Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Azuka Theatre Closes Season with Philadelphia Premiere of Hazard County
Azuka Theatre is closing its season with the Philadelphia Premiere of Allison Moore’s Hazard County. This 2005 Humana Festival piece will also mark the beginning of an annual program, The New Professionals. The show will be performed at Azuka’s new home at the Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, 1636 Sansom Street. The show starts previews June 14, opens Wednesday June 20 at 7 p.m., and closes Sunday July 1. Tickets cost $15-$27. Tickets are available online at www.azukatheatre.org or by phone at (215) 563-1100.
Each year, Azuka will dedicate one show to their New Professionals program. This production will allow Azuka to showcase the talents of recent college graduates as they prepare to enter the professional ranks. The shows will be performed and designed by recent college graduates giving them a professional credit and the chance to have their work seen by the professional theater community as well as the greater Philadelphia community. Azuka has a long standing tradition of helping to launch new theatrical careers, this program will enable the company to focus exclusively on that purpose .
In Hazard County, a young producer stumbles into town looking for stories and a fresh start; he believes he's found both in Ruth. Her made-for-TV tale captures his attention - a broke young woman in a rural Kentucky town, unable to access the trust fund set up for her children after her husband's murder. But neither of them has told the other the whole truth, and a past tainted by racism threatens to destroy Ruth's already shaky existence. This story is interspersed with memorable monologues from fans and critics of The Dukes of Hazzard, who blow apart the Southern stereotypes that tend to define Ruth's world.
Azuka Theatre Artistic Associate Allison Heishman directs this show. She was at the helm of Azuka’s the terrible girls last season. Her cast includes University of the Arts graduate Brandi Burgess, Otterbein College grad Jihad “Jay” Milhem, Temple Graduate Julia King, Swarthmore grad Brian Ratcliffe, and Arcadia grad Bailey Shaw.
Evan Leigh, a University of the Arts grad, is designing the set. Jamie Grace-Duff, a Temple MFA grad, is creating the costumes. Chris Hallenbeck, another Temple MFA grad, is desigining the lighting. Daniel Kontz,from West Chester University is the Sound Designer. Carrie Ryan, an Arcadia graduate, is the stage manager.
“I hope The New Professionals program will be both a challenge and a unique opportunity for both Azuka and for the recent grads, alike. It's important that we find a way to keep these young people invested in Philadelphia and this program is a big step in that direction,” said Heishman. “I look forward to creating more opportunities for graduates of the many excellent theatre programs in the greater Philadelphia area to work in theater, without necessarily having to create their own company to do so.”