Set the stage

Our annual fall theater preview is a guide to what’s happening onstage in Northern Nevada for the season

Sabrina Kales and Andrew Collins rehearse scene from <i>Into the Woods</i>, a TMCC Performing Arts production of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that opens Oct. 15.

Sabrina Kales and Andrew Collins rehearse scene from Into the Woods, a TMCC Performing Arts production of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that opens Oct. 15.

Photo By Dana Nöllsch

There’s a nip in the air. The late summer events are winding to a close. It’s time to start thinking about some indoor entertainment options. After rounding up this fall’s local theater offerings, I can tell you that there’s plenty to get excited about, including Broadway productions never before seen in Reno, a recently unearthed play by one of America’s most important writers, and just about every beloved holiday production you can think of.

New digs: Reno Little Theater

RLT’s 76th season is highly anticipated. First, there’s its “Just Off Broadway” series. “One thing we realized was that Broadway musicals come through Reno fairly often, but serious quality Broadway plays don’t routinely come here,” says Nancy Podewils, RLT board member and publicity chair. “We’ll start in September with Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge and do at least one of these kinds of plays each year.”

Bridge, directed by Doug Mischler and starring local favorite Bradford Ka’ai’ai in his first role with RLT, tells the story of a family whose Italian relatives arrive on their doorstep and announce they plan to stay and find jobs. Issues related to immigration, family loyalties and forbidden passions ensue.

In October comes Jeffrey Hatcher’s new adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Stacey Spain. In Hatcher’s version, which Podewils describes as “a new take on the human condition,” there are actually four Hydes, one of whom is female.

But the big news for RLT is that construction of its new permanent space, on Pueblo Street, just off Wells Ave., is in its final stages, and the company hopes to take residence sometime this season. Funds are still needed to complete some framing, plumbing and electrical work. To aid those efforts, RLT plans an exciting, rare opportunity for 25 guests to enjoy dinner and a private concert with musicians Susan Mazer and Dallas Smith. For information, call RLT at 813-4981, or Podewils at 343-8100. For show information and tickets, visit

Old, new, borrowed and blue: Nevada Repertory Company

The University of Nevada, Reno’s resident theater company likes to mix it up. This season is marked by contemporary plays dealing with lesbianism and obesity, interspersed with some Mark Twain and Shakespeare. First, in October, comes Diana Son’s Stop Kiss, a comedy about a tough New York female who forms an unexpected romantic relationship with a girl from Ohio, and the two are forced to confront issues of homophobia and violence.

Then, in November, comes Mark Twain’s “new” play, Is He Dead? Unearthed accidentally by Stanford Twain scholar Shelly Fisher Fishkin in 2002, the play had been unpublished and undiscovered until she made it her mission to usher it to Broadway, and in that process hired playwright David Ives to “finish it” and “tighten it up.” In this, the centennial year of Twain’s death, Nevada Rep presents this play and Fishkin herself, who will attend the show, give a post-show talk, and appear separately on campus for a lecture.

Stay tuned for spring, when Nevada Rep presents Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For more information and tickets, visit

Let’s go to camp: Brüka Theatre

For those who are sick to death of hearing about vampires, Brüka may have just the thing. Psycho Beach Party and Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. These two extraordinarily campy one-acts by Charles Busch will be presented together throughout October. Psycho Beach Party, directed by Jamie Plunkett, tells the story of Chicklet Forrest, a teenaged tomboy whose split personalities aid in her efforts to be part of the ’60s Malibu beach crowd. Vampire Lesbians, directed by Adam Whitney, tells of two seductive, bloodsucking actresses, tracing their rivalry from Sodom to 1920s Hollywood and Las Vegas.

Brüka follows that up with its annual Freaker’s Ball on Oct. 30, and a return to a much-beloved holiday classic, Buttcracker III: The Resurrection. For more information and tickets, visit

Rod Hearn, left, Kiet Cao perform during a rehearsal of TMCC’s <i>Into the Woods</i>.

Photo By Dana N&ouml;llsch

Fairy tale fall: TMCC Performing Arts

Paul Aberasturi’s dream is coming true. The Truckee Meadows Community College Performing Arts director and chair of Visual and Performing Arts, a bona fide Stephen Sondheim fan, is bringing Into the Woods, Sondheim’s irreverent take on Brothers Grimm fairy tales, to the stage. This very adult fairy tale centers on a baker and his wife who have been cursed with infertility and who follow the instructions of a witch so that they may have a child.

Call it counter-programming. This year, TMCC also brings back its children’s theater program, which each year enables local Washoe County school children to see a live musical production. This year’s show, Cinderella, will open to the public for a two-week run in December.

The company was also invited to perform next summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. TMCC Performing Arts will be raising funds throughout the year in order to attend the festival, with efforts that include occasional cabaret and live appearances at Daughters Café. For more information and tickets, visit

Who Dunnit? TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

Fundraising is a common theme among local theater groups, but at least they’re getting creative about it. TWNN will present its first show of the season, Lee Mueller’s Murder Me Always, as a murder mystery dinner and silent auction on Oct. 23. Audience members will become guests at the dinner party of Mr. Swanwallow and are encouraged to wear 1920s attire. Funds will help support TWNN programming and classes for youth and seniors. For more information and tickets, call 722-2155.

BAC to Basics: Brewery Arts Center

Brewery Arts’ two theater companies are often worth the drive to Carson—especially if you have kids. This season promises the same, as BAC Stage Kids presents You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in November.

BAC’s new resident professional theater company, the Performing Arts Collaborative (BAC-PAC), presents I Say Nevada!, written by local author and musician Bob Reid, in October. Company manager Andie Anderson calls it “Saturday Night Live meets the Sierras.” Both companies join together for the holidays to present an old favorite, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in December. For more information and tickets, visit

A White Christmas Carol: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company, Tahoe Players and Goodnight Macbeth

Topping off a full plate of Christmas theater goodies come two favorites rarely, if ever, seen here.

First, in November, comes Irving Berlin’s classic, White Christmas, presented by the Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company. A cast of roughly 40 singers and dancers and a 14-piece orchestra comprise this new adaptation of the film starring Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. For more information and tickets, visit

Then, in December, comes the Tahoe Players’ A Christmas Carol.

“Wait a minute,” you might ask, “what’s rare about A Christmas Carol?”

Rockettes, for starters. The Tahoe Players recently secured the rights to the Radio City International version of the Dickens classic, which until only recently could only be seen at Madison Square Garden. According to director Monica Folio, Radio City’s cast of about 200 people included a kick line of townspeople. “I haven’t figured out how to work in a kick line yet, but I’ll get it in there somehow!”

The show, held at the Grand Sierra Resort, promises to be spectacular, complete with a 14-piece orchestra; fake ice for skating; and the talents of vocal director Lily Welsch and music director John Shipley, of renowned Hiroshima jazz group fame. For more information and tickets, visit

And while Goodluck Macbeth did not respond to inquiries about its season, the local company presents Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer on Sept. 10-19. For details, visit