From Sondheim to stage censorship to an Amish baseball player_ 3 theater firms preview 2023 seasons

From a up to date Shakespeare prequel to a few Stephen Sondheim musicals, a present about an Amish baseball participant and a play about censorship a century in the past on the Broadway stage, the 2023 seasons of three Lancaster County theaters provide all kinds of entertaining and thought-provoking performs and musicals.

This week, we preview the soon-to-open 2023 main-stage seasons of three Lancaster County theater firms: Ephrata Performing Arts Heart, Fowl-in-Hand Stage and Orpheus Theatre Firm.

Ephrata Performing Arts Heart

Celebrating the theater’s longtime relationship with the works of the late Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, EPAC will current two Sondheim musicals amongst its 2023 season choices.

After a 2022 season that introduced EPAC buzz and field workplace from such reveals as “Amadeus” and “The Colour Purple,” inventive director Edward R. Fernandez was within the temper to take some probabilities on the type of lesser-known, edgy works EPAC is thought for introducing to native audiences.

EPAC is coming off of a “actually a bang-up season,” Fernandez says. “We broke box-office data … I’m actually pleased with the best way we’ve recovered from the pandemic.

“It’s a little bit little bit of an arty season” for 2023, Fernandez says. “I did take an opportunity. … However I determine, why do the same-old, same-old. Do I would like one other play or one other musical I’ve seen a thousand instances?

“It’s going to be an attention-grabbing season. It may be chancy, as a result of it’s not titles that folks know,” he says.

The reveals EPAC is presenting this yr are:

— “How I Discovered to Drive,” March 9 to 18. The Tony Award-winning reminiscence play by Paula Vogel tells the story of a girl named Li’l Bit and the way she involves phrases along with her household’s dysfunction and misogyny and a long-term sexually abusive relationship along with her uncle.

“I had learn it years in the past and I keep in mind loving it once I learn it,” Fernandez says. “And there was a really profitable revival (on Broadway) so it was again within the public consciousness. … I had forgotten how freaking good of a bit it’s.

“It’s an exploration of this relationship,” he says. “It goes into how folks understand girls, how society treats girls … and but it’s this deep material, executed with unimaginable humor and sense of humanity.”

— “Ardour,” April 27 to Could 13. The Sondheim musical has a e book by Franklin & Marshall Faculty alumnus James Lapine. Set in Nineteenth-century Italy, the present tells the story of a soldier, Giorgio, and the very completely different sorts of ardour he has for 2 completely different girls: the attractive Clara and the unattractive, sickly and obsessive Fosca.

Fernandez says he has needed to direct the present for a very long time.

“It’s controversial, it’s very polarizing, so you already know that pulls me to it,” he says. “Some folks assume it’s very romantic. Some folks assume it glorifies stalking.

“It doesn’t moralize. It simply presents the state of affairs and it leaves us to discover it — the elemental nature of ardour and love and obsession. … And the music is totally beautiful,” Fernandez says.

— “The Little Canine Laughed,” June 15 to 24. EPAC introduced the Douglas Carter Beane comedy just a few years in the past as a staged studying. The play considerations an actor and his agent who is anxious his relationship with a male hustler will have an effect on his profession.

“It’s a comedy and it’s nonetheless topical,” Fernandez says. “It’s my type of humor. It says issues about Hollywood, about common tradition and sexual identification … and homophobia, however it says it in such a enjoyable means.”

(Notice that the play accommodates nudity, together with grownup language and conditions).

— “The Promenade,” July 27 to Aug. 12. A bunch of down-on-their-luck actors resolve to burnish their reputations by standing up for an Indiana highschool woman who needs to take her girlfriend to the promenade. A media circus ensues on this musical with a combat for acceptance and inclusiveness at its coronary heart.

“ ‘The Promenade’ matches into plenty of who we’re,” Fernandez says. “It’s proper up our alley. … It’s enjoyable, it’s upbeat and it nonetheless has legitimate factors and nonetheless says one thing, and nonetheless matches into the EPAC mildew.”

— “Clybourne Park,” Sept. 7 to 16. The play, a spin-off of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin within the Solar,” traces how modifications in society over 50 years — from 1959 to 2009 — additionally modifications the racial demographics of a suburb of Chicago and impacts the households who purchase homes there.

EPAC additionally introduced this play as a staged studying years in the past.

“I feel it is one thing very topical proper now, and asks attention-grabbing questions,” Fernandez says. “It offers with some very attention-grabbing points we’re coping with as a society. … I believed it was the correct time to do it.”

— “A Little Evening Music,” Oct. 12 to twenty-eight. Set in Sweden on the flip of the twentieth century, the musical is predicated on an Ingmar Bergman movie and follows the romantic lives of a bunch of older and youthful {couples} who wind up collectively at a rustic property.

“ ‘A Little Evening Music’ was one of many first Broadway reveals I ever noticed,” Fernandez says. “It additionally offers with romance and love however in a a lot lighter means. It’s nearly a light-weight social comedy. … And it’s not executed (a lot). I feel it’s an pleasant present, and I knew I might forged it effectively.”

— “The Phantom of the Opera (Younger Performers Manufacturing),” Dec. 8 to twenty. After the success of 2021’s youth version of “Les Miserables,” EPAC appears to recapture the magic with younger artists tackling one other common, epic musical.

“After Les Miz was a success, I grabbed ‘Phantom,’ ” Fernandez says.

— Along with the performs and musicals, EPAC will probably be providing its annual Heart Stage Theater Camp July 10 to Aug. 4 for college students ages 6 to 14. College students can join one, two, three or all 4 weeks at

On the finish of the camp, the youth musical “Disney Newsies Jr.” will probably be introduced at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4; it’s open to the general public, and tickets are $10.

EPAC performs within the Sharadin Bigler Theatre in Grater Memorial Park, 320 Cocalico St., Ephrata.

Data and tickets: or name the field workplace at 717-733-7966, ext. 1.

Fowl-in-Hand Stage

Fowl-in-Hand Stage’s main-stage musicals are written by a inventive group at Blue Gate Musicals, headquartered in Shipshewana, Indiana.

The unique musicals, which regularly happen on the crossroads between the Amish and English (non-Amish) worlds, are produced at Fowl-in-Hand in addition to theaters in Indiana, Ohio and Florida.

The Fowl-in-Hand season for 2023 gives:

— “Pricey Soldier Boy,” April 8 to July 27, which is Blue Gate’s latest present.

“There’s an Amish woman and a non-Amish woman, and so they get a flyer within the retailer they work in that claims, ‘write a letter to the troops,’ ” says Wally Nason, the composer and director for Blue Gate Musicals, by cellphone from his residence in Franklin, Tennessee.

The non-Amish younger lady believes she would possibly discover a husband by writing to lonely navy members distant, Nason says, whereas the Amish lady simply needs to supply encouragement to the troops by means of her letter.

“As it might end up, in fact, not solely does one boy fall in love with the Amish woman, however three of them do,” Nason says, whereas one other soldier falls for the non-Amish buddy.

“All 4 younger males take go away on the identical weekend,” Nason says, which ends up in “a lot of chaos as all 4 of those navy boys present up on the cheese store the place (the ladies) work on the identical afternoon. It’s tons of enjoyable, with enjoyable music and a few actually candy instances, as effectively.”

— “The House Sport,” Aug. 4 to Oct. 19, was beforehand carried out at Fowl-in-Hand in 2018.

“That’s a few younger Amish man, Levi, who has his coronary heart set on being an expert baseball participant,” Nason says. “And he truly leaves the neighborhood to hitch an expert Vegas baseball group … it’s a part of his journey to grow to be an expert baseball participant and determine who he’s — whether or not he comes residence to be Amish or if he strikes. It’s a journey of self-realization by means of his love of baseball.”

— “Our Christmas Dinner,” Oct. 26 to Dec. 30, was introduced in 2016 at Fowl-in-Hand.

Nason says he drew inspiration for this story from his personal upbringing in Tuscon, Arizona, the place his mom was a social employee.

“Our Christmas traditions have been completely different from plenty of different folks as a result of my mother labored feeding households and ensuring everyone had presents” on the vacations. Nason recollects all the realm fireplace firms (and firm Santas) winding up at his household residence on Christmas Eve after delivering presents to the neighborhood.

“Then I bought married, and my spouse’s household Christmas traditions have been so completely different than ours,” he says. “The concept behind this (present) is there’s this American vacation that’s so enormous, however everyone has such a distinct means of celebrating that. … And there might be some unrealistic expectations on one another and on ourselves.”

“It’s a narrative of 1 household on Christmas … and so they get some firm they weren’t anticipating when a stranger knocks on the door (throughout a snowstorm),” Nason says. This results in a conflict of traditions and cultures.

— Along with the Blue Gate Musicals, “Ryan & Mates: By no means Speechless,” the return of a comedy present by common performer Ryan Bomgardner, runs April 7 to Oct. 28.

“He has a brand new present arising this spring,” Terry Buda Moser, director of gross sales and advertising and marketing for Fowl-in-Hand, says. “He does ventriloquism together with his puppets, he does some comedy, after which there’s a little bit little bit of singing, as effectively.

“Friends take pleasure in him fairly a bit. His present is at all times recent and new, although he’ll convey again some track parodies from earlier years,” Moser says. “They vary from nation to Broadway. … It’s a family-friendly present, so that is good for teenagers and adults and seniors. He does journey everywhere in the nation.”

Fowl-in-Hand Stage is on the banquet stage of Fowl-in-Hand Household Restaurant & Smorgasbord, 2760 Outdated Philadelphia Pike, Fowl-in-Hand.

Present tickets might be mixed with meals — breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tickets might be ordered at For extra info, go to the web site or name 717-768-1568.

Orpheus Theatre Firm

The theme for the corporate’s 2023 season is “revival,” says Tyler Joseph Rossi, a playwright and actor who based Orpheus together with his spouse, Katherine Campbell Rossi. Every of the three scheduled performs this season has an otherworldly factor to it — from demons to fairies to a theater troupe from a century in the past telling its story.

This reveals for this season are:

“Pyre,” the weekends of Feb. 24 to 26 and March 3 to five.

“This can be a play I wrote final yr as a part of the Dramatists Guild’s Finish of Play initiative,” Rossi says. “So, principally you may have a month to write down a play.”

The play is about in 1616 in Scotland, the place folks accused of witchcraft are burned underneath the rule of a superstitious King James.

“James traditionally was so scared of witches,” Rossi says.

“It’s a little bit of a thriller by way of style,” Rossi says. “We’re taking a look at a family that’s taking (in) a priest … who’s there to conduct a small inquisition of kinds as a result of there may be witches within the space.

“So we’re taking a look at plenty of the witch hysteria, and possibly there’s some demonic influences in there, right here and there.”

Rossi says one of many concepts behind the play is how a girl seeing harmless folks being executed round her would possibly truly contemplate trying into witchcraft or demonic forces to guard herself.

The present could have plenty of attention-grabbing motion in it, Rossi says, notably by way of the demonic characters.

“Pyre” is “co-produced with Historic Rock Ford, and we’re going to be doing it of their barn location … It’s a very enjoyable house and ambiance for the play,” Rossi says.

Historic Rock Ford is at 881 Rockford Highway, Lancaster. For tickets, go to lanc.information/PyreTickets.

— “Indecent,” June 16 to 17 and June 23 to 24, within the upstairs all-purpose house at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 321 W. Chestnut St., Lancaster.

An extended-dead theater troupe “comes again to come back again to inform us the story of the play ‘The God of Vengeance,’ which was written by Sholem Asch, and it’s actually a love letter … to Yiddish theater and to like and to standing as much as censorship.”

“The God of Vengeance” takes place in a Polish brothel and accommodates a lesbian love story, Rossi notes.

Because it was in actual life, the play — produced on Broadway within the early Nineteen Twenties — is shut down for indecency, Rossi says. Paradoxically, he provides, a manufacturing of “Indecent” was not too long ago canceled at a highschool in Florida due to its content material — making the play all of the extra well timed.

— “Isle of Noises,” a brand new play by Pittsburgh-based playwright and Carnegie-Mellon College professor TJ Younger, to be carried out late in the summertime at a venue the theater firm will announce within the coming weeks.

Rossi says the play serves as a prequel to William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” that includes such characters as Caliban and his mom.

“We’re trying, principally, at Ariel’s rise to prominence,” Rossi says. “We’ll be doing it ‘Shakespeare within the park’ fashion, so it will likely be an outside manufacturing.

“It entails plenty of actually difficult puppetry,” he says, with puppets anticipated to be 10 to 12 ft tall.

Along with the three scheduled performs, Orpheus plans to current one other night of staged readings of latest performs — probably within the fall — organized round a theme, because it has with its “Tales by the Fireplace” evenings the previous two seasons, Rossi says.

For info and tickets as they go on sale, go to Orpheus Theatre Firm’s Fb web page at