If you didn’t realize it already, maybe the Tony Awards handed out a couple of weeks ago will pound it into your head: Powerhouse Theater at Vassar College is the place to catch tomorrow’s stage hits long before it becomes incredibly difficult (not to mention costly) to obtain tickets for them. The Humans, which just won Best Play, Hamilton, which just won Best Musical plus ten other Tonys, and Bright Star, which earned five nominations and probably would have snagged Best Musical had it not been up against the Hamilton juggernaut, all got workshopped at Powerhouse before they made it to the Great White Way.
The 32nd Powerhouse season, a joint effort of Vassar College and New York Stage and Film, opens this Friday, June 24 and runs through the end of July. Opening weekend features the first of the summer’s two Readings Festivals. Admission to the Susan Stein Shiva Theater is free, simply by making a phone reservation at (845) 437-5599 (yes, you could’ve seen Hamilton for nothing in Poughkeepsie in 2013, when Lin-Manuel Miranda was still ironing out the kinks and calling it The Hamilton Mixtapes).
The first batch of readings includes Good Grief by Lorien Haynes, directed by Mad Men Emmy nominee John Slattery, on Friday at 8 p.m.; The Ways of Necessity by Stephen Nathan on Saturday at 3 p.m.; Nollywood Dreams by Jocelyn Bioh on Saturday at 8 p.m.; Socrates by Tim Blake Nelson (who played dimwitted Delmar in O Brother, Where Art Thou?) on Sunday at 2 p.m.; and The Great Blueness by Andrew Gerle (based on a book by Arnold Lobel, of Frog and Toad fame) on Sunday at 5 p.m. The second Readings Festival, running from July 22 to 24, will feature Sacred Valley, the first-ever play by How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor.
Headlining the Powerhouse season will be two fully staged productions of new plays written and directed by women: Transfers (June 30-July 10) by Lucy Thurber, Obie-winner for The Hill Towns, directed by Jackson Gay; and The Wolves (July 21-July 31) by Sarah DeLappe, directed by Lila Neugebauer. The two Inside Look Workshop presentations will also both spotlight female playwrights: Joanna Murray-Smith’s Fury 9 (July 8-10) and Alexa Junge’s Fingersmith, based on a novel by Sarah Waters (July 29-31).
Musical workshop presentations will include a 12-hour marathon performance of material from Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, co-directed by Mac and Niegel Smith, for one day only: July 30 from noon to midnight. In this wildly ambitious multiyear project, Mac charts the history of popular music in America from 1776 to the present day. Also on the musical menu: a new adaptation by Santino Fontana, commissioned by the Roundabout Theatre Company, of Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley’s 1960s blockbuster The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd (July 7-9).
The works on tap from young thespians in the Powerhouse Training Program this summer sound intriguing as well, including a new stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway by Mark Lindberg, who will also direct. To check out the full season schedule and order tickets, visit https://powerhouse.vassar.edu/season.