The celebratory 25th anniversary of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater season, June 26 - August 2, 2009.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Beginning June 26, Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater will celebrate its 25th anniversary season. Powerhouse provides its audience a window into the creative process of some of the nation’s top artists and writers as they engage in the rigorous development of plays and musicals, before going on to larger stages in New York, across the country, and around the world. The 2009 Powerhouse Theater season, a silver celebration, will run through August 2, on the historic Vassar College campus in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Highlights of the season include

--several plays that explore the intricate connections of love, family, desire, and friendship, including Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley’s Pirate, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley’s The Jacksonian, Keith Bunin’s Vera Laughed, and Joanna Murray-Smith’s Ninety;

--the fully-staged musical production of The Burnt Part Boys (in advance of its 2010 New York premiere) presented at Powerhouse in collaboration with Playwrights Horizons and the Vineyard Theatre;

--the newest project from Duncan Sheik (Tony Award-winning composer of Spring Awakening), Kyle Jarrow (The Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant) and Keith Powell (from NBC’s 30 Rock) — Whisper House — a musical set in a haunted lighthouse;

--Tina Girlstar, a musical with a satiric, black-comedic take on the contemporary music industry by Anton Dudley, Charlie Sohne, and Brian Feinstein;

--One Slight Hitch, written by Lewis Black (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart), comedian and New York Times bestselling author;

--free Powerhouse Apprentice Company performances of works by Shakespeare (Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew) and Euripides (The Trojan Women);

--  Before curtain on Friday and Saturday evenings during the Powerhouse season, several area restaurants will offer a light dinner menu on the Powerhouse patio;

--and, in celebration of 25 seasons developing and presenting great new theater, Vassar & New York Stage and Film will present a gala benefit concert on Saturday, June 27.

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.”

On the “Mainstage” there will be three fully-staged works this year, including two plays: Ninety, Joanna Murray Smith’s provocative reflection on marriage (Powerhouse, June 30 – July 12) and Vera Laughed, Keith Bunin’s romantic, Chekhovian take on relationship triangles (Powerhouse, July 22 – August 2), as well as the new musical The Burnt Part Boys, with book by Mariana Elder, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, and music by Chris Miller, directed by Erica Schmidt (Martel, July 17 – 26). Major funding for The Burnt Part Boys has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative.

In addition, two “Martel Musicals” will be offered this season as concert readings: Whisper House, a musical set in a haunted lighthouse, with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, book and lyrics by Kyle Jarrow, and directed by Keith Powell (Martel, July 10, 11); and Tina Girlstar, a biting black comedic look at the contemporary music industry with book by Anton Dudley, lyrics by Charlie Sohne, and music by Brian Feinstein (Martel, July 31 and August 1).

This season’s “Inside Look” series, workshop presentations of plays with partial production values, will feature New York Times-bestselling author Lewis Black’s latest play, One Slight Hitch, directed by Joe Grifasi (Susan Stein Shiva Theater, July 17 – 19) and an urban fairy tale by Ben Snyder, Shoe Story, directed by Tony nominee Thomas Kail (Susan Stein Shiva Theater, July 23 – 25).

The Readings Festivals are a very popular (and free) offering of the Powerhouse experience with actors performing “script in hand,” bracketing the beginning and end of each season. This year the first Readings Festival (Susan Stein Shiva Theater, June 26 – 28) will include works by Bryan Delaney, Yussef El Guindi, Theresa Rebeck, and Julian Sheppard, while the second (Susan Stein Shiva Theater, July 30 – August 2) will include works by Andrew Dolan, Beth Henley, Dan Moran, John Patrick Shanley, and Regina Taylor.

