Park Square Theatre Announces 2012-13 Season: RED, KING LEAR and More
Park Square Artistic Director Richard Cook and his new team of Artistic Associates announce a season crackling with new scripts from Broadway and beyond. "This team – Brian Balcom, Aditi Kapil, Carson Kreitzerand James A. Williams – has done just what I asked them to do: bring me work I may not have known of or wouldn't normally consider," says Cook.
The "creative quartet" of Artistic Associates was established last September to work with Cook to expand Park Square's play selection and community reach in preparation for the opening of the Thrust Stage in 2013. "My goal with the Artistic Associates is to widen the circle of people who come to me with ideas and open up Park Square to new points of view. They say 'be careful what you wish for,' but I knew I could trust this group. I'm delighted with our first season of collaboration."
The season opens September 21 with RED, a passionate portrait of artist Mark Rothko's brilliant, angry mind that The New York Times called "intense and exciting." After its triumphant Broadway debut, the script – sought after by other area artistic directors – stayed in Cook's hands. "Just two years after its Broadway debut, this piece combines all the conventions we might expect of a show about a lion of the art world and his apprentice – the young cub nipping at his heels," says Cook who will direct Red, "but then it drops us in a new place, leaving us saying 'well, I didn't think we were going there.'"
Following Red is a new production of KING LEAR, opening October 26 and directed by Park Square favorite Peter Moore, with Raye Birk starring as Lear. "I'm building this show around Raye," says Moore. "He'll be the 'Godfather' type set against the backdrop of Prohibition. The production will be about the central tragedy, not about the setting or its stereotypes, but I want to use a convention that is immediately recognizable to this generation in order to highlight the competing family loyalties and the role of absolute power."
December brings a revival of 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, which sold out its 2010 run. Michael Pearce Donnelly and Peter Vitalereturn as a pair of piano whiz kids with stars in their eyes, playing the heart out of two grand pianos and multiple characters. As the Star Tribune reported, "These musicians can act!" Tom Frey will return from New York to direct.
Artistic Associate Brian Balcom brings an unlikely show to the line-up in January. "Since I'm not interested in baseball and don't like traditional musicals, I was surprised to leave the Boston performance of JOHNNY BASEBALL entranced – and hoping it would find a Twin Cities production," says Balcom. The musical team of brothers Robert and William Reale, who created A Year with Frog and Toad that Children's Theatre Company produced in 2002 and eventually went to Broadway, and book writer Richard Dresser invited Richard Cook to the New York workshop of their new musical just two months ago. Set over an 80-year span that explores the famous curse of the Boston Red Sox, "this show has what I like in a musical – a deeply personal story with characters we care about. It has a big heart and toe-tapping music," says Cook.
The season continues with Artistic Associate Carson Kreitzer's pick OR, written by another young woman playwright, Liz Duffy Adams, opening March 1, 2013. "Or, is an utterly luminous play, at once hilarious and heartfelt," says Kreitzer. "It's got the madcap energy of Irma Vep, with shimmering layers of history and astute observations about the changing roles of women and men and the way we all continue to navigate these waters."
"In the end," Kreitzer continues, "it's about choices we still need to make about how to pursue what matters most, in love and in art." Leah Cooper, who earned raves for her direction of August: Osage County, returns to direct this delightful story of England's first female playwright, Aphra Behn, who toys with Charles II and Nell Gwynne in an imaginative romp complete with secret agents, cross dressing, rhyming couplets, and lovers hiding in cupboards.
Fresh from its Broadway run, STICK FLY by Lydia Diamond, opens May 3, 2013. Hailed by The New York Times as "a juicy family drama," the story's sparks fly when two sons of a privileged African-American family bring their girlfriends home to Martha's Vineyard to meet their parents. Stick Fly's inclusion in the season was contributed by Artistic AssociateJames A. Williams, who will play Dad.
"What attracts me to Stick Fly is the family relationship," says Williams. "It's the antithesis of what is normally presented on stage: an African-American family that is not now and has never struggled to make ends meet. This advances the notion that there is no one African- American experience. It has humor, pathos, sincerity and a humanity that is present across ethnicities."
"I've known Lydia Diamond for years," comments Aditi Kapil, "and got to watch her play Stick Fly go from theater to theater until someone finally got wise and brought it to Broadway. It's a traditional, well-made play that is both hilarious and smart."
The season closes in June 2013 with SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SUICIDE CLUB, a new script by Jeffrey Hatcher with its roots in Park Square's last wildly popular homage to the great sleuth, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily. "David Ira Goldstein (Artistic Director of the Arizona Theatre Company, former Artistic Director of Actor's Theatre of Saint Paul) and Jeff Hatcher were in the audience at that show," explains Cook. "Jeff boasted he could write an even better Sherlock and David Ira said 'then I'll commission it.'" David Mann directs and Steve Hendrickson returns once again as the absurdly smart Holmes, this time in a fast-paced thriller with multiple murders in which Holmes is either target or suspect.
Three favorites from Park Square's 3M Student Repertory complete the season. A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, THE DIARY OF Anne Frank and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD each have a full schedule of student matinees that will serve 25,000 middle and high school students. In response to the strong public demand for To Kill a Mockingbird in 2011, two weeks of public performances are scheduled April 4-14, 2013.
All performances are in the company's proscenium theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place. Season tickets are on sale now and are available at 651-291-7005 or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org. Packages range from $102-$258.