Spring must go on!

Local theater companies will offer up a variety of shows this spring—from lighthearted comedies to historical dramas

James Schlauch as Estragon in the play <i>Waiting for Godot</i>.

James Schlauch as Estragon in the play Waiting for Godot.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

Economically speaking, times are crappy. Arts organizations around the community are suffering. Still, many local theater companies are making the best of a bad situation by presenting fun, upbeat shows in the spring and early summer of 2009. And frankly, couldn’t we all use the escape?

Love is hell
Reno Little Theater

Now in its 74th year, the longest-running community theater in the region hopes to break ground on its planned 99-seat black box this season. Meanwhile, Reno Little Theater plans to wow us with Eurydice, which they are currently performing in the Hug High School auditorium.

This retelling of the classic Greek myth about Orpheus traveling to hell to retrieve the woman he loves was written by Sarah Ruhl, a 2006 MacArthur genius grant recipient. As director Doug Mishler says, “Greek plays often seem portentous and difficult. This one is so simple, with such subtle, beautiful imagery. It’s an amazing 90 minutes of theater.” Part of what’s amazing, he says, is the production—the set includes a working, raining elevator.

Rounding out RLT’s spring season are Wait Until Dark, the play on which the Audrey Hepburn mystery thriller was based, in April, followed by Love Song, about a reclusive man who falls in love with the woman who robs him, in May and June.

For information, tickets and show times, visit renolittletheater.org

Keeping hope alive
TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada

Think things are bad now? You need a dose of fresh perspective from TWNN’s Korczak’s Children, directed by Stacey Spain and opening March 27. Based on the true story of Dr. Janusz Korczak, this play tells the story of the writer/educator/physician’s efforts to keep hope alive for the children of an orphanage in a Jewish ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland as their impending deportation to concentration camps loomed. Says artistic director Stephanie Richardson, “It’s a sad but hopeful and beautiful story—one that needs to be told.”

Things get a little lighter come July, when TWNN presents everyone’s favorite pig, Babe, starring members of its teen and youth companies, for Artown.

For information, a class schedule, tickets and show times, visit twnn.org or call 685-2687.

It takes two
Good Luck Macbeth

Reno’s newest theater company, Good Luck Macbeth, kicks off its second season this month with Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. Directed by Scott Reeves, it’s the story of two friends who wait for a man who never arrives.

James Schlauch and Minori Salinas in <i>Waiting for Godot</i>, a Good Luck Macbeth production.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

“While that doesn’t seem enormously entertaining,” says Reeves, “the work is brilliant. Partly because it’s open to endless interpretation.”

Ultimately, the magic is in the characterizations. “I think overanalyzing it takes away its merit,” says Reeves. “To me, it’s really about the emotional struggle two people have while trying to fill the time and how they rely on each other for comfort or substance.”

In May, look for Neil Simon’s Chapter Two, about a grieving widower’s attempt to form a new relationship, followed in July by Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Seascape, the absurd tale of an older couple looking to rekindle their relationship (with help from talking lizards).

All performances take place at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Reno.

For information and show times, visit goodluckmacbeth.org.

Theater of the absurd
Brüka Theatre

Brüka’s cornering the market on absurdity this season. “We’re working our butts off to give people comedy and fun,” says founder and artistic director Scott Beers. “They need to laugh. We’ll save our more dysfunctional stuff for a better economy.”

After Sam Shepard’s The God of Hell, a farce about American patriotism that runs Feb. 13 through March 7, comes Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep in late March, which satirizes the mystery and horror film genres. Two actors play eight roles, which means some whiplash-inducing costume changes.

“There’s just no way to pull it off legitimately, so it’s ridiculous, and really fun,” says Beers.

Just as silly is May’s Pageant, a musical about a beauty pageant in which all the contestants are men in drag. “It’s a parody of beauty pageants, with men playing all the roles, but they play them as sincerely as possible, which makes it hilarious,” says producing director Mary Bennett. Because the audience decides who wins after each performance, every show is different, with a bit of improv involved.

For Artown, Brüka presents Fefu & Her Friends, directed by Stacey Spain. A group of women gather for Fefu’s party at a New England country house. As the story progresses, the characters each take one of several stages scattered throughout the Brüka building. The audience breaks into small groups, actually traveling to each stage in order to get to know each character intimately.

Catherine Cook, Jason Macy and Jim Godwin in the comedic <i>Moonlight and Magnolias</i> at the Brewery Arts Center in Carson City.

Photo By Lauren Randolph

For information, tickets and show times, visit bruka.org or call 323-3221.

Holding nothing back
TMCC Performing Arts

Truckee Meadows Community College’s talented troupe is fearless this season, beginning Feb. 27 with the ambitious One Act Festival: seven one-act plays, ranging from drama to comedy, each with a different director, spread over three weekends. Opening weekend features ‘Night Mother, which deals with the issue of suicide. Following the play is a frank discussion with TMCC psychology professor Dr. Armida Fruzetti. The other six plays, appearing in alternating pairs, are Antigone Now, Woody Allen’s God, Murder in the Knife Room, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, When Shakespeare’s Ladies Meet, and Women and Wallace.

In May, don’t miss The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “We’re holding nothing back for this one,” says John Frederick, company manager. “We figure, with proposed budget cuts, we better make this the biggest and best show we’ve ever done. Look forward to seeing people fly through the air, and Frank-n-Furter sitting on your lap.” Costumes and participation are, of course, encouraged, and goodie bags full of things to toss will be sold in the lobby.

For information, tickets and show times, visit performingarts.tmcc.edu.

Nevada Repertory Company

The University of Nevada, Reno’s resident theater company likes a challenge, and 2009 is no different. They kick things off this month with The Foreigner, about a profoundly shy man named Charlie who, to escape from his dying wife’s bedside, travels to a fishing lodge with a friend and poses as a non-English-speaking visitor.

In case you missed it this winter at Brüka, Nevada Rep presents Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning Metamorphoses, a beautiful re-visioning of Ovid’s tales, starting April 24.

For information, tickets and show times, visit unr.edu/nevadarep or call 784-4278.

What’s brewing down south
Brewery Arts Center

Proscenium Players, Inc. is performing the comedic offering, Moonlight and Magnolias in Carson City’s Brewery Arts Center. Based in truth but wildly exaggerated, it’s the story of Hollywood producer David O. Selznick famously closing the MGM studio doors for five days, trapping writers Victor Fleming and Ben Hecht inside and forcing them to rewrite Gone with the Wind.

Things turn serious come April when PPI presents Journey’s End, also based on a true story. Talk about perspective—this one takes place in the trenches in World War I.

“It’s a critically acclaimed piece that takes a real look at what war does to people,” says director Tony DeGeiso.

For something more lighthearted and family friendly, check out Brewery Arts Center Stage Kids’ Annie, featuring two whopper casts of more than 50 kids each, taking the stage of Brewery Arts’ Performance Hall in late March. Or head to the Carson Community Center for Carson High Performing Arts’ (CPA) production of Cats, March 27-April 5, also featuring a cast of roughly 50, including a full, costumed orchestra. For information, tickets and show times at the Brewery Arts Center (PPI or BAC Stage Kids), visit breweryarts.org or call 883-1976. For CPA show information or tickets, call 230-8919.