The Powerhouse Apprentice Company will present free performances of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (directed by Anthony Luciano) and The Taming of the Shrew (directed by Brian McManamon) as well as Euripides’ The Trojan Women (directed by Dennis Reid). All performances will be held in the Outdoor Amphitheater on the Vassar campus Friday through Monday beginning July 10 through July 27. In 2007, these performances were named the “Best Way to Introduce Kids to the Classics,” by Hudson Valley Magazine, in their annual “Best of the Hudson Valley” issue. On consecutive Thursday evenings in July, during “Late Night at the Lehman Loeb,” member of the Powerhouse Apprentice Company will present a unique “soundpainted ballet,” Dances at an Exhibition (directed by Mark Lindberg), inspired by art on exhibition at the college’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. In addition, the Powerhouse Apprentice Company will offer a special presentation of the musical comedy Hello! My Baby, by Emmy and Golden Globe-winning writer Cheri Steinkellner, with new music and arrangements by Jeff Rizzo.

The Powerhouse gala benefit "Summer Under the Stars: A Silver Anniversary Celebration," will be held on Saturday, June 27. The benefit will begin with a gala concert, featuring songs and selections from productions of the past 25 years as well as some your very favorite Powerhouse artists. The program will be followed by a light supper with drinks and dessert, as patrons join the artists under the stars. Individual tickets to the benefit are $!00; the $500 sponsorship package will include two tickets to the gala as well as two subscriptions to the 2009 Powerhouse season.

On Friday and Saturday evenings, before curtain, enjoy light summer fare on the patio, as several area restaurants offer a menu favorite, beginning at 5:30pm. Featuring The Dubliner on July 3, Zorona's on July 10-11, Beech Tree on July 17-18, Twisted Soul on July 25-26, and Babycakes on July 31-Aug 1.

This year, continuing its mission of presenting artistically exceptional and affordably priced performances, Powerhouse Theater will offer a $5 student rush ticket for students of up to 25 years of age [as available 15 minutes before curtain]. Season subscriptions, available beginning May 20, will cost $165.75 per person and include admission to all shows (Mainstage, Martel Musicals, Inside Look, and Reading Festivals). Individual tickets ($35 for “Mainstage”; $25 for “Martel Musicals”; $20 for the “Inside Look” series) will go on sale June 3. See for additional information.


(Held in the 145-seat Powerhouse Theater, $35)

By Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Maria Mileaf
June 30 – July 12

Isabel just wants ninety minutes. Soon William, her ex, will be married again, so ninety is all she has to make her case. Ninety to remember what they had. Ninety to regain what was lost. Just ninety to rediscover love or call it a day, forever.


A beautiful, poignant, and provocative new play from Joanna Murray-Smith, the author of the international hits Female of the Species, Honour, and Nightfall.

Performance dates and times: June 30, July 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 at 8pm; July 5, 11, 12 at 2pm; July 5 at 7pm 
(Note: no performance on Saturday, July 4)

* Post-show discussion on Tuesday, July 7

Vera Laughed
By Keith Bunin
Directed by Carolyn Cantor
July 22 – August 2

April 1942. Twenty years after escaping from Russia, the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Ivan Bunin has created a new life for himself in the French countryside with his wife AND his mistress. He still dreams of returning home, but he’s not a young man anymore, and the world is at war again. Based on a true story, Vera Laughed, is the funny, romantic, and moving story of a great writer in exile.

Keith Bunin (a native of Poughkeepsie, NY) is the playwright of The Busy World is Hushed, The Credeaux Canvas, and a writer for HBO’s award-winning series In Treatment.

Performance dates and times: July 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, August 1 at 8pm; July 25, 26, August 1, 2 at 2pm.

*VERA LAUGHED post-show discussion on Tuesday, July 28

(Held in the 325-seat Martel Theater, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, $35)

The Burnt Part Boys
Book by Mariana Elder
Lyrics by Nathan Tysen
Music by Chris Miller
Directed by Erica Schmidt
July 17
– July 26

A new musical set in 1962 in rural West Virginia, The Burnt Part Boys follows a group of teenagers whose fathers were killed 10 years earlier in a tragic coal mining accident. When they learn that the mine will be reopened, they set out secretly in the hope of seeing the site and keeping it closed. A deeply moving and powerful odyssey, The Burnt Part Boys is an unforgettable coming of age tale, set to a haunting and distinctive bluegrass and pop inspired score.

