Spotlight on theater

The RN&R guide to upcoming theatrical production in Northern Nevada

The cast performs in the TMCC production of <i>Jesus Christ Superstar</i> at the Neil J. Redfield Foundation Performing Arts Center.

The cast performs in the TMCC production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Neil J. Redfield Foundation Performing Arts Center.

Photo by AMY BECK

Legislators are struggling to correct a $3 billion budget shortfall. Arts organizations around the state are holding their breath that Gov. Sandoval’s proposed budget, which would eliminate the Department of Cultural Affairs and cut an additional 10 percent from the Nevada Arts Council’s already crippled budget, won’t pass. It’s hard to emphasize how much local theater companies—like all arts organizations—are relying on attendance.

And with tickets prices ranging from $5-$18, and a fun line-up of shows slated for spring and summer, there’s no reason not to support local theater.

Something to Talk About: Nevada Repertory Company

On the subject of funding, Nevada Rep’s got exciting news: According to managing director Larry Walters, the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) and the Graduate Student Association (GSA) taxed each of their members a $5 arts fee per semester to subsidize arts programs and keep student ticket prices at just $5.

Running through March 6 is a controversial show by Neil LaBute called Fat Pig. In it, a young man falls in love with his friend, a clever, witty, self-confident woman who happens to be overweight. Will he bend to peer pressure or follow his heart?

Then, in April, Nevada Rep will fulfill its dream of scenery automation. The performance kicking it off will be Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will showcase magic, fairies, strange creatures and the dream world with remote control scenery. “It’s cool in a theater-geek kind of way,” says Walters.

Information and tickets: unr.edu/nevadarep.

Shaking Things Up: Nevada Shakespeare Company

First, NSC does more than Shakespeare. Second, they have fun. On March 25-27, there’s To Russia, Love Chekhov. And while “Russia” and “Chekhov” aren’t words that necessarily connote “fun,” managing artistic director Cameron Crain explains that the show is composed of three, 30-minute Chekhov farces that will make for “a night of comedy, for sure.” Guest director Micha Marie Stevens’ vision for the show involves an early ’60s Mad Men vibe.

Then in April, it’s Shakespeare’s 447th birthday. In honor of the occasion comes the Shakespeare-a-Thon, a series of scenes, monologues and bits from Bill himself. Audience interaction is encouraged and could lead to a prize for a lucky monologuer. “We’re trying to get people to not be so serious about Shakespeare,” says Crain.

In summer, NSC will kick off Shake Your Scruples, an improv/comedy night at Scruples Bar & Grill, followed by its Artown performance, Ramona at the Ridge, a Ramona Quimby adaptation created for Sage Ridge School.

Information and tickets: nevada-shakespeare.org.

Women and Children: TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

In March, TWNN opens Jane Martin’s Talking With, an award-winning play comprised of monologues from such idiosyncratic characters as a baton twirler and a snake handler, all of whom share memorable emotional lessons.

TWNN is one of several companies offering children’s productions this season. In May, catch 15 Reasons Not to Be in a Play, featuring actors ages 6-12 performing monologues and vignettes about these reasons, ranging from shyness to lack of cell phone contact, to being stuck in a costume.

Then, in conjunction with Artown, TWNN presents Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. Elaborate sets and costumes bring to life this story of James, an orphan living with two wicked aunts who escapes via an enormous peach that’s home to some giant-but-wonderful bugs.

Information and tickets: twnn.org.

Child’s Play: Brewery Arts Center

One of the longest-lived local producers of children’s theater is BAC Stage Kids, which presents the beloved musical Bye Bye Birdie in April. With a cast of more than 40 local kids ages 6-16, the show is an affectionate satire about a rock star who enters the Army.

Information and tickets: BreweryArts.org.

While We’re There…: Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company

Another musical you “Cain’t Say No” to is coming to Carson. In May, WNMTC presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, a love story about farm girl Laurey and Curly the cowboy, against the backdrop of Western Indian territory just after the turn of the 20th century. Memorable songs, rope-twirling and challenging dance numbers give this talented musical theater troupe another opportunity to pack their often-full house.

Information and tickets: WNMTC.com.

Song and Dance: TMCC Performing Arts

Big musicals run rampant this spring, and TMCC’s going big with Jesus Christ Superstar, running through March 13. It’s quite a coup to get the rights for this Andrew Lloyd Webber ’70s rock opera. On top of that, director Paul Aberasturi has contemporized this version so that the last seven days of Jesus’ life won’t feel quite so much like a love-in.

Then comes a rare treat: free entertainment. TMCC’s theater, dance, concert band and concert choir performers all get to showcase their wares in a variety of performances, including Ten Minutes at a Time, a compilation of 10-minute plays; and two musical concerts, in March and May, including one Glee-inspired pop music show.

The season wraps up on May 14 with the Performing Arts Showcase.

Information and tickets: tmcc.edu/vparts/seasonschedule.

Big Time: Good Luck Macbeth

This young theater company is maturing quickly now that it’s got a brand new, permanent location downtown. They’re going big this spring with four shows. On stage through March 13 is Same Time, Next Year, a touching tale about a long-term, long-distance, adulterous love affair.

Less than two weeks later comes The Fantasticks, in its 50th anniversary year. The musical is Romeo and Juliet turned on its ear; the parents of Louisa and Matt have forbidden them from speaking, all in the hopes that the taboo of such a romance would actually lead to romance and marriage.

Then comes a two-night engagement of McAvoy Lane’s Ghost of Mark Twain on May 6 and 7, followed by Dial M for Murder, starting May 20 (auditions on March 27 and 28). For Artown, GLM will present Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

GLM also offers children’s theater every Saturday afternoon; the current production is The Boy Who Could Not Shudder or Shake, an adaptation of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.

Information and tickets: goodluckmacbeth.org.

Laugh it Up: Brüka Theatre

America’s woes may not be funny, but The Complete History of America Abridged might make them so. The show, running through March 19, tells 6,000 years of American history in 6,000 seconds, and does so with just three actors and remarkably accurately.

In April, Brüka continues in this farcical vein with Max Frisch’s Mr. Beidermann and the Firebugs, a political parlor farce that pokes fun at middle class ignorance.

With May comes Angry Housewives the Musical, a biting comedy musical about housewives so disillusioned with their lives that they form a punk band.

Brüka has other exciting events planned, including three installments in the Original Play Series, which enables local playwrights to have their work read by actors before a live audience. There’s also a children’s theater production of Rumpelstiltskin (public performances March 24-26); Hot and Throbbing Greek Month in July, featuring two one-act Greek plays, Oedipus the King and The Medea Project; and Late Night TV Shows, four half-hour sitcom parodies running Saturdays throughout spring at 11pm.

Information and tickets: bruka.org.

Recurring Themes: Reno Little Theater

If comedy-heavy March has you yearning to sink your teeth into some drama, check out Terra Nova. Based on the true story of a race to the South Pole, it portrays the struggle to survive while maintaining humanity.

April brings us Art of Murder, a fast-paced murder mystery written by Joe DiPietro. Who’s actually been murdered, and how, are constantly changing, hence the fun.

Then you’ll sense some recurring themes: Vignettes about women? Check. Greek tales? Check. In June, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles hits the stage. The coming-of-age dramedy follows a young girl and her friends as they grow up during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

Then in July, at the Downtown Library, RLT will perform It’s All Greek to Me, which RLT board member Nancy Podewils calls “a romp through Greek mythology set to music, touching on myths and making light of them.” The show aims to please both adults and kids.

Information and tickets: renolittletheater.org.