See "Vera Laughed," "Tina Girlstar," "The Readings Festival," and "Hello! My Baby," this week at Powerhouse, through Aug. 2, 2009

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY-"The 25th anniversary of Powerhouse Theater . . . is something of a jaw-dropper" (New York Times). Vassar & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse season will continue through Sunday, August 2, with the Mainstage play Vera Laughed  (through 8/2); the Martel Musical Tina Girlstar  (7/31 - 8/1); the ever-popular Readings Festival 2 (7/30 - 8/2); and a free concert reading by the Powerhouse Apprentice Company of the new musical Hello! My Baby. Seating is limited for all these performances, so don't delay in purchasing your tickets online, by phone (845) 437-5599, or in person at the box office on the Vassar campus.



The third offering on Vassar & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater Mainstage this season will be Keith Bunin's funny, sexy, romantic, and moving story Vera Laughed, about a great writer living in exile - with his wife and his mistress. Vera Laughed with performances through Sunday, August 2, at the Powerhouse Theater on the Vassar College campus.

Vera Laughed is set in April of 1942 against the backdrop of WWII. Nobel Prize-winning author Ivan Bunin, who escaped the Russian Revolution 20 years earlier, has successfully created a new life for himself in the French countryside with his wife Vera and his mistress Galina. However, he still dreams of returning home, but he's not a young man anymore, and the world is at war again.

Not only does Ivan have to deal with his own love triangle, but many others, including Galina's ‘other' love Margarita; Margarita's ‘fiancé' Vladimir; and Vera's devotee, a younger Russian writer, Leonid.

Based on a true story, Vera Laughed provides a provocative and yet humorous glimpse into the household and antics of this great writer (Powerhouse Theater, 7/22 - 8/2, $35).



The cast will include Tony & Drama Desk-nominated actress Maureen Anderman (The Lady from Dubuque, You Can't Take It With You, The Year of Magical Thinking, Edward Albee's Seascape & Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) as Vera, Jeffrey DeMunn (Our Town, Bent, CableACE Award for HBO's Citizen X, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption)  as her husband Ivan, Obie Award-winner Ana Reeder (Small Tragedy,Hedda Gabler, Top Girls, Sight Unseen) as Margarita, Gareth Saxe (The Homecoming, Heartbreak House, Michael Mann's Public Enemy) as Vladimir, Jesse Pennington (Rodney's Wife, The Taming of the Shrew) as Leonid, Bess Wohl (CSI NY, Bones) as Galina, and Jason Dechert (The Tree Sisters, Hamlet) as Andrei.


The playwright Keith Bunin is a Hudson Valley (Poughkeepsie) native and the author of The Busy World is Hushed, The Credeaux Canvas, and a writer of HBO's award-winning In Treatment.


Director Carolyn Cantor (Pumpgirl, Something You Did, Orange Flower Water) is the founding artistic director of the Obie Award-winning Edge Theater.


The second Martel Musical this season will be Tina Girlstar, a pop music fairy tale about the corruptive lure of fame and the redemptive power of true talent!

An aging record producer Daniella (Sandy Binion / Jane Eyre) decides her swan song will be to create the ultimate pop princess Tina (Mariand Torres / Michael John LaChiusa's Giant), literally piece by piece. The cast will include Vanessa (Leslie Kritzer / A Catered Affair, Legally Blond, Hairspray), Jeff (Eric William Morris / Coram Boy), Piper (Natalie Weiss), CeCe (Deone Zanotto / A Chorus Line), and Neela (Ronica Reddick / Jonestown).

The book is by Anton Dudley (Getting Home, Slag Heap, Honor and the River); music by Brian Feinstein (Anna Sosenko Trust Award for Mimi Le Duck); lyrics by Charlie Sohne (ReelPolitik: The Musical); and direction by Jeremy Dobrish (Inner Voices: Solo Songs); and musical direction by Chris Fenwick (Grease, The Pajama Game). Tina Girlstar was originally developed at the Lark Play Development Center in New York City and during a Lark residency at Powerhouse Theater. The musical has been optioned by Olympus Theatricals.

There will be two performances only in the Martel Theater on July 31 and August 1 at 8pm, $25.


The final weekend of the 25th anniversary season of Powerhouse Theater will feature the ever popular, and free, Powerhouse Readings Festival 2, which will open with Dan Moran's Soul Cake, directed by David Wohl (7/30, 8pm); Pirate, written and directed by John Patrick Shanley (7/31, 8pm); Regina Taylor's Rain, directed by Sheryl Kaller (8/1, 2pm); Andrew Dolan's That Good Night, directed by Bob Krakower (8/2, 2pm); and Beth Henley's The Jacksonian, directed by Doug Hughes (8/2, 5pm).

