(Philadelphia, PA) Arden Theatre Company continues its 28th season with the world premiere of Funnyman, from January 14 – March 6, 2016, on the Arden’s Arcadia Stage at 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia.
The play is set in New York City in 1959, where an aging comic, grasping to remain relevant in the ever-changing world of “show biz,” tries to revive his career with a starring turn in an avant-garde off-Broadway play. Meanwhile, his daughter struggles to uncover the truths from her childhood that her father would rather keep hidden.
Playwright Bruce Graham is one of Philadelphia’s leading playwrights. This is the Arden’s forth presentation of a Bruce Graham work, including the seven-time Barrymore Award-winning SOMETHING INTANGIBLE (2009). Like INTANGIBLE, which was inspired by brothers Roy and Walt Disney during the early days of animation, Funnyman also explores the connection between show business and family relationships, this time during the early days of television.
Graham was inspired to write Funnyman after reading John Lahr’s book Confessions of a Cowardly Lion, in which he writes about his father, Burt Lahr’s, performance in WAITING FOR GODOT. He was also inspired by all the great vaudevillians and great comics who tried to find new relevance as TV and film became more popular.
Graham says, “This play is set at a time when art forms were changing. Comedy was changing and so, too, was the world of theatre. Stuff that played in the 20s and 30s, just didn’t work anymore after World War II. Artists had to adapt and that wasn’t always easy.”
“I have always been fascinated by the world of comedy. We don’t take comics seriously. I used to be a stand-up comic and it’s tough. You look at great comedians like Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey. They are terrific at what they do, but rarely get the critical respect they deserve. That always bothered me.”
Arden Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen adds, “The power of Bruce’s play is that it achingly depicts a man who’s spent his entire life mastering an art form that is no longer popular. Funnyman speaks to a world in transition: the struggle to remain relevant and, perhaps more importantly, valued.”
Funnyman is being produced as part of a rolling world premiere agreement between Arden Theatre Company and Northlight Theatre, located outside of Chicago in Skokie, Illinois. Northlight produced the play in September.
The cast features Carl N. Wallnau as the lead character, “Chick Sherman,” and Keith Conallen, Brian Cowden, Charlie DelMarcelle, Emilie Krause and Kenny Morris.
Schedule and Events
Funnyman begins previews on Thursday, January 14, 2016, opens to the press on Wednesday, January 20, 2016, and runs through Sunday, March 6, 2016.
Single ticket prices are $36-$50, with discounts available for groups of 15 or more, seniors, students, military, and educators. Three-Show Mainstage Subscriptions are still on sale for the 2015/16 Season and range in price from $84 - $135. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, or view details and order online here or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.
Founded in 1988, Arden Theatre Company is dedicated to bringing to life great stories by great storytellers–on the stage, in the classroom, and in the community. Five productions are staged each season as part of the Mainstage series and two productions through Arden Children’s Theatre, the city’s first resident professional children’s theatre program. New work is produced through the Independence Foundation New Play Showcase. The Arden’s Education Department includes: Arden for All (AFA), a theatre access and education program for underserved young people; Arden Drama School, the after-school, Saturday, and summer camp classes for students in grades pre K-12; Teen Arden, an immersive after-school access program for Philadelphia-area based teenagers; and the Arden Professional Apprentice Program, a nationally renowned comprehensive theatre management training program. The Hamilton Family Arts Center is the new facility dedicated to education programs and new play development.
The Arden has received numerous honors including 63 awards and 307 nominations from the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. The Arden is a winner of four “Theatre Company of the Year” designations (Philadelphia Inquirer), six Philadelphia Magazine “Best of Philly” awards and three “Best of Philly Kids” awards, the City Paper’s Reader’s Choice Award and the prestigious “Great Friend to Kids Award” from the Please Touch Museum for Arden Children’s Theatre work. For accessibility efforts, the Arden was named a “Keystone of Accessibility” by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Arden Theatre Company is a professional, nonprofit 501(c)(3) theatre company and a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the League of Resident Theatres, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Old City Arts Association. The Arden also participates in The Barrymore Awards, a program of Theatre Philadelphia