickets will go on sale on February 28.
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival will perform at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University. Additional information about the season, including creative teams and casting, will be announced March 2023. For interviews or press inquiries please contact Tina Slak: [email protected].