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Friday, June 20, 2014

Professional Theater Alive and Well in Vermont at the Saint Michael’s Playhouse

We are visiting in the Burlington area of Vermont this week home to the Saint Michael’s Playhouse in  Colchester. The Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company. The Producing Artistic Director is Chuck Tobin (photo below right).

Here is the 2014 schedule that started this week with Young Frankenstein.

The 2014 subscription season includes first-time Playhouse productions of the new Mel Brooks Broadway musical Young Frankenstein, Ken Ludwig’s new farce The Fox on the Fairway, and Ring of Fire, the musical tribute to Johnny Cash by Richard Maltby, Jr. as well as a revival of the beloved Broadway comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace.

Chuck Tobin
“We are all very excited to embark on our 67th season, a season that represents a wide range of highly enjoyable shows – from large-scale musicals to intimate and hilarious comedies, both classic and contemporary,” said Tobin. “Equally exciting is the fact that the Playhouse received a major upgrade this winter. We’ve replaced every seat in the house with brand new, quiet, and comfortable theater seating (top photo). We’ve also replaced the carpet and made other upgrades to enhance the theater-going experience.”

Tobin continued “The old seats certainly served their purpose, having been installed in 1975 when the theater was built. After almost forty years of use nearly every seat had broken springs and had become very creaky and uncomfortable. The new seats are soft, durable fabric over polymer padding, featuring contoured armrests, lumbar support, and newly engineered springs for extra comfort.”

Saint Michael’s Playhouse is an Actors’ Equity Association theater company owned and operated by Saint Michael’s College. Actors’ Equity Association is the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Playhouse produces its productions with theater artists from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theater nationwide (Note: The award winning actress Katrina Ferguson, of Morristown, NJ, is currently here rehearsing Fox In The Fairway) along with its stellar company of Vermont-based actors, directors and designers. Tobin adds “We rehearse our shows right here in our theater and design and build all of our scenery, costumes and props on location with our crew of approximately 70 theater artists.”


The 67th subscription season opened with the new Mel Brooks Broadway Young Frankenstein (June 7 – 28, 2014). Young Frankenstein features a book by three-time Tony Award-winner Mel Brooks andthree-time Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan and music and lyrics by Brooks. Young Frankenstein is directed by Keith Andrews with music direction by Thomas Cleary. Based on the Oscar-nominated smash hit 1974 film, Young Frankenstein is the wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Mary Shelley classic from the comic genius of Mel Brooks. When Frederick Frankenstein, an esteemed New York brain surgeon and professor, inherits a castle and laboratory in Transylvania from his grandfather, deranged genius Victor Von Frankenstein, he faces a dilemma. Does he continue to run from his family’s tortured past or does he stay in Transylvania to carry on his grandfather’s mad experiments reanimating the dead and, in the process, fall in love with his sexy lab assistant Inga? Unfolding in the forbidding Castle Frankenstein and the foggy moors of Transylvania Heights, the show’s raucous score includes “The Transylvania Mania,” “He Vas My Boyfriend” and an unforgettable treatment of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz.”

Next on the Playhouse stage is Ken Ludwig’s new mad-cap comedy The Fox on the Fairway (July 2 – 12, 2014), directed by Kathryn Markey. Playwright Ken Ludwig is an internationally acclaimed playwright who has had six shows on Broadway and six in the West End. His first play on Broadway, Lend Me A Tenor, which the New York Times called "one of the two great farces by a living writer," won three Tony Awards and was nominated for nine. A tribute to the great farces of the 1930s and 1940s, The Fox on the Fairway takes audiences on a riotous romp which pulls the rug out from underneath the stuffy members of a private country club during their annual golf tournament. Filled with mistaken identities, slamming doors, and over-the-top-shenanigans, it’s a furiously fast paced comedy that recalls the Marx Brothers’ classics.

The Playhouse season continues with Joseph Kesselring’s Broadway comedy classic Arsenic and Old Lace (July 16 - 26, 2014), directed by Mark Alan Gordon. Originally written in 1939 by American playwright Joseph Kesselring and later adapted into film by Frank Capra starring Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace opened on Broadway in 1941 and became an immediate success, running for nearly 1,500 performances. In 1941, Americans were looking for some entertainment to take their minds off of the war in Europe and the growing fear that America would be pulled into it. Broadway gave them exactly what they were looking for with Arsenic and Old Lace. The play centers on spinster sisters Abby and Martha Brewster who are famous in their Brooklyn neighborhood for their generosity and kindness. But they have recently taken on a new charity project – relieving older gentlemen of loneliness by poisoning them with home-made elderberry wine laced with “just a pinch” of arsenic. The Playhouse presents this comedy classic for the first time since 1962.

The Playhouse will then present the final show of the subscription season Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash (July 30 – August 9, 2014), directed by Chris Blisset. From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. Creator Richard Maltby, Jr. describes Ring of Fire as “almost a mythic American tale of growing up in simple, dirt-poor surroundings in the heartland of America, leaving home, traveling on wings of music, finding love, misadventure, success, faith, redemption and eventually returning home.

It's about the journey of a man in search of his own soul.” More than two dozen classic hits including “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and “Ring Of Fire” - all performed by a multi-talented cast of five actor/musicians - paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stomping, crowd-pleasing salute to a uniquely American legend. Though he is never impersonated, Johnny Cash's remarkable life story is told through his music, climaxing in a concert that will both move and exhilarate.


In addition to the four plays of the subscription season Playhouse Junior offers theater productions for young audiences. Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat (July 18 – 20, 2014) is an imaginative adaptation of Seuss’s classic book. From the moment his tall, red-and-white-striped had appears around the door Sally and her brother know that The Cat in the Hat is the funniest, most mischievous cat they have ever met. Next is Dear Edwina (August 1 – 3, 2014) a heartwarming musical about the joys of growing up. Edwina and her friends share wisdom on everything from trying new foods to making new friends. Playhouse Junior productions are not part of the subscription season but can be
purchased separately.


The four mainstage plays of the 2014 subscription season are available as part of the subscription series - Young Frankenstein, The Fox on the Fairway, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Ring of Fire.

Season subscriptions range in price from $113 to $132 and go on sale May 1, 2014. The Playhouse Box Office number is 802-654-2617. Single tickets range from $32.50 to $43.50. Ticket prices for Playhouse Junior children’s theater productions are $10. For more information go to

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