Breaking the box office

The Bucks County Playhouse announces its 2018 season, which follows a year of extraordinary growth

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Looking ahead: Bucks County Playhouse recently announced its 2018 season, which kicks off May 19 and includes two comedies (An Act of God and I Hate Hamlet) and two Broadway musicals (42nd Street and Million Dollar Quartet). Source: Bucks County Playhouse

2017 was one heck of a year for the Bucks County Playhouse. The New Hope-based theater introduced four world premiere musicals including Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story, which starred Cheers legend George Wendt, and celebrated the unprecedented success of Guys and Dolls, which became the top grossing show in BCP history.

The Playhouse has quite a lot to live up to going into its 2018 season, which kicks off May 19 and includes two comedies and two Broadway musicals. But the creative minds working behind-the-scenes are confident that 2017’s box-office-breaking productions were just the beginning of BCP’s success.

“Heading into our fifth season running the Bucks County Playhouse, we have finally hit our stride,” said executive producer Robyn Goodman. “Our goal has always been to bring audiences the kind of musicals and plays that generate excitement and loyalty. We are all so proud to be bringing high quality theater to this thriving community.”

Goodman works alongside producing director Alexander Fraser and producers Stephen Kocis and Josh Fielder. All had large roles in helping BCP achieve its extraordinary success, which included boosting ticket sales by more than 33 percent in 2017.

“Last year was a breakthrough year for the Playhouse,” said Fraser. “Groups are coming as far as western Pennsylvania and Virginia, and their numbers have nearly tripled in three years. Our new season builds on this momentum and reflects our audiences’ desire to see more well-loved revivals of musicals and comedies created by some of the best artists working in American theater today.”

BCP’s 2018 season will feature four productions, including David Javerbaum’s An Act of God, the show business musical 42nd Street, the Tony Award-winning Million Dollar Quartet and Paul Rudnick’s comedy I Hate Hamlet.

Running May 19-June 16, An Act of God is an exceptionally witty comedy that delivers a new meaning to the phrase “divine intervention.” Flanked by ever-faithful archangels, God gifts humanity with an entirely new set of Ten Commandments in a sinfully funny whirlwind of comedy heaven. The production is directed by Tracy Brigden, who spent 15 years invigorating Pittsburgh’s City Theater Company, and written by 13-time Emmy Award-winner David Javerbaum of The Daily Show.

Playhouse patrons can celebrate the magic of Broadway when 42nd Street hits the stage from June 29-Aug. 4. Peggy Sawyer, a talented young performer straight off the bus from Allentown, Pennsylvania, arrives in New York armed with her tap shoes and big dreams. The show follows Sawyer on her journey from chorus girl to star with an upbeat score featuring “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and “I Only Have Eyes for You.” 42nd Street is directed by Hunter Foster and choreographed by Jeremy Dumont, with music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, and book by Michael Steward and Mark Bramble.

“Following up on the success of last season’s Guys and Dolls, we can’t wait to see what magic director Hunter Foster and choreographer Jeremy Dumont will create with 42nd Street, a classic show biz musical that represents our biggest cast and largest physical production to date,” said Fielder.

Million Dollar Quartet is the third production in the season, running Aug. 10-Sept. 15. On Dec. 4, 1956, an unlikely quartet of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins accidentally converged on Sun Records in Memphis, and made magic in the process. The talented cast will play 21 legendary hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Walk the Line,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Hound Dog.” Million Dollar Quartet is directed by Hunter Foster with book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux.

The season concludes with I Hate Hamlet, Nov. 8-Dec. 1. Hot Hollywood actor Andrew Rally, star of a recently cancelled TV series, arrives in New York to play Hamlet in Central Park and moves into the Gothic Greenwich Village apartment once owned by John Barrymore. While Rally loves the city, theater and stardom, he hates Hamlet. He’s ready to flee to Los Angeles when the ghost of Barrymore unexpectedly appears, taking his would-be successor under his wing while tutoring him in Shakespearean acting, life and love. I Hate Hamlet is directed by Marc Bruni, whose production of Beautiful continues to thrive on Broadway.

Producers also announced the return of two shows off subscription — BCP’s production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show in October and Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show, the popular holiday comedy that made its world premiere last December to acclaim by both audiences and critics.

Season tickets are now available and start at $128 for all four shows. Single tickets are also available. For tickets and information, visit BucksCountyPlayhouse.org or call 215–862–2121. Bucks County Playhouse is located at 70 S. Main St., New Hope. ••

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com