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Northern Nevada theater companies usher in a new era this spring

Photo By Amy Beck

Spring is the perfect time to shake off the dust of days gone by and try something new. Theater companies around Northern Nevada are taking that idea to heart, with performance schedules that include world premieres, cutting-edge new plays, Pulitzer Prize winners, innovative adaptations and even a few new players.

A Rep for taking chances: Nevada Repertory Company

“After almost being eliminated last year, we really wanted to make a splash this season,” says Larry Walters, Nevada Rep’s managing director, explaining how the University of Nevada, Reno’s resident theater company is about to bring its second world premiere of the 2011-2012 season, Anne Garcia Romero’s Juanita’s Statue, to its stage this March.

Originally commissioned by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the play—a modernized, cross-dressing retelling of the Don Juan story—has until now only been read on stage a number of times; this full production by Nevada Rep will be its first. The playwright herself will work with the cast and do one post-show discussion with the audience.

Following that is Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, a jazz musical set on a ship in 1934 that involves romance, mistaken identity, and a whole lot of schtick, with a number of highly recognizable songs, including the title song and “De-Lovely.” Adam Cates, a UNR graduate who hails from the Reno area, returns from a stint on Broadway to direct and choreograph this show.

Walters will retire after the spring semester, leaving Nevada Rep in the hands of department chair Rob Gander.

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New blood: Good Luck Macbeth

Another company losing a mainstay is Good Luck Macbeth. Founding president and artistic director Scott Reeves went to follow his dreams in New York, leaving the GLM producing-artistic-director duties in the capable hands of Chad Sweet. Having worked in professional theater companies around the country for nine years prior to moving to Reno, Sweet looks forward to helping push the Reno theater scene onto the national stage.

GLM’s spring line-up includes A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, two-person show that tells the story of two old lovers, revealed through letters they’ve exchanged since childhood. Multiple casts provide for interesting shifts in couple dynamics from performance to performance, all in March.


Following that, in mid-April, comes And the World Goes ’Round, a musical revue of the songs of Kander and Ebb, whose Broadway hits have included Chicago and Cabaret. That’s followed by a stage adaptation in June of Robert Redford’s film, Ordinary People, about a family struggling to cope with the loss of a beloved son.

GLM’s Artown offering will be Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with set design by artist Lance Dehne.

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Exploring fringes: TMCC Performing Arts

TMCC’s talented performers are taking on some bold projects in 2012, starting with Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical Next to Normal, a show that’s been called brave, bold and even capable of taking theater into a new direction. This emotional story focuses on a family coping with its matriarch’s mental illness.

Ryan Kelly, left, and AdamSemas rehearse scenes from TMCC’sproduction of Next to Normal.

Photo By amy beck

“Bold” would characterize TMCC’s next production, a double-header of The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, running simultaneously in the first two weeks of May. The plays document the immediate and decade-later reactions of Laramie, Wyo., residents to the murder of gay university student Matthew Shephard.

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Spring of ambition: Brüka Theatre

Nobody looking at its spring/summer line-up would ever accuse Brüka Theatre of laziness. With one 2012 play already under its belt, in March Brüka launches into The Wild Party, a musical based upon Joseph Moncure March’s 1920s poem of the same name.

Following that, in May, is Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, about two sets of parents coming together to iron out a dispute between their children, only to end up behaving more childishly themselves.

In May comes another Pulitzer-winning play, Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive, about an unsettling relationship between a young woman and her uncle.

With July and Artown comes Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending. Stacey Spain directs this story of a young woman married to an older man, dealing with the confines and judgments of her small town.

Sarah Rodriguez and JJ von Nolde rehearse <i>Juanita’s Statue</i>.

Photo By Amy Beck

Meanwhile, Brüka has other projects in the works, including another installation in its children’s theater series, Hansel and Gretel; three more installments of its Original Play Readings series; the late-April continuation of its Living Newspaper project, centering on the Virginia Street Bridge in Reno; and a two-week youth theater camp that will culminate in a production of Alice in Wonderland.

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About a girl: Reno Little Theater

This month, you can catch Leading Ladies at RLT’s brand-new theater off Wells Avenue. The comedy is about two down-on-their-luck actors masquerading as women in order to steal an old woman’s inheritance. This new space is smaller than their former Hug High School digs, meaning some people have been turned away at the door; it’s why the company is considering extended runs of all shows, as needed.

April brings the black comedy August, Osage County, a play for mature audiences about a dysfunctional family coming together to plan the funeral of the pill-addicted matriarch who has recently gone missing.

Starting in mid-May is Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, a modernized mystery involving Conan Doyle’s crime-solving genius.

RLT’s Artown production will be Noel Coward’s Private Lives, a classic comedy about a pair of exes who both remarry and wind up staying next door to each other on their honeymoons.

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Black comedy spring: TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

TWNN opens Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell in mid-March. A woman answers the incessantly ringing phone left on the table near her in a café, learns that the phone’s owner is deceased and becomes strangely drawn into the callers’ lives.

Following that, in May, is Stage Fright, a biting comedy in which two disgruntled actors kidnap and torture the theater critic who once cruelly maligned them.

Artown’s Family Series will include the TWNN production of Curiosity Cat, which tells the story of displaced children, homeless cats, the importance of family and the value of curiosity.

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PJ’s and PC: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company

At the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, all is not well. In Pajama Game, as labor battles management for a 7.5-cent raise, Sid, the superintendent, falls for Babe, the head of the grievance committee. Company Director Stephanie Arrigotti says this May production features “splashy production numbers” like “Steam Heat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway,” as well as classic ballads like “Hey, There.”

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Playing well with others: Brewery Arts Center

Carson City’s cultural home is now host to three theater companies, each of which brings its own unique flavor. Wild Horse Theater Company, founded by former BAC-ers Carol and Jeffrey Scott, is a family-friendly, all-inclusive, community theater company that on March 30 presents Forever Plaid, a ’50s-era musical comedy about a singing group resurrected from a fatal car crash to perform the show of a lifetime.

Resident children’s troupe BAC Stage Kids presents the Disney version of Pinocchio, opening April 27, and will host two summer youth theater camps.

In May, the adult troupe Proscenium Players presents 12 Angry Men, about a dissenting juror in a murder trial who must convince fellow jurors that the facts aren’t as clear-cut as they first seemed.

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