With nearly 150 performances in just under ten weeks, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival closes the season with landmark attendance records, ticket revenues exceeding $1.2 million, an 8% increase in subscription sales, and a main stage production playing to 103% capacity. The Festival’s 26th season closed Sunday, August 6 at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University.
The season was attended by 38,000 patrons, generated a record $1,200,000 in ticket revenues, and broke a season subscription sales record with a total of 2,634 subscribers, the largest number in the Festival’s history.
“We offer our sincerest thanks to each patron who joined us this summer. We worked very hard to create quality productions and sharing them with so many patrons is truly gratifying,” says Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy.
Director Dennis Razze’s highly lauded production of Evita opened the season on the Main Stage playing to 103% capacity and its 22 performances brought in more than 10,760 patrons making this the Festival’s highest attended production in its 26-year history. Nearly two hundred standing room tickets were sold which doubles the number of standing room tickets sold for the previous record holder Les Misérables (2015).
The Hound of the Baskervilles, a comedic retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes novel, boasted a sold-out run and set a record for the highest attended production in the 187 seat Schubert theatre, playing to 98% capacity to a total audience of 5,106.
The season featured two productions playing in repertory on the Main Stage, Ken Ludwig’s The Three Musketeers and Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The performances played to more than 9,500 patrons, a mere 1% away from setting an all-time repertory attendance record.
The final production in the Schubert theatre was PSF’s sixth annual “Extreme Shakespeare” performance; Troilus and Cressida played to 89% capacity and to several sold out houses. In “Extreme Shakespeare” the actors arrived with their lines learned, rehearsed on their own, and opened in just four days. (PSF customarily rehearses 3.5 weeks.)
In total, all five 2017 main productions performed to the highest attendance ever. Attendance at the main productions has increased 20% since PSF began producing shows in repertory in 2011.
The Festival’s two original children’s productions, The Ice Princess and Shakespeare for Kids, played to an audience of approximately 9,000 children, parents, & grandparents.
The Ice Princess offered PSF’s first relaxed performance, a sensory friendly performance designed to better suit children on the autism spectrum or with other special needs. PSF plans to again offer relaxed children’s show performances in its 2018 season.
The Festival also had notable events in fundraising and support this season: PSF’s annual fundraiser the Luminosity Gala raised more than $110,000 to fund its artistic and educational programming; three new grants were awarded from national granting organizations – a National Endowment for the Arts Artworks Grant, a Theater Communications Group Audience (R)evolution Grant, and a Shubert Foundation Grant; and 4,518 tickets were donated to middle and high school students through the Festival’s FreeWill program for summer and touring productions.
The season wrapped up the festivities with a guest appearance by Tony-Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig. Ludwig spoke to patrons at a Director’s Dinner prior to seeing his own play, The Three Musketeers, on the Main Stage. “Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is one of the best Shakespeare festivals in the country,” said Ludwig to the attendees. Previously, Ludwig worked with the cast of The Three Musketeers at their first rehearsal.
David B. Rothrock and Patrina L. Rothrock were the 2017 season sponsors. Associate season sponsors were the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.
The Festival’s 150 performances of seven productions featured 33 professional Equity actors as part of a seasonal company of more than 400 artists and artisans, staff and volunteers, from 25 states.
Prior to the 2017 season opening, PSF made The New York Times 2017 annual list of the top 15 summer theatre Festivals. PSF shared this ranking with the prestigious Stratford Festival, and the Oregon and Colorado Shakespeare Festivals. “One of the joys of summer theatre is the chance to see big stars on smaller than usual stages, and in a quiet environment,” wrote Steve McElroy.
Hosted on the bucolic campus of DeSales University, the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a professional, not-for-profit theatre company. An independent 501 c 3 organization, PSF receives generous support from DeSales University and relies on contributions from individuals, government agencies, corporations and foundations. PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.