Experiencing live theater is like nothing else.
We gather in one place for a couple of hours, share in witnessing and contemplating an event that may be beautiful, funny, moving, thought-provoking, or hopefully at least diverting. And in an age when most of our communication happens looking down, with our thumbs on a device we call a smart phone, the gathering function of theatre, in and of itself, is something that matters – a great deal.
Theater at Penguin Rep in Stony Point, in a beautiful old barn on the bucolic property of the Stony Point Center, is a labor of love. In winter, plays are read, reviewed and picked. Equity actors, with great experience in their craft, are chosen and rehearsals take place at a little space in Manhattan week after week until the performance is ready for rehearsal. These rehearsals are held at the theatre, now going on its 41st year. Only when the show is pure perfection is it ready to premier at Penguin.
This year, Penguin Rep Equity Theatre will open in May with “Relativity,” by Mark St. Germain, author of “Dancing Lessons” and “Becoming Dr. Ruth,” about Albert Einstein. Brancato will direct the New York premiere.
“Clever Little Lies,” a comedy by Tony Award-winner Joe DiPietro (“Memphis” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”), directed by Thomas Caruso, and starring Richard Kline (“Three’s Company”), will follow in June and July.
For the season’s third production, Penguin will present the New York premiere of “The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged)” by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor in August. Ryan Kasprzak will stage this rollicking review of comedy through the ages – from the high-brow to the low, from cavemen telling “Rock Rock” jokes to Chris Rock and everything in between.
“After,” a new play by Michael McKeever, reunites the Carbonell Award-winning playwright with director Brancato who staged McKeever’s “Daniel’s Husband” at Penguin in 2016 and Off Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theater in 2017. “After,” which will be seen for the first time in New York, examines parenting, bullying and the fallout from a school incident, and will close the season in October.
Performances and readings are scheduled at Penguin’s intimate, 108-seat theatre, located at 7 Crickettown Road. .
Performance days and times for mainstage productions are: Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
As a pre-season teaser, Penguin presents a special one-night only performance of “Rent Control,” written by and starring Evan Zes, on Saturday, April 28. 30 characters come to life in this “wild-but-true” one-man show about greed, redemption and real estate in the city that never sleeps.
This season, Penguin’s popular “Play With Your Food” series will feature readings of new plays with a bite to eat on summer Mondays: June 11, July 19, July 23 and August 13.
Brancato also announced two “pop-up” presentations during the summer: “Draw the Circle,” written and performed by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, which tells the hilarious and moving story of Deen’s transition as seen from the point of view of his family and friends; and “Patti Issues” and “Bad With Money,” two one-acts by and starring Ben Rimalower.
Come September 15 and 16, SUNY Rockland Community College’s 500-seat Cultural Arts Theatre in Suffern, New York is the venue for “Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie,” a joyful, touching and tumultuous tale of “America’s greatest folk poet” told using Guthrie’s own words and songs.
David M. Lutken, winner of Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Awards for his performance as Woody Guthrie, and three other actors sing and play two dozen acoustic instruments in this celebration of one of the giants of American music.
April 28 @ 8 p.m. – Rent Control, written and performed by Evan Zes
A struggling actor lucks out with a rare rent-controlled apartment and turns it into a lucrative Airbnb scheme in this wild-but-true one-man show. A dazzling medley of 30 characters come to life in an exuberantly funny tale of greed and redemption.
May 18 – June 10 – Relativity, by Mark St. Germain, directed by Joe Brancato
In 1902 Albert Einstein and his wife had a daughter. Two years later she disappeared and was never mentioned again. Fast forward to 1948 -- when a reporter confronts Einstein with his past, we discover that not everything adds up. The writer of Dancing Lessons and Becoming Dr. Ruth brings heart and humor to this unforgettable story about the bonds of family and the cost of genius. NY premiere.
June 29 - July 22 – Clever Little Lies, by Joe DiPietro, directed by Thomas Caruso
A mother always knows when something is wrong. But when Alice tries to get to the bottom of things between her son and his wife, secrets are spilled and she and her husband Bill find out that honesty may not be the best policy after all. From the writer of Memphis and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change comes a clever new comedy about love and marriage.
August 10 - September 2 – The Complete History of Comedy (Abridged), by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, directed by Ryan Kasprza
Join us for a rollicking review of comedy through the ages -- from the high-brow to the low, from cavemen telling "Rock Rock" jokes to Chris Rock and everything in between. A trio of comic actors leave no joke untold as they attempt to save the world through laughter. NY premiere.
September 21 – October 14 – After, by Michael McKeever, directed by Joe Brancato
In this timely new play, the playwright who brought us Daniel's Husband examines parenting, bullying and the fallout from a school incident. Provocative and moving, the play follows the journey of two families, before and after, as they pick up the pieces once the news cameras have gone home. Winner of the Carbonell Award for Best Play. New York premiere.
