Bud Martin Is New Artistic Director at PA's Act II; Married Alive! Cast Announced

News   Bud Martin Is New Artistic Director at PA's Act II; Married Alive! Cast Announced Act II Playhouse, the resident theatre in Ambler, PA, outside Philadelphia, has named Frank "Bud" Martin as its new producing artistic director and Harriet Power associate artistic director.

In addition Act II announced that Martin will direct the area premiere of Married Alive!, the new musical comedy that was recently added to the Playhouse's 2007-08 season.

The Sean Grennan-Leah Okimoto musical about a pair of newlyweds seen in contrast to a couple married for 15 years is blossoming in theatres around the country.

Martin has been serving as executive producer of Act II since January, working alongside founder Stephen Blumenthal to handle artistic and business responsibilities. He takes over the title of producing artistic director from Blumenthal, who will stay on as founding artistic director.

Assisting Martin with the artistic direction of the Playhouse will be Barrymore award-winning director and Act II regular Power, an associate professor of theatre and the graduate theatre adviser at Villanova University.

"Act II Playhouse is going to be ten years old this year, and I am going to be 80 years old," Blumenthal, who founded the Playhouse in 1998, said in a statement. "With my dream now firmly in place, it seems like a good time for me to start kicking back. Bud has already been a big part of Act II since the beginning of the year, which has allowed me to already start cutting back my time at the theatre. Bud and Harriet have the right experience to take Act II to even greater heights. This winning combination should prove unbeatable." With the change in leadership comes "an upgrade of the Playhouse's mission." Power was instrumental in shaping Act II's new mission: to create "world-class theatre in a venue whose intimacy draws audiences and actors into dynamic interrelation." Moving forward, the Playhouse will endeavor to produce "new, classic, and contemporary plays and musicals that reflect the highest artistic standards." The not-for-profit troupe's home seats 130.

Martin taught theatre in high school, college and graduate school and directed plays at Villanova and St. Joseph Universities before embarking on a professional producing and directing career in 1978. He produced and directed Off-Broadway, national tours, and regional theatre before entering the world of corporate finance in 1982. Two years ago, Martin reconnected with Philadelphia theatre, when he produced and directed The Children of Fatima for Theatre Catalyst in Philadelphia in July 2006. He's a producing partner on a number of projects, including the Broadway-bound 9 to 5.

"A long time ago I realized that in order for me to make my dreams come true, I had to be able to finance them," Martin stated. "I have been fortunate to have started and built a handful of successful companies, which for me, were just like producing and directing shows. I am blessed to now be able to go back and do what I always dreamed of doing. The majority of successful shows on Broadway right now had their origins in the small, professional regional theatres around the country. There is no reason why Act II cannot be the originator of new and wonderful works by exciting new playwrights and composers and receive long-term benefit for developing these new works."

Married Alive! plays Act II June 13-July 6.

The cast will include Rosemary Loar and Neal Mayer (as the older couple) and Sarah Shahinian and Kevin David Thomas (as the yonger couple).

Katya Stanislavskaya is music director, and Carmela Guiteras Mayo is choreographer. The production team also includes set designer John Hobbie, costume designer Mary Folino, lighting designer Jim Leitner and sound designer Mark Valenzuela.

Opening is June 18. For more information about Act II, call (215) 654-0200 or visit www.act2.org.

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