New Hope: After the Flood, Bucks County Playhouse Re-Opens July 5

News   New Hope: After the Flood, Bucks County Playhouse Re-Opens July 5
 
The Bucks County Playhouse in historic New Hope, PA, will re-open July 5 following recent flooding from the swollen Delaware River.
The exterior of Bucks County Playhouse.
The exterior of Bucks County Playhouse.

The musical, Miss Saigon, originally scheduled to open June 28 will now open 2 PM July 5 and continue for one week through July 9. Miss Saigon will return for an additional two week engagement from Nov. 1-12.

The week of June 26, heavy rains and rising rivers caused floods and the threat of flooding in the Mid-Atlantic states, including Pennsylvania, where the historic Bucks County Playhouse has been home to plays for almost 70 years.

Playhouse owner Ralph Miller told Playbill.com last week he had nine feet of water in his theatre and assessed the damage to be $1 million.

Miller expressed anger about what he called "a man-made flood." He blames selfish developers and municipalities far upriver for releasing water from their reservoirs during a time of heavy rain. He said he's exploring a class action lawsuit that he hopes will prevent problems in the future. New Hope has struggled with three floods in the past 19 months, Miller and other residents said.

Miller said flood insurance replaced materials and equipment at the Playhouse after the previous two floods — and will again for this flood. "It's ridiculous," Miller said, adding that there is also a human toll. People who live on the river banks on Waterloo Street have been moved to shelters for the third time in 19 months. The Playhouse's non-Equity actors live in high-ground housing pitched in to help clean up the theatre, Miller said.

Heading the cast of Miss Saigon the Vietnam-era-set musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Alain Boublil, is Patrick Ludt as Chris, with Lesly Tyrell Donald as John. The musical is directed by Michael Licata. Playhouse artistic director Stephen Casey choreographs.

Performances are Wednesday at 2 PM and 8 PM, Thursday and Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 4 PM and 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. Ticket prices range from $22-$24.

For reservations, call (215) 862-2041. The Bucks County Playhouse is located at 70 South Main Street in New Hope, PA.

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According to its website, "The Bucks County Playhouse is a national landmark rich in theatrical history. Some of the biggest and brightest names in show business first got their start on its stage.

"The building known as the Bucks County Playhouse was originally a grist mill. The Hope Mills, as they were first named, burned to the ground and were rebuilt in the year 1790 by local businessman, Benjamin Parry. This building was renamed the New Hope Mills and the town got a new name as well.

"With the threat of this already historic building being torn down in the 1930s, the mill was purchased by a group of individuals, including playwright Moss Hart, expressly for the purpose of performing live theatrical productions. Renovations began in 1938, and an official opening was scheduled for July 1, 1939. Workers continued renovations right up until a few minutes before the theatre opened its doors to the first paying customers. The first show performed was a drama, Springtime for Henry, starring the well known Edward Everett Horton.

"The Bucks County Playhouse grew rapidly. It soon became known as America's Most Famous Summer Theatre, and for good reason. Not only did performances feature well known stars of stage, screen and television, but the Playhouse also became known as a pre-Broadway theatre premiering some of the most famous dramas in theatrical history. Dramas like Harvey, Nobody Loves Me (aka Barefoot in the Park) and Give 'Em Hell Harry made their premieres at Bucks County."

The list of performers who have played there includes Kim Hunter, Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, Colleen Dewhurst, Shirley Booth, Sara Seegar, Lillian Gish, June Lockhart, Frances Reid, Peggy McCay, Grace Kelly, Bonnie Franklin, Kaye Ballard, Sandy Dennis, Farley Granger, Robert Redford, Paul Lynde, Kevin McCarthy, Bert Lahr, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Klugman, Gale Gordon, Roddy McDowell, Walter Matthau, Merv Griffin and Larry Hagman.

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