Bucks County Playhouse will launch its first-ever Oscar Hammerstein Festival this season, opening with a weekend of events from September 26-28.
Named for the Broadway lyricist behind classic musicals including The King and I, Cinderella, and South Pacific, the festival will inaugurate a musical theater development program, focusing on the importance of lyrics in the creation of new musicals. The Oscar Hammerstein Festival is a yearlong program that offers expert mentorship to early-career composers and lyricists, culminating in a weekend with musical theater experts, artists, and enthusiasts and various events open to the general public.
Patrons can purchase passes to attend the opening weekend events, which will include a special benefit performance on September 27 entitled Getting to Know You: An Enchanted Evening of Oscar Hammerstein II, created and hosted by Ted Chapin, head of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. The concert will star Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana, the original Tony-nominated stars of Broadway's Cinderella, Mandy Gonzales (In the Heights), and Lewis Cleale (The Book of Mormon), who will offer a musical overview of Hammerstein's career. Sarna Lapine will direct, with musical direction by Andy Einhorn. The benefit concert will also include the second annual Bucks County Playhouse Hall of Fame induction.
"As a producer of new musicals, I have become increasingly concerned that lyric writing is not getting the attention it deserves," said Robyn Goodman, Bucks County Playhouse executive producer. "The lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein have stood the test of time and show us how metaphor, poetry and simplicity have been lost in the age of Twitter and texting."
"Bucks County has a long history as the home to some of the great theatre artists through seven decades, from Mr. Hammerstein to George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, and currently Christopher Durang," added Alexander Fraser, BCP's producing director. "We want to bring a new generation of talented writers together with mentors to inspire them and bring back the art of lyric writing as practiced by the great Oscar Hammerstein."