Spotlight on theater
Northern Nevada’s stages will be filled with innovative, farcical and provocative works this fall
In my years of reviewing area theater productions, I’ve watched companies come … and go. But I’m pleased to say that many local companies have matured of late. A look at the 2008-2009 Northern Nevada theater season reveals that they’re taking on more ambitious projects, honing their skills, finding more suitable venues, attracting larger audiences and sticking with what works.
Sweet 16: Brüka Theatre
This season marks Brüka’s 16th year of bringing innovative, ambitious theater to downtown Reno. And like any 16-year-old, the company is experiencing a metamorphosis—at least, that’s the theme for their fall offerings.
In October, just in time for the Italian Festival, John Patrick Shanley’s Italian American Reconciliation: A Folktale comes to the Brüka stage, under the direction of Jim Martin. Brüka’s producing director, Mary Bennett, calls this one a “beautiful, sunny, romantic relationship play.” Rounding out October is the 10th Annual Freakers Ball, which will be held on Halloween night this year, and whose theme will be “the year of metamorphoses.”
That leads nicely to Metamorphoses, an adaptation of Ovid’s poem written for the stage in 1999 by Mary Zimmerman. It’s directed by Scott Beers and Bennett, and runs November through December.
“Zimmerman creates plays of movement, picture and sound,” says Bennett. “This one uses water, so a pool will be part of the play—it’s a challenge, but a delightful one we’re really excited about.” Auditions for Metamorphoses take place in September.
Visit bruka.org for details.
Celebrating the stage: Reno Little Theater
As Nevada’s oldest community theater awaits the completion of its new permanent theater, set to open next season, Reno Little Theater continues to make a temporary home at Hug High and finds itself celebrating live theater this fall in a couple different ways.
First, from September through October, RLT presents Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo, a 1950s-era farce, directed by Doug Mishler. The play is about has-been summer stock actors who may have one last chance to appear in a Frank Capra film. The show has been called “a love letter to live theater.”
For many in the RLT community, the fall season kicks off on Aug. 23 when the Blythe Awards come to Bartley Ranch Regional Park from 4-9 p.m. The awards ceremony, which will feature a barbecue and election of board members, honors the best and brightest from the 2007-2008 RLT season.
Visit renolittletheater.org for show/audition information, dates and times.
Go big: TMCC Performing Arts
One of my favorite things about TMCC’s performers is their showmanship. Armed with the triple threat—they can act, dance and sing—company members have a seemingly unending reserve of energy. This season, which kicks off in mid-October, is especially exciting, says company manager, administrative assistant and TMCC graduate John Frederick. That’s when they’ll finally get to do the show that director Paul Aberasturi has waited his whole career to do: Sweeney Todd.
“The set we’re working on will be incredible,” says Frederick. “We’ll bring in an actual, full two-story house with a real working barber chair and all the bells and whistles.”
And because they never do anything halfway, they’re making a whiplash-inducing theme switch that Frederick calls “Sweeney Toad.” On Nov. 6, they’ll open the family-friendly A Year With Frog and Toad, based on the beloved children’s books by Arnold Lobel, and set to a wonderful soundtrack.
Check their website, performingarts.tmcc.edu, for dates and times of performances and auditions.
Those crazy kids:
Nevada Repertory Company
As the primary performance group for the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada Rep’s offerings, be they classic Greek or brand-new unknowns, can always be counted on to explore some tough issues and leave audiences talking. In early October, Nevada Rep explores the joys and pitfalls of youth with Wendy MacLeod’s Juvenilia, in which bored college students challenge each other to a threesome with the Christian next door.
Also in early October, playing alternately on the Redfield Studio Theatre stage with Juvelinia, is Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth, in which Reagan-era college students get caught up in the dangers of drugs, sex and money.
By mid-November, Nevada Rep tackles what the Bard himself has to say about reckless youth, in what many call one of the first romantic comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, coming to the Redfield Proscenium Theatre.
For more info visit unr.edu/nevadarep.
Personal ghosts: TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada
TWNN artistic director Stephanie Richardson says that TWNN strives to “create a healthy social dialogue in the community.”
This season is no different, as TWNN brings Nuts, the story of a woman accused of manslaughter who’s trying to prove she’s competent to stand trial, to the Southside School Annex stage. Director Evan Gadda draws upon his own experiences as a person with cerebral palsy to tell this story about society’s many labels. [For a full review of Nuts, visit page 23 of this issue.]
In October, catch The Weir, directed by Prudence Wildman. This tale about people in a rural Irish pub swapping ghost stories will take place at the Studio on Fourth. “It’s really a pub atmosphere there, complete with bar and tables, so it feels like an Irish pub,” says Richardson. It’s a little spooky, and a little insightful—just right for Halloween.
That leads right to November’s A Tale from a Fairy Tale, written last summer by 12-year-old TWNN company member C.J. Troise (nephew of RN&R’s own Bob Grimm). “It reminds me of Monty Python,” says Richardson, “but with an all-kid cast. It’s a very funny adventure with kings and witches.”
For more information, dates and times, visit twnn.org.
Something different down south: Brewery Arts Center
The BAC, home to Proscenium Players, Inc. and BAC Stage Kids, offers a season that includes original and spoof productions that go beyond standard theater fare.
PPI announced this week that it will be extending the hilarious show made popular during the BAC’s summer stock season, The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged, appearing in the second half of September. Think Othello produced as a rap song and Hamlet in reverse.
In November, PPI will stage I Say Nevada, an original play by local playwright and musician Bob Reid (a.k.a. Bobby McGee) and directed by Rich Garrett. PPI President Lisa Bommarito describes it as “a musical comedy revue, about Nevada politics and history, performed in cabaret style, with great music, a small cast, and funny, irreverent, satirical themes.”
Also of note for PPI this season is a recently renewed contract with the BAC that changes evening curtain times from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
BAC Stage Kids has some interesting plans up its sleeve for fall, too. In early September, the children’s theater company will present Schoolhouse Rock Live at the BAC Performance Hall. The show comes complete with “I’m Just a Bill,” “Conjunction Junction” and other favorites from the 1970s series.
For information about PPI or BAC Stage Kids shows, or about Brewery Arts Center in general, visit breweryarts.org.
Fall in the Tropics:
Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company
The critically acclaimed regional theater company, operating through Western Nevada College’s Performing Arts Program and often producing Broadway favorites, routinely packs houses, filling the 800-seat theater at the Carson City Community Center.
In November, WNMTC kicks off its 2008-2009 season with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning South Pacific. Under the direction of producer Stephanie Arrigotti and choreographer Gina Kaskie-Davis, WNMTC will tell the story of two couples who fall in love in the Pacific theater of World War II, with accompaniment from a live orchestra.
For information about South Pacific or any other WNMTC shows, call (775) 445-4249.