Front Porch Theatricals announces
2018 Season and Directors -
A New Brain – Connor McCanlus
Grey Gardens – Robyne Parrish
John Wascavage, Becki Toth and Drew Leigh Williams,
Daina Michelle Griffith and Beth Johnstone Bush
to star in Front Porch Theatricals’ productions of
A NEW BRAIN and GREY GARDENS
Building on its widely praised productions of Violet (starring “a luminous Elizabeth Boyke”) and Big Fish (named by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of "The 10 Best Pittsburgh Theater Experiences of 2017"; “Billy Hartung…takes on the marathon of emotions and wide-ranging compositions with infectious energy and charm.”), Front Porch Theatricals, Pittsburgh’s acclaimed boutique professional musical theater company, has announced the casts for its inspiring 2018 “Real People, Real Stories” season of the musicals A NEW BRAIN and GREY GARDENS. With these productions, Front Porch continues to present unique, socially relevant musicals that engage, challenge and delight audiences.
Frequent Pittsburgh actor John Wascavage will lead a diverse cast of new and returning Front Porch talent with the season opening production of Willian Finn’s (Falsettos; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) semi-autobiographical musical A NEW BRAIN, running May 18 – 27 at the New Hazlett Theater. New to Front Porch, Mr. Wascavage will be portraying the production’s central character, Gordon Schwinn, and is joined by a stellar cast of Front Porch newbies that includes Drew Leigh Williams as Lisa (CLO Cabaret’s Pump Boys and Dinettes and Xanadu), Jeremy Spoljarick as Roger Delli-Bovi, Meredith Doyle as Rhoda, and Brady Patsy as Richard. Also joining the company for the first time are Pierre Mballa as Doctor Jafar Berensteiner, Lauren Maria Media as Nancy D., and Mei Lu Barnum as the Waitress. Returning Front Porch favorites are the incomparable Becki Toth (Parade, The Light in the Piazza, The Spitfire Grill, Violet) as Gordon’s mother Mimi Schwinn, Matthew J. Rush (The Spitfire Grill, Parade) as Mr. Bungee, and David Ieong (Violet) as The Minister.
One of the most active and beloved members of Pittsburgh’s theater and comedy scenes, Connor McCanlus will be directing A New Brain as his first show with Front Porch, leading an artistic team that includes returning Music Director Deana Muro, Sound Designer Angela Baughman, Lighting Designer Andrew David Ostrowski, and first timers Scenic Designer Frank Blackmore, and Costume Designer Natalie Burton.
Another returning Front Porch alum and Pittsburgh favorite, Daina Michelle Griffith (Next to Normal and Parade) will star in Front Porch’s production of GREY GARDENS, running August 17 – 26 at the New Hazlett Theater. Crazily busy Ms. Griffith, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Performer of the Year in 2013, will portray American socialite and fashion model Edith Bouvier Beale, or “Little Edie” (first cousin to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), alongside first time Front Porch performer Beth Johnstone Bush as her mother, Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale, or “Big Edie”. Featured in the cast are Daniel Mayhak (Violet) as Joe Kennedy, Jr., and first timers Kaylie Mae Wallace as Young Little Edie, Chad Elder as George Gould Strong, Ryan Jackson as Brooks, Jr./Sr., Bill Crean as J.V. “Major” Bouvier/Norman Vincent Peale, Lucia Williams as Jacqueline Bouvier, Clara McGough as Lee Bouvier and Christopher Morriss and Delana Flowers as the ensemble.
After directing last year’s critically acclaimed production of Violet, Robyne Parrish will be returning to Front Porch to direct GREY GARDENS. Rounding out the artistic team are Music Director Douglas Levine, Scenic Designer Johnmichael Bohach, Lighting Designer Andrew David Ostrowski, and Sound Designer Angela Baughman. The production’s Costume Designer is under consideration.
A New Brain
A NEW BRAIN premiered Off-Broadway in 1998 and has since been revived around the world, including a run at Lincoln Center in 2015 as part of the “Encores!” program, A NEW BRAIN is an invigorating and inspiring musical with a book by Tony Award winners William Finn (Falsettos, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion) and music & lyrics by William Finn. As Finn’s semi-autobiographical account of his own battle and harrowing experience with an arteriovenous malformation, the show is about making the most of life and finding salvation through the healing power of art.
Gordon Schwinn, a talented young songwriter, is taken to the hospital and learns that he has a brain tumor and needs an operation. Fearing that he will be dead with all of his greatest songs still inside of him, Gordon begins writing songs from the hospital bed and finds comfort and strength through friendship, love, and music.
Astounding critics and audiences alike since it opened on Broadway in 2006 starring Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson, GREY GARDENS has earned countless awards and great acclamation over the years, including five Lucille Lortel Award nominations, twelve Drama Desk Award nominations, and ten Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical, with wins for Best Leading Actress and Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Ms. Ebersol and Ms. Wilson). With a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife) and score by Tony Award nominees Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (War Paint), GREY GARDENS is a unique tapestry of lost dreams, sacrifice, and unstoppable hope - heartfelt, witty, and compassionate.
Based on the 1975 documentary of the same title by Albert and David Maysles, the story is set at Grey Gardens, the Bouviers' mansion in East Hampton, New York. The show begins at the grand 1941 engagement party of stunning and spirited “Little Edie” Beale to handsome Navy man Joe Kennedy, Jr., hosted by Edie’s mother, Edith Bouvier “Big Edie” Beale. As the upper-crust, New England family gathers, so do the storm clouds of trouble that eventually leave both Big and Little Edie alone and heartbroken. Following the progression of the dysfunctional mother and daughter relationship while weaving documentary text with imaginative speculation, the musical documents the journey of the Beales from royalty to ruin.
For more information on A NEW BRAIN, GREY GARDENS, or Front Porch Theatricals, please contact Leon S. Zionts at 412-389-5983 (email@example.com), Bruce E.G. Smith at 412-551-4027 (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Drake Ma at 412-352-2075 (email@example.com). They would be happy to arrange interviews with the cast, artistic teams or the producers. Tickets for both shows are now available at 1-888-718-4253, online at frontporch.showclix.com or through the company’s website www.frontporchpgh.org.
About Front Porch Theatricals
Front Porch Theatricals became an IRS §501(c)(3) charitable organization in 2016 and, in its first year of eligibility and on its first attempt, proudly became an Allegheny Regional Asset District asset.
Front Porch Theatricals is known for producing high quality, professional musicals embracing meaningful subjects using Pittsburgh’s tremendous talent base – starting with a totally dysfunctional family in Only Me (2009), a bi-polar woman with serious mental health challenges and attendant family impacts in Next to Normal (2012), the changes and challenges within New York City’s Hispanic Washington Heights neighborhood in In the Heights (2013), and a true story about a Brooklyn Jew accused of murdering a young factory worker in the South in Parade (2014). The company’s first two show season in 2015 featured Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, a story about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love, and The Light in the Piazza, Adam Guettel’s soaring musical about the challenges of love and family encountered by an American mother and her daughter in 1953 Rome and Tuscany. Both shows of the 2016 season, The Spitfire Grill and Floyd Collins, explored the lives and souls of American dreamers. And last year’s season of “Journeys & Tall Tales” opened with an inspiring story of a young woman with a disfigured face and her journey to find faith and miracles in the 1964 Deep South in Violet, and a powerful story of a traveling salesman trying to reconnect with his son through mystical stories and heroic memories in Big Fish (which played to sold out houses over the entire seven show run).