Pop Up Shows
July 15 @ 7 p.m. – Draw the Circle, written and performed by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen
The hilarious and moving story of Deen’s transition, Draw the Circle is told entirely from the point of view of his family and friends, bringing to life the often-ignored struggle that a family goes through when their child transitions from one gender to another
August 19 @ 7 p.m. – Patti Issues and Bad With Money, written and performed by Ben Rimalower
It's Broadway diva Patti Lupone to the rescue of a young boy with a chaotic family life in Patti Issues, a tender and funny coming-of-age story. In Bad With Money, Rimalower charts his oft-times hilarious struggle to overcome his problems -- or get rich trying.
Special Event at SUNY Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York:
September 15 @ 8 p.m. & September 16 @ 2 p.m. – Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie, devised by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley and Darcie Deaville, Helen J. Russell and Andy Teirstein
The joyful, touching, and tumultuous tale of "America's greatest folk poet" is told using Guthrie's own words and his songs, including This Land is Your Land and This Train is Bound for Glory. Four actors sing and play two dozen acoustic instruments in this celebration of one of the greats of American music.
Subscriptions and Tickets
Subscriptions to the 2018 season are on sale now. Prices start as low as $123 for the four plays, a savings of 25 to 35% off the cost of individual tickets.
“The very best seats in the house go to subscribers before single tickets go on sale” says Mr. Horn,” who lists other benefits as subscribers receiving $10 off the purchase of additional tickets and ticket insurance for lost or forgotten tickets.
For no charge, he says, patrons can select a value-added subscription series that includes post-performance discussions among the artists and audience, and pre-show tastings supplied by local restaurants. An additional incentive, says Horn, “is to dine out at a discount, with select restaurants offering special benefits to Penguin subscribers”.
Individual tickets for mainstage productions are priced at $46 (including facility fee and service charge). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more and young people (30 and under).
Tickets are $20 for “Play With Your Food” readings, or available by subscription to all four readings at $60.
Tickets for “Rent Control” are $25 each ($20 for Penguin subscribers).
Tickets for “Draw the Circle” and “Patti Issues/Bad With Money” are $30 each ($25 for subscribers).
Tickets for “Woody Sez: The Life & Music of Woody Guthrie” are $45 each ($40 each for Penguin subscribers).
To order tickets or for further information, visit Penguin Rep’s website at www.penguinrep.org or call 845-786-2873.
About the Theater
Joe Brancato was a high school English and drama teacher in 1977 when he peered into an abandoned 1880’s hay barn in Stony Point, New York, and envisioned the space repurposed into a theatre.
More than 40 years later, Penguin Rep – the theatre Brancato started with Francine Newman-McCarthy and runs with executive director Andrew M. Horn -- has grown from a summer theatre to become one of the Hudson Valley’s most influential nonprofit cultural institutions, reaching tens of thousands of theatergoers each year at its home, in New York City and beyond – with its work moving to Off Broadway and to stages across the country and around the world.
Since its founding in 1977, Penguin has presented more than 150 productions – over 100 directed by Brancato himself -- for more than 400,000 people from the lower Hudson Valley and beyond. And Mr. Brancato has brought together accomplished professional actors – David Canary, Michael Cullen, Tim De Kay, Gregg Edelman, Michael Esper, Barbara Feldon, Tovah Feldshuh, Beth Fowler, Deborah Hedwall, Celeste Holm,, Richard Kline, Andrew McCarthy, Lizbeth Mackay, Michele Pawk, and Karen Ziemba, among others – to star in new and noteworthy plays by such playwrights as Lee Blessing, Ronald Harwood, Allan Knee, Arthur Laurents, Warren Leight, Jon Marans, William Mastrosimone, Lainie Robertson, James Sherman and Elizabeth Swados.
As it launches its forty-first season, Penguin Rep Theatre, dubbed “the gutsiest little theatre” by The New York Times, continues to present a cultural experience that is unique in the region: professional productions of new plays at affordable prices.
Penguin Rep Theatre’s 2018 season is sponsored by Orange and Rockland Utilities and Active International. The season is also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Penguin Rep gratefully acknowledges the additional support of the County of Rockland, the Town of Stony Point, Rockland County Tourism, The Shubert Foundation, Cory and Bob Donnalley Charitable Foundation and generous donations from Joseph Grosso, Barry and Helene Lewis, and Morton Wolkowitz.
Photo: From left to right are Craig De Lorenzo, Jason Liebman and Brendan Titley in the world premiere of "Trayf" 2017 by Lindsay Joelle.