Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre plans ambitious 39th season

MSMT season features Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes,’
Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt’s ‘Bring It On,’
original all-ages circus experience ‘Bohemia

Allentown, Pa. (May 15, 2019) — This summer, tap dancing gangsters at sea, high-flying cheerleaders, and a world premiere fantastical circus experience come together into an ambitious summer season of professional theater on the campus of Muhlenberg College.

The Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre season kicks off with “Bring it On: The Musical,” June 13-30 — a pop musical loosely based on the 2000 film of the same title. The show features the work of some of Broadway’s most celebrated playwrights and composers — including a score co-written by “Hamilton” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Cole Porter’s 1930s Jazz Age classic “Anything Goes” sets sail July 11-28, featuring a love triangle that leads to hijinx on the high seas — as well as dance numbers choreographed by acclaimed tap choreographer Shelley Oliver. Porter’s beloved score includes such classic tunes as “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “You’re the Top.”

Circus director Noah Dach brings another of his original all-ages productions to the MSMT stage: “Bohemia,” a world-premiere circus piece for all ages, June 26 – July 27. This hour-long show follows the record-breaking runs of Dach’s “Wild” and “TAL: Beyond Imagination.” A free 45-minute Imagination Workshop follows each performance.

“All three shows, brilliant in their own right, are backed by Muhlenberg’s innovative design and creative teams,” says Charles Richter, MSMT’s founding artistic director.

“Bring It On: The Musical” takes audiences on a high-flying journey of friendship and forgiveness, set in the competitive world of high school cheerleading. Campbell is cheer-royalty at Truman High School, and her senior year should prove the best yet, as she’s been named captain of the cheerleading squad. But an unexpected redistricting has forced her to spend her final year of high school at the neighboring hard-knock Jackson High School. Despite having the deck stacked against her, Campbell befriends the dance crew girls and, along with their headstrong and hardworking leader, Danielle, manages to form a powerhouse squad for the ultimate competition – the National Championships.

The show features music by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composers Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”), lyrics by Miranda and by Amanda Green (“High Fidelity”), and a book by Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”).

The show is directed by James Peck, who brought Miranda’s “In the Heights” to the MSMT stage in 2016. It features choreography by Samuel Antonio Reyes and musical direction by Ed Bara, who also worked on “In the Heights.”

To coordinate the show’s complex cheer routines, Muhlenberg alum Gabrielle Hines has come on board as the show’s “cheerographer.” At Muhlenberg, Hines was a cheerleader and theater major, graduating in 2018. She is also a veteran of Peck’s MSMT productions of “In the Heights” and “Hair,” as well as last season’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

“I cannot wait to see these two world collide on stage,” she says. “Jim is the perfect ‘cheer dad’ for the cast of ‘Bring It On.’”

Cole Porter’s classic Jazz Age musical “Anything Goes” stands among the most beloved of the 1930s, featuring timeless standards like “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “You’re the Top.”

The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13, “Moonface” Martin, aid Billy in his quest to win Hope.

“This show is like a vacation,” Says director Charles Richter. “Cole Porter’s whimsical libretto conjures nostalgia for oceans you’ve never crossed.”

The show features musical direction by Bryan L. Wade and choreography by Shelley Oliver, an acclaimed tap choreographer and instructor.

The all-ages circus experience “Bohemia” is the final chapter in Noah Dach’s wildly successful trilogy of circus performances, following “Wild” and “Tal: Beyond Imagination.” Like its predecessors, the show features feats of aerial acrobatics, juggling, clowning, magic and dance, and is designed for the enjoyment of children and adults alike.

The show tells the story of a group of childhood friends, dreaming of a spectacular future: space travel, spotlights, and true love. As their dreams unfold, they embark on a journey of self-discovery, making the brave leap together into an unknown future.

“If you’ve ever dreamt about what the future will look like this show is for you,” Dach says.

A Muhlenberg alum and adjunct faculty member in Muhlenberg’s dance program, Dach says he’s thrilled with the cast he has assembled for the production, which features several alumni of his past MSMT circus shows.

“This is the best group we have yet,” he says.

“Bring it On: The Musical” runs June 13-30 in the Empie Theatre. “Anything Goes” runs July 11-28 in the Baker Theatre. Performances for both shows are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees the first Saturday and every Sunday.

Tickets are $35 for the first four performances of each show, $41 thereafter, with discounts for seniors, students, youth, and groups of 15 or more.

“Bohemia” runs June 26 – July 27 in the Studio Theatre, with performances Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $11 for June performances, $13 for remaining performances, with group rates of $6 for non-profit groups and $8 for other groups.

Tickets are available at muhlenberg.edu/SMT, or at box office at 484.664.3333, Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg College is a highly selective, private, four-year residential college located in Allentown, PA., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, sciences, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.

Information Provided By:
Scott Snyder
Marketing & Development Manager
Muhlenberg College Department of Theatre & Dance