The work of lyricist Susan Birkenhead will be saluted Aug. 15 at a season preview party and benefit fundraiser for The Northeastern Theatre Ensemble, the resident Equity theatre in Scranton, PA.
The Broadway lyricist (High Society, Triumph of Love) will be on hand to tell stories of her work. Singers Gerald Stockstill and Amy Schmidt will perform work from Jelly's Last Jam, Triumph of Love and the upcoming The Night They Raided Minsky's (her new project, with Charles Strouse, slated for Broadway 2000). Steve Yorra is the pianist.
The 4 PM benefit, at Patsel's restaurant in Glenburn, PA, will also include a season preview of The Northeastern Theatre's 1999-2000 season.
In the new season, TNT, one of two Equity-affiliated resident theatre companies in Scranton, PA, will offer the world premiere of Joan, a "wild romp through the history of France, medieval weaponry and the trial of the famous Maid of Orleans."
The new work by Donna Kaz, the company's new artistic director, is a theatricalization of Joan or Arc's world, acted by six young performers. Kaz, a New Yorker, is artistic associate at the York Theatre Company in Manhattan. Joan plays Feb. 3-13, 2000.
The rest of the season by TNT (the company's recent new abbreviation) includes the area premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees in Honey Drown, directed by Los Angeles director-teacher Laura Henry (Oct. 21 31) and Donald Margulies' Collected Stories (April 6-16, 2000).
Scranton's other company with an Equity affiliation is the Pennsylvania Summer Theatre Festival.
TNT executive director Elizabeth Feller-Markowitz told Playbill On-Line the company's 99-seat flexible space is in the Scranton Cultural Center, a former Masonic Temple. The company uses special appearance contracts with Equity.
She said TNT shows draw crowds from Wilkes-Barre, the Poconos, Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania, thus the "Northeastern" name.
Artistic director Kaz said there will be a focus on staging new works and works by recent contemporary playwrights, although the company has always tried to stage works other than mysteries, comedies and middlebrow fare.
Single tickets range $6-$16.
For season tickets, call (888) 669-8966, or for TNT information, call (570) 969-1770.
-- By Kenneth Jones