The Weekend Theater announced its 2011-2012 season today. As usual, it's a strong mix of standards and newer, more challenging and politically engaged fare. "Gypsy," kicks off the season on June 17; "Pippin;" "The Laramie Project: Ten Years After"; "My Fair Lady" and "Judgement at Nuremberg" are among the highlights.
See the full line-up on the jump.
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee
June 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 July 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10.
Nominated for eight Tony Awards in 1960, Gypsy is loosely based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, who became famous in burlesque as a striptease artist, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with "the ultimate show business mother”, over-ambitious and persevering, always driving her daughters to ever-greater successes. Casting an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life, Gypsy retains all the flair that keeps it at the top of any Best Ever Musical theater list. The lyrics are exquisitely crafted character builders and the music soars melodically and begs to be heard again. Gypsy is frequently considered one of the crowning achievements of the mid-20th century's conventional musical theatre art form, often called the "book musical." Directed by Andy Hall, Music Direction by Lori Isner.
My Fair Lady
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Adapted from George Bernard Shaw's Play and Gabriel Pascal's motion picture 'Pygmalion’
July 22, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31 August 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13.
Winner of six 1957 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, My Fair Lady, based upon George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, tells the story of the over-confident Professor Higgins, a phoneticist and feisty voice coach with an ear for language but a tone-deaf heart, and his experiment that attempts to transform a cockney flower girl, Eliza, into a proper-speaking lady. Higgins and his friend Colonel Pickering turn her into a princess of breeding, taking her to the horse races and a grand ball. Nevertheless, they still treat Eliza as a mere experiment and not as a human being. When Eliza realizes that she can now be independent and does not need Higgins, she runs away, and that is when he realizes he is in love with her. Higgins is a misogynistic bully, but by the end, Eliza brings out his feminine side, and he grows to be able to access his emotions. With a near-perfect score and unforgettable songs, this smash hit set a new record at that time for the longest run of any major musical theatre production in history, being called "the perfect musical.” Directed by Allison Pace, Music Direction by Lori Isner.
September 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24.
In commemoration of the tenth year anniversary of “9/11”, The Weekend Theater presents this tribute to the firefighters and other heroes who lost their lives trying to rescue others. In this drama, less than two weeks after the September 11th attacks, New Yorkers are still in shock. One of them, an editor named Joan, receives an unexpected phone call on behalf of Nick, a fire captain who has lost most of his men in the attack. He's looking for a writer to help him with the eulogies he must present at their memorial services. Nick and Joan spend a long afternoon together, recalling the fallen men through recounting their virtues and their foibles, and fashioning the stories into memorials of words. In the process, Nick and Joan discover the possibilities of friendship in each other and their shared love for the unconquerable spirit of the city. As they make their way through the emotional landscape of grief, they draw on humor, tango, the appreciation of craft in all its forms—and the enduring bonds of common humanity. The Guys is based on a true story. Directed by Frank O. Butler.
Book by Roger O. Hirson
Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
October 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23.
Nominated in 1972 for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and winning five of those coveted Awards, this hip, tongue-in-cheek, anachronistic fairy tale is based upon the life of Prince Pippin the Hunchback, the firstborn son of eighth century, Frankish king Charlemagne or Charles the Great, and invites audiences to join the fantastical journey of the rosy-cheeked prince famously looking for his ‘corner of the sky’. But his dad is a tyrannical bore, his step-mom is a Lady Macbeth in a mini skirt, and his half-brother Lewis is a twit. Returning home from school, Prince Pippin, sure of his superior qualities but lacking a purpose to which he can apply them, becomes a soldier for his father's army, but he gets upset by the killing and murders his father to stop the war. Finding he does not want to become the "puppet king" of discontented nobles in the Holy Roman Empire, Pippin longs to discover the secret of true happiness and fulfillment. He is led by a mischievous Leading Player as he tries to find his place in life in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power. The youth's violent journey to fulfillment sets Pippin's quest into a tradition of psychological darkness, bringing an unusually creepy seriousness to Pippin's temptations and sinister machinations to the Leading Player. In the end, he finds the simple pleasures and domestic contentment of love, home and family is something to be quietly achieved. A rock opera filled with sex, S&M, and amputated limbs, this perky musical is meant to be at times unnerving and dark. Pippin is full of light pop music, magic, and soft-shoe dances, but it has one of the darkest and most complex themes in musical theater history. Directed by John Thompson, Music Direction by Jeannie Cross.
The Quality of Life
By Jane Anderson
November 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19.
In this magnetic work of theater, filled with compassion, honesty and humor, Dinah and Bill, a devout, church-going couple from the Midwest are struggling to keep their lives intact after the loss of their daughter. Dinah is compelled to reconnect with her left-leaning cousins in Northern California who’re going through their own trials. Jeannette and Neil have lost their home to a wildfire and Neil has cancer. However they seem to have accepted their situation with astounding good humor, living in a yurt on their burn site and celebrating life with hits of pot and glasses of good red wine. Bill and Dinah are both moved and perplexed by their cousins’ remarkable equanimity. But their sympathy turns to rage when they find out that Jeannette is planning to take her own life to avoid a life of grief without her beloved Neil. The Quality of Life explores a myriad of ethical, religious, and moral beliefs, as well as personal rights issues concerning life and death. Directed by Allison Pace.
Judgment at Nuremberg
By Abby Mann
December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17.
Abby Mann's riveting drama, Judgment at Nuremberg, not only brought some of the worst Nazi atrocities to public attention, but it has become one of the twentieth century's most important records of the Holocaust. Concerning the trial of four German judges accused of using their offices to further Nazi policies, the case was complicated because at the time of the trial, West Germany was emerging as an ally of the United States against the Soviet Union. The crux of the drama is the steely determination of the chief judge to push ahead despite political pressures. Ernest Janning, one of the most influential German legal minds of the pre-war era, and other influential Nazis face a military tribunal in the second wave of post war trials at Nuremberg. Issues at the forefront of this trial reverberate through history and challenge humanity to this day. Originally written as a 1957 television play, Judgment at Nuremberg is as potent and relevant as ever. To this day the Nuremberg trials stand as a model for international criminal tribunals, due in large measure to the spotlight thrown on them by Mann's dramatic interpretation of the historic events. Mann's overwhelming compassion strikes at the heart of human suffering; his achievement has been to reaffirm humanity and justice. Directed by Ralph Hyman.
The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later
By Moisés Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber
January 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28.
On November 6, 1998, gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard left the Fireside Bar with Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. The following day he was discovered on a prairie at the edge of town, tied to a fence, brutally beaten, and close to death. Six days later Matthew Shepard died at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, Colorado. On November 14th, 1998, ten members of Tectonic Theatre Project traveled to Laramie, Wyoming and conducted interviews with the people of the town. Over the next year, the company returned to Laramie six times and conducted over 200 interviews. These texts became the basis for the play The Laramie Project. Ten years later on September 12th, 2008, five members of Tectonic returned to Laramie to try to understand the long-term effect of the murder. They found a town wrestling with its legacy and its place in history. In addition to revisiting the folks whose words riveted us in the original play, this time around, the company also spoke with the two murderers, McKinney and Henderson, as well as Matthew's mother, Judy Shepard. The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later is a bold new work, which asks the question, "How does society write its own history?" Directed by Duane Jackson.
By Dael Orlandersmith
February 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25.
A Pulitzer finalist, Yellowman is a powerful and fascinating drama about racial prejudice within the African-American Gullah/Geechee culture in the Sea Islands off South Carolina. A memory play about Alma, a large dark-skinned beauty, who dreams of life beyond the confines of her poverty-stricken and deprived small-town Southern upbringing, and Eugene, the light-skinned man whose fate is tragically intertwined with hers, the play explores the negative associations surrounding male blackness as well as the effect these racial stereotypes have on black women. Alma and Eugene are childhood playmates who gradually fall in love, despite the prejudices of their parents and community. Ms. Orlandersmith interweaves poetic monologues with street-smart dialogue to create a coat of many colors for her star-crossed lovers. She also shows us the ugliness of alcoholism. The deadliest heritage of internal racism is the way parents vent their own pain on their children and it's the playwright's use of this element that gives the play its unforgettable aura of haunting devastation. Both a celebration of young love and a harrowing study of smoldering domestic violence, the play is both heartwarming and ultimately heartbreaking. Directed by Danette Scott Perry.
The Miracle Worker
By William Gibson
March 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24.
This classic tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller, dramatizing the volatile relationship between the lonely teacher and her charge. Trapped in a secret, silent world, unable to communicate, Helen is violent, spoiled, and almost sub-human and treated by her family as such. Only Annie realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence. With scenes of intense physical and emotional dynamism, Annie's success with Helen finally comes with the utterance of a single, glorious word: "water". Helen Keller is now recognized for her opinions and ultra-progressive attitudes. She campaigned for many things in her lifetime, including women’s suffrage and workers’ rights. She also spoke out against the war, and championed socialism. She lectured and taught, and was a published author. A friend of luminaries such as Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and even American presidents, Helen Keller left an undoubted mark on this world. Directed by Andy Hall.
April 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21.
Geoffrey Nauffts' Next Fall, a witty and provocative look at faith, commitment and unconditional love, is about two gay men in a committed relationship with a twist: one is devoutly religious and the other is a militant atheist and it’s driving their crazy friends crazy! The play revolves around their five-year relationship and how they make it work despite their differences. Luke, a hard-core Christian from Florida, believes that Adam, the man he loves, is going to hell. Not for having sex with men, mind you (that’s just sinning and can be forgiven on Judgment Day), but for not believing in Jesus. With sharp humor and unflinching honesty, Next Fall is an intellectual stealth bomb. When an accident changes everything, Adam must turn to Luke’s family and friends for support and answers which lead to confrontations they have all been putting off for years. It creates the freedom to deal with their shared crisis with all the awkwardness, evasion and denial that allow people to live with themselves, even if such things poison them inside. This timely and compelling new American play forces us all to examine what it means to "believe" and what it might cost us not to. Directed by Ralph Hyman.
And in May . . . TBA