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Bucks Center for Performing Arts begins season with “Late Nite Catechism”

Local producer Howard Perloff has thought for some time that Doylestown deserves to have its own professional theater company, so two years ago he started the Bucks County Center for the Performing Arts.

He took huge financial risks in 2016, renting performing space at Delaware Valley University and mounting three productions that first summer.

Last year, he did it again, gaining more community support, recognition and attention. Donors who recognize quality began giving large and small donations, often receiving matching grants from their employing companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Merrill Lynch.

Fast forward to 2019 as Perloff continues his dream. This year, he is offering three different shows featuring professional actors.

The first performance is “Late Nite Catechism,” a very funny play which opened Wednesday, June 26 and runs for six performances, including three matinees, until Sunday, June 30.

In this play, Sister takes audiences back to their youth in Catholic school. Although you may not have attended Catholic school, your sides will be splitting from the interactive performance and entertaining actress, Denise Fennell, portraying a nun as she teaches members of the audience (her “class”) important things, such as ways to remember the Ten Commandments, for instance.

I found Fennell to be absolutely delightful during a telephone interview last week while she was stuck in traffic on LA’s notorious Route 405. She could not emphasize enough how enthusiastic she is to play the Sister role again in this one-woman interactive play, saying “I never grow tired of doing this role; if I have even a three-week break, I miss it!”

Fennell attended Roman Catholic school in Boston, so she has strong memories of those years, and incorporates events that happened to her into the play, which also includes current events, but, she emphasized, “It is not ‘preachy,’ just fun!”

Maripat Donovan, the show’s co-creator, discovered Fennell when she was appearing as Tina in Perloff’s off-Broadway’s “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.” She trained Fennell personally for the role, and she and Fennell meet regularly to rehearse and keep the play fresh.

“Late Nite Catechism” plays for five more performances at Delaware Valley University on Route 202 in Doylestown. There are matinees at 2 p.m. June 27, 29 and 30, and shows at 8 p.m. June 28 and 29. Individual tickets are priced from $37, a season ticket is $99.

Two blockbuster musicals continue the BCCPA season.

Award-winning “Cabaret” opens July 17 and plays through July 28. “Cabaret” opened on Broadway over 50 years ago in 1966. Later, in the 1972 film, Liza Minnelli starred as Sally Bowles.

Perloff is not able to say who will be Sally this summer because casting is not complete, but you can be sure it will be an actress with edgy qualities for this role. Joel Grey is best known of the many men who played the devilish Emcee role.

“The Producers” by Mel Brooks, the third and final award-winning show of the BCCPA 2019 summer season, runs from Aug. 7 to 18. While casting is incomplete, Perloff is happy to announce that popular professional actor Tony Brathwaite, artistic director of Act II Playhouse in Ambler, will play the leading role.

Season tickets for all three shows run from $99 for rear orchestra to $149 for front orchestra. Visit to order tickets and read show descriptions, including children’s theater productions. The phone number is 215-297-8540.