Philadelphia Theatre Company is reinventing its annual gala. Instead of staid speeches and silent auctions, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre will become the home to Play Brawl!, a brand new PTC fundraiser that showcases prominent local business leaders living out their acting dreams alongside professional actors on the PTC stage. Audience members can then vote with their tax-free donations through a mobile bidding app to help declare a winner. In the vein of Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, this fun event takes the stage Friday, April 6 at 6 p.m at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad Street). Tickets and sponsorships for the event start at $150 and are available online at or by calling 215-985-1400 x 117.


“We want everything we do at Philadelphia Theatre Company to have an unexpected twist of fun.  We wanted to make our gala a more theatrical type of event that also celebrates the work we do on stage,” said PTC Producing Artistic Director Paige Price. “We  have had some tremendous corporate support this year, and partnering with some of the leaders of the community is a way to invite them to let their hair down for a good cause. I think it’s exciting that it is a completely new endeavor for PTC, and a chance to engage not only our business supporters but also local professional actors. After 43 years, it’s fun to shake things up for some of our loyalists.”


With this exciting new fundraising event, Play Brawl!, PTC hosts local celebrities and business leaders who will face off on the stage of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in a friendly competition to benefit Philadelphia Theatre Company’s 2018-19 season of new plays and musicals.  Contenders will team up with local professional actors to recreate iconic scenes from stage and screen.


The 2018 Play Brawl! contenders are:


  • David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation

  • John Fry, President, Drexel University

  • Judith M. von Seldeneck, Founder and Chairman, Diversified Search

  • Molly D. Shepard, MS, MSM, President & CEO, The Leader’s Edge/Leaders By Design

  • Surprise contenders and special guests will be announced soon


“It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get our contestants to agree to Play Brawl!.  They all thought it sounded fun and I think appreciated that we were doing something different that tied right into our mission. We let them know they will be surrounded by amazing Philly actors who know how to take care of their scene partners,” said Price.


Emcee – Jessica Dean of CBS 3

The evening begins with a cocktail reception. Then audiences will move into the theatre where the lively onstage competition will be hosted by CBS 3’s Eyewitness News’ Jessica Dean and Price. As the competition is happening, audiences can support their favorite competitors and scenes by donating through a mobile bidding platform from GiveSmart.  The Contestant with the most tax-deductible votes will then be declared the champion. Prizes await the winner and then the audience will celebrate with an after-party.

Scenes that comprise the evening are iconic moments from the stage or the silver screen that are well-suited to each competitor. Cohen and PTC Board Member Glenn Gundersen, along with local actor Steve Pacek will perform the iconic courtroom scene from A Few Good Men. Gundersen will serve as the judge. Pacek will question witness Cohen who will channel his inner Jack Nicholson and deliver one of cinema’s most classic lines. Then von Seldeneck and Shepard bring audiences into Truvy’s Beauty Salon for a classic scene from Steel Magnolias as they portray Ouiser and Clairee, respectively. Joining them are actresses Blair Sams and Jessica Myhr as Truvy and Annelle. Drexel President Fry will lead a group of Drexel students in a classic scene from Dead Poets Society, where Fry will essay John Keating and students from the university will portray the students in the scene.

Each scene will also be set up with a ‘backstory’ video showing the contestants preparing for their roles, courtesy of Center City Film and Video.


“The scenes are very recognizable, and there are tag lines that almost everyone is familiar with, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we get some audience participation,” said Price. “I am always moved by people who are willing to stick their necks out for a good cause, and I’m really grateful that we have such strong personalities participating – both on the business leader side as well as the professional actor side.”



Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC) is a leading regional theater company that produces, develops, and presents entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience. PTC balances its Philadelphia roots with a national point of view that combines a taste for adventure with a dedication to new American plays and musicals.

Founded in 1974, PTC has presented 140 world and Philadelphia premieres. More than 50 percent of PTC’s world premieres have moved on to New York and other major cities, helping to earn Philadelphia a national reputation as a hub for new play development. PTC has received more than 180 nominations and 53 awards from the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. In 2007, PTC was instrumental in expanding Philadelphia’s thriving cultural corridor by opening the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts.


PTC’s 2017-2018 season is sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, Independence Blue Cross, Dranoff Properties, Center City Film & Video, and American Airlines, the official airline of Philadelphia Theatre Company.


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