Performance Network Theatre announces its 2012-13 season
“While our 30th anniversary season definitely set the bar high in terms of the quality of the shows that we’ve selected, I think the 31st season will provide some stiff competition," PNT artistic director David Wolber said in a press release. "It’s the perfect time to produce some scripts that I’ve been in love with for several years, and I’m also really excited about the different voices that we’ve pulled together to make a strong, wide-ranging season.”
Here are the theater's descriptions:
“The Glass Menagerie,” by Tennessee Williams September 27 through October 28
Faded Southern Belle Amanda Wigfield will stop at nothing to find a husband for her painfully shy daughter, Laura, still living at home with her brother, Tom, a would-be writer working in a shoe factory. When Amanda enlists Tom’s help in bringing home a “gentleman caller” from the factory, the family’s dreams hang in the balance as they struggle to escape the hopelessness of their world. Set in 1937 St. Louis, this wistfully poetic memory play is regarded by many as Williams’ most personal story, and his greatest masterpiece. Directed by Tim Rhoze (“Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “The Piano Lesson”), and starring Carla Milarch (“Dirty Blonde,” “A Doll’s House”) as Amanda.
“The Glass Menagerie” was the first successful play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Tennessee Williams, whose other works include “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” “The Glass Menagerie” premiered in Chicago in 1944 before moving to New York, where it received a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. The play was based up Willliams’ short story, “Portrait of a Girl in Glass,” and was later adapted by the playwright into a 1950 film featuring Kirk Douglas.
“A Little Night Music,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler November 15 through December 30
Sondheim’s rollicking tour-de-force of love, lies, and liaisons is the winner of six Tony awards and a Grammy, featuring an amazing musical score, including “The Glamorous Life” and “Send in the Clowns.” Desiree Armfeldt is an enchanting Swedish actress. While on tour in a country town, she runs into former lover Fredrik, who has brought his young wife to the theatre. Reminiscing in Desiree’s dressing room, their passion rekindles. The two seek to continue their affair at a gathering for several guests at Fredrik’s country home, setting in motion a hilarious and flirtatious weekend for all. Directed by Phil Simmons, and starring Naz Edwards (“The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Woman Before a Glass”), John Seibert (“The Baker’s Wife,” “Christmas Carol’d”), Scott Crownover (“The Drowsy Chaperone,” “The Fantasticks”), Eva Rosenwald (“The Drowsy Chaperone”), and Leslie Hull (“In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play”).
This classic musical, which was inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film “Smiles of a Summer Night,” opened on Broadway in 1973. The production was the recipient of six Drama Desk Awards, one Grammy Award, and six Tony Awards, including best musical, best score, and best book of a musical. Sondheim, who is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th Century, has earned eight Tony Awards, as well as multiple Grammys, an Oscar, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Laurence Olivier Award. He has scored other Broadway favorites including “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”
“Brill,” by David Wells, music by Frank Allison January 10, 2013 through February 10, 2013
Located at Broadway and 49th Street in Manhattan, the famous Brill Building was once the epicenter of the pop music universe, where a musician could find a publisher, cut a demo, promote the record, and make a deal with radio promoters - all within one building. In this “lyrical” comedy set in 1959, a washed up Big Band songwriter faces the inevitability of rock and roll when a young woman shows up at his office with her guitar, her aspirations, and more than a few secrets. Can this odd couple make beautiful music together - or will their culture clash land one of them out on the streets? Directed by David Wolber (“Dead Man’s Shoes”), and featuring Phil Powers (“The Drowsy Chaperone,” “God of Carnage”) and Sarah Leahy (“Circle Mirror Transformation”).
“Brill” was first workshopped during Performance Network’s 2012 winter Fireside Festival of New Works, where it received raves from audience members. The workshop featured Powers and Leahy, who will be returning for the full production. Playwright David Wells is a member of the Writers’ Guild and has been produced in Los Angeles and San Diego. This is his first production at Performance Network. The original music featured in the show was scored by Frank Allison, of Frank Allison and the Odd Sox, a Michigan-based band.
“Good People,” by David Lindsay-Abaire February 21 through March 31
When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose - or so it would seem for Margie Walsh, a Dollar Store worker from Boston’s “Southie” district, where this week’s paycheck pays last week’s bills, and a round of Bingo is a night on the town. Fired from her job and facing eviction, she reaches out in desperation to a high school boyfriend who has made it out, inviting herself to a chic cocktail party in his home. Once there, a series of hilariously awkward moments reveals a secret about their past, putting Margie in the driver’s seat for the first time. This 2011 Tony nominee is a touching and funny look at America’s great economic divide. Directed by David Wolber (“The War Since Eve”).
