Park Square Theatre Announces 2013-2014 Season
Park Square Theatre announced a 2013-2014 Season composed entirely of area, regional and world premieres - opening with David Lindsay-Abaire's dark comedy Good People and closing with the first ever stage depiction of Nero Wolfe, the famously eccentric detective genius created by best-selling author Rex Stout. The talent bringing these stories to life includes bold-faced names and theatre favorites, including the Minnesota stage debut of James Denton of Desperate Housewives fame, the return of Emmy-nominee Linda Kelsey playing Mary Todd Lincoln and the Park Square directing debuts of Joe Chvala and Amy Rummenie.
"This is a true 21st-century season," says Artistic Director Richard Cook. "Each play could be the artistic focal point of the season, rich in characters and ideas-and often wildly theatrical. Contemporary vigor and energy are present in the way each of the stories is crafted for the modern audience." A season composed entirely of area premieres is unprecedented in the theatre's 39-year history.
Second productions of new works - often still in manuscript form - that have premiered in other parts of the country are a key to Park Square's programming philosophy. "It is important for us to give thought-provoking, intelligent new works by contemporary playwrights a second opportunity on the stage," Cook continues.
Regional premieres of contemporary dramas
The proscenium stage season opens Sept 13 with David Lindsay-Abaire's dark comedy, Good People (Sept 13-Oct 6, 2013), "a tough and tender play about the insurmountable class divide." (Variety) Set in South Boston, Good People has received rave reviews across the country, and its run was extended at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater this season. Joel Sass will direct and create the scenic design for the Park Square production. Virginia Burke, who wowed audiences as Barbara in Park Square's August: Osage County, is cast as Margaret, the role that earned Frances McDormand a Tony Award for Best Actress. Angela Timberman will play her neighbor, Jean. James Denton, hunky plumber Mike Delfino on Desperate Housewives, makes his Park Square debut in the role of Mike.
Tazewell Thompson's new play Mary T. & Lizzy K. (Oct 18-Nov 10, 2013), which is premiering this month at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, focuses on the unique business relationship and complex friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her free mixed-race seamstress Lizzy Keckly. This intimate look inside the Lincoln White House set in a historically pivotal time, features Twin Cities theatre favorite Linda Kelsey as Mary Todd Lincoln. Park Square produced Thompson's Constant Star about the life of Ida B. Wells in 2006. Richard Cook will direct the production.
Local playwright Carson Kreitzer's new work, Behind the Eye (Apr 25-May 18, 2014), explores the remarkable life of Lee Miller, who was at the center of many of the 20th century's most exciting moments. She began her career as a Vogue model in the '20s, became the muse of Paris Surrealists in the '30s, then went behind the camera to become a World War II photographer, covering London's blitz and the horror of Dachau. First presented at the Cincinnati Playhouse in 2011, the Park Square production will be directed by Leah Cooper.
"Park Square provides an incredibly valuable service to playwrights and to the new play community by supporting regional premieres and second productions for new work," says Kreitzer. "There is nothing more heartbreaking than working for three years of your life and having a play debut once and then never again see the stage," she continues. "Richard Cook is pushing Park Square in new and exciting directions, at a time when so many theatres are aiming for safety in an uncertain economy."
Kreitzer is one of Park Square's team of Artistic Associates. With Brian Balcom, Aditi Kapil, and James A. Williams, she works with Cook to expand the reach of play selection as Park Square prepares to open the Andy Boss Thrust stage in 2014-another even more intimate stage in the Hamm Building in Saint Paul.
New adaptations of well-known stories
Three of the six plays are new adaptations of well-known stories, told using present-day language in modern stagings. "This opportunity to present something familiar, yet new matches the interests of a wide range of audiences," says Executive Director C. Michael-jon Pease. "Avid theatre goers have seen countless traditional productions and are hungry for a fresh take. Younger audiences will have their first experience with these stories through productions that are crafted for their sensibilities. There is nothing musty here."
The School for Lies (Jan 10-Feb 2, 2014), based on Moliere's The Misanthrope and adapted by Tony-Award winning playwright David Ives, will be directed by Amy Rummenie, Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Walking Shadow Theatre Company, making her Park Square directorial debut.
Cyrano (Mar 14-Apr 6, 2014), adapted by Michael Hollinger (Opus) and Aaron Posner (The Chosen), will feature J.C. Cutler as the legendary swordsman with the large nose. Joe Chvala, founding Artistic Director of Flying Foot Forum, will be making his Park Square directing debut.
The Red Box (May 30-July 13, 2014), a world premiere commissioned by Park Square, is a new take on a classic Nero Wolfe mystery. While there have been adaptations for television, this is the first stage play based on a Nero Wolfe mystery. Written by Minnesota native Joseph Goodrich, whose Panic won the Edgar Award for best mystery play, this summertime thriller will be directed by Peter Moore.
Holiday special-musical revue
Ivey-award winner Joseph Vass's new work, Words By...Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook, (Nov 29 -Dec 29, 2013) will fill the holiday time slot at Park Square. Vass's The Soul of Gershwin set attendance records in 2011. This new musical play, which premiered at San Diego's North Coast Repertory Theatre in fall 2012, is about the creative process. "You will walk away falling in love with the quiet character that is Ira Gershwin," says Cook. Songs that Ira Gershwin wrote with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, as well as his brother George, are featured, including "Our Love Is Here to Stay," "Fascinating Rhythm," "I Can't Get Started" and many more. Insights and tales about the colorful George, as well as a glimpse at the more private and understated life of Ira, frame this story of amazing and beautiful music. David Ellenstein, Artistic Director for North Coast Repertory Theatre, will be the director. Ellenstein worked with Joseph Vass to direct the October 2012 world premiere.
All performances are in the company's proscenium stage in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building. The theatre entrance is 20 West Seventh Place. All programs, dates and artists are subject to change. Season tickets are on sale now and available at 651.291.7005 or online at parksquaretheatre.org. Packages range from $102 to $258. Single tickets will go on sale in late July.
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