An UNCONVENTIONAL Musical
Bridge Street Theatre’s First Summer Musical, THE SHAGGS, Coming July 11-21
Coming this summer to Catskill’s adventurous Bridge Street Theatre – its first attempt at producing a full-scale summer musical! But, true to form, it’s a pretty off-beat one: Joy Gregory and Gunnar Madsen’s acclaimed Off-Broadway hit The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World. It is based on the true story of three sisters from rural New Hampshire whose father forced them to form a rock band, and who recorded an album back in 1969 which has since become a cult classic. “The Shaggs” will play for eight performances only, Thursdays through Sundays July 11-21, in BST’s intimate 84-seat Mainstage.
Featured in the cast are Steven Patterson as Austin Wiggin, Molly Parker Myers as his wife, Annie, and Julian Broughton as Mr. Wilson/Floyd/Russ/ Exeter Talent Show Host/Hank. Also starring in the production are five students from the Catskill Central School District – Alexa Powell, Amara Wilson, and Meeghan Darling as The Shaggs themselves – Dot, Betty, and Helen – Magnus Bush as Kyle Nelson, and Edward Donahue as Charley Dreyer/Bobby/Lenny Smalls. John Sowle directs and designs, assisted by Musical Director Michelle Storrs, Choreographer Marcus McGregor, Costumer Michelle Rogers, Sound Consultant Carmen Borgia, and Production Stage Manager Joshua Martin.
“I’ve been involved with, and loved, this incredible show virtually from its inception,” says actor Steven Patterson. “I was lucky enough to be cast as Austin in an early developmental reading at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto (which recently received the 2019 Regional Theatre Tony Award). That led to Joy and Gunnar requesting that I play the role in the 2003 world premiere in Los Angeles, and to the director of that production, John Langs, casting me without an audition. The L.A. production scooped up fistfuls of year-end honors including 3 Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, 6 Backstage West Garland Awards, 4 LA Weekly Awards, and an Ovation Award as ‘World Premiere Musical’ of the Year. It’s probably the greatest role I’ve ever had in my career in musical theater – sort of like having to play Mama Rose in ‘Gypsy’ and King Lear on the same night – and I can’t wait to revisit it with this cast.”
At the beginning of the current century, The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World received developmental readings, workshops and productions at The Powerhouse in Los Angeles; LookingGlass Theatre in Chicago; NY Musical Theatre Festival (in New York); GEVA in Rochester; TheatreWorks in Palo Alto; and The Manhattan Theatre Club (New York again). All of these led to the acclaimed Off-Broadway New York Theatre Workshop/Playwrights Horizons co-production in 2011. While the production in Catskill will be the first since the play’s 2011 Off-Broadway run, book writer and co-lyricist Joy Gregory (“Madam Secretary”) and composer and co-lyricist Gunnar Madsen (“The Bobs”) have recently been working closely with Producer/Director Ken Kwapis (“The Office”) to bring The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World to the screen. In the upcoming film version, the Wiggin family will be played by Steve Zahn (“Dallas Buyers Club”) as Austin, Allison Tolman (the FX television series “Fargo”) as Annie, Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grad”) as Dot, Sydney Lucas (“Fun Home”) as Betty, and Elena Kampouris (NBC’s “American Odyssey“) as Helen. Come experience it live on stage before the film hits the screen!
Director John Sowle says, “The Shaggs were outsider artists before that term was even invented. They literally came out of nowhere. Depending on whom you ask, they were either the best or the worst band of all time. Among their fans were Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa, who considered them to be ‘better than the Beatles.’ But, in the words of one of their detractors, ‘I would walk across the desert while eating charcoal briquettes soaked in Tabasco for forty days and forty nights not to ever have to listen to anything Shagg-related ever again.’ But against all odds, Joy Gregory and Gunnar Madsen have managed to fashion their weird, off-kilter story into a vastly entertaining and tuneful musical. I’m especially excited that we’ve been able to cast actual high school students as – actual high school students. There’s a raw, do-it-yourself edge both to this show and to The Shaggs’ music itself, and I think these kids will bring a sense of freshness, honesty, and earnestness to the material that works far better than a more ‘slick’ rendition would.”
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World is recommended for audiences ages 13+ and plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm from July 11 – 21, 2019 at Bridge Street Theatre, 44 West Bridge Street, in Catskill, NY, just a block and a half west of Main Street across the Uncle Sam Bridge, which spans Catskill Creek. Eight performances only. General Admission is $25, Students 21 and under are only $10. Discounted advance tickets are available at shaggs.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 800-838-3006. Tickets will also be sold at the door one half hour prior to each performance on a space available basis. “Pay What You Will” performances will be held on Thursday July 11 and Sunday July 14 (“Pay What You Will” tickets are available only at the door one half hour prior to those performances). Schedule your summer vacation around this one – book your lodgings now! For more information, visit the theatre online at BridgeSt.org.
Events at Bridge Street Theatre are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by Public Funds from the Greene County Legislature through the Cultural Fund administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.