For 33 seasons now, the Vassar-headquartered Powerhouse Theater has been living up to its name both in the quality and star power of the talent it attracts and in the excellence of its curation, its commitment to new theater and to its role as an incubator of new repertory. A collaboration between Vassar and New York Stage and Film, Powerhouse’s overpacked seasons encompass lavish fully staged productions of new plays, as well as a rich and daily sense of art-in-the-making via workshop presentations of new plays and musicals, as well as readings of new works-in-progress. It’s the place to catch tomorrow’s stage hits before it becomes difficult to obtain tickets for them. After all, Hamilton, the phenomena which won Best Musical and ten other Tonys, got workshopped at Powerhouse before it made it to the Great White Way.
Powerhouse is thus an institution quite on the map for professional actors (always looking for the summer city-escape plan), directors and – most of all – writers, who have the hardest time of the three finding professional outlets for their work. For the popular theater is only slightly less conservative and shackled to its proven past than the orchestral music world.
“The last several years at Powerhouse have been especially fertile ground for the development of some of the most exciting new works for the American theater,” said Johanna Pfaelzer, artistic director of New York Stage and Film. “We look forward to providing this summer’s lineup of artists – an incredible collection of Powerhouse alums and first-timers – a rigorous and protected artistic community in which their work can flourish and prepare for the next step in its journey.”
The upcoming season features new works by Tony-winners Lisa Kron and Duncan Sheik; How I Met Your Mother star and Powerhouse regular Josh Radnor; Hedwig and the Angry Inch composer Stephen Trask; stage and screen star and playwright Hamish Linklater; and two-time Pulitzer Prize for Drama recipient Lynn Nottage, among many others. Powerhouse will also welcome some of the industry’s leading theater directors this year, including Tony-winners Sam Gold and Michael Mayer, Tony nominees Scott Ellis and Sheryl Kaller and Obie-winner Trip Cullman.
The two mainstage productions in the Powerhouse Theater will be the new Radnor-penned, Kaller-directed bittersweet comedy Sacred Valley, which runs from June 29 to July 9. In Sacred Valley, a mushroom trip gone awry wreaks havoc in the relationships of close friends and partners. From July 20 to 30, the mainstage yields to Kevin Armento’s Good Men Wanted, a true story of women who disguised themselves as men to serve in the Civil War, directed by Jaki Bradley.
The season also features three workshop productions of new musicals in the Vogelstein Theater: from June 23 to 25, Lisa Kron and Peter Lerman’s Stilyagi (an adaptation of the film The Hipsters); from June 30 to July 2, This Ain’t No Disco, from the co-creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the director of Six Degrees of Separation; and from July 27 to 29, The Secret Life of Bees, written by two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Lynn Nottage, with lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk nominee Susan Birkenhead and composed by Tony-winner Duncan Sheik, directed by Tony-winner Sam Gold.
The annual Readings Festival, split between two weekends (June 23-25 and July 21-23), will include: Amy and the Orphans by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Scott Ellis; Little Orphan Danny, with book, music and lyrics by Dan Finnerty, directed by Sean Daniels; Ironweed by William Kennedy and Jodie Markell, based on the novel by William Kennedy, directed by Jodie Markell; Paris, Actors by Hamish Linklater; Serious Moonlight by Adrienne Shelly, co-adapted by Liz Tuccillo and Andy Ostroy; Jane Says by Diana Son; Kid Prince and Pablo by Brian Quijada; and additional projects to be announced.
This summer’s “Inside Look” workshops to be presented in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater include The Great Leap by Lauren Yee (July 7-9) and Hang Man (July 28-30) by Stacy Osei-Kuffour. The Great Leap tells the unlikely story of Manford Lum (based on Yee’s father), in which a legend on the sidewalk basketball courts of San Francisco’s Chinatown talks his way onto a college team, just before they travel to Beijing for a “friendship” game. In Hang Man, a black man is found hanging from a tree in the backwoods of present-day Mississippi. But nothing is quite what it seems in this surreal, funny portrait of a small town.
Powerhouse Theater’s 33rd season runs from June 23 to July 30. For a complete listing of productions, ticket packages and directions to the facilities on the Vassar campus, visit https://powerhouse.vassar.edu. For tickets and additional information, call (845) 437-5599.
Powerhouse Theater 33rd season, June 23-July 30, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie; (845) 437-5599, https://powerhouse.vassar.edu.