Mike Reid’s ‘The Last Day’ coming to Penn State Centre Stage

STATE COLLEGE — What does “The Last Day” refer to? Avid theatergoers may know that it is the title of the first of a trio of productions returning to Penn State Centre Stage.

Rick Lombardo, completing his first year as producing artistic director of Penn State Centre Stage, acknowledges that after an absence of a few years, three musical shows will be presented during June and July for Central Pennsylvania theatergoers.

“The Last Day” is also a first — this commissioned piece by Penn State Musical Theatre celebrates its first-ever production.

The first show is “The Last Day,” with 8 p.m. performances tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, and June 19-22 at the Penn State Downtown Theatre, 146 S. Allen St.

This production also carries a special distinction as it is written by Mike Reid, Penn State football star turned Grammy Award-winning composer.

Reid, who obtained a music degree from Penn State in 1969 after earning All American honors playing football for the Nittany Lions, is an accomplished tunesmith.

He turned to music full time in 1975, moved to Nashville and became a full-time songwriter, often penning country-western tunes. Having written over 30 of the top country-pop songs, Reid was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

Reid, however, moves from song-writing to the world of musical theatre with “The Last Day”, writing the music for this world premiere.

The show’s lyrics are by Sarah Schlesinger, who is Chair of the Graduate Music Theater Writing Program, and Associate Dean of performing arts at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York City.

“The Last Day” follows a student struggling in college because of a long-held secret that has tormented him. As he ends his junior year, he is devastated when the university drops him from the musical theatre program. As the secret again overwhelms him, his last day turns into a long and eventful night.

But his peers rally the young man’s spirits, trying to show him that his life still has value. In the process, his friends also discover much that they never realized about themselves.

Penn State’s John Simpkins directs the premiere of this powerful new musical.

For more information, visit www.theatre.psu.edu or call 814-863-0255.