Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival and Philadelphia’s 1812 Productions Kick-off the Summer Season with The Play That Goes Wrong

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Center Valley, PA: May 22, 2024—Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival partners with  Philadelphia’s 1812 Productions to present the smash hit The Play That Goes Wrong as the season opener, playing May 29 through June 16 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.

A farcical murder mystery and a play-within a play, The Play That Goes Wrong played for sold-out audiences on Broadway and in London’s West End before Philadelphia’s 1812 Productions—the area’s sole theater company dedicated to comedy—made its regional sell-out debut at Plays & Players Theatre last year under the helm of 1812’s Producing Artistic Director, Jennifer Childs.

Now Childs, and the original cast of Philadelphia’s finest and funniest performers, Sean CloseMelanie CottonScott GreerJustin JainTony LawtonEli LynnKaren Peakes, and Ian Merrill Peakes, reunite to bring the kinetic mayhem of The Play That Goes Wrong to the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) stage.

“At PSF, the expanded space offers more room for improvisation, allowing for surprise appearances and extra action. Audiences seeing this incarnation can look forward to some additional shenanigans,” said Childs. “I am looking forward to hearing the audience’s laughter as they experience The Play That Goes Wrong. Right now, more than ever, the world needs more comedy!”

In this hilarious hybrid of Agatha Christie meets Monty Python, The Play That Goes Wrong will have you laughing all the way to the final curtain call. After benefitting from a large and sudden inheritance, the inept and accident-prone Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society embark on producing an ambitious 1920s murder mystery. Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor, where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), it’s “a riotous explosion of comedy” (The Daily Beast) and “tons of fun for all ages” (HuffPost).

Directed by Childs, she brings the same stellar creative team from the Philly production including scenic designer Colin McIlvaine, props designer Liz McDonald, costume designer Janus Stefanowicz, lighting designer Alyssandra Docherty, and sound designer Damien FiguerasTom Shotkin is the stage manager, and Julia Levis is the assistant stage manager.

Patrons can enhance their experience with show extras including a post-show champagne toast, a Director’s Dinner themed to the play, talk-backs with the actors, and an Audio Described and Open Captioned performance. For specific dates and times of all events visit

The Production Sponsor for the The Play That Goes Wrong is Breslin Architects, and the Co-Sponsors are Mary Bongiorno and Keenan-Nagle Advertising.

The Festival’s 2024 Season Sponsors are Lee and Dolly Butz. The Associate Season Sponsors are Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth, Kathleen Kund Nolan and Timothy E. Nolan, the Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.

Tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling the box office at 610.282.WILL [9455], ext. 1, or in person at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University, in Center Valley.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the official Shakespeare Festival of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, features acclaimed actors from Broadway, television, and film, and is the summer home to over 200 artists from around the country, including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Jefferson, and Barrymore Awards.


The 2024 Summer Season—May 29 to August 4, 2024

“Play On!” Community Tour: May 31 to June 16

The Comedy of Errors


Main StagePSF presents 1812 Productions: The Play That Goes Wrong

(May 29 to June 16); The Merry Wives of Windsor (June 26 to July 7); The Color Purple

(July 17 to August 4).


Schubert TheatreThe Last Five Years (June 12 to June 30); Cymbeline (July 24 to August 4).


Children’s Theatre: Winnie-the-Pooh & Friends | Schubert Theatre – July 5 to August 3; Shakespeare for Kids (S4K) presents Twelfth Night | Main Stage – July 24 to August 3; S4K Mini Tour: Friday, July 26th at Allentown Public Library; Saturday, July 27th at Lower Macungie Library; Wednesday, July 31st at Bucks County Free Library (Quakertown Branch); Thursday, August 1st at Hellertown Area Library.

The Festival will host its 2nd annual Community Day event on Saturday, July 6, 2024. The event will take place on the mall and in front the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University. 

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival Artistic Leadership

JASON KING JONES (Artistic Director) Prior to moving to the Lehigh Valley with his family, Jason spent ten years at Maryland’s Olney Theatre Center, where he served as Senior Associate Artistic Director and Artistic Director of National Players, America’s longest-running touring theatre company. In the past twenty-five years Jason directed over seventy-five productions, mentored hundreds of early-career theatre makers, and established various in school and summer educational programs. He is an Acting Company alumnus, a proud member of the PSF Board, and a member of the Shakespeare Theatre Association’s IDEAA Committee, and Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit & Business Partners Council. Jason holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Missouri State and an MFA in Directing from Boston University.

