Washington Park’s Park Playhouse Reopens this Summer

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Playhouse Stage Company will return to Washington Park for a Park Playhouse summer musical theatre season starting in July. The 2020 Season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting regulations on performance venues.

Playhouse Stage will be implementing safety policies and procedures in strict adherence to recommendations and regulations outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State Department of Health, and other county and municipal agencies. This includes strictly enforcing attendance capacity based on State orders. Currently, outdoor venues are capped at 200 patrons in New York State. Playhouse Stage will limit its capacity to 200, with one hundred paid seats on the ground level, and one hundred free seats in the amphitheater lawn area. Should state regulations on attendance capacity be relaxed further ahead of the summer season, additional free seats will be made available. All seating, whether in the paid or free sections, will require an advance reservation and digital ticket to ensure that capacity is maintained and that social distancing is ensured.

July will see Playhouse Stage mounting a professional production of Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show. The musical is a tribute to the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller.” It explores the Jazz era, when Manhattan nightclubs like the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom were the playgrounds of high society and Lenox Avenue dives were filled with piano players banging out the new beat known as swing. Five performers present an evening of rowdy, humorous songs that encapsulate the various moods of the era and reflect Waller’s view of life as a journey meant for pleasure and play. The show premiered on Broadway in 1978, winning both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical.  The Playhouse Stage production will be directed by Jean-Remy Monnay, Artistic Director of the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate New York, making his Playhouse debut. Brian Axford will musically direct and lead the seven-piece on-stage jazz band.

In August, the students of Playhouse Stage Company will return to Washington Park for their production of Matilda The Musical, based on the beloved children’s novella by Roald Dahl.  The show tells the heart-warming and hysterical story of Matilda Wormwood, a precocious young girl with the gift of telekinesis, who overcomes obstacles caused by her unruly family and a strict school headmaster, and helps her teacher to reclaim her life. Chuck Kraus will direct the production, with choreography by Ashley-Simone Kirchner and vocal instruction by Brandon Jones. Brian Axford will return to lead the eight-piece band. Frequent Playhouse Stage Co. actor Chris Frazier, known for his performances in Spelling Bee, Sweeney Todd and others, will join PSC students to play the role of Miss Trunchbull, the dastardly, strict headmaster of Matilda’s school.

“After a year away, we can’t wait to get back to Park Playhouse in Washington Park for a summer season of musical theatre,” Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Owen Smith said. “With regulations and recommendations from public health officials in place, we are pleased to be able to give audiences a pair of shows to enjoy in a safe setting as we continue to fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank Mayor Kathy Sheehan, her team, and the many city agencies who have worked with us to ensure our ability to operate the Playhouse under unique circumstances this summer.”
All paid seating on the ground level will be at table seats, socially distanced across the Lakehouse lot. Tables will be sold for $100.00 and can accommodate up to four patrons. These reserved tables will go on sale on May 1, allowing customers to secure their place to see the shows.  Free lawn seating reservations will become available on the Playhouse Stage website and at the box office by phone on June 15. All patrons will be required to have a reservation ahead of time; there will be no walk up sales on show nights in order to ensure the Playhouse’s ability to maintain social distancing and adhere to the attendance cap.

Earlier this month, Playhouse Stage announced the reopening of the Cohoes Music Hall for a production of the musical revue I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE. Tickets for the production have sold briskly, and an additional weekend of performances has been added, playing May 14 through 16. Tickets are on sale now.

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