Transport Group Announces 2016-17 Season: PICNIC and COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA - William Inge in Repertory
Drama Desk and OBIE-winning Transport Group will present Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repertory, directed by Artistic Director Jack Cummings III, two plays in rotating repertory as the centerpiece of its 2016-17 season. Performances begin Thursday, February 23 and run through Sunday, April 23 at the Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street. The opening night has been set for Sunday, March 26.
The season will also feature two installments of the Anne L. Bernstein Concert Series-a five-year anniversary concert of the 2012 Outer Critics' Circle winner for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, Michael John LaChiusa's Queen of the Mist, featuring Mary Testa and the original cast, on Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 7:30pm at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, 18 Bleecker Street, and the 2002 award-winning musical, A Man of No Importance, book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8pm at the Irene Diamond Stage at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street.
In the spirit of its OBIE-award winning revival of William Inge's The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Transport Group returns to the master playwright by presenting two of his greatest works in rotating repertory-Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba, timeless, mid-century, mid-American plays from one of the canon's most insightful and underestimated playwrights. Inge, an archeologist of American loneliness, writes with an aggressive empathy for the triumphs and failures of the heart at a time in our country's history when the possibility of greatness was alluringly just at the fingertips.
The men and women of Inge's America are sexy. They are heartbreaking. They are alarming. They are ruthless. They are afraid. They are hopeful. Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba in rotating repertory offer audiences a rare opportunity to experience back-to-back masterpieces that expose what Elia Kazan termed the "quiet terror" of Inge's world.
In Picnic when a gorgeous drifter arrives in a small Kansas town, no one is prepared. He brings with him the possibilities and promises-some true, some false- of a life with real options. His instant and incendiary chemistry with a local 18-year old unexpectedly destroys the illusions of comfort harbored by everyone in this heartland's physically expansive and emotionally suffocating landscape. Inge's legendary Pulitzer-prize winning play is over 60 years old but the American questions of sex as currency, of class as possibility, and youth as opportunity are timeless.
In Come Back, Little Sheba, a Midwestern middle-aged couple lives one day to the next-Lola, breathless with fear of silence and solitude, and Doc, a recovering alcoholic. Into their tired lives comes Marie, their boarder, so flush with the riches of her youth that they can no longer deny how they spent their own. Their fragile acceptance of their own stifling reality is suddenly and brutally tested as Inge mercilessly exposes the pain and regret of the past that can be unmasked by the mere presence of youth and possibility of the future. Inge's play explores the endless and inevitable disappointments of the ever-seductive American dream.
Scenic design for Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repertory is by Dane Laffrey; costume design is by Kathryn Rohe; lighting design is by R. Lee Kennedy. Performances begin Thursday, February 23 and run through Sunday, April 23 at the Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street. Season subscriptions are on sale now; single tickets will be available at a later date.
Transport Group celebrates the five-year anniversary of one of its most acclaimed productions, Michael John LaChiusa's Queen of the Mist, the winner of the Outer Critics' Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical that garnered 17 total nominations during the 2012 awards season. Mary Testa, whom Ben Brantley of The New York Times proclaimed a "radioactive presence with lungs of steel," will reprise her award-winning performance. The original cast in its entirety-D.C. Anderson (Phantom of the Opera), Stanley Bahorek ( Amazing Grace), Theresa McCarthy (Floyd Collins), Julia Murney (The Wild Party), Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific ), and Tally Sessions (School of Rock)-also returns. Jack Cummings III directs. Michael John LaChiusa will give a talk-back following the performance, which will take place on Sunday, October 16 at 7:30pm at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, 18 Bleecker Street. Tickets start at $35, and are available at transportgroup.org
As the second offering in the concert series, Transport Group presents A Man of No Importance, a work by one of the most beloved contemporary musical theatre teams, Ahrens & Flaherty, with a book by Terrence McNally. Transport Group celebrates a work of the artists behind Ragtime, Once On This Island, Master Class, and this season's Anastasia. A Man of No Importance is the story of an Irish-Catholic bus driver struggling to accept a secret he's kept hidden his whole life, and finding the power to do so through his passion for theatre. A Man of No Importance premiered at Lincoln Center Theater in 2002 starring Roger Rees, Stephen Pasquale, and Faith Prince. Jack Cummings III will direct the concert, which features a talk-back with original creators Lynn Ahrens, Steve Flaherty, and Terrence McNally. The concert takes places Monday, December 5 at 8pm at the Irene Diamond Stage at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street. Tickets are currently on sale via subscription.
