April 18, 2013

NATIONAL PASTIME to Open at Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, 10/25

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Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, a 350-seat theater operating for more than 90 years in Northeastern Pennsylvania, has announced that it is mounting the musical “National Pastime” for its 2013/2014 season. The show, written by Tony Sportiello with music and lyrics by Al Tapper, is scheduled to come to New York as a Broadway production in 2014.

The musical takes place in Baker City, Iowa, circa 1933 at the height of the Depression. A struggling radio station, WZBQ, is so desperate for ratings that it invents an unbeatable fictional baseball team and broadcasts its exploits over the air as if they were real. The Baker City Cougars (as the team is called) is an instant hit and the ratings soar. All is fine until Life Magazine accidentally stumbles upon Baker City and wants to do a story on the Cougars. The musical is an homage to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.

Little Theatre’s Artistic Director Hollie Major saw the Off-Broadway production at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre in New York City and approached the board about bringing it to Wilkes-Barre. She thought it would appeal to local audiences due to its light-hearted ambience, its catchy musical numbers, and its whimsical storyline. General Manager Walter Mitchell says “Our neighbors love baseball, and we pride ourselves in pointing to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders, the AAA farm team for the New York Yankees, as “our hometown club”. Being one of only a few venues nationally to mount this production is an absolute thrill for us.”

Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre began its first season in 1923 with the production of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Elephant’s Child”. It is one of the longest continuously running regional theatres in the United States, and has been recognized as one of the 10 best ‘little theatre’ groups in the land.

“National Pastime” played in the Major League Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2010. It was produced by Algonquin Theater Productions, which has also produced the shows “Sessions”, “LOL”, “An Evening at the Carlyle” and “The Devil and Billy Markham”. “Sessions” transferred to Guadalajara, Mexico, where it was named the Best Musical in 2011.

“National Pastime” opens in Wilkes-Barre October 25th and runs through November 10th, 2014.