CASEY WILLIAM GALLAGHER (Managing Director) has worked at PSF for 26 seasons. Over the years he was a box office intern, a stage management intern, the assistant house manager, box office manager, company manager, assistant producer, director of development and worked directly with PSF Founder Jerry Schubert in the early years of the organization. Since 2004, in his role as general manager and later managing director, he served as the administrative leader of the festival, working very closely with former Producing Artistic Director Patrick Mulcahy and the box office, business, development, marketing and production departments. Casey now serves as co-leader of the Festival with Artistic Director Jason King Jones. Beyond PSF, Casey was treasurer for the Shakespeare Theatre Association, director of audience services for The People’s Light & Theatre Company, a board member for Civic Theatre of Allentown, a peer panelist for the New Jersey Council on the Arts and a judge for the Greater Philadelphia Barrymore Awards for excellence in theatre.

Actor Bios

SEAN CLOSE (Dennis/Perkins) PSF: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] [again] (Daniel) and Much Ado About Nothing (Don John). Regional: 1812 Productions, The Play That Goes Wrong (Dennis/Perkins), This is the Week That Is (News Anchor/ Ensemble); Theatre Horizon, TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever (TJ); Arden Theatre, A Midsummers Night’s Dream (Lysander/ Flute); Quintessence Theatre, One Man, Two Guvnors (Francis); and many others. TV/Film: 21 BridgesDispatches From Elsewhere.

MELANIE COTTON (Annie) Her performance credits include In the Heights (Walnut Street Theater), It’s My Party (1812 Productions), Swamp is On (Pig Iron), Allan Kaprow’s Chicken [1962] (Reinvented by Alex Da Corte), The Play That Goes Wrong (1812 Productions). Melanie’s work as a choreographer has been featured in The Legend of Georgia McBride (Arden Theatre), The Appointment (Lightning Rod Special), TJ Loves Sally 4Ever (Theatre Horizon), Love Notes: A Year of No Regrets (The Bearded Ladies Cabaret), Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto (People’s Light), and most recently Co-directed and choreographed 2023’s This is The Week That Is (1812 Productions).

SCOTT GREER (Robert/Thomas) Last seen here in Twelfth Night, he is a 30-year veteran of Philadelphia theatre, and has worked for 1812 Productions, Walnut Street Theatre, InterAct Theatre, The Wilma Theater, People’s Light, Delaware Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, Act II Playhouse and many more. Regionally, he has worked for Actors Theatre of Louisville, Round House Theatre, and The Pearl Theatre in New York. He has won six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, including the F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Theatre Artist. He was named “Best Theatre Talent” by Philadelphia Magazine.

JUSTIN JAIN (Max/Cecil/Arthur) is an actor, director, educator, Wilma HotHouse Company member, and Co-artistic Director of The Berserker Residents. Justin has performed Off-Broadway and with many regional theaters including: Arden Theatre, InterAct Theatre, Lantern Theater, Azuka Theatre, People’s Light, FringeArts, Shakespeare in Clark Park, McCarter Theatre, Theatre Horizon, Passage Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, The Assembly in Edinburgh, ASU Gammage, and Ars Nova NYC, among others. Justin won the 2019 Barrymore for Outstanding Performance in a Play for his work in The Great Leap. Recent credits: Noises Off at Delaware Theatre Company, The Good Person of Setzuan at The Wilma Theater (Director), and playing Jay on Albie’s Elevator on PBS/WHYY.

ANTHONY LAWTON (Chris/Inspector Carter) has acted in Philadelphia for thirty-two years. Favorite roles include George in Of Mice and Men (Walnut Street Theatre); “man” in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1812 Productions); and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet (Arden Theatre). In 2005, Lawton received grants from the Independence Foundation and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative to write and develop The Foocy, which garnered five Barrymore nominations (including Best New Play). In 2016, his adaptation of The Light Princess (with music by Alex Bechtel) was nominated for 8 Barrymores, winning for Best Original Music. The Philadelphia City Paper named him the city’s “Best One-Man Theatre” for his solo productions of The Devil and Billy MarkhamThe Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters.

