DARK SUMMER: Poet Anne Sexton's feminist phantasmagoria 'Transformations' opens this fall at the Cinnabar.
By David Templeton
Get out your calendars, theater fans! It's time to take a look at the latest batch of announcements from North Bay theater companies, finally ready, after months of tinkering, to tell us what they've got planned for their upcoming seasons.
Santa Rosa's Sixth Street Playhouse follows its upcoming revival of The Music Man (Aug. 15–Sept. 14), starring local favorite David Yen as Professor Harold Hill, with a whopping 10 shows, seven (including Music Man) to be staged in the large G.K. Hardt Theater and four in the new black-box Studio Theater. Arthur Miller's transcendent Death of a Salesman (Oct. 3–26), directed by Sheri Lee Miller, will feature, according to certain enticing rumors, stage, screen and television heavyweight Daniel Benzali (Murder One, LA Law, Jericho) as Willy Loman, with a strong local cast including Tim Kniffin, Michael Navarra, Eric Burke and Jeff Coté.
Ted Swindley's Always, Patsy Cline (Nov. 7–Dec. 7), with a live band onstage, will be directed by Elly Lichenstein and feature Mary Gannon Graham. The Scene (Jan. 16–Feb. 8) is Theresa Rebeck's scathing comedy about Manhattan party people, while La Cage Aux Folles (Feb. 27–March 29) is Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman's adaptation of the farcical French film about two gay men attempting to play straight for the benefit of their son's bigoted in-laws.
Joe DePietro and Jimmy Roberts' I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (April 17–May 10), currently Broadway's longest-running show, looks at love and marriage through a series of comical vignettes, and In the Mood (June 5–28) is Patrick Watkins' musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, set in an Italian USO retreat during WW II, with period songs like "In the Mood," "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Someone to Watch Over Me."
In the Playhouse's Studio Theater, the season kicks off on Aug. 29 with Rebecca Gilman's Sweetest Swing in Baseball, a comedy-drama about an institutionalized artist who thinks she's baseball legend Darryl Strawberry. Brian Friel's Molly Sweeney (Oct. 24–Nov. 16) is a three-actor drama about a blind woman, her husband and the doctor who may or may not be able to restore her eyesight. In The Blue Room (April 3–26), playwright David Hare adapts Arthur Schnitzler's sexy-funny LaRonde, with one actor and one actress playing five sets of would-be lovers in the act of almost having sex. And in the experimental drama Well (June 12–July 12), Lisa Kron portrays her family's wrestling match with illness, healthcare and healing.
Petaluma's Cinnabar Theater kicks off its new season on Sept. 5 with Philip Barry's ever-popular Philadelphia Story, the iconic comedy about a rich heiress, her yacht-building ex-husband and the cynical journalist who thinks he loves her. It's the story that taught the world the meaning of "yar," and, no, that's not a pirate expression. Following on TPS' heels is Conrad Susa's new musical adaptation of Anne Sexton's very adult fairy tale fantasia Transformations (Oct. 24–Nov.15), featuring a cast of eight singing and darkly emoting their way through some very edgy interpretations of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin and others.
Always, Patsy Cline (Dec. 31–Jan. 11) hops over from Sixth Street for a few weeks after its Santa Rosa run, followed by an as-yet untitled performance piece from Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgenson (Jan. 23–31). Leonard Bernstein's musical/comical adaptation of Voltaire's Candide (March 20–April 12) heralds spring, and the season ends with Donald Margulies' Collected Stories (May 22–June 13), a searing two-woman drama about literature, art, friendship, plagiarism and truth.
Local theater veteran Carl Hamilton has created a new theater company, Fools Circle Repertory Theater, and plans to kick off with a three-show season beginning with the raucous off-Broadway musical-comedy hit Zombies from the Beyond (Sept. 25–Oct. 31), followed by a revival of Hamilton's Nick Twisp adaptation Youth in Revolt and a new reinvention of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (dates are still not set).
The young Turks of Santa Rosa's Narrow Way Stage company launch their summer onslaught with a double whammy of David Ives' Don Juan in Chicago (Aug. 28–Sept. 14) and Dan Farley's incendiary home-front drama Darryl, Come Home (Sept. 5–14).
And finally, Healdsburg's Raven Players plan six shows this season: A Few Good Men (Aug. 15–Sept. 7), The Foreigner (Oct. 10–26), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Jan. 22–Feb. 15), Steel Magnolias (May 1–24) and Suessical: The Musical (June 19–July 19).
Pegasus Theater in Monte Rio has yet to announce its new schedule, but will open Christopher Hampton's Art on Aug. 23. Check its website (www.pegasustheater.com) for announcements of upcoming shows.
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