Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents Noël Coward’s Private Lives, directed by Dennis Razze

Center Valley, Pa.—Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival continues its 28th summer season with Noël Coward’s delectable comedy of manners Private Lives, directed by Associate Artistic Director, Dennis Razze.

Lauded as “two hours of comic bliss” by The Telegraph, Private Lives previews July 18 and July 19, and opens on Saturday, July 20 through August 4 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

After a volatile marriage of volcanic proportions, Amanda and Elyot have divorced and are each newly married. Chance has brought the two couples to adjacent honeymoon suites with adjoining balconies where the fires of former fervor prove irresistible. With the comedic weaponry of Coward’s lightning cleverness and razor-sharp wit, sparks fly as the couple renews their tempestuous relationship. They fight to maintain effervescent decorum against the force of fiercer passions, but their self-restraint is no match for the kind of relationship one cannot live with or without.

“The play’s premise is absurd to say the least,” says Director Dennis Razze. “Even less plausible is their sudden decision to immediately flee to Paris, leaving their current spouses behind without even an explanation.  It is supremely ridiculous, but it makes for delicious comedy.”

Coward’s scintillating satire will be helmed by Razze, who directed last summer’s critically acclaimed production of Ragtime, PSF’s sold-out production of Evita (2017), the critically acclaimed production of West Side Story (2016), and the Festival’s memorable Les Misérables (2015). Razze, who has directed every musical PSF has produced, returns to the director’s chair for his first non-musical since Cyrano de Bergerac in 2008. This year he celebrated his 35th year as a faculty member of the DeSales University Theatre Department.

“PSF has cast captivating, witty actors as the two couples,” Razze reflects. Playing the roles of the tempestuous couple are Matthew Floyd Miller as Elyot Chase and Eleanor Handley as Amanda Prynne. Miller, who has performed in New York at Broadway’s Lincoln Center and Circle in the Square, makes his PSF debut. Handley, whose PSF credits include Twelfth Night, Blithe Spirit, The Taming of the Shrew and many more, has performed at Broadway’s Lincoln Center, and regionally at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and Bristol Riverside Theatre.

Playing the roles of Amanda and Elyot’s new, sensible spouses are Tally Gale as Sybil Chase and Luigi Sottile as Victor Prynne. Gale’s regional theatre credits include performances at The Old Globe, Steppenwolf and Oldcastle theatres. Sottile, who played the title role in last season’s highly lauded Shakespeare in Love, has performed in PSF’s Troilus and Cressida (2017) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014), and regionally at Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Folger Theatre, Utah Shakespeare, and Walnut Street Theatre.

“Both the set and the costume designs for Private Lives must be as elegant and sophisticated as the characters, and the designers, Roman Tatarowicz and Sarah Cubbage, have come up with a wonderful art deco environment and exceptionally beautiful gowns and formal attire that should certainly create the desired effervescence of the play,” says Razze.

In addition to scenic design by Tatarowicz and costume design by Cubbage, the production will feature lighting design by Eric T. Haugen and sound design by William Neal. The fight director for the production is J. Alex Cardero, the production stage manager is Shelby North, and the assistant stage manager is Sean Ravitz.

Private Lives runs in repertory with Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra through August 4 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the Center Valley campus of DeSales University.

Subscription packages and single tickets can be purchased online at www.pashakespeare.org or by calling the PSF box office at 610.282.WILL [9455].

The Production Sponsor for Private Lives is Amy Miller Cohen, Ph.D., and the Production Co-sponsors are Susan Henry Martin and James T. Martin; and Keith and Stefanie Wexler.

The 2019 Festival Season Sponsor is Valerie Moritz Smith. 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.

The professional theatre company at DeSales University, PSF features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and other major theatre awards, from New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and around the country.

Summer 2019 Season:

Main Stage: Crazy for You (June 12 to June 30), Antony and Cleopatra (July 10 to Aug 4), Private Lives (July 18 to Aug 4), Shakespeare for Kids (July 24 to Aug 3).

Schubert Theatre: The Adventures of Robin Hood and Maid Marian (May 31 to Aug 3), The Mystery of Irma Vep (June 20 to July 14), Henry IV, Part 1 (July 24 to Aug 4).

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 was 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, Playbill.com, 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 27 years, PSF has offered 168 total productions (72 Shakespeare), and entertained 900,000+ patrons from 50 states, now averaging 34,000-40,000 in attendance each summer season, plus another 13,000 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.

