Play things

Here’s what’s happening on Northern Nevada stages this fall

Evan Harris (Mel Chior) and Megan Smith (Wendla) rehearse a scene from TMCC's upcomming production of <i>Spring Awakening</i>.

Evan Harris (Mel Chior) and Megan Smith (Wendla) rehearse a scene from TMCC's upcomming production of Spring Awakening.

Photo By Amy Beck

Here we are, on the other side of the legislative session that could easily have killed many performing arts groups in the area, and Northern Nevada’s theater companies are still kicking, though somewhat bruised.

The first half of the upcoming theater season looks fairly scaled down from recent years. And the offerings have something in common: a return to better days. Many shows hearken back to days long past, days that seemed happy, innocent and prosperous. Even the fall’s requisite horror and holiday fare offers touches of nostalgia.

Radio on: Brüka Theatre

Brüka champions a return to the good ol’ days by centering on the 1940s, when radio was a lifeline, live theater addressed feelings of disillusionment, and musical theater was taking off.

Brüka’s 19th season kicks off with the National Play Reading of Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Federal Theatre Project. For one night, Brüka will join theaters around the country in staging a reading of this play that explores the rise of fascism in America.

In mid-October The 39 Steps, a send-up of the 1935 Hitchcock film of the same name that both spoofs and pays homage to many of Hitch’s films.

Additionally, Brüka is partnering in the Carson City Ghost Walk in late October, and the Freakers Ball fundraiser returns on October 29.

They’ll wrap up 2011 with a (somewhat revamped) return to Michael Grimm’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, the sparse, three-actor version of the classic tale that Brüka first presented in 2003.

Tickets and information:

Variations on a theme: Good Luck Macbeth

This fall, GLM, which operates its seasons on the calendar year, is winding down its first season in its new space downtown, but the company’s packing quite a lot into these last months of the year.

GLM is currently presenting Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, directed by Tony DeGeiso. The show, which runs through the first weekend of October, tells the story of newlyweds Corie and Paul, and their struggles to cohabitate and remain in love.

Just two weeks later, GLM presents Dracula, adapted by Dahlia Randolph from the Bram Stoker novel. Because of the venue’s intimate in-the-round staging, this production promises fright that’s up close and personal, just in time for Halloween.

Finally and coincidentally, GLM’s November-December show is A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol. “We normally don’t do new shows, since we try to stick with the classics, but we wanted to do something unique for Christmas,” says GLM President Scott Reeves. The play takes place in a radio studio in New Jersey in the ’40s, and revolves around a noir retelling of the Dickens tale.

Tickets and information:

Small town life: Brewery Arts Center

If Americana is what you like, you’ll find plenty of it in Carson City this fall, starting with BAC Stage Kids’ production of The Music Man Jr. in November. Presented by school-aged actors, the show is a straightforward telling of the classic story of how River City, Iowa, reacts to the arrival of an eccentric con man posing as a band instructor.

After a two-year absence, adult company Proscenium Players returns to Brewery Arts with A Tuna Christmas, which Director of Programs Tami Shelton calls “an affectionate comment on small town southern life and attitudes.” The comedy focuses on a Christmas yard decorating contest.

Tickets and information:

Theater icons: Tahoe Players

Monica Folio, longtime artistic director of Tahoe Players and accomplished performer in her own right, passed away earlier this year. Her iconic style and involvement with the arts in this community are sorely missed by the company, audiences and, certainly, her granddaughter, Lily Baran, who is now taking the reins as artistic director.

“Our next show, and certainly this whole year, is really a tribute to her,” says Baran.

Folio’s swan song will be Annie, which has special resonance in today’s economic times—a point Folio herself stressed when she first presented the idea early this year as a contender for this season. The show, which will be presented at the Grand Sierra Resort in early December, will be played first only for school children around the area, with a public performance on Dec. 11.

The TMCC theater group rehearses its upcoming production of Spring Awakening.

Photo By amy beck

Tickets and information:

Masked man: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company

WNMTC embarks upon what Company Director Stephanie Arrigotti calls “Mount Everest.” Everything about a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera is difficult, from the research and set construction to choreography and costuming, to finding, of course, the right voices to carry these well-known and complicated tunes.

All of this cost WNMTC $120,000 to create. Ticket sales, fortunately, have been brisk since last November, says Arrigotti.

Tickets and information:

Big song and dance: TMCC Performing Arts

TMCC Performing Arts presents Spring Awakening, Steven Sater’s adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s German play. With music by contemporary artist Duncan Sheik, the show is set in the late 19th century in Germany, and centers on teenagers exploring sexuality. Issues raised in the show include abortion, rape, homosexuality and child abuse, but, as Company Manager John Frederick explains, though the show’s issues are dark, it contains quite a lot of humor. The show has won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score.

In December, TMCC continues its tradition of presenting a live performance exclusively for Washoe County School District students, with just three performances, Dec. 9-10, for the public. This year’s production is Disney’s High School Musical.

An October band concert and December choir concert round out the fall.

Tickets and information:

The way back machine: Nevada Repertory Company

This November, University of Nevada, Reno theater students get a rare opportunity to mount the first contemporary production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the original pronunciation (OP). British actor and OP scholar Ben Crystal will play Hamlet, while his dad, David Crystal, author of Pronouncing Shakespeare, will serve as consultant on the show. This production runs through November.

Following Hamlet comes The Beach Plays, a compilation of eight short plays centered on beach locales.

(See “Serious Drama” in our Aug. 25 issue for more information about Nevada Rep’s season.)

Tickets and information:

Prejudice and murder: TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

TWNN’s executive director, Stephanie Richardson, was a classmate of award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers, whose latest work, White People, appears on a TWNN stage this October. White People is the story of an attorney, a housewife and a professor, each of whom somehow confronts racial prejudice, making brutally honest confessions wrought with guilt. The show runs during the second half of October at the Hobson Gallery.

On Nov. 19, TWNN returns its murder mystery dinner fundraiser, featuring a dinner provided by the Atlantis Casino-Resort, silent auction items and a presentation of Dead Air, a comedy mystery which deals with a sudden death at a radio station.

Tickets and information:

For dinner reservations, call (775) 284-0789.

Same time next year: Reno Little Theater

RLT had to alter its plans to take permanent residence of its newly built theater sometime in the 2010-11 season, due to numerous funding, paperwork and construction delays, opting instead to delay the start of its season until January 2012.

Come January, the season kicks off with a bang in the new space, with Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which Doug Mischler will direct

To whet audiences’ appetites, RLT will stage what it’s calling an “appeteaser” of one-act plays from Oct. 28-Nov. 13. Location TBD.

Tickets and Information: