Ursinus College is offering its first large-scale Broadway musical show Feb. 26 through March 2, Wonderful Town, a 1953 Tony Award winner with music by Leonard Bernstein. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee only at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission and $2 for students and senior citizens. They can be purchased at the Box Office, at www.ursinus.edu/tickets (610-409-3030).
The show, which has a book by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, is based on the 1940 play My Sister Eileen, which, in turn, is based on short stories by Ruth McKenney. The story follows Ohio sisters Ruth and Eileen Sherwood, young and determined newcomers to New York City in 1935, to Greenwich Village, the setting for Bernstein’s lively, jazzy score.
Wonderful Town will be part of the Collegeville Economic Development (CEDC) and Ursinus College Dinner and a Show program, in which 16 area restaurants offer discounts or specials for meals paired with seeing the show. A list of restaurant follows, or see the CEDC website, www.collegevilledevelopment.org (610-454-1050).
Directed by Ursinus Theater Professor Beverly Redman, with choreography by Ursinus Dance Professor Karen Clemente, with musical direction by Ursinus Professor of Music Holly Hubbs, the musical is the first in which three major departments are collaborating. It is the first musical to be performed in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center, and the first to use the pit orchestra space in the Lenfest Theater there.
Redman, who holds a Ph.D. in Theater from the University of California San Diego, has expertise in voice and speech, theater history and directing. Clemente, who has degrees in dance education from Temple University, is an accomplished choreographer. Hubbs leads the Ursinus College Jazz and Wind ensembles.
Part of Wonderful Town’s appeal is the spirited music written by one of the great American composers (Bernstein also wrote West Side Story), says Redman. “This is one of his lesser known musical theater works, but it encapsulates a quintessential American story of the American Dream, in this case, two young women moving from rural Ohio to New York City seeking a professional life. Once there, they encounter American immigrants, a kind of diversity they had never known before, and they experience culture shock and hardships of poverty. It is 1935, so they have made this move during the Depression. Of course, it is a musical, so it is presented in a lighthearted way. Nevertheless, it draws on one of our country’s most challenging times and the kind of grit it took to survive.”
Clemente says she is “looking forward to this collaboration of our three arts programs and the rewards it will bring for the students and faculty.” She has a “sentimental interest” in the story since she grew up in Ohio and visited relatives in New York every summer.
Hubbs auditioned 15 musicians who fill the pit, and several are given the opportunity to showcase their talent by playing three or four instruments throughout the musical.
Students are excited, Clemente says, adding she senses “a palpable energy, a sense of excitement.”
Individuals ordering tickets online will be issued a receipt which they can show at the restaurant of their choice. They will need the receipt also at the Ursinus Box Office to pick up their tickets. Theatergoers should arrive at the box office at least 15 minutes before the show begins.
It is recommended that participants in Dinner and a Show make reservations with the restaurant. The Lenfest Theater in the Ursinus Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center is to the side of the West parking lot off Ninth Avenue.
Participating restaurants include:
Bonjung Japanese Restaurant – BYOB, A free special appetizer per table when ordering a main entrée (Collegeville) NOTE: Open on Sunday for dinner only from 4 to 8:30 p.m.;
Copperfield Inn 10 percent off each dinner (Limerick);
DaVinci’s Pub 10 percent off each dinner (Collegeville);
Marzella’s Pizza BOB 10 percent off each dinner (Collegeville);
My Friend’s Tavern a special side dish (Collegeville);
Phamous Phil’s BBQ BYOB 10 percent off each dinner (Collegeville Lower Providence);
Rocco’s Brick Oven Pizzeria BYOB 10 percent off each dinner (Collegeville);
Thai Basil Bistro BYOB Free appetizer up to a $10 value (Collegeville) NOTE: Closed Sundays;
The Pizza Stop BYOB for wine - 10 percent off each dinner (Collegeville);
The Trappe Tavern 10 percent off each dinner (Trappe);
Tortuga’s Mexican Eatery, 10 percent off each dinner;
WIBS Wings Ribs More BYOB 10 percent off each dinner (Collegeville);
Marlys BYO 10 percent off each dinner (Phoenixville) NOTE: Marlys is closed on Sundays;
Shagun Fine Indian Cuisine BYOB Free appetizer up to a $10 value (Collegeville) NOTE: Open on Sunday for dinner only from 5 to 9 p.m.;
GreenHeart Cafe BYOB -10% off your dinner, located in the Pit Stop http://www.yelp.com/biz/greenhart-cafe-collegeville;
Osteria Restaurant - 10% off your dinner (Collegeville, Lower Providence) NOTE: On Sundays Osteria is open 1 to 9 p.m.