The White Plains Examiner

White Plains Performing Arts Center Opens Its Doors to a Fall Season of Diversity

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Jeremy Quinn
Jeremy Quinn

Diversity is the key to the fall season at the White Plains Performing Arts Center, with a mix of commercial favorites, regional premiers, and exclusive offerings beginning this month.

“It’s very difficult to know what your audiences want to see, so what we do is think about…the most diverse offerings that we can put together,” said WPPAC artistic director, Jeremy Quinn. “We’re really trying to cultivate an audience base for each different style…that we’re offering and we realize that there may be a bit of crossover too.”

Quinn believes that one of the most exciting shows to hit the WPPAC this fall is “Disney’s The Little Mermaid,” which will make its regional debut in White Plains during the holiday season, beginning December 19.

“I think it’s going to be huge, especially because it’s intended for family audiences,” said Quinn.

Very few regional theaters nationwide were given the rights to produce the musical, which closed on Broadway in 2009, and WPPAC is the first theater in New York to offer the show. Quinn said that the Performing Arts Center consistently does their best to get the rights to shows as soon as they’re available, so that people will have the opportunity to see a show they may have missed on Broadway while staying close to home and saving some money.

“Many people have said our shows are just as good as on Broadway; some people even like our shows better for whatever reason,” said Quinn, who noted that premium tickets for a Broadway show can run as high as $400 as opposed to $55 for a WPPAC production.

In addition to bringing commercial favorites to Westchester, Quinn said that one of the perks of regional theater is the opportunity to reimagine and take artistic liberties with classic Broadway productions; which is exactly what Quinn has done this season with a production of Sweeny Todd.

In this new take on the play, which opens on October 10, the show begins at the conclusion of the traditional story, after Toby has murdered Todd and goes insane. The reimagining focuses on Toby, who has been taken to an asylum and is constantly reminded of characters, like Todd and Mrs. Lovett, through the doctors and nurses he encounters. The traditional story is told in a flashback, through an induced nightmare that Toby experiences while being treated.

“It’s totally akin to The Wizard of Oz and how Dorothy views those people that are around her bed and how they become the Tin-Man, the Lion, and the Scarecrow,” explained Quinn. “There are things about the people there in the asylum that trigger, for example, how Mrs. Lovett wears her hair or the top that [somebody] is wearing may have some piping that reminds him of Anthony the sailor,” he continued.

Quinn stated that creating this new take on Sweeny Todd was a lot of hard work, but was undertaken with the goal of creating something that people who had never seen the play would be able to enjoy and understand while also giving repeat viewers a new perspective on the show.

“We’re 40 minutes north of Broadway, so why remount something that people could have already seen,” said Quinn. “What works well for us is the making of art rather than just remounting the same shows over and over and over and hoping that people want to see them. It’s about making art; that’s our responsibility.”

Other plays that will run throughout the fall season include the WPPAC Conservatory’s production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” along with Dogfight, which recently had an Off-Broadway run. Dogfight revolves around a group of Marines who make a bet to see who can bring the ugliest girl to a party before shipping out to Vietnam and a guy who falls for his date only to learn that she has found love with another man while he was overseas.

For the kids, The Bossy Frog Band will host a concert on the afternoon of September 27 while Well Strung, an all-male string quartet that tackles everything from Mozart to Lady Gaga, will play that night with a new act, following a popular performance last year.

In addition to these new offerings, the WPPAC will be continuing the Nákd Stage program, which kicked off this summer. The series will chronologically feature every play to win the Tony Award for Best Play and focuses on the playwright’s words by stripping away production, such as costumes and sets. Quinn stated that the program, which attracted more than one hundred patrons during the summer, will bring theater back to basics while giving WPPAC a chance to see which plays audiences respond to and may want to see fully produced.

“This is just a way for us to go back to the roots of plays because plays are extremely important. Plays are the foundation of theater and then musical theater came along much later and it seems a shame to only produce musical theater when there are people out there who want to see plays,” said Quinn.

The series has enough material to run for more than a year, said Quinn, with one play each month and a ticket price of $10.

This season is also the first in which the WPPAC will offer memberships to frequent theater-goers. For $100 per year, members will have access to a variety of perks, including a ten percent discount on all tickets, opportunities to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public, and invitations to exclusive pre and post show talks with the production team of select shows.

For more information about shows, or to purchase tickets and memberships, visit

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