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BWW Special Coverage: Everyman Theatre Announces 25th Anniversary Season...Its Biggest Season Yet

When I heard that the Everyman Theatre was offering a different way of presenting their line-up for the new season using their cadre of actors from their Resident Acting Company presenting snippets from each production on Monday night, May 4, I knew I couldn't miss it. But, unfortunately, I had a problem. For Monday night, May 4, I would be preparing myself for a colonoscopy (and you know what they entails) for May 5. So what is one to do. Well, you weigh your priorities and rescheduled my procedure! And I'm so glad I did.

The Everyman stage was filled with eight members of the Resident Acting Company, Resident Scenic Designer Daniel Ettinger, and Kyle Prue, Director of Production.

Jonathan Waller, the theater's new Managing Director, spoke eloquently about the new season and his relationship to the theater. The former Everyman Marketing Director related that when the theater moved into its new home on Fayette Street, they increased their subscriber base by 1,000. They now have close to 5,000. He boasted (and understandably so) that the average theater has a subscriber renewal rate of 72% but at Everyman it is 85%. Waller also mentioned the five Baltimore City high schools that are invited to attend student matinees at NO cost to the students.

To make theater accessible as possible to the community, to mark their 25th anniversary, all tickets to preview performances will be $25. They will also continue their PAY WHAT YOU CAN performances which are the evening before the first preview, the $10 student tickets for Sunday nights, and their offer of 1/2 price rush seats 30 minutes before curtain.

Waller then introduced Artistic Director Vince Lancisi who was greeted with a standing ovation. He proudly asserted "We're going to up our game". He recalled that the old Mechanic Theatre once had 15,000 subscribers and then asked "Why not Everyman?" Lancisi raved about his Resident Acting Company and mentioned there are only about 7 or 8 similar theaters across the country that continue to pay a "living wage" to members of resident acting companies. To introduce their "biggest season ever", he introduced Kyle Prue, Director of Production.

Due to the success of the mystery DEATHRAP, Everyman will start the year with another mystery with a British accent AN INSPECTOR CALLS by J.B. Priestly written in 1945. It will run Sept. 9 to Oct. 11. Actors Carl Schurr, Daniel Gavigan, Eric Berryman, and Bruce Nelson did a short excerpt. Nelson said the play had a "Downton Abbey" feel about it taking place in pre-World War I in England.

Prue mentioned the theater likes family dramas and next on the line-up will be August Wilson's acclaimed hit FENCES. The Tony-winning and Pulitzer Prize-winning play will be directed by Walter Dallas and runs from Oct. 20 to Nov. 22. Dawn Ursula added she has done three Wilson plays and they all had a "mystical element" to them. Ursula (playing the role of Troy Madsen) and Berryman read an excerpt which mentioned Roberto Clemente and "Why don't the Pirates play him every day?"

For the holiday period running between December 8, 2015 and January 10, 2016 is the romantic Irish comedy OUTSIDE MULLINGAR by John Patrick Shanley who has won a Pulitzer and Tony Award for DOUBT and an Oscar for the film "Moonstruck". Donald Hicken will direct this Baltimore/DC premiere. Beth Hylton and Danny Gavigan read an excerpt with the requisite Irish brogue.

Eric Berryman then related how theaters love to present "new" plays as well as classics. He commented, "New plays drive our careers. They have roles we create from scratch. We get a chance to use our creative juices." In this vein, Everymen will be presenting Michael Hollinger's UNDER THE SKIN. This will be only the second production of this play and the Philadelphia playwright will be coming to Baltimore during rehearsals. You may recall his terrific play OPUS that Everyman did a few years back about a string quartet. The play is about a man who needs a kidney transplant and asks his estranged daughter to help. Lancisi will direct. Bruce Nelson and Megan Anderson read an excerpt. It runs January 19 to February 21, 2016.

Carl Schurr then mentioned the Herculean task facing the actors, the directors, the scenic and lighting designers, and back stage crew. Whoever thought that one theater, with nine resident actors plus four others, would present two classic plays in repertory and on week-ends, present them BOTH in one day? The plays were not mentioned. We had to guess when Bruce Nelson and Wil Love began to read from the first play. The hint? Love's character says, "I don't want to travel anymore". My wife Lisa got it before I did...DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller. Just listening to the two of them READ, got me excited. Lancisi will direct.

Dawn Ursula and Beth Hylton then read from the second play. When I heard the name of "Blanche", it became apparent that we're talking about STREETCARE NAMED DESIRE by Tennessee Williams which will be directed by Derick Goldman. It has been labeled "The Great American Rep". The two plays will run from April 5 to June 12, 2016.

Love was asked about playing Willy Loman. "It's a dream role, rather scary. It's like a modern day KING LEAR, the size of the role. As a comedian, I've always wanted to do something serious. In comedy, you know if it works, you hear the audience laugh. In drama, it's harder to know if they are with you or not. I'm now the right age for the role. But at this age, your memory bank is not as good and your stamina is not as good. I may have to join a gym." Love confided to me later that he has never seen the play performed before nor has he seen the film.

Anderson and Hylton revealed they have been sisters on stage at least three times (they will play Stella and Blanch) and have known each other 8 years.

Gavigan was asked about playing "Stanley Kowalski". He mentioned that Kowalski worked for the Army Corps of Engineers rebuilding 80 to 90 tanks a day. He added, "The words in these plays are electric."

Love has experience in doing rep. He stated, "I did four years of it, it's the most exciting thing you can do. When I was young, I did 7 plays in rotation. I recall my parents came from Kansas and in a span of 24 hours, saw me in three plays."

Schurr added, "The real stars are the back stage people who keep you on your toes."

Daniel Ettinger admitted to being quite scared to design both plays and have the set able to be switched within an hour. He admitted that he's happy he's not the lighting designer who has a even more difficult task. "It's a huge technical challenge."

Hylton then added that on Monday nights, there will be a new Everyman Salon Series, a series of readings by women playwrights entitled "Women's Voices in Current and Future American Classics." The Company will curate and direct a series of readings of some of the greatest plays of the 20th century written by women. Tickets will become available during the summer.

It was quite an evening and Everyman has certainly made its home on Fayette Street.

I have a feeling the number of subscriptions will rise. To order, call 410-752-2208 or visit www.everymantheatre.org.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com

Photo L. to R. Carl Schurr, Bruce Nelson, Danny Gavigan, and Eric Berryman.

Photo credit:Charles Shubow


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