PHILADELPHIA — Mauckingbird Theatre Company, best known for its clever, poignant reflection on classic works through a gay lens, takes on a new kind of classic with a staged reading of the 1950s play Bad Seed by Maxwell Anderson. Directed by Mauckingbird Artistic Director Peter Reynolds, the reading includes performances by Barrymore Award winner Amanda Schoonover as 9-year-old Rhoda Penmark, the titular “bad seed,” and Michelle Eugene as her suffering mother Christine Penmark. The Bad Seed runs for one weekend only, January 25-27, at the Off-Broad Street Theater. Philadelphia’s own Martha Graham Cracker will serve as hostess for the reading, which benefits Mauckingbird, Philadelphia’s award-winning professional gay-themed theatre company.
Based on a 1954 novel by William March, The Bad Seed ran on Broadway for 334 performances, earning Nancy Kelly a Tony Award for her role as Christine Penmark. The play was then adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film that has since become a cult classic. In addition to Amanda Schoonover and Michelle Eugene, Mauckingbird’s production has attracted the participation of Barrymore Award winner Cheryl Williams in the role of Mrs. Daigle, the scenery-chewing drunken mother of Claude Daigle who meets his end at the hands of the bad seed; Chancellor Dean (Don Pedro in Mauckingbird’s acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing), portrays the handsome father Kenneth Penmark; and Jared Michael Delaney, Associate Artistic Director of Inis Nua Theatre Company, is Leroy, the hired hand who senses Rhoda’s treachery.
Reynolds affirms “Bad Seed is one of my favorite films, I am excited to explore the original play by Maxwell Anderson with such an ensemble of outstanding actors. It is my hope that Mauckingbird can continue to present staged readings of classic works that would be cost prohibitive to mount in a full production.”
Bad Seed runs January 25-27, 2013,at the Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, 1636 Sansom St. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and are available by calling the Mauckingbird Theatre Company box office at (215) 923-8909 or by visiting www.mauckingbird.org. All proceeds benefit Mauckingbird Theatre as it begins its sixth season bringing gay-themed professional theatre to Philadelphia.
ABOUT THE CAST
Amanda Schoonover plays the dark and manipulative Rhoda Penmark, a 9-year-old bad seed with a penchant for murder. She is a Barrymore Award-winning actress (Killer Joe, Theatre Exile) and 2010 F. Otto Haas Emerging Artist Finalist, and stars opposite Michelle Eugene (Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Media Theatre; Up,Bristol Riverside Theatre) as her mother, Christine. Leah Walton plays Christine’s best friend and landlady, Monica Breedlove. While Monica dotes on Rhoda, her maintenance man, Leroy Jessup (Jared Michael Delaney), understands Rhoda’s true nature.
Cheryl Williams (Mrs. Daigle) is a Barrymore Award-winning actress (The Breath of Life, Lantern Theater Company) who has performed nationally and locally with companies such as Mauckingbird (Hedda Gabler, Much Ado About Nothing), Quintessence Theatre Group (Antigone), New City Stage (Pterodactyls) and others. Mrs. Daigle and her husband, played by Michael Friel, are the parents of Rhoda’s unfortunate classmate Claude Daigle.
Christine’s own troubled past comes into focus through stories of her adopted father Richard Bravo, played by Leonard C. Haas (Private Lives, Lantern Theater Company) and new facts from writer Reginald Tasker, played by Doug Greene (The Temperamentals). The cast also includes Chancellor Dean (Much Ado About Nothing) as Christine’s husband, Col. Kenneth Penmark; Andrew Joos as Monica Breedlove’s brother, Emory Wages; and MaryLee Bednarek as schoolteacher Miss Fern.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Peter Reynolds (Artistic Director) currently serves as the Head of Musical Theater for the Department of Theater at Temple University. In Philadelphia, he has worked at Media Theatre, Act II Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, Villanova Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Philadelphia Young Playwrights and the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. Reynolds spent six years as Artistic Director of the award-winning HealthWorks Theatre in Chicago and has also worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Theatre Building Chicago, Apollo Theatre Chicago, St. Louis’ HotCity Theatre, Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre and Maples Repertory.
By Maxwell Anderson
Directed by Peter Reynolds
Hosted by Martha Graham Cracker
Presented by: Mauckingbird Theatre Company
Friday, January 25 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 26 at 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 27 at 2:00 p.m.
Location: Off-Broad Street Theater
at First Baptist Church
1636 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
Prices: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $10 Students
Mauckingbird Box Office:(215) 923-8909, www.mauckingbird.org
Cast (in alphabetical order)
MaryLee Bednarek Miss Fern
Chancellor Dean Col. Kenneth Penmark
Jared Michael Delaney Leroy
Michelle Eugene Christine Penmark
Michael Friel Mr. Daigle
Doug Greene Reginald Tasker
Leonard C. Haas Richard Bravo
Andrew Joos Emory Wages
Amanda Schoonover Rhoda Penmark
Leah Walton Monica Breedlove
Cheryl Williams Mrs. Daigle