I'm trying to spread my theatre wings a little bit beyond Broadway, like to my own backyard. Last year, I saw three shows in Boston: the pre-Broadway tryout of The 39 Steps, the New England premier of Parade and Sweeney Todd on tour. This weekend, I'm going back to see The Drowsy Chaperone on tour, and I'm considering a return trip when the Huntington Theatre Company presents the musical She Loves Me.
This week, the Huntington, which has a new artistic director, Peter DuBois, announced its 2008-2009 lineup. Here are the shows that I'm most interested in seeing:
First is the world premier of Richard Nelson's play How Shakespeare Won the West, from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5. Here's the description: a "funny, heartbreaking, and highly theatrical look at a troupe of 19th century actors who cross the U.S. to perform Shakespeare for entertainment-starved panhandlers caught up in the Gold Rush." Based on a true story, DuBois calls it “a celebration of ambition and the human spirit. Richard has written a love letter to the theatre with his latest play.” I'm not familiar with Nelson's work, but as an American history buff, I'm kind of intrigued by the prospect of mixing Shakespeare and the Gold Rush.
From Jan. 9 to Feb. 8, the Huntington will present Emlyn Williams' 1938 play The Corn is Green, starring Kate Burton and her son, Morgan Ritchie. "Burton plays idealistic and hardnosed schoolteacher Miss Moffat, who arrives in a poverty-stricken Welsh coal-mining town to open the community’s first school. She takes illiterate school bully Morgan (played by Burton’s son, Morgan Ritchie) under her wing and points him toward a brighter future in this funny, life-affirming tale." Burton and Dylan Baker are pictured above from last summer, when the play was presented at the Williamstown Theater Festival and got a good review from New York Times critic Charles Isherwood, among others. If you read my post about Billy Elliot, you know this is right up my alley, or down my mine shaft.
Finally, from May 15 to June 14, there'll be a production of The Pirates of Penzance, described as "a raucous and rowdy Caribbean update of the musical comedy classic – complete with swordfights, sex appeal, and all the beloved Gilbert and Sullivan songs." According to DuBois, “Gilbert and Sullivan were sophisticated political satirists – the Jon Stewarts of their time – and this new re-imagining is a joyous conclusion to our season!” I loved the movie version of the 1981-1982 Broadway revival that starred Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt. (I'm pretty sure I still have the soundtrack album). And a rowdy Caribbean update sounds like fun.