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POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – A genuine, heartfelt musical that shows people how beautiful – and romantic – experiences are possible in everyday life. That's how award-winning writer and director John Patrick Shanley describes his newest work, Romantic Poetry: A Musical Play that will debut at the Powerhouse Theater Season July 19-29.
John Patrick Shanley (by Monique Carboni)
Shanley, who won an Oscar for Moonstruck and a Pulitzer Prize for his play Doubt, is collaborating with Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger on this new musical. Shanley says he's trying to communicate a clear message to his audience – one of possibility.
"That you don't have to think of beautiful things – of people speaking in a soaring way, singing in a soaring way – as being separate from your life," Shanley said, "that, in fact, in your daily existence, these things are possible."
The musical, which Shanley wrote and will direct, consists of six inter-related plays in two acts, during which the shifting cast of characters become intertwined in comical, often heartfelt, relationships. Romantic Poetry includes roughly 25 original songs, with lyrics by Shanley and music by Krieger. Yet, Shanley says this show has a certain "natural," "homemade" feeling that most standard musicals don't – and it contains significant dialogue scenes.
"I think that the show sort of reminds you of what you already knew about how exciting life is and about how central the romantic experience is and how hand-in-hand it is with the spiritual experience," Shanley said. "I think the audience is going to drink it down like thirsty people for water!"
Shanley's play Doubt went on from the 2004 Powerhouse season to Broadway, and earned the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Drama Desk Award, and the Tony Award for Best Play in 2005. Shanley will direct a film version of Doubt, starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, beginning in December 2007. During the 2005 Powerhouse Season, Shanley debuted a workshop of Defiance at Vassar (with Chris Cooper and Dana Delany) before the play's successful run at the Manhattan Theatre Club. In fact, Shanley has brought his new works to Powerhouse since the program's very inception in 1985.
[Left: Mark Linn-Baker] Romantic Poetry features Mark Linn-Baker, Anastasia Barzee, William Thomas Evans, Ivan Hernandez, Chris McGarry, and Patina Miller. Evening and matinee performances will be held in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film's Martel Theater on the Vassar College campus. Tickets for this Mainstage production are $35/30 and can be ordered online at http://powerhouse.vassar.edu, or through the Powerhouse box office at (845) 437-7235 and (845) 437-5599.
Since 1985, Vassar and New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater Season has premiered numerous new works destined for on- and off-Broadway production, and made Poughkeepsie a theater destination for thousands of theatre lovers. Powerhouse has also trained an entire generation of young artists through its annual summer Apprentice Training Program, which produces an outdoor repertory series on the Vassar campus. More than 200 professional playwrights, directors, actors, and designers, and nearly 50 apprentices from high schools and colleges across the United States, live and work together each summer in a rich collaborative environment at Vassar.
Founded in 1985 by Producing Directors Mark Linn-Baker, Max Mayer, and Leslie Urdang, New York Stage and Film (SAF) is a not-for-profit company dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works for theater and film.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.
ABOUT JOHN PATRICK SHANLEY, DIRECTOR, BOOK, & LYRICS
John Patrick Shanley's plays include Defiance, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Savage in Limbo, the dreamer examines his pillow, Beggars in the House of Plenty, Welcome to the Moon, Four Dogs and a Bone, Italian American Reconciliation, Missing/Kissing, The Big Funk, Where's My Money, Dirty Story and Sailor's Song. His play, Doubt, was recently seen on Broadway and is currently on its first national tour. Doubt was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play. In the arena of film, Mr. Shanley has had four screenplays produced: Five Corners, Moonstruck, The January Man and Joe Versus the Volcano. Five Corners won the Special Jury Prize for its screenplay at the Barcelona Theatre Festival. For Moonstruck, Shanley received both the Academy Award and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay. He also did the film adaptations of both Alive and Congo.
ABOUT HENRY KRIEGER, COMPOSER
Henry Krieger was born in Manhattan and grew up in suburban Westchester. In his early twenties, Mr. Krieger lived in Greenwich Village and met and worked with artists who were members of Ellen Stewart's La Mama Theater Company. It was here that he met Tom Eyen, with whom he wrote the Broadway musical Dreamgirls. Mr. Krieger also composed the musical scores for the Broadway shows, The Tap Dance Kid (lyrics by Robert Lorick) and Side Show (book and lyrics by Bill Russell). He is currently composing the score for the upcoming Broadway Musical, The Flamingo Kid with Susan Birkenhead. For Mr. Krieger, the creation of Dreamgirls as a feature film written and directed by Bill Condon has been a dream come true. He is very proud and happy to be reunited with John Patrick Shanley on Romantic Poetry; their first collaboration being a musical of John's legendary Moonstruck with lyrics by Susan Birkenhead.
