25 plays to see this Fall
Your complete guide to the fall theater season
If you liked that grabby listicle headline, you’re in luck—there’s more! This fall’s local theater offerings include:
• 3 companies updating or moving venues
• 4 regional premieres
• 4 staged-reading productions
• 6 holiday-themed shows
• 4 musicals
• 6 shows for kids
• 2 plays by Ken Ludwig
• & a partridge in a pear tree
This list of what’s on stage this fall is offered to you in no particular order. I only suggest you check off as many as possible.
Revived at 85: Reno Little Theater
In its 85th season, Reno Little Theater is celebrating with a renovation of its Pueblo Street venue. With 142 brand-new seats arranged in proscenium style, its capacity will increase by about one third. A new tech booth and new doors serve as icing on this birthday cake.
1 The season kicks off just 10 days after new-seat installation on Oct. 4 with Harvey, for a three-weekend run. In this classic, Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, a man struggles to convince others of the existence of his best friend, a six-foot invisible rabbit.
2 Things get dramatic Nov. 15-Dec. 1 with the first regional premiere on our list, The Human. This 2016 Tony Award-winner for best play is a biting, contemporary family drama, the entirety of which takes place during a Thanksgiving dinner. RLT shows off its new digs with a set designed to replicate a two-story apartment building.
3 Though not technically part of the fall season, this one hits the ground running in early 2020, thus barely missing a beat. The regional premiere of Ken Ludwig’s Murder on the Orient Express opens Jan. 24, and though Ludwig is known for his farce, this fast-paced take on the Agatha Christie whodunit keeps the action chugging along in a remarkably train-like fashion.
In addition to RLT’s mainstage productions, watch for additional events, including monthly jazz shows, education programs and camps (which include a Broadway Our Way student production of Elf: The Musical, Jr. Dec. 20-22) and productions by Ageless Repertory Theater. (We’ll get there in a bit.)
Tickets and information: www.renolittletheater.org
Quick study: TMCC Performing Arts
Speaking of major venue changes, the TMCC Performing Arts troupe will live nomadically this season, now that the Redfield Performing Arts Center has permanently closed. The community college theater company is in the planning stages of a brand-new performing arts center on campus, but with years to go before that curtain rises, the company will spend a few years winging it. Theater instructor and frequent director Stacey Spain says they’ll be going out into the community to work with other theater companies (in fact, four of her students will appear in RLT’s Harvey), creating partnerships with local high schools to produce shows in their theaters and making use of their own campus spaces as much as possible, and it starts with its first show of the season.
Its season starts in earnest in November:
4 In a team effort by TMCC and Damonte Ranch High School’s drama department, Jump Start Theater gives DRHS students an opportunity to earn dual credit for high school and college, not to mention a shot at working alongside more seasoned college actors. The DRHS and TMCC students will take the stage Nov. 6-15 at the Damonte Ranch theater for The Light Burns Blue. Based on a true story, the play tells the story of the Cottingley fairy hoax in which 17-year-old Elsie Wright fools the world—in a WWI, pre-PhotoShop era—into believing she has photographed fairies in her garden. Set in England, the show prompted Spain to bring in an accent coach to work with the students.
5 Life is a cabaret this fall with TMCC’s musical theater cabaret production of That’s Entertainment, running Nov. 22 and 23 at the college’s Dandini campus. This original program features a lineup of song-and-dance numbers from popular Broadway musicals that makes the show appropriate for the whole family.
6 Before the holiday break, TMCC presents its last fall show, 4 Xmas, Dec. 6 and 7 on campus. This collection of four one-act plays includes one original piece titled Yule Believe (written by Spain herself and directed by Holly Natwora), with the others by George Cameron Grant
Tickets and information: www.showtix4u.com or 674-7610
Holidays bite: Good Luck Macbeth
Few local theater companies do the holidays like GLM. Count on the Midtown troupe to pull out all the stops every Halloween and Christmas with cult classics and offbeat alternatives. The only theater on our list to operate on a calendar year, GLM rounds out its 2019 season with these treats:
7 GLM’s Halloween offerings have run the gamut from hilarious to haunting. Put this one in the latter category. Jack Thorne’s Let the Right One In, running Oct. 4-25, is a sleeper cult classic about young Oskar, a lonely, bullied adolescent boy who lives with his mother in a town where a string of murders have taken place. Oskar befriends Eli, the strange young girl who just moved in next door; she never goes to school or goes outside during the daytime, and before long, the frightening secret about why is revealed. This tense drama directed by the masterful Joe Atack will feature elaborate production details, from copious amounts of blood to an updated sound system providing an eerie backdrop of sounds.
