Arden Theatre Company, the Philadelphia troupe devoted to recent and time-honored classics as well as new works, is presenting a free reading of a new musical, Eight Ways from Sunday, June 14.
The presentation follows a two-week workshop of the piece, which has book by Michael Hollinger, music and lyrics by Hollinger and Vance Lehmkuhl, based on a story by both writers. Arden artistic director Terrence J. Nolen directs.
Eight Ways from Sunday "follows a female singing group from Philadelphia as they travel to St. Louis to crash a barber shop quartet competition presented by the all-male Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America." The show is set in the early 1940s, the swing era.
Philly playwright Hollinger penned Red Herring, Tiny Island, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf and Incorruptible, which all had their world premieres at the Arden and have played more than 30 subsequent productions around the country and in London. His work is published by Dramatists Play Service. In addition to being a playwright, Hollinger studied music at Oberlin College, where he met his Eight Ways from Sunday partner, Vance Lehmkuhl.
Writer and musician Lehmkuhl is the author of "The Joy of Soy" and is a political cartoonist for Philadelphia City Paper. He is a founding member of the band Bah & The Humbugs. Eight Ways from Sunday is his first work for the stage. The Arden reading is made possible by through the Independence Foundation New Play Showcase. All five of the showcase readings since its inception in 1999 have gone on to full productions at the Arden. Last year, Baby Case, a musical about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, graduated from reading to full production at the Arden.
The reading of Eight Ways from Sunday will be presented 7 PM June 14 at the Arden, 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia. Admission is free. For information, call (215) 922-1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org.
— By Kenneth Jones