School Board in Uproar in People Be Heard, a Comedy With Songs, Opening Sept. 23 at Playwrights Horizons

News   School Board in Uproar in People Be Heard, a Comedy With Songs, Opening Sept. 23 at Playwrights Horizons People Be Heard, the unique song-spiked comedy about participating in the democratic process no matter who you are, opens Sept. 23 following previews since Aug. 31 at Playwrights Horizons in Manhattan.

In the case of a small-town school board in need of another member, a stripper named Rita — played by Funda Duval — is chosen for the job, shaking up the board and challenging the hicksville showgirl as she's never been challenged before.

Quincy Long penned the comedy, directed by Erica Schmidt (Debbie Does Dallas). Original music is by Michael Roth (Off-Broadway's The Persians, Talking Heads, Dinner with Friends). Choreography is by Peter Pucci (Barry Manilow's Harmony).

Audiences have found in previews that the show's songs are not completely integrated into the plot, but rather serve to punctuate the scenes and the mood. The unique hybrid play-with-songs — not without broad-strokes fantasy scenes, nudity and strip-club dance numbers — touches on issues of community, responsibility, conservatism, education and parenting.

The not-for-profit PH bills the work this way: "People Be Heard is an offbeat, distinctly American musical ode to the freedom of choice and the power to affect change."

The title refers to time alotted for public comments at a school board meeting — the "people be heard" segment. Quincy Long is the author of The Joy of Going Somewhere Definite and Shaker Heights.

The cast includes Annie Golden (The Full Monty, Assassins), Conrad John Schuck (known for Annie on Broadway and around the country), Dashiell Eaves (James Joyce's The Dead and Broadway's recent The Sound of Music), plus Guy Boyd (Betty's Summer Vacation), Laura Heisler (Tina Howe's Water Music at EST), Brian Hutchison (The Invention of Love) and Kathy Santen (Les Misérables and a two-time Joseph Jefferson Award winner).

Performances continue to Oct. 10 at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage at 416 W. 42nd Street.

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"People Be Heard concerns a small American town that becomes embroiled in a fierce debate over the teaching of Evolution in the schools, and the single mother (a stripper at the local Wiggle Room, played by Funda Duval) who is unwittingly drawn into the fray when she is appointed to the local school board," according to PH.

Designers are Christine Jones (sets), Michelle Phillips (costumes), Michael Lincoln (lighting) and Brett Jarvis (sound). Music direction is by Michael Roth & Steve Tarshis. Music coordinator is John Miller.

The performance schedule for People Be Heard is Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $55. Student rush tickets will be available for $15 (cash only, day of performance, subject to availability).

For subscription and ticket information to all Playwrights Horizons productions, call Ticket Central at (212) 279 4200, or visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.

Funda Duval (left) and Annie Golden in <i>People Be Heard</i>
Funda Duval (left) and Annie Golden in People Be Heard Photo by Joan Marcus
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