Penn State Centre Stage Virtual presents live new play, 'Streaming Passion'

April 13, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Centre Stage Virtual will present Marc Palmieri’s live new play, "Streaming Passion" — a comedic tale about the "Passion Play" being rehearsed via Zoom — on Thursday, April 16, at 7 p.m. EDT. The live performance can be viewed at

"Streaming Passion" is about a church group that performs its parish's annual "Passion Play" for Lent each year, but because of the coronavirus pandemic the church group has to rehearse it via Zoom. According to Penn State Centre Stage Artistic Director Rick Lombardo, the play is reminiscent of the farcical "Noises Off" in that it features a "play within a play."

When looking for a new play that would fit this new world of streaming, Robert Lewis Vaughan, director of professional rights at Dramatists Play Service, connected Lombardo to Marc Palmieri, who had just completed this play for Zoom streaming.

"I was looking for something we could produce virtually, and when I found Marc's play, it was perfect, given the timing and the content," said Lombardo. "This will be incredibly exciting and dangerous because this is something that we've never done before – performing live via Zoom. During these uncertain times, theatre is more important than ever, and we are excited to provide this funny play as an escape and an alternative to live [in-person] theatre."

The cast includes actor Steven Snyder (Actor's Equity Association); actor Rachel Harker (AEA/Screen Actor's Guild); Penn State master of fine arts alumni Gabriel Peña (AEA) and Julia Chereson; former College of Arts and Architecture Dean Barbara Korner; and bachelor of fine arts acting senior Cole Harris.

Marc Palmieri's plays include the New York Times’ “Critic’s Pick” "Levittown" (2009 Theatre at Saint Clements, NYC), "The Groundling," "Carl the Second" and "Poor Fellas," among others. His screenplays include Miramax Films’ "Telling You," starring Peter Facinelli and Jennifer Love Hewitt (1999). He received his master of arts and master of fine arts degrees from The City College of New York. Palmieri lives in New York City and is currently a full-time faculty member at Mercy College’s School of Liberal Arts in Dobbs Ferry, teaching in the communications department.

Rick Lombardo is the director of the School of Theatre and artistic director of Penn State Centre Stage. He is an award-winning stage director, artistic director, and playwright. His recent world premieres of "Albatross" and "Ring Twice for Miranda" both enjoyed Off-Broadway runs. He previously served as the artistic director at San Jose Repertory Theatre for six seasons, where his work included world premieres of both plays and musicals, as well as significant revivals. Noteworthy among these were the world premiere of the musical "The Snow Queen," which he also co-wrote, along with the new play "Game On" by Tony Taccone and Dan Hoyle, (TBA Award Best New Play 2014), and "Love in American Times" by Philip Kan Gotanda. Other San Jose Rep productions include "The Death of the Novel," "Disconnect," "God of Carnage," "A Christmas Carol," "Spring Awakening," "The Dresser," "Black Pearl Sings!," "The Weir," and "As You Like It."

Rachel Harker is an AEA/SAG actress known for "The Invention of Lying" (2009), "The Game Plan" (2007), and "Sleepy Hollow" (2013). Her last film, "The Last Full Measure" was just released in January. She has appeared in television series, including "The Resident," "Being Mary Jane," Sleepy Hollow," and "Halt and Catch Fire."

Steve Snyder is an associate professor of acting in the School of Theatre and Head of the Bachelor of Fine Arts Acting program. He has worked professionally in the theatre as an actor, director, writer and teacher for nearly 20 years. Works include productions with American Players Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Writers’ Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, and Noble Fool Theatre, among others. Steve earned his master of fine arts degree at Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory, where he trained under Jim Wise and Charmian Hoare, with Mark Wheatley of Theatre de Complicite, Brant Pope, Scott Hayes, Ruby Allen, and Manuel Duque. Steve is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Gabriel Peña is originally from North Carolina, a 2011 theatre graduate of Pomona College, and a 2017 Penn State master of fine arts in acting alumnus. While at Penn State, he was involved in various productions including "110 in the Shade," "Light in the Piazza," and "Twelfth Night." He was last seen in "Native Garden" at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and is currently based out of New York City.

Julia Chereson holds a master of fine arts in acting from Penn State and is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory in Chicago. Her recent credits include: "Clybourne Park," "Constellations," "Argonautika," "Barbeque," scenes from "Rotterdam," and collaboration for the development of "Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland."

Cole Harris is a fourth-year bachelor of fine arts acting major at Penn State, graduating this spring.

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Last Updated April 14, 2020