8 This holiday season, take a wild ride through a re-imagined, over-the-top Dickensian Christmas. In Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge, running Nov. 29-Dec. 21, playwright Christopher Durang irreverently retells that old, worn staple, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. With malfunctioning magic, the ghosts keep sending Scrooge to the wrong places, giving the unlikeliest of minor characters, Mrs. Cratchit, the spotlight. It even finds time to pay homage to Oliver Twist, “The Gift of the Magi” and It’s a Wonderful Life.
After that, the theater goes dark until February, when GLM will kick off its three-week FOMO series of original, one-weekend-only theatrical events, including a murder mystery, a fan-fiction Game of Thrones redux and an improv competition.
Tickets and information: www.goodluckmacbeth.org
Whole new man: Brüka Theatre
This fall, Brüka goes light on the drama and considers “the making of a man” in new ways.
9 The season opens with The Legend of Georgia McBride, Oct. 4-26. Casey is a young, broke Elvis impersonator in a small-town Florida bar who discovers his wife is going to have a baby just as he loses his job. When the bar owner brings in a B-level drag show to replace his act, Casey has to decide whether he’s tough enough to do drag.
10 In its ninth installment, The Biggest Little Theatre Festival provides a platform for local and regional artists and performers to create, submit and stage new works with the help of Brüka’s space and resources. This year’s festival, Nov. 4-10, will feature a long-form improv show, a spoken-word poetry performance led by poet-in-residence Jesse James Ziegler and a one-man show by City of Reno Poet Laureate Pan Pantoja.
11 Every year, Producing Artistic Director Mary Bennett swears that year’s Buttcracker production will be Brüka’s last. Every year, she’s proven wrong when a delightful, new, innovative idea for the company’s in-house spoof of The Nutcracker takes hold. In this year’s production, Son of a … Buttcracker 9, running Nov. 29-Dec. 21, the seasonal ballet gets a Mary Shelley makeover. Neologisms—those non-curse alternatives that often pepper conversations at the holiday table (“Oh, fudge!”)—add flavor to this local favorite.
12 On the holidays’ heels, Take Five II isn’t a true fall production, but we’ll allow it. Conceived by Elizabeth Tenney, this two-night event, Jan. 17 and 18, highlights 30 regional artists, each of whom gets exactly five minutes to entertain us with discussions of how they make their art. The urgency created by the hard-and-fast five-minute rule results in hilarity as well as newfound respect for artists of all types living right in our neighborhood.
Tickets and information: www.bruka.org
Eat it, too: University of Nevada, Reno Department of Theatre & Dance
13 The university serves up a healthy slice of social justice this fall with Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake. The playwright, known primarily for her work as a writer/producer on the beloved TV show This Is Us, was inspired to write The Cake by the events leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Guest artist Sandra Brunell Neace plays Della, a conservative Christian baker wrestling with the notion of baking a wedding cake for a couple whose lifestyle she doesn’t agree with. The play is notable for its emphasis on listening and understanding in order to move forward in a polarized society. The show runs Oct. 11-19.
Tickets and information: www.unr.edu/cla/theatredance
Disconnected: Restless Artists Theatre
This small troupe in a black-box space in Sparks makes the most of its intimate venue by concentrating on character-driven stories with small casts.
14 Oct. 18-Nov. 3, RAT offers what can only be described as a hopeful drama. Ironbound is set over the course of 22 years in the life of Darja, a Polish immigrant worker who struggles to find the American Dream despite a life of poverty and a string of failed relationships with terrible men.
15 Pow! Blam! Catch Hearts Like Fists Dec. 6-22 for a superhero noir comedy about three female superheroes who take on Doctor X, who’s sneaking into apartments and killing lovers. This madcap parody is reminiscent of classic comic book but with a lot more heart.
16 Right as the new year begins, find out What Rhymes with America, Jan. 10-26. As scenes literally change around cast members, the play follows four people’s stories as they search for meaningful connections.
Tickets and information: www.rattheatre.org
Love lessons: Ageless Repertory Theater
Also focusing on smaller, relationship-driven stories is ART, the readers’ theater troupe of older actors who perform monthly dramatized staged readings of a wide variety of plays. This fall’s offerings take a hard look at love, in its many forms. Every show runs twice, on a Tuesday and Friday, at 1 p.m. at Reno Little Theater.