Patrick Mulcahy (Producing Artistic Director) 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 doubling of 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, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare in Love. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds degrees in acting and directing from Syracuse University.

Dennis Razze (Director, Private Lives; PSF Associate Artistic Director) Mr. Razze directed last summer’s critically acclaimed production of Ragtime. In 2017 he directed PSF’s sold-out production of Evita starring Broadway luminaries Dee Roscioli and Tony Award-winning actor Paulo Szot. He also directed PSF’s critically acclaimed production of West Side Story in 2016 and the Festival’s memorable Les Misérables in 2015. Including these three blockbuster musicals, Mr. Razze has directed many of PSF’s highest attended productions—The Taming of the Shrew (1998), Fiddler on the Roof, Twelfth Night (2000), My Fair Lady, South Pacific, 1776, and Man of La Mancha. In 2017 he was awarded the Allentown Arts Ovation Award for Performing Arts. This year he celebrated his 35th year as a faculty member of the DeSales Theatre Department. He has directed more than 60 productions for DeSales’ Act 1 including this year’s smash success, Pippin. Mr. Razze is also a composer who has created musical scores for The Devil’s Disciple, Antigone, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Matthew Floyd Miller (Elyot Chase) has acted all across the U.S. for twenty-three years. Broadway: Not About Nightingales (Directed by Trevor Nunn) and The Invention of Love. Off-Broadway: Another Part of the Forest (Pecadillo) and Letters From Cuba (Signature). Regional includes: Macbeth (Chicago Shakespeare, co-directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, of Penn and Teller), Stupid Fucking Bird (Theatre @ Boston Court, L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award). Some other theatres: Geffen Playhouse, ACT- Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Wilma, Dallas Theatre Center, Arena Stage, The Old Globe.

Eleanor Handley (Amanda Prynne) returns for her 6th summer at PSF. PSF credits: Twelfth Night (Olivia), The Taming of the Shrew (Katherina), Blithe Spirit (Elvira), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Maggie), Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice), Lend Me a Tenor (Diana), Macbeth (Witch), Comedy of Errors (Adriana), and The Two Noble Kinsmen (Emilia); NYC: Most recently made her Lincoln Center debut in the NYC premiere of The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard. Also Jericho (NYT Critic’s pick), Limonade tous les Jours (opposite Austin Pendleton), A Christmas Carol (with Dominic Chianese); Regional highlights: Troilus & Cressida (Cressida), King Lear (Regan), Lost in Yonkers (Bella, Barrymore Nomination), Betrayal (Emma), Witness for the Prosecution (Barrymore Nomination), and Time Stands Still; TV: Royal Pains, As the World Turns, and Unforgettable.

Talley Gale (Sibyl Chase) her credits include: Hamlet, Love’s Labors Lost, Macbeth, and Red Velvet (The Old Globe); Proof (Oldcastle Theatre Company) and This is Our Youth (Steppenwolf Theatre Company). She can be seen in the web series Queen’s English. BFA Acting, Ball State University; MFA, The Old Globe/University of San Diego.

Luigi Sottile (Victor Prynne) PSF: Shakespeare in Love, Richard II, Troilus and Cressida, and Two Gentlemen of Verona. Chicago: Familiar and Buena Vista (Steppenwolf); Hundreds and Hundreds of Stars (Goodman); Book of Will (Northlight); and Shakespeare in Love, Othello, The Tempest (CST). Regional: The Way Of The World (Folger Theatre); Zombie The American (Woolly Mammoth); Sex With Strangers (Signature Theatre DC); Much Ado About Nothing, Three Musketeers (Utah Shakespeare Fest.); Three Sisters, Cyrano (Arden Theatre); Seminar (Philadelphia Theatre Co.); An Ideal Husband (Walnut Street); Angels In America, The Vibrator Play (Wilma Theater); and The Cherry Orchard, Nathan The Wise (People’s Light). TV: Chicago PD (NBC); and It’s A Man’s World (YouTube Red).

Creative Bios:

Alex Cordaro (Fight Director) PSF credits: Richard II, Ragtime, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Henry V, Fiddler, As You Like It, Othello, and Shrew. Regional credits include the McCarter, The Wilma, The Actors Theater, The Arden, Philadelphia Theater Company, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, The Lantern, Theater Exile, Inis Nua, Philadelphia Artists Collective, Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia Opera Company, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Alex runs the Stage Combat progression at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is a Certified Teacher and Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructor with the Society of American Fight Directors.

