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Vassar College and New York Stage and Film Present Powerhouse Theater


New plays by Patricia Wettig, Rob Handel, as well as a musical by singer/songwriter Dar Williams and a bio-musical about Bert Berns are highlights of the 2011 Powerhouse Theater season, June 24 - July 31, 2011.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY —Among the many highlights of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s 2011 Powerhouse Theater summer season will be two fully-staged world premiere plays on its Mainstage - Patricia Wettig's F2M and Rob Handel's A Maze - as well as musical workshops and readings, including a bio-musical about composer Bert Berns entitled Piece of My Heart by Daniel Goldfarb, Brett Berns, and Cassandra Berns, and singer/songwriter Dar William's The Island Musical. The Powerhouse Theater season will open on Friday, June 24, and conclude on Sunday, July 31, 2011.   

The Mainstage Plays
  • Three-time Emmy Award-winning actress and playwright Patricia Wettig (Brothers and Sisters, thirtysomething) returns to the Powerhouse Theater stage with her fourth play, F2M, directed by Maria Mileaf, and seen in a developmental reading as part of the 2010 Powerhouse Season. Full of Wettig’s trademark warmth, wit, and compassion for her characters, F2M is the story of one young person’s journey toward self-discovery, and the impact on a family whose love for their child is unshaken even as they are propelled on challenging quests of their own. Including director Mileaf, Keira Keeley, currently appearing in Angels in America, (The Glass Menagerie/2010 Theatre World Award), Deidre O'Connell (Whisper House/Powerhouse 2009, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Front Page), actor and producer Ken Olin (Brothers and Sisters, thirtysomething, Lost) will reprise their respective roles from last summer's reading. The rest of the cast will be announced at a later date. Wettig received an MFA in playwriting from Smith College under the guidance of Len Berkman, dramaturg of Vassar & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater. 

  • A Maze is playwright Rob Handel's first Powerhouse Theater production. This unique and highly theatrical work twines together three interlocking stories of a graphic novelist struggling to complete his 15,000 page comic book, a musician in search of his next hit, and a young girl recreating her identity after years in captivity, into a transfixing examination of creativity, addiction, love, and power. Handel, a Poughkeepsie native who heads the dramatic writing program at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, was a founding member of 13P and was a Powerhouse Apprentice in 1987.
Martel Musical Workshop
  • Composer, producer, and BANG label founder Bert Berns is the focus of the new musical Piece of My Heart, by Daniel Goldfarb, Brett Berns, and Cassandra Berns, directed by Leigh Silverman, that will be one of the three Martel Musical workshops this summer (the others will be announced later in April). Piece of My Heart is a discovery and celebration of the most famous composer you may never have heard of! In just seven years, from 1960 to 1967 when he died of a heart attack at age 37, Berns wrote songs that would come to define the sound of an era including “Twist and Shout,” “Piece Of My Heart,” “Hang On Sloopy,” “I Want Candy,” “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” “Cry To Me,” “Cry Baby,” “Here Comes The Night,” “Tell Him” as well as hundreds of others. In addition, he was the producer of “Under The Boardwalk,” “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Baby I’m Yours” and dozens of other standards, and was the champion of Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, The Isley Brothers, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, The Drifters, Barbara Lewis, Jimmy Page.
Special Musical Reading
  • The first musical by singer/songwriter Dar Williams will be given a special presentation this season. The Island Musical is a fable that incorporates Williams' passion for the environment with a magical tale that will entrance both children and adults. A resident of the Hudson Valley, Williams was raised in Chappaqua, N.Y., and educated at Wesleyan University. Joan Baez, an early fan of her music, took Williams out on the road and recorded several of her songs. In 1995, two years after self-releasing The Honesty Room, she signed with Razor & Tie Entertainment, beginning a long and mutually beneficial relationship. Along with her six studio albums — including The Green World (2000) and The Beauty of the Rain (2003) — she’s also released the onstage document Out There Live (2001) and the DVD Live at Bearsville Theater (2007).
Readings Festivals 
  • The two Readings Festivals, which open and close the Powerhouse season, will include 10 new plays from emerging and established writers. In past seasons, the Readings Festivals have included new works from such artists as Eve Ensler, Richard Nelson, John Patrick Shanley, Stephen Karam, Zoe Kazan and Theresa Rebeck.    
Powerhouse Apprentice Company 
  • The Powerhouse Apprentice Company once again will offer their acclaimed outdoor performances of three classic works as well as Soundpainting at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and other special events throughout the season. 

These are just a few of the highlights of the upcoming 2011 Powerhouse Theater season, to be announced in detail later in April. For additional information, see the website

Powerhouse season subscriptions will go on sale (online only), Wednesday, May 18; individual tickets will be available for purchase in person at the Box Office or online, Wednesday, June 1.

About Powerhouse Theater

Powerhouse Theater, now entering its 27th season, is the result of a unique collaboration between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College. The program consists of an eight-week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 200 professional artists and some 40 apprentices live and work together to create new theater works. Powerhouse steadfastly supports both emerging and established artists. 

The annual residency has included such writers as John Patrick Shanley, Beth Henley, Henry Kreiger, Warren Leight, Christopher Durang, Richard Greenberg, Stephen Belber, Eric Bogosian, Steve Martin, Dael Orlandersmith, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater; directors Mark Brokaw, Joe Mantello, Lisa Peterson, Roger Rees, Liz Swados, David Warren, and Michael Wilson; and actors Chris Cooper, Dana Delany, Olympia Dukakis, Edie Falco, Peter Gallagher, Joel Grey, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Johnston, Lucy Liu, Julianna Margulies, Rob Morrow, Frances McDormand, Josh Radnor, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Kyra Sedgwick, Fisher Stevens, David Strathairn, Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Jennifer Westfeldt, among many others.

Since its inception in 1985, Powerhouse has played a significant role in the development of hundreds of new plays, provided a home for a diverse group of artists free from critical and commercial pressures, and established itself as a vital cultural institution for the Hudson Valley, the New York metropolitan area, and the surrounding region.

About New York Stage and Film

Founded in 1985 by Producing Directors Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer and Leslie Urdang, and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Johanna Pfaelzer, New York Stage and Film (SAF) is a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development and production of new works for theater and film.  SAF has developed and produced premiere works by such writers as John Patrick Shanley, Jon Robin Baitz, Steve Martin, Theresa Rebeck and Eve Ensler (

About the Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Training Program

This year, around 40 student apprentices from across the country will participate and form the 2011 Powerhouse Apprentice company. These young artists — current students, recent graduates, and future theater professionals — are provided with a distinctive opportunity to create their own new work as well as work on the development of theater and musical productions headed for Broadway and top-ranked theaters nations-wide. The educational experience is not replicated anywhere else in the country. Some of the program alumnae/i include Erin Buckley, Edward Cheetham, Katherine Kovner, Melissa Errico, Amy Fox, Catherine Kellner, Kate MacCluggage, Josh Radnor, Jordan Roth, Leah Ryan, Alexandra Tolk, and Jonathan Togo.

About Vassar College

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861. Consistently ranked as one of the country’s best liberal arts colleges, Vassar is renowned for its long history of curricular innovation, and for the natural and architectural beauty of its campus. More than 50 academic departments and degree programs — from Anthropology to Cognitive Sciences to Urban Studies — encompass the arts, foreign languages, natural sciences, and social services, and combine to offer a curriculum of more than 1,000 courses.

Vassar College is sited in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY. Go to for directions to the Vassar campus.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, April 1, 2011