Powerhouse Theater

Powerhouse Theater Returns with Spectacular 33rd Season

by Adele Jones

Vassar & New York Stage and Film are thrilled to announce the programming lineup for their upcoming 33rd Powerhouse Season, the annual summer season which brings to the Hudson Valley some of the most influential theatrical voices working today for fully-​​staged productions of new plays, workshop presentations of new plays and musicals, and readings of other works in progress. The Powerhouse Season runs from June 23 through July 30, 2017.

Some of the most exciting theater we can see this year will be available to us in the Hudson Valley. So much to see, hear and enjoy! You are bound to see a show on its way to Broadway soon. Among last year’s offerings, The Wolves and A 24– Decade History of Popular Music have been nominated for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize; The Babylon Line and the Light Years had NY productions, with Junk and The Last Match scheduled for production later this year.

This season, Powerhouse will welcome Tony winners Sam Gold and Michael Mayer, Tony nominees Scott Ellis and Sheryl Kaller and OBIE winner, Trip Cullman, plus Josh Radnor, composer Stephen Trask, actor and playwright Hamish Linklater, and two-​​time Pulitzer winner, Lynn Nottage.

 The Powerhouse season brings our audience in contact with some of the country’s most exciting theater makers. It’s a special thrill to welcome Powerhouse newcomer Lisa Kron and to have Lynn Nottage come to Vassar College and the Hudson Valley,” says Vassar’s Powerhouse Producing Director Ed Cheetham. Ed has been involved in various capacities with Powerhouse since 1988 and oversees all productions — a full-​​time job.

We are thrilled to partner with Vassar to produce our 33rd Powerhouse summer season of new works-​​in-​​progress,” said Johanna Pfaelzer, Artistic Director of New York Stage and Film. “The last several years at Powerhouse have been especially fertile ground for the development of some of the most exciting new works for the American theater. We look forward to providing this summer’s lineup of artists — an incredible collection of Powerhouse alums and first-​​timers — a rigorous and protected artistic community in which their work can flourish and prepare for the next step in its journey.”

Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse collaboration continues to be the launching pad for some of the most groundbreaking new works for the American theater, with countless productions in New York City, regionally and internationally. Notably, Lin-​​Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and Stephen Karam’s The Humans, the reigning Tony® winners for Best Musical and Best Play, respectively — received early development in the Reading Series during the 2013 season at Powerhouse.

Most recently, during its 32nd Season last summer, Powerhouse presented first-​​look productions of two daring new works that were just named finalists for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, which moved directly from its Powerhouse premiere to a recent celebrated run at The Playwrights Realm in NYC; and Taylor Mac’s  A 24-​​Decade History of Popular Music. Among 30 other projects developed recently at Powerhouse with new or upcoming major productions: Richard Greenberg’s The Babylon Line at Lincoln Center Theater; The Light Years at Playwrights Horizons; Ayad Akhtar’s Junk at Lincoln Center Theater; and Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match at the Roundabout Theatre Company.

Josh Radnor

Josh Radnor

The upcoming 33rd Powerhouse Season will feature two main stage productions in the Powerhouse Theater:

Sacred Valley (June 29 – July 9) by Josh Radnor directed by Sheryl Kaller

Three people are forced to ask themselves the deepest questions about love, friendship, and growing up in this bittersweet comedy from Josh Radnor (Liberal Arts, How I Met your Mother, and Powerhouse’s The Babylon Line).

Good Men Wanted (July 20 – July 30) by Kevin Armento directed by Jaki Bradley and choreographed by Ani Taj

Good Men Wanted brings to life the incredible true stories of renegade women who disguised themselves as men to fight in the Civil War. In a searing drama punctuated by explosive dance sequences set to contemporary pop music, five women of vastly different backgrounds become warriors and spies.

The musical workshop presentations, presented in the Vogelstein Center for Drama & Film, will include three exciting new projects:

Lisa Kron

Lisa Kron

Stilyagi (June 23 – 25) lyrics by Lisa Kron with music by Peter Lerman.

Based on the motion picture The Hipsters, produced by Red Arrow Films directed by Michael Mayer

This is musical about me, Mels Yefimovich Vasnetsov, when I was pulled from promising future by beautiful, corrupt and dissipated Stilyaga girl by name of Polly, who ruined my life in best and worst possible manner. Obviously, this is complicated Soviet story, not fit subject for frivolous American musical. But if you are interested, please, I invite you, come.”

This Ain’t No Disco (June 30 – July 2) music and lyrics by Stephen Trask & Peter Yanowitz, book by Rick Elice and directed by Trip Cullman

Set against the garbage strikes, the grit, the graffiti of NYC 1979, This Ain’t No Disco tells the story of drifters and dreamers who search for their place in the night world of Studio 54 and the Mudd Club. From the co-​​creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the director of Six Degrees of Separation.