While the readings are free to the public, reservations are strongly recommended as there is very limited seating. Call the box office at (845) 437-5599 for information and reservations.


The Powerhouse Apprentice Company will present a free concert reading of the new musical Hello! My Baby, with book and new lyrics by Emmy and Golden Globe-winning writer Cheri Steinkellner, new music and arrangements by Jeff Rizzo, directed by Christa Kimlicko-Jones, with assistant director Jim Yates and accompanist Kenneth Plain (8/1, Martel Theater, 5pm). Free and open to the public.

Set in 1916 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Hello! My Baby will offer love triangles and gender swapping by a mixture of song-pluggers (sellers of sheet music), gangsters, immigrants, socialites, and sweatshop workers, featuring songs from the Tin Pan Alley-era by Irving Berlin, Gus Kahn, Shelton Brooks, Joe McCarthy, and George M. Cohan.

Hello! My Baby will be performed by members of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company, including the two leads, Marisa Caruso (Wappingers Falls, NY) as Nelly and Harrison Brian Fuchs (Brooklyn, NY) as Mickey, as well as Jaclyn Bethany (Jackson, MS) as Alice, Matthew Bourne (Soquel, CA) as Junior, Mary Katherine Bushnell (Birmingham, AL) as Frances, Daniel Emond (Scarsdale, NY) as Johnny, Colton Hearn (West Palm Beach, FL) as Kid, Eli Petzold (Los Angeles, CA) as Albie, Alex Runnels (Greenvale, NY) as Noble, Theresa Serrian (Murray, UT) as Marie, Max Stein (New York, NY) as Dickie, Chris White (Glen Rock, PA) as Artie, Susana Wolk (Beverly Hills, CA) as Violet. The members of the ensemble will be: Jessie Gabbard (Dallas, TX), Nadav Hirsh (Philadelphia, PA), Trina McGee (West Chester, PA), Kayla Noble (Cornwall, NY), and Susanna Ziko (Raleigh, NC). Meg Heus (Palisades, NY) will give stage directions.

Joining the Powerhouse Apprentice Company will be Denise Summerford (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Taboo, Saturday Night Fever) as Ethel, John Summerford (The Room, Twelfth Night) as Bert, Trista Polo (Half Moon Theater) as Mama Gold, and David Ringwood (County Players) as Stanford.


"A fun business - this making a new-fashioned musical," exclaimed Cheri Steinkellner (co-writer with her husband Bill, of the new critically-acclaimed musical Sister Act: The Musical). The genesis of Hello! My Baby, she explained was that after directing a production of teenagers last year she "fell in love with the way the elegant Cole Porter score worked like a charm on teen actors whose previous musical-theater vocabulary began with Grease and ended with High School Musical." She proceeded to "dig into the turn-of-the-century song trunk and discovered a giant, untapped treasure trove of great old tunes just waiting to be brushed off and sung by young voices."

Steinkellner decided to set Hello! My Baby in 1916, the year before World War I changed the world, and during the Tin Pan Alley era. "This was an alley where a spunky, ambitious teens (inspired by real-life Tin Pan denizens Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern) could hit the streets, peddling sheet music, and make a million writing a hit tune of his (or her) own," explained Steinkellner. 

As the book evolved -- informed greatly by the literature of the era, Steinkellner and Jeff Rizzo played with new-to-sound-authentic musical material: intros, verses, and counter-melodies, specific to our characters but true to their source. "Our intention has always been to weave the great Tin Pan tunes into this story in a way that makes them feel like they always belonged together."



In addition to Sister Act, Steinkellner's credits include theater (Princesses, Jailbirds on Broadway, Instaplay, Mosaic; Our Place), film (Teacher's Pet), television (Cheers, The Jeffersons, Benson, The Facts of Life), and appears as Danny B's mom in Dorm Life. She directs and teaches writing at UCSB in Santa Barbara, CA.


On Friday and Saturday evenings catch great fresh food on the way to the theater with Powerhouse Summer Suppers prepared by a rotating selection of Arlington's restaurants at Café on the Quad beginning at 5:30pm, which will feature Babycakes Café and Bittersweet on July 31, Aug 1. Wine and beer will be offered (no reservations necessary).

"Hudson Valley Mediterranean" flavors will be presented by Gigi Hudson Valley at the Alumnae House starting at 6pm on 7/31-8/1 (reservation requests: (914) 388-7175).

