Play around

Here's our Spring 2015 theater guide

The Utility Players rehearse for their upcoming production of <i>The Game Show Show</i> at Goodluck Macbeth.

The Utility Players rehearse for their upcoming production of The Game Show Show at Goodluck Macbeth.

Despite the mild temperatures of late, I realize it isn’t officially spring for a couple months. But before our eyes, Reno has become a theater town, what with new companies popping up and performances taking place nearly every week of the year.

This “spring” is marked by an unusually large number of kids’ productions as well as a considerable roster of improv shows and experimental pieces, all demonstrating the increasingly playful tastes of theater-going audiences.

Brave new works: Goodluck Macbeth

In his new role as managing director, playwright/actor Christopher Daniels is leading Goodluck Macbeth into a season of original, innovative works. That starts Feb. 6 with The Game Show Show, which, as an improv show developed by Home Slice Productions and The Utility Players, is different with each performance. The parody game show takes a stab at Hollywood Squares and The $10,000 Pyramid, with one matinee kids’ version on Feb. 22.

Then in mid-March comes an original piece by Rachel Lopez, director of GLM’s Spotlight Youth Theater. In Our Own Backyard takes us into a school one year after a tragic school shooting, sensitively dealing with how the community negotiates such tragedy.

Next, in late March, comes Pyretown, a production by the new Merry War Theatre Group. Pyretown, written by John Belluso, who was confined to a wheelchair his whole life, tells the story of a relationship that forms between two hospitalized characters struggling to negotiate their lives and the health-care system.

Running April 10-25, David Ives’ two-person show, Venus in Fur, is about a director casting for a role who meets his match when a woman who is completely wrong for the role comes in to audition.

Shiner, a work developed for the LA Fringe Festival by Christian Durso, makes its Reno premiere May 8-30, telling the story of an unlikely friendship formed between two teens in the early ’90s, in the weeks leading up to Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

GLM’s Artown show, Last Fall at the Old Southwest, explores the life of a gay bar over 40 years of LGBT history, as seen by two people finding their identities and places in the world.

Tickets and info:

Big fish: UNR Department of Theatre and Dance

With its newly remodeled proscenium theater, the University of Nevada, Reno’s theater department is staging a coup by landing an artists’ residency with the Upright Citizens Brigade, the improvisational and sketch comedy troupe made famous by cofounder Amy Poehler. With references to the Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual, guest artists from UCB will work with students to strengthen their improv chops, then put on a show on Feb. 27 and 28, which will open for a UCB players’ performance.

In early April comes Superior Donuts, written by Tracy Letts—the story of a draft dodger who steps in to run his parents’ doughnut shop. It picks up where its famed predecessor, August: Osage County, left off.

The Spring Dance Concert, April 30-May 3, features another huge get for its Artist in Residency: Andrea Miller, 2014 Guggenheim Fellow and artistic director of the Gallim Dance company, who will choreograph a piece for students that will open for a full performance by Gallim.

Tickets and info:

Full-time family fun: Reno Little Theater

Nevada’s oldest theater company is thriving. It now employs three full-time staff members, as well as an impressively full roster of productions this spring, starting with When the Rain Stops Falling, running through Feb. 15. This epic family drama spans the globe and the century through four generations.

Matthew Barber’s stage adaptation of Enchanted April takes the stage April 10-26. Barber himself will work with RLT players to present this story of bored English housewives in the 1920s renting a villa in the Italian countryside.

Then, May 29-June 14, we go to Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. Set in the same universe as A Raisin in the Sun, this drama focuses on several generations of a family as they experience the re-gentrification of their neighborhood.

In response to requests for more family-oriented programming, RLT presents the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, July 9-Aug. 2.

As part of its experimental Off-Off Wells series, on Feb. 19 and 20, RLT presents local playwright Kristen Davis-Coelho’s Lauren Leaping, followed the next weekend by the West Coast premiere of Demon Bitch Goddess, and, finally, Any Given Monday on May 7-10.

RLT also has formed relationships with two local companies: The Jester’s League improv troupe and Ageless Repertory Theater, a readers’ theater production company, both set to perform monthly.

Tickets and info:

Kids’ stuff: TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

TWNN is bringing a beloved children’s book to life March 13-22 in Miss Nelson is Missing, a comedic play about a too-nice teacher who tires of being a pushover and leaves her students with a scary substitute.

Following that, TWNN’s youth theater company will present Us and Them, May 8-10, about two groups of wanderers looking for a place to settle and divided by a growing wall.

In July, TWNN once again joins Artown’s Family Series with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Tickets and info:

Wild and wondrous: Brüka Theatre

Blustering into town Feb. 20 is Wild Oats, a wild Western farce about mistaken identity that will turn the main stage into a saloon playing host to cowhands, an Irish Indian, villains and a dancing bear. This play replaces the originally scheduled Bandido!.

In early March, Brüka’s Theatre for Children program offers up Wishing, a Grimm’s Household Tale of Mother Hulda that explores the repercussions of kindness offered up without pure intentions. The production will be done in buffoon style, utilizing bigger, clownish acting and costumes.

On April 3 begins a “two-fer” of plays by David Lindsay Abaire, starting with Wonder of the World, about a woman going through a journey of self-actualization to see the wonders of the world. That wraps up at the end of April, making way for Good People, a comedy about an unemployed woman who decides to follow an unexpected path.

Running mid-June through Aug. 1 is The Full Monty, the musical about unemployed steelworkers determined to stage a better strip show than Chippendales’.

Other beloved favorites will return, including the Artist in the House residency program, the triumphant return of the Dumass family in the Late Night TV Show series, and a summer camp for kids.

Tickets and info:

How to save a buck: TMCC Performing Arts

How do you save money staging a Broadway show? According to Mel Brooks’ Tony Award-winning The Producers, make it a sure-fire flop. TMCC students bring this musical to the stage April 3-19, with choreography by local musician Mig O’Hara.

Also watch for TMCC’s free Spring Choral Concert, on May 13. Tickets and information:

Silver anniversary: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company

WNMTC will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2015 with a Broadway blockbuster, The Music Man, May 8-17. It’s the classic story of fast-talking traveling band-instrument salesman Harold Hill, who has a history of ripping off every town he visits until he meets the town librarian and vows to change his ways.

Tickets and info:

Comedy that kills: Proscenium Players, Inc.

Nevada’s second-oldest theater company has a wicked lineup this spring, starting with Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 13 and 14.

Also running in February is PPI’s annual murder mystery dinner theater at the Gold Dust West Casino in Carson City. In Polter-heist, the audience will meet the proprietors of a lodge who hire a ghost and a medium to stir up business.

Murder returns April 11-18, this time at the Brewery Arts Center, with Murder in an English Manor, an original play by one of PPI’s own members.

In July, PPI presents its own improv show, followed by the Senior Follies, a variety show performed entirely by seniors to raise funds for the Carson City Senior Center and Meals on Wheels. Also in July, look for a series of as-yet-to-be-determined one-acts at the BAC.

Tickets and info:

Capital kids: Wild Horse Children’s Theater

Started about 10 years ago, the resident theater company of the Brewery Arts Center brings its first show of the year to the stage March 13-22. Disney’s 101 Dalmations Kids is a pared-down version of the original Disney show, featuring the same beloved tunes.

Following that, in early June, comes an extravagant production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr., at the Carson City Community Center. It should be WHCT’s biggest show ever, with all the magic kids love, complete with an enchanted rose, dancing candles and cups and a disappearing beast.

Tickets and info: