'Tis the season for local theater to blossom
As we climb out of this soggy winter and into a (hopefully) sunnier spring, the roster of local stage offerings is blooming profusely. We have more theater companies than ever before and a few Nevada premieres.
Several companies are putting new spins on old stories. Many pieces are redolent of our confused and troubled times. But in spring, we shed heaviness like winter coats, so you’ll find plenty lighthearted stuff, too.Strings attached
GLM's ninth season kicked off this month with Laura Eason's Sex with Strangers, running through Feb. 25. The show explores the dark side of ambition—and how the struggle to get what you want can sometimes turn you into someone you don't want to be.
Next comes the show Managing Director Christopher Daniels describes as “Avenue Q meets Satan.” Robert Askins’ Hand to God is fresh off Broadway and making its Nevada premiere at GLM March 18-April 8. It’s the outrageous story of how a Texas church’s effort to teach kids bible lessons with puppets goes awry when little Jason’s puppet, Tyrone, might be possessed by Satan. Reno’s puppet pro, Bernie Beauchamp, is helping to bring this production to life.
GLM goes back to the Bard April 28-May 20 with the playwright’s bloodiest tragedy: Titus Andronicus. Producing Artistic Director Joe Atack is taking the story from the last days of the Roman Empire to a women’s prison in 1920s rural Nevada, complete with an all-female cast.
Tickets & information: www.goodluckmacbeth.orgDysfunction junction
UNR Department of Theatre & Dance
The University of Nevada, Reno, has fresh material this spring. Family Portrait, March 3-11, is the first English production of a Japanese play by Shu Matsui. UNR faculty member Jessica Nakamura did the translation and directs this comedy that pokes fun at our notions about family.
Another old tale is made new April 14-23 with Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. It’s based on the ancient Greek myth about Orpheus, who travels to the Underworld to retrieve his recently deceased wife, Eurydice. Ruhl’s version tells the tale from the wife’s perspective.
The department’s annual spring dance concert May 4-6 showcases faculty work and includes a guest appearance by hip-hop b-girl Teena Custer.
Tickets & information: www.unr.edu/cla/theatredanceClassics reimagined
Just in time for Women's History Month, Brüka presents Mary Bennett in the one-woman show Words to Live By: An Evening with Dorothy Parker, March 9-25. A collage of Parker's life and works, the show draws the audience into the world of the 1920s writer, whose voice seems particularly resonant today.
Next comes Sam Shephard’s Tooth of Crime. Lewis Zaumeyer, who mounted the show at Jub Jub’s a couple of years ago, is taking advantage of Brüka’s space and the current resurgence of spoken-word poetry to reinvent this unconventional rock ’n’ roll poem about the high price of fame, running April 7-22.
Reinvention is the name of the game in May, too, when Aaron Posner’s Stupid F---ing Bird gives Chekhov’s The Seagull a new life. This new comedic retelling opening May 19 still deals with a circle of unrequited loves, but Posner’s does so from the doomed bird’s point of view.
Brüka also presents its ninth season of the Brüka Theatre for Children series, with The Bremen Town Musicians, opening Feb. 23 for three public performances before it begins its tour of schools. This tale of a troupe of older animals who find they’re no longer useful on the farm is about teamwork, friendships and living the dream.
Tickets & information: www.bruka.orgCan’t sit still Restless
The area's newest theater company is Restless Artists' Theatre. It's the only one on this list based in Sparks, and judging by the ambitious roster of a show every month, it's appropriately named. The company emphasizes dark comedies, as exemplified by Bakersfield Mist, March 3-19. It's the story of a trailer park denizen who happens upon a lost Jackson Pollack painting.
Running March 31-April 16 is Parallel Lives, a show that originated as a sketch comedy routine between Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney. Told through vignettes, it follows two female supreme beings as they create the world much as sadistic housewives would a living room.
Then comes A Behanding in Spokane, May 5-21, from Martin McDonagh, the comedic genius behind In Bruges. It follows a one-handed man who thinks he may have found the couple who took the other.
Tickets & Information: www.rattheatre.orgDead girl walking
TMCC Performing Arts
Speaking of dark comedies, the multitalented performing arts troupe at TMCC presents Heathers: The Musical April 7-23. With small exceptions, it follows the plot you loved in the 1989 film—Heather homicides and all—only this time it's set to some great music.
Reno Little Theater
Not all tales of outsiders end so darkly. Suzan Zeder's Mother Hicks, on stage at Reno Little Theater March 10-26, is a beautiful, hopeful, family-friendly tale about Depression-era outsiders—a foundling girl, a deaf boy and an eccentric recluse whom many people believe to be a witch.
Then it’s something decidedly not family friendly: Douglas Post’s Murder in Green Meadows, May 12-28. It’s a contemporary thriller about two suburban couples who keep up appearances but who are actually quite twisted.
Between mainstage performances, RLT has a nice lineup of additional events and classes nearly every weekend, including Sunday jazz on the second Sunday of every month and the popular Brews, Brats & Ballet event, returning for its third year April 22-23.
Tickets & information: www.renolittletheater.orgSpread the word
Merry War Theatre Group
Chase McKenna's little theater group may not have its own venue, but its impressive work keeps coming nonetheless. McKenna has scored a major get with The Word Begins, running March 22-April 7 at The Potentialist Workshop. Written by spoken-word/hip-hop artists Steve Connell and Sekou Andrews, this provocative and timely show follows two men's journey to explore race, faith and morality in America, with some of the most powerful and poetic language you'll hear this season.
Tickets & information: www.merrywar.comGot no strings
Laughing Owl Productions
Laughing Owl Productions founders Dave and Angela Anderson feel about as untethered as their spring show's namesake. Though details are still to be determined, a move from the current Wells Avenue location is imminent. First, there's Pinocchio, with two performances on Feb. 25. Local director Sandra Brunell-Neace wrote this adaptation from the original Carlo Collodi children's novel. Tickets are only $3. Keep an eye on the website for updates on further shows and locations.
Tickets & information: www.laughingowlproductions.comSwashbuckling Theatre
Works of Northern Nevada
Reno's youth-focused theater company has plenty of adventure planned. First there's The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood, now through Feb. 26, which is a bit like what Monty Python might have done with Robin Hood—except family friendly.
Then comes a good-versus-evil tale, After the Rain King, April 14-23. It’s the story of a group who must put aside resentments and rescue their bully when the Rain King, the personification of storybook evil, kidnaps him and takes him to a land of iconic adventure stories.
Tickets & information: www.twnn.orgThe sun will come out
Wild Horse Children's Theater
Maybe not “Tomorrow,” but it will, and spring promises to warm our hearts, too, with the beloved tale of the orphan who finds a forever home, Annie, Jr.—a condensed version for younger audiences—March 10-19 at the Brewery Arts Center. Then watch for auditions at the end of March for Getting to Know: The Sound of Music, a junior version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic.
Tickets & information: www.wildhorsetheater.com.Lucky 13
The Utility Players
Locals' favorite improv troupe The Utility Players are back for their 13th season March 4-May 27. Every Saturday at Jester's Theater at the Sands Regency, catch hilarious improvisational games with weekly themes including puberty, April Fools, recess and May the Fourth, as in “May the forth be with you.”
The Alchemist Theatre
Spring is a time of growth, so if your spirit could use some (and whose couldn't?), check out Alchemist Theatre, an interfaith company combining theater elements with spiritual inspiration. On the third Wednesday of each month, catch themed sermons and musical performances including giants—and underdogs—on March 15, Earth Day April 15, and liberation and letting go May 17.
Tickets & Information: www.alchemistmovement.orgBig 100
Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company
The musical theater company that packs houses at the Carson City Community Center has selected Tony-winner Nice Work If You Can Get It as its 100th show. Running May 5-14, the show features all the Gershwins' greatest hits in a story about Prohibition-era gin runners who disguise themselves as servants in a Long Island mansion.
Tickets & information: www.wnmtc.comSwingers
Eldorado Resort Casino
Though the Eldorado's showroom is dark for renovations, NoVi nightclub will host Privileged, a speakeasy-style variety show, running now through April 1. Inspired by the 1920s swing era, it features singing, dancing, cirque-style elements and appearances by comedian/impressionist Tony D'Andrea and magician Justin Impossible.
Tickets & information: www.eldoradoreno.com