ABOUT MARK LINN-BAKER, CARL/JILLY
Broadway: A Year with Frog and Toad, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, David Henry Hwang's Face Value; and Doonsbury. Encores!: The Pajama Game. Off-Broadway: Lee Blessing's Chesapeake (Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle nominations), Victor/Dodo in A Flea in Her Ear at the Roundabout Theater, The Miss Firecracker Contest by Beth Henley, Alice in Concert by Liz Swados with Meryl Streep, The Death of Von Richthofen at Joseph Papp's Public Theater, two summers of Shakespeare at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, as well as work at Manhattan Theater Club, The Phoenix Theater, American Repertory Theater (founding company member), and Arena Stage in D.C among others. Mr. Linn-Baker's film and television credits include the Showtime movie of Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Noises Off directed by Peter Bogdanovich, My Favorite Year with Peter O'Toole, The Ghost Writer by Phillip Roth for American Playhouse, guest appearances on Ally McBeal, Law & Order, and seven seasons as Larry Appleton on ABC's Perfect Strangers.
ABOUT ANASTASIA BARZEE, CONNIE/JUDY
Broadway: Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (Lady Mortimer), Urinetown (Hope), Jekyll and Hyde (Emma), Miss Saigon (Ellen). West End: Napoleon original cast (Josephine). La Jolla Playhouse: Premier of Palm Beach (Jessica), City Center Encores: Golden Boy (Lorna), Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration: Merrily We Roll Along (Beth) dir. Christopher Ashley, Premier of Sunset Boulevard (Betty), Los Angeles/First National Tour original cast City of Angels (Mallory), Premier of White Christmas and original cast album (Betty), First National Tour original cast Groucho: A Life in Revue (the 13 girls), and Reprise Los Angeles productions: Company (Jenny), Anything Goes (Hope), and The Most Happy Fella (Rosabella) and others. T.V./Film: Law and Order, George Lavoos's Dog Lover, Ally McBeal, MOW's Murder She Wrote and B.L. Stryker's Herman's Head, Get A Life, Dream On, Evening Shade, and others. Anastasia is forever grateful to her teacher Charles Nelson Reilly.
ABOUT WILLIAM THOMAS EVANS, WALLY
William Thomas Evans Broadway and National Tours include Camelot (Mordred), Jekyll & Hyde ( Sir Archibald Proops), The Scarlet Pimpernel (occasionally the title role), Radio City Christmas Spectacular ( Santa), and New York City Opera's Pirates of Penzance. He is also in the Broadway bound A Tale of Two Cities. Regionally he has appeared at Goodspeed Opera House, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, Papermill Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Seattle's 5th Ave, Houston and Atlanta's Theatre Under the Stars, Dorset Theatre Festival, Gateway Playhouse, Riverside Theatre, Dallas Summer Musicals, and The Berkshire Theatre Festival.
ABOUT CHRIS MCGARRY, RED/ARTHUR
Romantic Poetry marks Chris McGarry's sixth collaboration with John Patrick Shanley. He recently starred opposite Cherry Jones in the National Broadway Tour of Doubt and has appeared in Shanley's Defiance (Manhattan Theatre Club), Dirty Story (LAByrinth), & Where's My Money? (Manhattan Theatre Club). Chris also directed the premiere of Shanley's Drama Desk Nominated Sailor's Song (Public). Broadway: Doubt ; Salome. Off Broadway: Flesh & Blood (NYTW), In Arabia We'd All Be Kings (LAByrinth), & Force Continuum (Atlantic). Film/TV: Across the Universe, The Sopranos, Law & Order, & Kidnapped. Chris is a member of LAByrinth Theater Co. and The Actor's Studio.
ABOUT PATINA MILLER, LILY
Patina Miller is excited to be back at Vassar for another season! She graduated from Carnegie Mellon last year with a degree in Musical Theatre and was excited to make her first professional debut here at Vassar for a staged reading of Mixed Company by Billy Porter. She recently ended a run at the Pasadena Playhouse/Alliance Theatre in Sister Act the Musical, and can be seen on All My Children.
ABOUT IVAN HERNANDEZ, FRED
Ivan Hernandez is thrilled to be making his debut with New York Stage and Film. Ivan was most recently seen last year in Zorro The Musical, in Zhivago at the La Jolla Playhouse and as Joey in the New York City Opera's production of The Most Happy Fella.