William Inge majored in Drama at the University of Kansas and went on to gain an MA at the George Peabody Teachers College. In 1943, he became the drama critic of the St. Louis Star Times, a position he held for three years. His first successful play was Come Back, Little Sheba (1950). His next play, Picnic (1953) won the Pulitzer Prize. It was followed by Bus Stop, which was later made into a hugely successful film starring Marilyn Monroe. Other works included The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs (1957), the screenplay for Splendor In The Grass (1961), A Loss Of Roses (1960), Natural Affection (1963) and Where's Daddy (1966).
Jack Cummings III is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Transport Group. Favorite Transport Group credits include Queen of the Mist by Michael John LaChuisa (world premiere), See Rocky City & Other Destinations by Brad Alexander and Adam Mathias (New York premiere), The Audience (conceiver, world premiere), cul-de-sac by John Cariani (world premiere), Normal by Yvonne Adrian, Tom Kochan, and Cheryl Stern (world premiere), Marcy in the Galaxy by Nancy Shayne (world premiere), Three Days To See (author/conceiver, word premiere), as well as revivals of I Remember Mama; Hello Again; First Lady Suite; Once Upon A Mattress; Almost, Maine; The Dark at the Top of the Stairs; The Boys in the Band; All The Way Home; and Our Town. Other New York credits include the world premiere of Terrence McNally's And Away We Go for Pearl Theatre Company, 1,000 Words Come To Mind by Michele Lowe and Scott Richards (Inner Voices, world premiere), and Arlington by Polly Pen and Victor Lodato (Inner Voices, world premiere). Regional credits include I Remember Mama (Two River Theatre Company), A Streetcar Named Desire (Gretna Playhouse, PA), Violet, and The Young Man From Atlanta (The Barksdale Theatre, VA), and The Illusion (Nevada Theatre Company). He received his B.A. in International Relations from The College of William and Mary and his M.F.A. in Directing from The University of Virginia. He is married to actress Barbara Walsh.
Founded in 2001, Transport Group has produced 25 shows comprised of 13 new works and 12 revivals, including 12 plays and 13 musicals. In addition to mainstage productions, Transport Group also produces readings, developmental labs, concerts, and other special events. Currently headed by founder Jack Cummings III (Artistic Director) and Lori Fineman (Executive Director), Transport Group recently concluded the first off-Broadway revival of Once Upon a Mattress, starring Jackie Hoffman and John "Lypsinka" Epperson. The 2015 season also included Three Days To See, an exploration of Helen Keller through her own writings. Recent seasons included the critically acclaimed revival of John Cariani's modern classic Almost, Maine, and the reimagined revival of the John Van Druten classic I Remember Mama. Transport Group has also recently produced a series of one-night-only star-studded concert events, featuring casts of over 60 actors and original orchestrations, featuring over 20 musicians. Concert titles include Baby (2012), Once Upon a Mattress (2013), The Music Man (2014), and Peter Pan (2016).
Transport Group's 2016-17 season will be Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba: William Inge in Repertory Thursday, February 23-Sunday, April 23, at the Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street, and two installments in the Anne L. Bernstein Concert Series: Queen of the Mist on Sunday, October 16 at at 7:30pm at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, 18 Bleecker Street, and A Man of No Importance on Monday, December 5 at 8pm at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street. For tickets and information, including performance schedule, visit transportgroup.org or phone (212) 564-0333.
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