Penn State Centre Stage will launch its return to professional summer theatre with "One Night on Broadway," a special benefit event, Monday, May 20, at the Penn State Downtown Theatre. The evening will include wine, hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and current Broadway/Penn State alumni performers, featuring Matthew Hydzik ("The Cher Show"), Allyson Kaye Daniel ("Elf, the Musical"), Ryan Vona ("Once"), Natalie Weiss ("Les Misérables"), Alan Wiggins ("Beautiful"), and more. Proceeds support the relaunching of professional summer theatre.
Producing Artistic Director Rick Lombardo exclaimed, "We're Back! Penn State Centre Stage has historically played a significant role in the cultural life of Centre County during the summer months, and I’m so pleased that we will be returning to that role this June and July."
"The Last Day" — June 12-22
The first production in the Penn State Downtown Theatre features the new musical "The Last Day," June 12–22, with music by Mike Reid, lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger, and book by Reid and Schlesinger. John Simpkins directs, with musical direction by Dan Riddle. Reid is a Grammy Award-winning songwriter and former Penn State defensive lineman.
Commissioned by Penn State Musical Theatre, "The Last Day" is about a young man who has grown up tormented by a secret he has never shared. When he is accepted into an elite musical theatre performance ensemble at a major university, he believes he can finally realize his potential.
"A Year with Frog and Toad" — July 10-13
Next up two ever-charming amphibians will hop on the Playhouse stage twice a day, July 10–13, in "A Year with Frog and Toad," co-directed by Travis DeCastro and Richard St. Clair, with costume design by Richard St. Clair, who also designed the costumes for this show at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. Music direction is by Richard Biever.
Based on the books by Arnold Lobel, lyrics by Willie Reale, and music by Robert Reale, "A Year with Frog and Toad" is a musical for children, but its universal theme — the value and importance of friendship — also appeals to adults. In many ways Frog is the teacher encouraging his sometimes less-than-willing pupil, Toad, to be understanding. When it played in New York one critic called it, “a saccharine-free, kid-friendly Broadway blockbuster.” Every episode is a sweet and loving adventure. Of course, adding spice is the fact that the two amphibians are aided and abetted by birds, a snail, a newt, a lizard, a turtle, two moles and a mouse.
"Albatross" — July 10-20
The season will dock in the Penn State Downtown Theatre, July 10–20, with a spellbinding theatrical experience in "Albatross," a new play inspired by "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by playwrights Matthew Spangler and Benjamin Evett, directed by Rick Lombardo, starring Benjamin Evett.
This fast-paced adventure story explores the themes of regret, isolation, and the interconnected relationship between human beings and the natural world we inhabit. It takes its inspiration from Coleridge’s Mariner, an 18th-century sailor who is cursed with immortality and is thrust into the modern world. Written and performed as a rollicking sea yarn, "Albatross" delivers a profound and relevant message about mindfulness and the effect of our thoughtless actions on all living things. The audience sets sail in spare but visually thrilling stagecraft, powered by the latest multimedia technology. Immersed in this sensory otherworld, audiences come to find out who the Mariner is, why he must forever tell his story, and what he is searching for as he roams the earth. View the trailer here.
Called "Spell Binding" by WBUR Boston, "Captivating" by the Boston Globe, and praised as "impressive and dazzling" with its "striking dramatic text" and its "exhilarating language" by The Arts Fuse in Boston, "Albatross" thrilled audiences at its premiere at Boston's The Poets' Theater, along with its 2017 run Off-Broadway.
Tickets for Penn State Centre Stage summer season on sale April 1, 2019. For additional show information, visit www.theatre.psu.edu. Tickets are available at Penn State Tickets Downtown, Eisenhower Box Office, Bryce Jordan Center, or by calling (814) 863-0255 or 1 (800) ARTS-TIX.