THE COLOR PURPLE, THE OTHER PLACE Set for Park Square Theatre's 2014-15 Season
Park Square Theatre will shake the rafters and raise the roof off its 348-seat proscenium theatre next year with one of its largest musicals ever, featuring the largest all-African-American cast in its history. The Twin Cities first local production of the blockbuster musical The Color Purple will take to the company's proscenium stage in January 2015 under the leadership of director/choreographer Lewis Whitlock III. Made famous by Oprah Winfrey, the musical tells the intimate story of one woman's soaring triumph over oppression and abuse.
"After the artistic and audience success of Ragtime, we are ready and excited for The Color Purple," says Artistic Director Richard Cook. "It has been a true pleasure to work with many of this community's leading African-American actors, singers and dancers over the years. We can't wait to have nearly two dozen talents on stage in our intimate auditorium. I think it will touch our souls in a completely different way than the lavish Broadway tours that have come to town. " Lewis Whitlock III is well-known locally as a charter company member of Penumbra Theatre and the creator of its successful Black Nativity tradition.
Park Square Theatre Artistic Associate Aditi Kapil will direct the area premiere of The Other Place by Sharr White on Park Square's new Andy Boss Thrust Stage in 2015. Featuring Linda Kelsey and James A. Williams, this haunting drama centers on brilliant research scientist Juliana, whose ordered life is becoming unhinged. Her husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man and her own health is in jeopardy. As the mystery unfolds, the past blurs with the present and fragmented memories collide in this riveting drama where nothing is as it seems. "I can't wait to work with Aditi," says Linda Kelsey. "She's absolutely brilliant. As a playwright, she brings a rare understanding of text and intention to her directing. It would be a treat to appear in this show under her leadership anywhere, but it's a special triumph to do it on the new stage."
Kelsey is a co-chair of Park Square Theatre's capital campaign, along with the new theatre's namesake, Andy Boss. A truly intimate 200-seat thrust stage located in the lower level of the Historic Hamm Building, the new facility will be under construction in the next few months in order to open for the 2014-2015 Season, giving the company two platforms for a staggering season of more than 15 productions.
"Timing has been everything in this campaign," said Park Square Executive Director Michael-jon Pease. "We began our campaign two months before the great recession in 2008, so we knew our time horizon would need to be longer than we'd originally planned. Over the last two years we've responded to the double whammy of the cost to build the new stage doubling (due to unforeseen infrastructure needs within the 1919 building) and the slowdown in giving. We were determined to get the new stage open, but equally determined that we not take on debt against future operations to do it."
The first legs of the campaign have been completed: the 348-seat proscenium auditorium was remodeled in 2010; a new staff infrastructure (including the succession of its first and longest-serving Executive Director) was built over five years; and the company has invested heavily in its art - adding more productions to its annual season and becoming one of the Twin Cities leading employers of local stage talent.
"We are working to finalize our construction financing package and raise the final $500,000 in the next few weeks in order to announce the start of construction," Pease confirmed. "And Richard is putting the final touches on a varied and compelling season of work to bring both of our stages to life."
PARK SQUARE THEATRE is located at 20 W. 7th Place, Saint Paul. Box office: 651.291.7005 or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org.