“Good People” was first produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in February of 2011 and went on to earn a Tony nomination for Best Play, and win the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the 2010-2011 season. The leading role of Margie was played by Frances McDormand, who received four major awards for her performance, including the Tony. Playwright Lindsay-Abaire won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for his drama, “Rabbit Hole.”
“The Mountaintop,” by Katori Hall April 25 through June 2
It’s April 3,1968 at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel the night before Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated. In room 306 King prepares his speech for the coming day, as a thunderstorm rages outside. Chain smoking Pall Malls and thundering to himself “America, you are too arrogant!” he is startled by the mysterious Camae, a motel maid who shows up dripping wet on his doorstep. As they strike up a conversation, sharing cigarettes and laughter, King begins to suspect that her purpose there may not be what it seems. This inspiring drama brings one of America’s freshest dramatic voices to the Network stage. Directed by Carla Milarch (“Red”) and starring Brian Marable (“The Piano Lesson”) as Dr. King.
“The Mountaintop” premiered in 2009, at London’s Theatre 503, before transferring to the West End where it won the Olivier Award for Best New Play. The play premiered on Broadway in September 2011, and starred Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, in his Broadway debut. Playwright Hall graduated from theatre and creative writing programs at Columbia University, Harvard University, and Julliard. She has received the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, two Lecompte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, and an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award.
“Becky Shaw,” by Gina Gionfriddo June 20 through July 28
The New York Times called this Pulitzer Prize finalist and smash Off-Broadway hit “a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics as engrossing as it is ferociously funny, like a big box of fireworks fizzing and crackling across the stage.” Step siblings Suzanna and Max couldn’t be more different. When the shy sister fixes the cocky brother up with her husband’s sexy and sweet co-worker, the blind date takes a dark turn and crisis and comedy ensue. Mixing sharp wit and humor with the taut suspense of a psychological thriller, this comedy of romantic errors keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. Directed by Phil Powers.
The life of “Becky Shaw” began in 2008 at Louisville’s Humana Festival, after which it moved to the Second Stage Theatre in New York, where it was extended due to popularity. The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in drama. Gina Gionfriddo studied playwrighting at Brown University and has received an Obie Award and a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She also writes for television.
“My Name is Asher Lev,” by Aaron Posner, adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok August 8 through September 8
Based on the famous 1972 novel by Chaim Potok, this provocative play tells the story of a boy growing up in a sheltered Hasidic community in 1950s Brooklyn, who discovers he has a prodigious talent as an artist. Struggling to reconcile his gift with the community’s Orthodox values, he immerses himself in an art form steeped in Christian imagery. When he brings forth a masterwork entitled “The Brooklyn Crucifixions,” he must decide whether or not to honor his self-expression and exhibit, potentially bringing shame on his family, his community, and even his faith. Directed by David Magidson (“God of Carnage”) in a co-production with the Jewish Ensemble Theatre.
Chaim Potok, author of the novel upon which the play was based, was a New York Times Best Selling author and a Rabbi. His other books include “The Chosen,” as well as “The Gift of Asher Lev,” a follow up novel. Aaron Posner’s adaptation premiered in Philadelphia in 2009.
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND TICKETS: Seating availability is now open for renewing subscribers and new season ticket buyers, who can guarantee their seats for five or seven shows at a time, at a discount. Season packages are available for as low as $159. Performance Network also offers discounted Flex Tickets, available in packages of six or ten. Season Subscriptions and Flex Packages are available online at www.performancenetwork.org, where order forms can be downloaded, or by calling 734-663-0681 during box office hours, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Single tickets for all seven shows in the season will be available August 1, 2012 for the general public. Tickets will be available online, over the phone or in person at 120 E. Huron St. Performance Network members may purchase single tickets beginning July 15, two weeks in advance of the single ticket release date.
Founded in 1981, Performance Network Theatre has grown from a fledgling company to Ann Arbor’s only resident, professional theatre. The Network reaches 40,000 theatre patrons and children each year through the year-round Professional Series and the Children’s Theatre Network. Performance Network also presents the Fireside Festival of New Works and a series of classes on theatre-related topics. The Network provides uncompromising artistic leadership in the region and produces works that engage, challenge and inspire audiences and artists.