Bristol Riverside Theatre announces 2018–2019 season

The season will include a world premiere musical, a one-woman tour-de-force and more

The Times

Bristol Riverside Theatre announced its 2018–2019 season, which will include a world premiere musical, a Neil Simon comedy, an American classic, a one-woman tour-de-force, and a stirring contemporary drama by an Obie Award-winning playwright. The new season features The Rivals with book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg and music by Stephen Weiner; The Sunshine Boys by Neil Simon; On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson; Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End; and The Christians by Lucas Hnath.

The season opens on Sept. 18-Oct. 7 with the wry satire of comedic columnist Erma Bombeck in Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel, originally developed for the stage with David Esbjornson. Bombeck captured the frustrations of her generation by asking, “If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?” Directed by Jennie Eisenhower, this one-woman tour-de-force spotlights the story behind America’s favorite housewife who championed women’s lives with a wit that sprang from the most unexpected place of all — the truth.

BRT is Broadway-bound with the world premiere of The Rivals on Oct. 30-Nov. 18 with book and lyrics by two-time Tony nominee Peter Kellogg and music by two-time Richard Rodgers Award-winner Stephen Weiner. Based on the famously funny farce by Richard Brinsley Sheridan with Mrs. Malaprop who inspired malapropism, The Rivals features glorious music and hilarious repartee. The comedy follows the travails of Lydia Languish, a young lady in possession of a large fortune, who will lose two-thirds of that fortune if she marries without her guardian Mrs. Malaprop’s consent. But, who needs money when you’re in love? As Mrs. Malaprop would say, “It’s a musical to delight the heart and tackle the funny bone.”

The new year takes a nostalgic turn on Jan. 22-Feb. 10 with the American classic On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson. After an unexpected relationship blooms, a family reunites during an unforgettable summer in this humorous and heartwarming play about love and reconnection directed by Susan D. Atkinson.

Laughter fills the air with The Sunshine Boys by Neil Simon and directed by Keith Baker on March 12–31. Al and Willie, a famous vaudeville duo, haven’t spoken to each other in over a decade. When a big TV network requests to bring the two legendary (and cranky) comics together one last time, it turns out to be easier said than done. The Sunshine Boys is a touching story full of memories, regrets and the laughter that accompanies lifelong friendships.

The season concludes with The Christians by Obie Award-winning playwright Lucas Hnath running April 30-May 19. Pastor Paul is about to preach a sermon that will shake the foundation of his congregation’s belief, but the shocking revelation of his sermon has powerful consequences. In the tradition of Inherit the Wind, An Enemy of People, and A Witness for the Prosecution, The Christians will feature local community members alongside professional actors directed by Matt Pfeiffer.

BRT continues to enhance the theater-going experience with pre- and post- performance programs during the run of each production including: Post Show Discussions (first Tuesday and Wednesday of each run); Opening Night (first Thursday of each run) featuring a post-performance reception; Friday Festival (first Friday of each run) featuring a guest speaker who provides background information on the production; Wine-Down Wednesday (second Wednesday evening of each run) featuring pre-show crudite, desserts and wine; and Thirsty Thursday (third Thursday of each run) featuring unique beer selections from local breweries.

Since 1986, BRT has continued to bring critically acclaimed professional theatre to Bucks County. The theatre is the recipient of more than 68 Barrymore Award nominations for Excellence in Theatre, given annually by Theatre Philadelphia. Under the direction of artistic director Keith Baker and founding director Susan D. Atkinson, the theatre serves as a cultural hub for the community. In addition to its mainstage productions, BRT offers four concerts including the holiday tradition An American Christmas Songbook, the new play development series America Rising, and the summer theater arts camp ArtRageous.

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