ELI LYNN (Trevor) is an actor, Intimacy Director, and Barrymore-nominated fight director. PSF credits: Hal (Henry IV, Pt. 2), Jess (Complete Works … Abridged), Flute (Midsummer). Recent regional credits: Big Alison (Fun Home, New Light Theatre), Trevor (TPTGW, 1812 Productions), Orsino/Toby (Twelfth Night) and Jean 3/Prince (Thrive, American Shakespeare Center), Aramis (The Three Musketeers, Cleveland Playhouse), Dorcus/Dion (The Winter’s Tale, Folger Theatre). They have studied stage combat for 15 years, and are recognized as an Advanced Actor Combatant with five international organizations. Recent fight credits include: The Lightning Thief (Drexel), Noises Off (DTC), Sense and Sensibility (PSF), TPTGW (1812). They’re also an Artistic Associate with Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.

IAN MERRILL PEAKES (Jonathan/Charles) PSF: A Midsummer Night’s DreamAs You Like It, Blithe Spirit, The Taming of the Shrew, et al. Philly: Lantern Theater: Lifespan of a FactMolly SweeneyFaith Healer; Walnut Street Theatre: Blithe SpiritMatildaPeter and the Starcatcher; Arden Theatre: Something Intangible (Barrymore Award), All My Sons (Barrymore Award); The Wilma Theater, Delaware Theatre, 1812 Productions, Philadelphia Theatre Company: Sideman (Barrymore Award); Theatre Exile: Red Light Winter and Invisible Hand (Barrymore Award nominations). Regional: ACT, Seattle Rep and Shakespeare Theatre: Charles III; Folger: R and G are Dead (Helen Hayes Award), Henry VIIIMacbethThe Game of Love and Chance (Helen Hayes nominations); Denver Center for the Performing Arts: The CatchGlengarry Glen Ross (Best of Denver Awards); Actors Theatre of Louisville, Shakespeare Santa CruzGulfshore Playhouse. Ian is a brand new company member at People’s Light where he played Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

KAREN PEAKES (Sandra/Florence) Last appeared in Blithe Spirit and The Taming of the Shrew in 2016. Primarily working in the Philadelphia area in theatres such as Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre, The Wilma Theater, Act 2 Playhouse, People’s Light, Delaware Theatre Company, InterAct, The Lantern, and 1812 Productions, she has also worked extensively with The Folger Theatre, in DC, The Peterborough Players, in NH, and The Gulfshore Playhouse, in FL. She is a two-time Audie Award Nominated audiobook narrator.

Creative Bios

JENNIFER CHILDS (Director) She is the Producing Artistic Director of 1812 Productions, a Philadelphia based theater company dedicated to comedy.  For 1812, she has created over 20 original works of theatrical comedy including The CarolsTo the Moon, and the annual political humor show This is the Week That Is. In addition to directing The Play That Goes Wrong at 1812, other recent directing credits include What the Constitution Means To Me (Arden Theatre Company), Noises Off (Delaware Theatre Company) and Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Walnut Street Theatre).

ALYSSANDRA DOCHERTY (Lighting Designer) is a Philadelphia-based lighting designer originally from Vernon, NJ, and a DeSales University Theatre alumna. PSF: The Adventures of Robin Hood & Maid Marian, An Iliad. Select Regional: Here You Come Again (Goodspeed Musicals); Once On This Island, What the Constitution Means to Me (Arden Theatre Company); Always Patsy Cline, Peter and the Starcatcher, Noises Off, Man of La Mancha [Barrymore Award Recipient] (Delaware Theatre Company); A Sherlock Carol (Wesport Country Playhouse); The 39 Steps (Virginia Stage Company); The Garbologists, Sweat (Philadelphia Theatre Company); The Woman in Black (Florida Repertory Theatre); The Flatlanders, The Play That Goes Wrong (1812 Productions). Her designs have been recognized with Barrymore and Ostrander Award nominations in Philadelphia and Memphis respectively.

