May 28, 2013

Broadway-Hopeful NATIONAL PASTTIME to Play Regional Runs in Austin, Wilkes-Barre, & Peoria

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National Pastime, the baseball-themed new musical that recently played Off-Broadway, is planning an Arizona production at Peoria Theatre Works in March of 2014 prior to returning to New York, according to producer Jason Hewitt. This is the third upcoming production of the musical scheduled for regional theaters. Austin Theatre Works in Texas will mount the show in September of 2013 and the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre in Pennsylvania will run it in October of 2013. The production, with music and lyrics by Al Tapper and book by Tony Sportiello, debuted at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, and was subsequently presented at the Keegan Theater in Washington D.C. in spring 2011. It ran for a limited engagement at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre in August of 2012. The goal is to come back to New York for a Broadway run in 2014.

“We are thrilled to see theaters across the country embrace this new show and bring their own interpretation and vision to it,” Hewitt stated, saying he believes the show has been catching on due to its old fashioned charm and delightful score. National Pastime is the story of WZBQ, a 1933 radio station so desperate for ratings that it creates a fictional baseball team who can’t lose and plays their games over the air. The ploy works better than they ever imagined, and soon the station is on its feet again. Trouble comes when Life Magazine accidentally shows up and wants to do a story on the team.

March is a particularly attractive time for the show to play in the Phoenix area, says Hewitt, since Peoria is home to the spring training camps of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. Hundreds of thousands of baseball fans descend on the town in March and Hewitt hopes to have them lining up for a baseball-themed original musical as well.

“Each city has its own strength,” says book writer Sportiello. “Austin is big and beautiful, and the entire state of Texas loves sports. Peoria is an obvious draw because of its great theater scene and the spring training connections. And Wilkes-Barre is close enough to New York that we can work a bit more closely with the creative team if we want to.”

Besides being the composer of the original musicals Sessions, Imperfect Chemistry and An Evening at the Carlyle, Tapper has also produced two highly acclaimed PBS documentaries on theater – “Broadway: The Golden Age” and “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy”.