Collaborations by Chris Miller (composer) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) include Fugitive Songs  (Dreamlight Theater Company) and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, book by Joe Calarco (Barrington Stage Company). They are recipients of The Vineyard's Kitty Carlisle Hart Musical Theatre Award (2008), Jonathan Larson Award, and the Richard Rodgers Award. In addition to The Burnt Part Boys, they are currently working on a commission for Lincoln Center Theater.

Mariana Elder’s (book) plays, sketch comedy, and musicals have been performed across the country (Barrington Stage Co., Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Director's Lab, Theatre for a New City, and Manhattan Theater Source).

Director Erica Schmidt’s (Vassar class of 1997) credits include the critically acclaimed premiere of Humor Abuse (Manhattan Theatre Club), Uncle Vanya (Bard SummerScape), and As You Like It (The Public), among others.

This production is presented by Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater in collaboration with Playwrights Horizons and The Vineyard Theatre. Major funding for The Burnt Part Boys has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative.

Performance dates and times: July 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 at 8pm; July 19, 25, 26 at 2pm; July 19 at 7pm

* Post-show discussion on Tuesday, July 21

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

Whisper House
Music & Lyrics by Duncan Sheik
Book & Lyrics by Kyle Jarrow
Directed by Keith Powell
July 10-11 

Whisper House is a ghostly story set during World War II in a haunted lighthouse where a young boy (“Christopher”) is sent to live with his eccentric Aunt Lily after his father dies in the war. The story is presided over by a band of ghosts that only Christopher can see or hear.

Duncan Sheik (music & lyrics) was awarded two Tony Awards and a Grammy for the Broadway hit Spring Awakening. Sheik’s new album Whisper House features music from the musical. (See:

Kyle Jarrow (book & lyrics) received an OBIE Award for his Off-Broadway hit A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant and an Overall Excellence Award at the New York International Fringe Festival for Armless.

Keith Powell (director), well-known for his role as Toofer on NBC’s Emmy Award-winning sitcom 30 Rock, whose cast received a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series, is the founder of the Contemporary Stage Company in Wilmington, DE, where he produces, directs, and performs.

Performance dates and times: July 10, 11 at 8pm; July 11 at 2pm

Tina Girlstar
Book by Anton Dudley
Lyrics by Charlie Sohne
Music by Brian Feinstein
July 31 – August 1

A biting black comedy about an aging record producer who decides her swan song will be to create the ultimate pop princess, literally piece by piece. Tina Girlstar is a hilarious satire of the contemporary music industry.

Anton Dudley’s (book) plays include Substitution (Soho Playhouse), Getting Home (Second Stage Theatre Uptown), Slag Heap (Cherry Lane Theatre), and Honor and the River (Powerhouse Theater). Dudley is a Vassar alumnus, class of 1996.

Charlie Sohne (lyrics) has written/directed for both stage and film, completing three feature length films, one short film, and two stage musicals.

Brian Feinstein (music) is the recipient of the Anna Sosenko Trust Award for Musical Theater Composing (Mimi Le Duck) as well as four ASCAP Plus Awards.

Performance dates and times: July 31 and August 1 at 8pm

(Held in the 125-seat Susan Stein Shiva Theater, 4 performances, $20)

One Slight Hitch
By Lewis Black
Directed by Joe Grifasi
July 17-19 

A hilarious comedy about a wedding gone very wrong, starting off with the appearance of an uninvited guest.

Lewis Black (playwright) is the hugely popular award-winning comedian, actor, playwright, and New York Times-bestselling author, who is well-known for his regular appearances on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Joe Grifasi (director) is known for his roles on stage and in film and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

Performance dates and times: July 17, 18 at 8pm; July 19 at 2pm and 7pm

Shoe Story
By Ben Snyder
Directed by Thomas Kail
July 23-25 

Shoe Story is an urban fairy tale about love, loss, and the metaphysical significance of a fresh pair of kicks.

