Michener Exhibition Celebrates 75 Years at the Bucks County Playhouse

DOYLESTOWN, PA-The names represent a virtual “who’s who” of American stage and screen in the 20thand early 21stcenturies: Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Helen Hayes, Walter Matthau, Angela Lansbury and Tyne Daly, as well as such renowned playwrights as George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, Neil Simon, and Terrance McNally. All these and many more have graced the stage of the Bucks County Playhouse.

Local Mill Makes Good: Celebrating 75 Years of American Theater at the Bucks County Playhouse, on view at the Michener Art Museum October 26, 2013, through March 2, 2014, tells the story of this historic New Hope landmark, tracing the Playhouse’s impact on American theater as well as the regional economy and cultural life. Bringing together a collection of diverse material, including rare photographs and footage, and artwork by Charles Child, Ben Solowey, Al Hirschfeld, Robert Beck and others, this exhibition celebrates the players, productions and producers who made the Playhouse a legend, from its birth in 1939 to its recent rebirth as the leading professional theater in the area.

Local Mill Makes Good: Celebrating 75 Years of American Theater at the Bucks County Playhouse is supported by the museum’s Corporate Business Partner Advisory Board.

“The Bucks County Playhouse was an incubator for the American Theater. New plays were nurtured there and brought to Broadway,” says Guest Curator David Leopold. “The recent renovation of the Playhouse is much more than an update of the building. It returns to the Playhouse to the work of professionals who continue the tradition of developing new plays for Broadway and theaters across the country. Unlike the amateur productions of the ’80s and ’90s, the young professional actors one sees today might be tomorrow’s Grace Kelly. This exhibition documents how the Playhouse changed New Hope, Broadway, Hollywood and thousands of actors and audiences who have been part of the performances there.”

The exhibition shows how the Playhouse impacted the economy of New Hope and the surrounding area from the moment it opened in 1939. “Without it, New Hope would not be much different than Lumberville or any of the little river towns,” says Leopold. “The success of the Playhouse brought a steady stream of new audiences to New Hope. Shops and galleries sprung up on Main Street, which helped support many local residents and artists mid century.”

The story of the playhouse, right up to its recent rebirth, is told through holdings in the Michener’s collection: an Edward Redfield painting of the Parry Mansion, showing what the area looked like before the playhouse; a map of New Hope painted mid-century by Charles Ward that shows how the Playhouse dominated the landscape; and photographs documenting the construction and opening of the Playhouse by Maynard Cark. Works from private and public collections cover a wide range of objects from the historic Playhouse box office window to the plaques that detailed different seasons, production photos, posters and programs, and even a New Hope parking meter.

Walk the red carpet, sit in actual playhouse seats to see footage from the Playhouse in 1949, or stroll backstage as the Michener Art Museum honors the Playhouse’s 75th season, paying tribute to the life and cultural impact of Grace Kelly-who made her stage debut at, where else-the Bucks County Playhouse!

Special Events and Exhibition Lectures:

Curator’s Lecture, presented by Guest Curator David Leopold, Tuesday, November 12, 1 to 2 pm. $15 member/$25 non-member/$10 student with valid ID, includes museum admission and admission to special exhibition,
From Philadelphia to Monaco: GRACE KELLY — Beyond the Icon. Advance registration required.

Special exhibition lecture: “Key Moments in American Musical Theatre History,” Thursday, December 12, 7 to 8 pm. Presented by Warren Hoffman, Philadelphia, Arts and Culture Director, Gershman Y. Free with museum admission. Advance registration recommended. Special Event: Playhouse History in Seven Scenes, Sunday, December 15, 3 to 4:30 pm. $15 member/$25 non-member/$10 student with valid ID, includes museum admission and admission to special exhibition, From Philadelphia to Monaco: GRACE KELLY — Beyond the Icon. Advance registration required.

Special Event: Playhouse History in Seven Scenes, Sunday, December 15, 3 to 4:30 pm. $15 member/$25 non-member/$10 student with valid ID, includes museum admission and admission to special exhibition, From Philadelphia to Monaco: GRACE KELLY — Beyond the Icon. Advance registration required.

Lecture-in-Song: The Bucks/Broadway Connection — Bucks County’s Musical Links to Broadway & Hollywood, Presented by Pianist/Singer/Narrator Fred Miller. Grace Kelly made her professional stage debut at the Bucks County Playhouse in 1949 – learn about major Broadway composers who had an early, and enduring, connection with Bucks County. Sunday, January 12, 3 to 4:15 pm. $15 member/$25 non-member/$10 student with valid ID, includes museum admission and admission to the exhibition From Philadelphia to Monaco: GRACE KELLY — Beyond the Icon. Advance registration required.

Leopold has organized exhibitions for a wide range of museums including the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library in America; and the Victoria and Albert Museum and Berlin’s Filmmuseum in Europe. He curated the Michener’s exhibition on Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Tony Auth in 2012.

The James A. Michener Art Museum is located at 138 South Pine St., Doylestown, Pa. Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4:30 pm; Saturday 10 am to 5 pm; Sunday noon to 5 pm. Admission: Members and children under 6, free; adults $15; seniors $13; college student with valid ID $11; ages 6-18 $7.50; under 6 free.

Note: During the run of From Philadelphia to Monaco: GRACE KELLY – Beyond the Icon, October 28, 2013, through January 26, 2014, the following hours and admission prices will be in effect: Monday through Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm; Sunday noon – 5 pm and Thursday evening until 8:30 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The Michener will be using a timed ticket entry system for non-members. Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended, and available only at www.MichenerArtMuseum.org or by calling 800-595-4849. Tickets include admission to all museum galleries and are free for members and children under 6; adults $18; seniors $17; college students with valid ID $16; ages 6-18 $8. Museum members enjoy priority entry and do not need timed tickets.

For more information, visit www.michenerartmuseum.org or call 215-340-9800.

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