Academy for the Performing Arts Celebrates its 10th anniversary of nurturing young artists in professional theatre

The Academy celebrates its tenth anniversary of developing young theatre artists and presenting powerful classic plays with seasons of dynamic fully mounted productions.

Since 2008, the Academy has offered students from 10 school districts in northeast Ohio, a two-year classical education in the theatre arts, resulting in over $20 million in scholarship offers for the graduates of the program. The Academy works and performs out of The Chagrin Falls Performing Arts Center at Chagrin Falls High School. Chagrin Falls Exempted Schools is the host school of this national Career-Tech initiative. The Academy is directed by veteran actor, director and educator Thomas Q. Fulton Jr. and is staffed with some of the finest professional theatre talents in Cleveland, Ohio.

The TENTH ANNIVERSARY SEASON kicks off in October with the award-winning Broadway musical: Terrance McNally’s musical adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s brilliant novel RAGTIME, starring Academy alum and BW 2018 grad, Matthew Harris as Coalhouse Walker Jr... In December, The Academy presents Tennessee Williams, ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE. Two weeks later, Faculty Director Mitchell Fields opens our yearly IMPROV SHOW with “Second City” stylings. February brings the Cleveland Premiere of Dennis Kelly’s murder mystery DNA. Shakespeare makes his ninth visit to the Academy in March with a fresh, new HAMLET, played in an “Edwardian” theme. Later in March, the company will present its yearly One Act Play Festival: This year the plays will be: THE RADIUM GIRLS by D.W. Gregory, OH, FREEDOM: THE STORY OF THE UNDERGROUND REAILROAD written by Clevelander Peter Manos and Thornton Wilder’s beautiful play: THE LONG CHRISTMAS DINNER. In May, the Academy asks us to remember our youth as we present the prequel to Peter Pan: PETER AND THE STARTCHER, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice.

The details of the Academy for the Performing Art’s 10th ANNIVERSARY SEASON are as follows:

Oct. 27, 28, 29 - RAGTIME -- Based on the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States in the early 20th century: African Americans, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; upper-class suburbanites, represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class family in New Rochelle, New York; and Eastern European immigrants, represented by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. The music by Stephen Flaherty and the book by Terrance McNalley includes soaring melodies, toe-tapping ragtime and a brilliant moving story of the struggle of America to incorporate “the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” Directed by Tom Fulton. Choreograph by Sara Bogomolny, Music Direction by Marcia Snavely. Set and Lighting by Ben Needham.

December 7-10
Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams - The action takes place in Glorious Hill, Mississippi, shortly before the First World War. Alma Winemiller, a sensitive and lonely young woman, has become increasingly restive and disturbed by the fear that she will remain a spinster. Hemmed in by her stern minister father, and her deranged mother, she makes a final, and almost desperate attempt to win the man of her choice—a young doctor whose social-climbing mother frowns on his attachment to Alma. The play centers on the complex relationship between these two; her touching attempts to sway his emotions; and his uncertainty as to where his heart should lead him. In the end, there is to be only one truly beautiful moment between them—for neither can break the ties of family and position which draw them apart and which, inevitably, defeat Alma's hopes for a new and fuller life. Directed by Mitchell Fields

December 20-22
The Academy Improv Show – Seniors of the Academy perform “second-city” stylings in an evening of improvisation, audience participation and laughter! Directed by Mitchell Fields

February 8-10
DNA by Dennis Kelly - Some teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their once fractious lives, where's the incentive to put things right? Directed by Sara Bogomolny

March 1-4
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare – Regarded as the greatest play in the western world by the greatest playwright. Prince Hamlet is depressed. Having been summoned home to Denmark from school in Germany to attend his father's funeral, he is shocked to find his mother Gertrude already remarried. The Queen has wed Hamlet's Uncle Claudius, the dead king's brother. His Father’s ghost comes to him and announces he was murdered. From there, Hamlet scrambles to find the truth. Directed by Tom Fulton

March 13-15
Academy One-Act Play Festival
• Radium Girls by D.W. Gregory - In 1926, radium was a miracle cure, Madame Curie an international celebrity, and luminous watches the latest rage—until the girls who painted them began to fall ill with a mysterious disease. Inspired by a true story, Radium Girls traces the efforts of Grace Fryer, a dial painter, as she fights for her day in court. Her chief adversary is her former employer, Arthur Roeder, an idealistic man who cannot bring himself to believe that the same element that shrinks tumors could have anything to do with the terrifying rash of illnesses among his employees. As the case goes on, however, Grace finds herself battling not just with the U.S. Radium Corporation, but with her own family and friends, who fear that her campaign for justice will backfire. "Radium Girls may speak to our collective capacity for denial. But it also celebrates our individual courage." -The Daily Record. Directed by Wendy Kriss
• The Long Christmas Dinner by Thornton Wilder- The Long Christmas Dinner – nine decades long – showcases the lives of several generations of the Bayard family, and some of their Christmas dinners. Wilder breaks the boundaries of time as we measure it, and invites us to partake of “one long, happy Christmas dinner” – past, present, and future. "Like a surprise holiday gift … shines like gems." - The New York Times. Directed by Sara Bogomolny
• Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad by Peter Manos. -- Combining stories of men and women of the Underground Railroad who were active in the fight against slavery. Famous participants like Harriet Tubman and Harriet Beecher Stowe and other lesser-known heroes are included in this tale that celebrates a time when Americans were at their courageous best, supporting one another, regardless of background, ethnicity or gender. Directed by Dusten Welch
• Cookies – A stop-action short film about a boy and a cookie. Produced by the technical theatre track at the Academy. Directed by Christine Woods.

May 3-6
Peter and the Starcatcher- A play with music. A wildly theatrical adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s best-selling novels, the play was conceived for the stage by directors, Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, and written by Rick Elice, with music by Wayne Barker. From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, Peter and the Starcatcher playfully explores the depths of greed and despair... and the bonds of friendship, duty and love. Peter and the Starcatcher is a Tony-winning play, based on the best-selling novels by B. H. Barry. It upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan boy becomes the legendary Peter Pan. – Directed by Dusten Welch

For more information about The Academy for the Performing Art’s 10th Anniversary Season, call
440-247-2072 x4393 or 440-715-4004 or go to

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