Ben Snyder’s (playwright) plays include In Case Your Forget (Powerhouse), You Can Clap Now (HBO Comedy Arts Festival), and History of the Word (The Vineyard Theatre). He is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts and former Julliard Graduate Playwriting Fellow.

Thomas Kail (director) was nominated for a Tony Award (2008) for his direction of the Broadway musical, In the Heights, which he also directed off-Broadway.

Dates: July 23, 24 at 8pm; July 25 at 2pm 

(Held in the 125-seat Susan Stein Shiva Theater, free to the public with reservations strongly recommended)

Readings Festival 1:

June 26 – 28

Including works by Bryan Delaney (The Onion Game), Yussef El Guindi (Language Rooms), Theresa Rebeck (a new untitled play), and Julian Sheppard (Zero).

Dates and times: June 26 at 8pm; June 27, 28 at 2pm; June 28 at 5pm

Readings Festival 2:

July 30 – August 2            

Including works by Andrew Dolan (That Good Night), Beth Henley (The Jacksonian), Dan Moran (Soul Cake), John Patrick Shanley (Pirate), and Regina Taylor (Rain).

Dates and times: July 30, 31 at 8pm; August 1, 2 at 2pm; August 2 at 5pm


The Classics at the Outdoor Amphitheater
The Powerhouse Apprentice Company will perform adaptations of classic plays at the Outdoor Amphitheater on the Vassar campus. All four performances of each work are free and begin at 6:00pm, weather permitting. Friday through Monday, beginning July 10 through July 27.

The Trojan Women
By Euripides
Directed by Dennis Reid
Following the fall of Troy, the fate of its women is debated by the gods and the victorious Greeks.
Performance dates and times: July 10, 11, 12, 13 at 6pm 

Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
Directed by
Anthony Luciano
One of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies of mistaken identity that explores themes of gender, ambition, and love.
Performance dates and times: July 17, 18, 19, 20 at 6pm

The Taming of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Brian McManamon
See if Petruchio really subdues the obdurate Katharina and can anything but fireworks ensue in this comedy about love and relationships.
Performance dates and times: July 24, 25, 26, 27 at 6pm

“Soundpainting” at Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center
On three consecutive Thursday evenings (July 9, 16, and 23), as part of the weekly “Late Night at the Lehman Loeb” series, the Powerhouse Apprentice Company will present innovative performances of a “soundpainted ballet” in the Main Galleries of the college’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center. Powerhouse is at the forefront internationally of training actors in “Soundpainting,” a live composing sign language created in the 1970s by Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists. In this innovative, spontaneous type of performance, the composer/conductor utilizes more than 750 gestures to indicate the type of improvisation desired of the performers.

Dances at an Exhibition
Directed and soundpainted by Mark Lindberg
Dances at an Exhibition is inspired by the Art Center’s concurrent exhibition Catching Light: European and American Watercolors from the Permanent Collection, as well as by other works on view from the permanent collection. Dances at an Exhibition will be performed to a recording of Mussorgky’s suite, Pictures at an Exhibition.
Performance dates and times: July 9, 16, and 23 at 6pm

Special Musical Presentation in the Martel Theater of the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film
Set in 1916 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, this concert reading of the new musical comedy Hello! My Baby by Emmy and Golden Globe-winning writer Cheri Steinkellner, with new music and arrangements by Jeff Rizzo, will offer love triangles and gender swapping by a mixture of song-pluggers (sellers of sheet music), gangsters, immigrants, socialites, and sweatshop workers on Saturday, August 1, at 6pm in the Martel Theater. The musical will feature songs from the Tin Pan Alley era by Irving Berlin, Gus Kahn, Shelton Brooks, Joe McCarthy, George M. Cohan.

