One Night Only: Reimagining of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Lauded by The Philadelphia Inquirer as a “masterful solo show,” The Great Divorce returns to Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s Main Stage on Monday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Based on the novel by C. S. Lewis, Philadelphia author and actor Anthony Lawton has adapted the piece into an 80-minute solo performance, portraying more than a dozen characters. An allegorical journey between Hell and Heaven, The Great Divorce is “a feast of rich language, profound psychological insight, and humor,” blending philosophical imaginings with theatrical magic.

The play is the story of Clive, who, along with a motley crew of malcontents, takes a bus ride from hell to heaven. They are offered a chance to stay in heaven forever if they like, but the choice between joy and miserable loneliness proves to be much harder than they would have guessed. (Lawton is committed to presenting drama about spiritual life that will be of interest to all audiences, secular or religious.

Lawton has a 26-year acting career in the Philadelphia area and has performed in numerous productions at The Walnut Street Theatre and Arden Theatre Company. In 2005, Lawton wrote The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations, including Best New Play. His film credits include Silver Linings Playbook, Unbreakable, and Invincible.

Back by popular demand, this will be Lawton’s fourth reprise of The Great Divorce at PSF. “As a member of the PSF acting company for nearly two decades, Tony has shared with our patrons many terrific performances, though perhaps none more memorable or powerful than this uniquely inventive production,” says Patrick Mulcahy, producing artistic director.

Lawton’s previous Festival credits include Troilus and Cressida (2017), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2016), The Foreigner (2015), Lend Me a Tenor and Macbeth (2014), among others. This season he also returns to the Schubert Theatre stage as Lafew in All’s Well That Ends Well.

The Great Divorce performance is June 25, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s 27th summer season is now open with Ragtime and features William Shakespeare’s popular comedy Twelfth Night; Shakespeare’s King Richard II playing in repertory, with the same cast alternating performances daily and often on the same day, with the play Shakespeare in Love, based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard; and an actor-driven production of Shakespeare’s spirited and bittersweet comedy All’s Well That Ends Well.

There will be an additional one-night-only event on Monday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m., Dan Domenech, Bootleg Famous: To Broadway and Beyond, an eclectic solo evening with songs and stories from his 16-year career spanning Broadway, world tours, and unintentional internet theatre fame. Tickets are $38.

The children’s production Alice in Wonderland is now open in the Schubert Theatre and runs through August 4. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary is PSF’s Shakespeare for Kids, a one-hour production designed for pre-school and elementary age students to actively experience Shakespeare’s vibrant language and characters. On the Main Stage, July 25 through August 4.

The 2018 Festival Season Sponsors are Keith and Stefanie Wexler. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

New subscriptions and single tickets are now on sale at: or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

Summer 2018 Season:

Main Stage: Ragtime (June 13 to July 1), Shakespeare in Love (July 11 to Aug 5), King Richard II (July 19 to Aug 5), Shakespeare for Kids (July 25 to Aug 4).

Schubert Theatre: Alice in Wonderland (June 1 to Aug 4), Twelfth Night
(June 21 to July 15), All’s Well That Ends Well (July 25 to Aug 5).


ANTHONY LAWTON (Playwright, The Great Divorce) has acted in Philadelphia for twenty-six years. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut), Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden), and Feste in Twelfth Night (PSF). In 2005, Lawton wrote The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations (including Best New Play). Film: Silver Linings Playbook, Unbreakable, Invincible; TV: Hack, Cold Case. He performs solo productions of The Devil and Billy Markham, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters. For more information visit:


PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director, PSF; Director, Shakespeare in Love) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a 75% increase in annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre.  He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage.  He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.

About Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy, is the only professional Equity theatre of its scope and scale within a 50-mile radius. PSF is one of only a handful of theatres on the continent producing Shakespeare, musicals, classics, and contemporary plays, all of which can all be seen in rep and in multiple spaces within a few visits in a single summer season. Similarly, PSF will be among just a handful of theatres on the continent this summer to produce three Shakespeare plays in a single summer season.  A patron would have to travel seven to nine hours from PSF to find a comparable range of offerings at a single theatre within a few weeks’ time.

The Festival’s award-winning company of many world-class artists includes Broadway, film, and television veterans, and winners and nominees of the Tony, Emmy, Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, Hayes, Lortel, and Barrymore awards. A leading Shakespeare theatre with a national reputation for excellence, PSF has received coverage in The Washington Post, NPR, American Theatre Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and in recent seasons The New York Times has identified PSF as one of the leading summer theatre festivals in the nation. “A world-class theater experience on a par with the top Bard fests,” is how one New York Drama Desk reviewer characterized PSF.

Founded in 1992 and the Official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, PSF’s mission is to enrich, inspire, engage, and entertain the widest possible audience through first-rate productions of classical and contemporary plays, with a core commitment to Shakespeare and other master dramatists, and through an array of education and mentorship programs. A not-for-profit theatre, PSF receives significant support from its host, DeSales University, from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. With 150 performances of seven productions, the Festival attracts patrons each summer from 30+ states. In 26 years, PSF has offered 161 total productions (69 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 38,000+ in attendance each summer season, plus another 14,000 students each year through its WillPower Tour. PSF is a multi-year recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts: Shakespeare in American Communities, and is a constituent of Theatre Communications Group, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the Shakespeare Theatre Association. In 2013, leaders of the world’s premier Shakespeare theatres gathered at PSF as the Festival hosted the international STA Conference.

The Festival’s vision is for world-class work.