17 Opening Oct. 15, the second Ken Ludwig play on our list, Be My Baby, tells the story of John, a grumpy Scotsman, and Maude, an uptight Englishwoman, who are forced in to an unlikely alliance when unexpected forces cause them to travel thousands of miles to California.
18 Next up is Sam Bobrick’s The Crazy Time, Nov. 19 and 22, about men trying, and failing miserably, to understand women. Miles, a man in his mid-50s, leaves his wife for a younger woman. But when she eventually leaves him, Miles—of course—finds his first wife, who’s now seeing a younger man, more attractive than ever.
19 On Dec. 17 and 20 comes Jack Neary’s comedy First Night. When eighth-grade flame Meredith O’Connor walks back into Danny Fleming’s life, he begins to think dreams can come true … except now she’s Sister Meredith Louise.
Tickets and information: www.renolittletheater.org/ART-at_RLT
Winter wonderland: Eldorado Resort Casino
There’s still time to catch the Eldorado’s magic show, The Illusionists Experience, which ends its run Oct. 13. Next up is some holiday magic.
20 Santa’s Christmas Wonderland will take up residence at the Eldorado Showroom Nov. 26-Dec. 29, and it looks to be good ol’ fashioned holiday extravaganza, full of glittering costumes, high-kicking chorus dancers, family singalongs and, of course, Santa himself.
Tickets and information: www.eldoradoreno.com/entertainment/shows
Mind powers: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company
Downtown Reno isn’t the only place to find a magical musical this fall. Western Nevada College’s resident Musical Theatre Company offers quite a spectacle in Carson City.
21 Opening Nov. 8 at the Carson City Community Center is Matilda: the Musical, based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel. In this Nevada premiere, a gifted young girl develops telekinetic powers that help her overcome her school’s wicked headmistress and save her abused teacher and classmates. The production will feature extensive magical effects, an exhilarating score, dance numbers and plenty of comedy.
Tickets and information: www.wnmtc.com
Problem children: TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada
With a new artistic director, Elisha Harris, at the helm and, at long last, a new, permanent theater venue at 315 Spokane St. in downtown Reno, the stage is set for a great fall season for TWNN. Harris says the company now can focus on developing strong programming, increasing its class offerings, and growing its inclusivity in terms of welcoming theater students of all abilities.
22 The fall season opens for TWNN in the last weekend of September with What We Lost Along the Way by C. E. Glanville. It takes place in 1939 London, at the beginning of the period of evacuation of British children to the countryside to avoid the war. Fifteen-year-old Serena and her younger brother, Joseph, are sent to live with an upper-class family with children close in age, and the four kids are always at odds. It’s a coming-of-age story about children navigating adolescence as their world falls apart.
23 After several years of A Charlie Brown Christmas, TWNN is taking a break from the Peanuts gang for its annual family gala fundraiser. This year’s production is Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa on Oct. 1. Grab dinner with the show, as well as face painting and pictures with Santa, and funds raised benefit TWNN’s many programs. If you miss that event, you can still catch the show at the Spokane Street location Dec. 6-8.
Education is at the core of TWNN’s mission, and families can take advantage of a weeklong camp during the Washoe County School District’s fall break as well as year-round classes in a variety of subjects.
Tickets and information: www.twnn.org
Ice, ice baby: Wild Horse Children’s Theater
24 Just when you finally got that earworm “Let It Go” out of your head, here comes the Northern Nevada premiere of Disney’s Frozen, Jr. A record 168 kids auditioned for this show, and nearly all of them were offered an opportunity to participate in the massive production. The company purchased the animated projection slides offered with the script and rights, so as you sing along with Elsa, you’ll watch her build an ice castle right before your eyes.
Without much bandwidth to tackle anything else, the company’s only other activity this fall will be Broadway Babies, a four-session toddler workshop program for 3- to 5-year-olds, running through November thanks to a Nevada Arts Council grant.
Tickets and information: www.wildhorsetheater.com
Seasons greetings: Sierra School of Performing Arts
25 SSPA’s youth theater production of Arnold Lobel’s A Year With Frog and Toad takes the stage at Damonte Ranch High School Dec. 14 and 15. Nominated for three Tony Awards, including best musical, the show is based on Lobel’s beloved books about unlikely friends—a cheerful, popular frog and a grumpy toad—as they make their way through every season of the year and navigate the differences between them. A cast of 30 students ages 8 through 17 bring this one to life.
A cornerstone of SSPA’s offerings is its acting classes for youth, running through November, with new classes beginning in January.
Tickets and information: www.sierraschoolofperformingarts.org