Fall from the stage

Can you believe it? The theater season is upon us.

The entire cast of TMCC’s upcoming production of “Rent.”

The entire cast of TMCC’s upcoming production of “Rent.”


If there's one thing that's been a constant this year on the local theater scene, it's change. Seems like everyone, all at once, decided to lower the curtain on the same old thing and spotlight new shows, new playwrights, new venues, new staff members and new ways of doing things.

As we head into fall, perhaps nothing illustrates this point better than this one fact: There's nary a Christmas chestnut in sight.

Nevada Repertory Company

It’s a season of upheaval for Nevada Rep, which is getting a $3 million renovation to its performance spaces at the University of Nevada, Reno. According to Rob Gander, chair of the UNR Department of Theater and Dance, the Redfield Proscenium Theatre will see increased square footage in the scene shop, improved seating, new stage technology and a remodeled lobby/art gallery. Completion is planned for spring.

Meanwhile, Nevada Rep has no plans to put its fall performance season on hold. Instead, it heads outside. The Living Theatre, a New York theater troupe, will send a cadre of actors to work with UNR students to create an original play, A Day in the Life of the City. Drawing upon the students’ own environs and daily concerns, the group works together for about 10 days to devise the play, then present pop-up performances at locations to be determined, on and off campus. These mid-September afternoon performances are free. Following Nevada Rep on social media is the best way to catch them.

In late October, Nevada Rep moves indoors to the Redfield Studio Theatre with Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors, a short, farcical tale about two sets of twins separated at birth who create havoc when everyone around town mistakes one twin for another.

Tickets and information: unr.edu/nevadarep

Brüka Theatre

On the eve of its 21st season, Brüka is also on the precipice of big changes, with construction on the new Virginia Street Bridge expected to begin in 2014.

“I’m pretty concerned about that. I don’t know what that will mean for us, so I wanted to have a bang-up season,” says producing artistic director Mary Bennett.

It starts with the West Coast premiere of Creature in October. Set in the 1400s and drawn from the autobiography of Margery Kemp (widely believed the first autobiography in the English language), it’s the funny yet frightening story of a beer maiden tormented by spiritual visions.

In November comes Pieces of Eight, a compilation of one-acts, both existing and original, titles to be announced in October.

Opening the day after Thanksgiving is one of the area’s only holiday-themed theater offerings, Buttcracker V: Pirate Booty. Brüka’s parody franchise always has a go at The Nutcracker. Replacing last year’s Zombie Apocalypse theme, Pirate Booty sends Clara to the land of pirates.

Brüka’s auditions for shows are set for Sept.17.

As Brüka braces for 14 months of heavy construction, it’s arranging tours and partnerships with area companies, which leads us to Carson City’s Brewery Arts Center.

Tickets and information: bruka.org

Brewery Arts Center

The above-mentioned Bennett takes the stage in Carson City for a joint BAC/Brüka production of Shirley Valentine, a one-woman show about a bored, middle-aged woman who escapes to Greece It will have two performances during the first weekend of September.

Also this month, resident company Wild Horse Theater Productions offers a month-long theater workshop series for kids ages 4-7, culminating in an Oct. 19 matinee performance of The Princess and the Pea.

During this time, Wild Horse will also be in rehearsals for Hairspray, to hit the stage in early December.

BAC’s second company in residence, Proscenium Players, will return to BAC in January.

Tickets and information: breweryarts.org

Tahoe Players

Each fall, Tahoe Players pulls together a major musical performance for 9,000 Washoe County school children, capped off with one public performance in early December. This year, Tahoe Players presents Shrek: The Musical, an all-ages show based on the movie about an ogre who goes on a quest to save a princess. Look for additional fairy tale characters, original songs not heard in the film and backstories for several characters.

Tickets and information: tahoeplayers.org.

Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company

Also musical, albeit less playful, is Les Misérables, appearing at the Carson City Community Center in November. It’s the story of Jean Valjean, a man who serves 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread for a starving child, struggles to evade capture by a relentless inspector and ultimately joins the French revolution. A cast of 60 brings the story and songs to life, and the award-winning score will have live orchestral accompaniment.

Tickets and information: wnmtc.com

TMCC Performing Arts

Speaking of big, award-winning musicals, TMCC will reprise Rent: The Musical in the first half of November. Though the company produced it in 2009, the show repeatedly sold out and fans have requested its return, says Jon Frederick, company manager, adding that the show will be bigger, flashier, edgier and dancier than before.

Afterward, TMCC leaps into its children’s production, A Year with Frog and Toad, a musical for the family based on the children’s book. Washoe school performances lead off the run, followed by three public performances in mid-December. The $6-per-ticket price is also nice.

Tickets and information: performingarts.tmcc.edu

Goodluck Macbeth

Goodluck Macbeth will only feature two main stage shows this fall. The first, opening in mid-September, is the U.S. premiere of Claire Booker’s Building on Sand, a comedy about two couples taking a dotty aunt with an irrational fear of the ocean for a holiday at the seaside.

The second, in December, is decidedly not holiday-ish. An original play by playwright-in-residence Marvin Gonzalez, The Fifth Wind is a black comedy set in the 1950s about two very different men who are neighbors in the basement floor of an apartment building.

Tickets and information: goodluckmacbeth.org

Reno Little Theater

With a brand-new managing director, Melissa Taylor, at the helm as of July, Reno Little Theater presents a brand-new show. Director Doug Mishler says that Intellectuals, the story of a married woman’s mid-life crisis, has only been performed once before, in New York. The show opens this week, featuring an appearance by playwright Scott Sickles.

In October, RLT presents Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, about a close-knit family unwittingly embroiled in war profiteering.

In December, Ken Ludwig’s comedy, The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays, tells the story of an actor, having performed as Sherlock Holmes for decades, who finds himself forced to solve a real murder case.

In mid-October, RLT’s fall installment of its local playwrights series, Off-Off-Wells, will be Huedner, about a young Mormon man in Nazi Germany who finds himself in a crisis of conscience and faith.

Tickets and information: renolittletheater.org

TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

TWNN’s only fall performance is its annual murder-mystery dinner on October 20th at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. Murder at the Café Noir, a mystery/comedy written by David Landau, takes place in a seedy supper club in the forties. Audience members are invited to dress in black and white. Jazz singer Cami Thompson will do a pre-show performance with her band during the first course.

Then TWNN gets back to work on Ellen Hopkins’ Crank for January.

Tickets and information: twnn.org