DAMIEN FIGUERAS (Sound Designer) is a 5-time Barrymore nominated sound and video designer. Recent credits include: Party Face (Off-Broadway, NY City Center), Peter and the Starcatcher (Delaware Theatre Company), The Winter Wonderettes (Gulfshore Playhouse), Cabaret (Bristol Riverside Theatre), What the Constitution Means to Me (Arden Theatre), Kiss (The Wilma Theater), The Play That Goes Wrong (1812 Productions), Beehive (Walnut Street Theatre), Moth (Azuka Theatre), Rose: You Are Who You Eat (The Bearded Ladies). In addition to his design work, Damien is the Production Manager for Wolf Performing Arts Center and a founding member of Apartment 20 Theatre.

JULIA LEVIS (Assistant Stage Manager) (they/them) is a Philadelphia-based theater artist. Julia has been the Assistant Stage Manager for 1812 Productions for the past six years, including for the original run of The Play That Goes Wrong.

ELI LYNN (Fight Director) (they/them) is an actor, Intimacy Director, and Barrymore-nominated fight director. PSF credits: Hal (Henry IV, Pt. 2), Jess (Complete Works … Abridged), Flute (Midsummer). Recent regional credits: Big Alison (Fun Home, New Light Theatre), Trevor (TPTGW, 1812 Productions), Orsino/Toby (Twelfth Night) and Jean 3/Prince (Thrive, American Shakespeare Center), Aramis (The Three Musketeers, Cleveland Playhouse), Dorcus/Dion (The Winter’s Tale, Folger Theatre). They have studied stage combat for 15 years, and are recognized as an Advanced Actor Combatant with five international organizations. Recent fight credits include: The Lightning Thief (Drexel), Noises Off (DTC), Sense and Sensibility (PSF), TPTGW (1812). They’re also an Artistic Associate with Philadelphia Artists’ Collective.

LIZ MCDONALD (Props Designer) Other 1812 credits include, The Flatlanders and This is the Week That Is. She works as a freelance prop designer and set dresser and has designed, taught, directed and performed all over the Philadelphia and Chicagoland areas for the last 24 years. She served as the Stage Manager for the Young Actor’s series at Montgomery Theater for several seasons where she also received a Barrymore nomination for their production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and was the former Production and Company Manager at Act II Playhouse. By day, Liz is the Assistant General Manager at People’s Light.

COLIN MCILVAINE (Scenic Designer) (he/him) is a Philadelphia-based, Barrymore nominated scenic designer named as one of American Theatre Magazine’s 20 People to Watch. Recent credits include: Putnam County Spelling Bee (Arden Theatre Company); Noises Off (Delaware Theatre Company). Colin’s recent associate design credits include: A Christmas Carol (Guthrie Theater); Le Roi Arthus (Bard SummerScape); Pipeline (Lincoln Center). In addition to his freelance career, Colin is adjunct faculty for Villanova University. B.A. University of Maryland; MFA Scenic Design Temple University.

THOMAS E.  SHOTKIN (Stage Manager)  He has been production stage manager for 1812 Productions for over 21 years. Favorite shows include: The Play That Goes WrongThis Is The Week That IsI Will Not Go GentlyOur Show Of ShowsTo The MoonThe Four Of UsBat Boy: The Musical. Other SM credits: Assassins at Arden Theatre, The 39 Steps at Montgomery Theater, People’s Light, Theatre Exile, Arena Stage (DC), Barnstormers Theatre (NH). Tom has also worked for PlayPenn, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Hartford Stage Company, Azuka Theatre Collective, and Boarshead Theater (MI).

JANUS STEFANOWICZ (Costume Designer) is the Costume Shop Manager and Resident Costume Designer for Villanova University’s Theatre Department where she has worked for 35 years. She is also an adjunct professor for the Villanova Graduate Theatre and Studio Art Department. Her designs have also graced the stages of many Philadelphia regional stages including Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, 1812 Productions, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Lantern Theater, Act ll Playhouse, Theatre Horizon, The Wilma Theater, Delaware Theatre Co, and Tiny Dynamite. She has been nominated for 17 Barrymore Awards with 3 wins for Best Costume Design.


Information provided to TVL by:
Tina Louise Slak
Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
The Professional Theatre at DeSales University
2755 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034
p: 610-282-WILL [9455]