Lynn Nottage

Lynn Nottage

The Secret Life of Bees (July 27 – 29) book by Lynn Nottage, music by Duncan Sheik with lyrics by Susan Birkenhead is based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd and directed by Sam Gold.

When Rosaleen, her Black caretaker, is beaten and jailed for attempting to vote, white teenager Lily’s rebellious spirit is awakened and she and Rosaleen escape their circumstances to find the truth about her mother’s death. Three eccentric and spiritual Black sisters who run a colorful bee farm help both Lily and Rosaleen grow and heal with their wisdom, warmth and motherly love. Written by two time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage, lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk nominee Susan Birkenhead, composed by Tony Winner Duncan Sheik, and directed by Tony winner Sam Gold.

This summer’s ‘Inside Look’ Workshops to be presented in the Susan Stein Shiva Theater are:

The Great Leap (July 7 – 9) by Lauren Yee

San Francisco, spring 1989. Manford Lum, talks his way onto a college team, just before they travel to Beijing for a “friendship” game. He can sink 100 free throws in a row, so who cares about his background? When they arrive in China, Manford must juggle international politics and his own personal history. Inspired by events from the life (and short-​​lived basketball career) of playwright Lauren Yee’s father.

Hang Man (July 28 – 30) by Stacy Osei-​​Kuffour directed by Leah C. Gardiner

In the present day, in the backwoods of Mississippi, a Black man is found hanging from a tree. Nothing is quite what it seems in this surreal, funny, raw portrait of a town wrestling to seek meaning in life and death.

Dan Finnerty - "Little Orphan Danny"

Dan Finnerty — “Little Orphan Danny”

The annual Readings Festival, split between two weekends (June 23 – 25 and July 21 – 23), will include: Amy and the Orphans by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Scott Ellis; Little Orphan Danny, with book, music, and lyrics by Dan Finnerty, directed by Sean Daniels; Ironweed by William Kennedy and Jodie Markell, based on the novel by William Kennedy, directed by Jodie Markell; Paris, Actors by Hamish Linklater; Serious Moonlight by Adrienne Shelly, co-​​adapted by Liz Tuccillo and Andy Ostroy; Jane Says by Diana Son;Kid Prince and Pablo by Brian Quijada; and additional projects to be announced.

Members of the noted Powerhouse Theater Training Program will present re-​​imaginings of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (July 14 – 16) adapted and directed by Emily Mendelsohn and Cymbeline (July 21 – 23) adapted and directed by Andrew Willis-​​Woodward. Members of the Training Company will present Soundpainting (July 6, 13, 20, 27), a series of improvisational performances featuring music, dance, and acting in a dynamic and unique type of ensemble performance; as well as Workshop Performances of 12 Ophelias (a play with broken songs) (July 23 – 24) by Caridad Svich, directed by Heidi Handelsman; One Act Plays Festival (July 26); and Not, Not, Not, Not, Not Enough Oxygen (July 28) by Caryl Churchill. Young actors, playwrights, and directors from around the country and internationally, along with an exceptional faculty of artists, comprise this important component of the Powerhouse artistic community.


Now in its 33rd year, Powerhouse Theater is a collaboration between New York Stage and Film and Vassar College dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development and production of new works for theater and film. The Powerhouse program consists of an eight-​​week residency on the Vassar campus during which more than 300 professional artists and 40 participants in the Powerhouse Training Program live and work together to create new theater works. In 2016, three productions that trace their developmental roots to Powerhouse ran simultaneously on Broadway – Hamilton, Bright Star, and The Humans – and in the 2016/​17 theater season, ten projects premiered in New York City that had been developed and presented at Powerhouse: The Wolves (Playwrights Realm); The Babylon Line (Lincoln Center Theater); Rancho Viejo, The Light Years, and The Profane (Playwrights Horizons); Marry Harry (The York Theater); Nollywood Dreams (Cherry Lane Theater);The View Upstairs (Lynn Redgrave Theater); The Mother of Invention (Abingdon Theatre Company); and Taylor Mac’s epic A 24– Decade History of Popular Music (St. Ann’s Warehouse).  Later this year, they will be joined by Ayad Akhtar’s Junk (Lincoln Center Theater on Broadway) and Anna Ziegler’s The Last Match (Roundabout Theatre).

New York Stage and Film (Johanna Pfaelzer, Artistic Director; Thomas Pearson, Executive Director; Mark Linn-​​Baker, Max Mayer, Leslie Urdang, Producing Directors) is a not-​​for-​​profit company dedicated to both emerging and established artists in the development of new works for theater and film. Since 1985 New York Stage and Film has played a significant role in the development 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 residents of the Hudson Valley and the New York metropolitan area.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. Individuals with disabilities requiring special accommodations must contact the Office of Campus Activities at least 48 hours in advance of an event, Mondays-​​Fridays, at (845) 437‑5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space/​and or assistance may not be available.

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