Thursday, August 18, 2011

My fall 2011 theatre season is taking shape

I love season announcement season but this year I just didn't have the energy to blog about what's coming up theatre-wise in the Providence/Boston area for 2011-2012. Now that tickets have gone on sale, here's what I'm most excited about seeing this fall:

Porgy and Bess, American Repertory Theater

Technically, it'll still be summer but I can't think of a better way to kick things off than with Audra McDonald. I first saw her in 2007, in the Broadway revival of 110 in the Shade, and she was unforgettable. Her voice is gorgeous - so rich and nuanced. Plus, as I mentioned last week in writing about the controversy surrounding this production, I've never seen Porgy and Bess, although I know it takes place in an African-American neighborhood in South Carolina in the 1930s. I'm not even familiar with the songs. (Ok, I'm sure I've heard snippets of all of them somewhere along the line.) So this is my chance.

His Girl Friday, Trinity Repertory Company

Naturally, I like newspaper movies. His Girl Friday (as well as its inspiration, The Front Page) are two of my favorites and two of the best. But I've never seen either one onstage. And I've become a fan of playwright John Guare, who has adapted it for the stage. I think I was one of only a handful of people who enjoyed the Broadway revival of Guare's The House of Blue Leaves. I found the quirky dark comedy, and what it says about our obsession with celebrity, so appealing. I'm hoping His Girl Friday will make me laugh, too. Can't we all use one?

Circle Mirror Transformation, Gamm Theatre

Playwright Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation is one of those works that got such terrific reviews off-Broadway, I wish I'd been able to see it. The New York Times called it "absorbing, unblinking and sharply funny." I don't know much about it except that it takes place in a drama class in a small Vermont town. Also, I think the title refers to an acting exercise. (Although I took a drama class in middle school and I don't remember anything with that name.) Anyway, normally I read too much about a show beforehand so it'll be good to go in fresh with this one.

Candide, Huntington Theatre Company

Again, this is a work I don't know much about except that it's based on a novella by the 18th-century French playwright Voltaire (which I may or may not have read in high school) and features a score by Leonard Bernstein. One of my fellow bloggers, Vance, at Tapeworthy, adored it and another, Bob, at Chicago Theatre Addict, didn't. Since I do love a good theatre discussion, I'll see it for myself and weigh in. And it's much more fun when we don't all agree.

Clybourne Park, at Trinity Rep

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun ends with a black family buying a house in a white Chicago neighborhood in the 1950s. Trinity Rep mounted a production in 2009. Now, I'm happy to report, they're tackling Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris' intriguing and imaginative sequel. It takes place just before the Youngers move in and then brings the story up to the present day. The play, which won this year's Pulitzer Prize for Drama, has gotten great reviews and it sounds like the kind of meaty American work that I love. The Pulitzer citation called it: "a powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America's sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness."

Les Miserables, Providence Performing Arts Center

I saw Les Miserables on tour in Syracuse years ago and I was thrilled by the whole grand, romantic epic. Sentenced to 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread - can you imagine? I still have have my Les Miserables beach towel and the score remains one of my favorites. I understand that this time, there won't be a turntable but according to my friend Bob, from Chicago Theatre Addict, that hardly matters. I can't wait to experience it again with this 25th anniversary production. Just thinking about "Do You Hear the People Sing?" gives me chills. To the barricades!

6 comments:

Mel said...

Speakeasy looks like it has a great season lined up. Maybe it's just shows you've already seen in NY, though. But, I mean, RED. I can't wait. And I missed Next Fall in NY, so I'm looking forward to finally seeing that. And to see what they do with Next to Normal (I show I like even though I find it problematic internally and for its message).

http://www.speakeasystage.com/2011.php

(I'm not associated with them, though I am a subscriber this season, for the first time.)

Esther said...

Thanks for the comment! I saw Parade at Speakeasy a few years ago. It was great to see it in such an intimate venue. They always have an interesting lineup but for one reason or another I haven't managed to get back there. But I'd love to see RED - I missed that and Next Fall in New York. I'm a fan of Next to Normal, too. I understand the controversy but I just found it a compelling look at how one person's mental illness affects an entire family. It would definitely be interesting to see another production's take on it.

Vance said...

Don't forget, SarahB loved Candide too!

Esther said...

Hey Vance, that's right! I'm really looking forward to it, especially since I'll be going in more or less cold.

Dale said...

Sounds like quite a season! I just was in NYC and loved How to Succeed in Business...

Audra McDonald has a beautiful voice. I'd have high hopes for His Girl Friday as well.

I'm hoping Les Miserables comes to Toronto because I'm right there with you with the chills!

Esther said...

Hey Dale, I'm glad you got to see How to Succeed. I loved it, too. The audience went wild over Daniel Radcliffe, which boosted the enthusiasm level sky high. He isn't the strongest singer but he's a good dancer and so appealing. I was grinning from beginning to end. And yeah, I'm a big fan of Les Miserables, the whole spectacle!