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Genesius Theatre presents the musical ‘Unexpected Joy’

READING – Genesius Theatre presents the musical “Unexpected Joy,” an upbeat, multi-genre and multi-generational family dramedy April 26 and runs through May 5.

The Reading-based theatre welcomed the show’s author and lyricist, Bill Russell, to direct the production.

This partnership builds upon a relationship the theatre and two-time-Tony-Award-nominee established in 2022, when performers from Genesius joined Russell and the GoggleWorks for his presentation of “My Side of the Show.” The exclusive event married Russell’s stories about writing the Broadway musical “Side Show” with performances of selected songs from the show. Genesius Theatre had previously produced “Side Show” in 2017.

“Unexpected Joy” takes place in modern day Cape Cod. The story centers around three generations of a musical family as they navigate the loss of their patriarch and process the addition of an unexpected pair for their matriarch.

Joy, a baby boomer and proud hippie, is holding a memorial concert for the other half of her popular musical duo, Jump & Joy. The sparks fly when her conservative daughter and rebellious granddaughter arrive from Oklahoma, and the family seeks to find common ground in their different values, dreams and goals. This heartfelt and hilarious story depicts how powerfully unifying music can be – even for a family who hasn’t experienced true joy together for decades.

“Unexpected Joy is the story of a family of musicians struggling to find common ground among their wildly differing lifestyles and beliefs,” Russell said in the release. “The cast of four women fight, play, and most of all, make music together. The score of rock, blues and gospel encompasses their differences and connections in this funny, moving and timely story.”

That cross-genre score was composed by Russell’s longtime writing partner, Janet Hood, a composer, performer and musical director who has worked on Broadway, regional, and London productions, toured with Ronnie Gilbert and Holly Near, and performed with the Boston Pops.

The all-woman cast at Genesius Theatre consists of Kelly Kantner as Joy, the matriarch; Becca Synder as Rachel, Joy’s daughter; Ellen Rochlin as Tamara, Joy’s granddaughter; and Davina Lopez as Lou, Joy’s new partner.

Audiences can expect to laugh, dance in their seats, and ultimately be moved by the show’s themes of family and reconciliation.

“Unexpected Joy” is directed by Bill Russell, music directed by Christopher Sperat, associate music directed by Kevin Cooper, stage managed by Sophia Green and produced by Genesius artistic director LJ Fecho.

Light design is by Thomas Hudson of Scary Good Productions, sound design is by Albert Garcia, wig and hair design is by Diane Keck of Thanx Hair Artistry, costume design is by Cathy Miller and Dara Tatarowicz and scenic art is by Majory Ewald. Bo Irwin is master carpenter, Jeffery Jones is props master and Sara Huard is line producer.

Rated G, the production runs 90 minutes with no intermission. Show dates are April 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. and April 28 at 3 p.m.; May 1, 2, 3 and 4 at 7:30 p.m., and May 5 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $15-$32.50. For tickets, playbills and additional information, visit

Genesius and the DoubleTree partnered for a Dinner and Shuttle Program. At any performance, audiences can park for free in the DoubleTree garage, dine at Cheers American Bistro in the DoubleTree prior to the show, then enjoy a complimentary shuttle to and from the show. Purchase tickets separately on the Genesius website and call the DoubleTree to make reservations for two hours prior to the show time. Mention the shuttle upon making a reservation and upon arriving at the restaurant.

A nonprofit organization, Genesius Theatre is located at 153 N. 10th St., Reading, and is handicapped accessible. Free parking is available in a lot adjacent to the building.  For more information on parking or accessibility, call the theatre at 610-371-8151 or email

Source: Berkshire mont

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