Noël Coward (1889-1973) (Playwright, PL) Born to a working class family in London, Coward became an internationally-renowned playwright, composer, director, actor, and singer, known as ‘The Master’ by many of his contemporaries and fans. On Coward’s 70th birthday, Lord Louis Mountbatten said, “There are probably greater painters than Noël, greater novelists than Noël, greater librettists, greater composers of music, greater singers, greater dancers, greater comedians, greater tragedians, greater stage producers, greater film directors, greater cabaret stars, greater TV stars. If there are, they are 14 different people. Only one man combined all 14 labels—‘The Master.’”

Sarah Cubbage (Costume Designer) Favorite designs include: The Triumph of Love and Hippolyte et Aricie (director, Stephen Wadsworth); The Juilliard School; Crazy for You, David Geffen Hall (director, Susan Stroman); Beauty & The Beast, Disney Creative Entertainment/Disney Cruise Lines; The Lily’s Revenge, American Repertory Theatre; Dark Lark, BAM (Kate Weare Company); The Radio Show (Bessie Award, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion). Off-Broadway: Soho Rep, Theatre for the New City, Aquila Theatre Company, Urban Stages, Ohio Theatre, Atlantic Stage 2. Member of USA 829.

Eric T. Haugen (Lighting Designer) In recent seasons, Eric has designed the lighting for some of the more memorable PSF productions such as: Ragtime, Evita, West Side Story, Les Misérables, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, South Pacific, Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker, King Lear, Amadeus, and My Fair Lady, among others.  His theatrical lighting has been seen Off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country.  Through his company, Luminous Design Studios, Eric provides lighting designs for television, themed entertainment, and architectural projects worldwide. In August of 2018, Eric joined the faculty of DeSales University. www.LD-Studios.com

William Neal (Sound Designer) is the Resident Sound Designer and Sound Supervisor for PSF and for DeSales University. He has designed sound and/or composed original music for over 65 productions, including the original Off-Broadway productions of After, Daniel’s Husband, Small World, Drop Dead Perfect, and The Little Prince, as well as dozens of regional productions, including last summer’s PSF production of Richard II. William is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 and the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association.

Shelby North (Production Stage Manager) Shelby is delighted to be making her PSF debut! She is a Philadelphia based Stage Manager whose previous credits include Bridges of Madison County (Philadelphia Theatre Company), Oliver! (Quintessence Theatre Group), AssassinsFather Comes Home from the Wars (Yale Repertory Theatre), The Petrified ForestChurch and State, Fiorello!Constellations, and Million Dollar Quartet (Berkshire Theatre Group). Shelby is a graduate of Yale School of Drama with an MFA in Stage Management.

Sean Ravitz (Assistant Stage Manager) PSF debut. Broadway: Lincoln Center. Regional: Bristol Riverside Theatre, Walnut Street, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pig Iron Theatre Co, FringeArts Philadelphia, Berkshire Theatre Group, CENTERSTAGE Baltimore, REV Theatre Company, and New City Stage Company. Film/Events: McElhinney Productions (Key PA), Philadelphia Gay Pride Festival (SM), FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony (Calling SM), U2 Rock Band (Substitute Calling SM).

Roman Tatarowicz (Set Designer) Recent: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Humans (Walnut Street Theatre); and Sweat (People’s Light). Selected Off-Broadway credits: The Banana Monologues (Acorn Theatre); Honky, Apostasy, Roses in December, The Sweepers, Comfort Women, Mother Lolita, The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion, and 27 Rue de Fleurus (Urban Stages); Mother Courage, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Triumph of Love, Dona Rosita The Spinster, The Threepenny Opera, Dames At Sea, and The Maids (Jean Cocteau Rep). Selected Off Off-B’way: Bee-Luther-Hatchee (Audelco Award nom.), Sacred Journey, Medal of Honor Rag, and Ionesco’s Macbett as well as the 20th anniversary production of Closer Than Ever at the Queens Theatre in the Park. Designs for Regional Theaters: Capital Rep, Florida Studio Theatre, Merrimack Rep, Ensemble Theatre Company (Santa Barbara), Bristol Riverside Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company, Azuka Theatre, Act II Playhouse, and Passage Theatre Company. Proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. www.tatarowicz.com