Hello! My Baby
Book and new lyrics by Cheri Steinkellner
New music and arrangements by Jeff Rizzo
Directedby Christa Kimlicko-Jones

Cheri Steinkellner (book and new lyrics) has written and produced for television (Cheers, Jeffersons, Family Ties), animation and film (Disney's Teacher's Pet), and stage (Princesses, Sister Act). She has earned four Emmys, three Golden Globes, two Writers Guild Awards, a People’s Choice, Parents’ Choice, and a BAFTA.

Jeff Rizzo's (new music and arrangements) scores for musicals include Jailbirds on Broadway and Wanna Play?! He was music director for the Grammy-nominated The Wizard of Oz (with Mickey Rooney and Eartha Kitt); associate conductor of the U.S. premiere of Sunset Boulevard (with Glenn Close); and conductor for Annie (national tour).

Performance date and time: August 1 at 5pm

Season subscriptions may be purchased online through the Powerhouse box office at beginning May 20, 2009.  Subscriptions and single tickets will be on sale online and at the Powerhouse box office beginning June 3, 2009.  The box office on the Vassar campus may be reached at (845) 437-7235 or (845) 437-5599.

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 partnership 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.

More than 40 student apprentices from across the country and around the world participate in each summer season and form the 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 theatre and musical productions headed for Broadway and top-ranked theaters nation-wide. This 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. The Powerhouse Apprentice Program is supported, in part, by the Ruth and Louis Baker Family Foundation, Dyson Foundation, Millman Harris Romano Foundation, and TD Banknorth Charitable Foundation.


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 dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works for theater and film.

The cornerstone of SAF’s programming is the Powerhouse program, a rare artistic community that exists outside the commercial pressures of New York City and whose nationwide contribution to theater and film is invaluable.

SAF has developed and/or premiered new works by some of this country's most significant artists including John Patrick Shanley’s Savage in Limbo and his Tony and Pulitzer Award-winning Doubt, Jon Robin Baitz’s Three Hotels and A Fair Country, David Marshall Grant’s Snakebit, Warren Leight’s Tony Award-winning Side Man, as well as new works by Beth Henley, Eric Bogosian, Theresa Rebeck, Richard Greenberg, Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater, Eve Ensler, and Paul Weitz, among many others.

In 1995 SAF received the Jujamcyn Theater Award for its outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent for the theater.

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 was the first college to be founded with an art collection and gallery; today, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center holds over 18,000 works by such masters as Picasso, Rembrandt, and O'Keeffe.

Located approximately one hour and 45 minutes by car or train (MetroNorth or AMTRAK) from New York City, Vassar is sited in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley in Poughkeepsie, NY. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at

Hallie Flanagan Davis Powerhouse Theater
Powerhouse Mainstage Productions and workshops are held in the 145-seat Powerhouse Theater. The black box theater takes its name from the building’s former life, as the college’s actual powerhouse, built in 1912 to accommodate Vassar’s changeover from gas to electric power. In 1973, the original structure was reinvented and renamed, in memory of Hallie Flanagan Davis, the legendary dramatist who created the Experimental Theater at Vassar in the early 20th century. A little more than a decade later, in 1985, the theater housed the first Powerhouse Summer Theater Season.

Martel Theater in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film
Powerhouse musicals and concert readings are held in the 325-seat Martel Theater, in the Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film, opened in 2003.  Designed by the renowned architectural firm of Cesar Pelli and Associates, the Broadway-standard Martel Theater features a traditional proscenium-style stage.

Susan Stein Shiva Theater
Powerhouse “Inside Look!” plays, workshops, and readings are held in the 125-seat Susan Stein Shiva Theater. The building was the college’s original coal bin and was converted to a black box theater in 1994.

Outdoor Amphitheater
The Powerhouse Apprentice Company performs abbreviated versions of classic plays and new works at the Outdoor Amphitheater on the Vassar College campus. Performances are free to the public.  In the event of severe weather, the productions are held inside one of the above theaters.

Please note that all programs and performance dates are subject to change.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, April 22, 2009