Seventeen Arlington restaurants will offer Powerhouse ticket holders who present their ticket stubs a discount or special menu items for pre- or post- theater meal or dessert.


So join the Powerhouse Theater community and become among the first to see a new play or musical performed, often before it goes on to a larger venue, on or off-Broadway, or in theaters across the country.

Season after season Powerhouse audiences have had the chance to be a witness to the creative process and development of award-winning works through artistically exceptional and affordably priced performances, including John Patrick Shanley's Doubt (four Tony Awards including Best Play and Pulitzer for Drama), Warren Leight's Side Man (two Tony Awards including Best Play and Pulitzer nominee), and Jay Presson Allen's Tru (Tony Award for Best Actor).

Last summer Opera News described Powerhouse as "a safe haven for plays to be nurtured before they make their way into the world, an incubator where writers can work on the development of a show without commercial and critical pressures, far from the ka-ching of Broadway."



Individual tickets to Mainstage shows are $35; Martel Musicals $25; and the Inside Look series $20. This year, continuing its mission of presenting artistically exceptional and affordably priced performances, Powerhouse Theater will offer a $5 student rush ticket for students 25 years and under [as available 15 minutes before curtain].

To purchase tickets, go online, call (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599, or visit the Box Office on the Vassar campus.

Vassar is sited in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY. Go online 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.


Powerhouse Theater, now entering its 25th 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.


This year, 48 student apprentices from across the country have participated and formed the 2009 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, Katherine Kovner, Melissa Errico, Amy Fox, Catherine Kellner, Kate MacCluggage, Josh Radnor, Leah Ryan, Alexandra Tolk, and Jonathan Togo. 


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.


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 & New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater 
25th Anniversary Season

Through August 2, 2009 or  (845) 437-5599



(Fully-staged productions held in the 145-seat Powerhouse Theater)


By Keith Bunin

Directed by Carolyn Cantor

Set design by Neil Patel

Lighting design by Ben Stanton

Costume design by Clint Ramos

Sound design by Drew Levy

Leonid - Jesse Pennington

Vera - Maureen Anderman

Ivan - Jeffrey DeMunn

Galina - Bess Wohl

Margarita - Ana Reeder

Vladimir - Gareth Saxe

Andrei - Jason Dechert

July 22, 23, 24, 25, 28*, 29, 30, 31, August 1 at 8pm; July 25, 26, August 1, 2 at 2pm.

*Post-show discussion on Tuesday, July 28

Powerhouse Theater



(Concert reading held in the 325-seat Martel Theater, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, $25)



Book by Anton Dudley

Lyrics by Charlie Sohne

Music by Brian Feinstein

Directed by Jeremy Dobrish

Musical direction by Chris Fenwick

Daniella - Sandy Binion

Tina - Mariand Torres

Vanessa - Leslie Kritzer

Jeff - Eric William Morris

Piper - Natalie Weiss

CeCe - Deone Zanotto

Neela - Ronica Reddick

July 31 and August 1 at 8pm



(Susan Stein Shiva Theater, free, very limited seating with reservations required)


By Dan Moran

Directed by David Wohl

With Brian Dykstra, Joel Farrell, Peter Gerety, Michael Lewis, Chris McCann, and Jay Patterson

July 30 at 8pm



Written and directed by John Patrick Shanley

With Ron Menzel, Fisher Stevens, Emily Swallow, and Yul Vazquez

July 31 at 8pm



By Regina Taylor

Directed by Sheryl Kaller

With Eisa Davis, Harriet Foy, Lizan Mitchell, and Tonye Patano

August 1 at 2pm


By Andrew Dolan

Directed by Bob Krakower

With Matthew Arkin, Gerry Bamman, Sheri Graubert, Marin Ireland, Wendy Makkena, Bruce Norris, Mary Beth Peil, and Reg Rogers

August 2 at 2pm


By Beth Henley

Directed by Doug Hughes

With Margaret Colin, Paul Fitzgerald, Mary Catherine Garrison, Bill Pullman, and Bess Rous

August 2 at 5pm



(Concert reading held in the 325-seat Martel Theater, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, FREE)


Book and new lyrics by Cheri Steinkellner

New music and arrangements by Jeff Rizzo

Directed by Christa Kimlicko-Jones

Assistant director - Jim Yates

Accompanist - Kenneth Plain

Performed by members of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company, with Denise and John Summerford, Trista Polo, and David Ringwood.

August 1, 5pm

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, July 28, 2009