Asolo Rep Announces 51st Season Lineup

Michael Donald Edwards, Asolo Repertory Theatre's producing artistic director, announced today his selections for the 2009-2010 season of plays, his fourth season with the company. Asolo Rep's 51ST season kicks off in October with CONTACT, an exciting new musical produced by Asolo Rep in collaboration with the Sarasota Ballet. Other titles on the schedule are THE PERFUME SHOP, SEARCHING FOR EDEN: THE DIARIES OF ADAM AND EVE, The Life OF GALILEO, HEARTS, MANAGING MAXINE, DANCING BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS: THE GINGER MUSICAL, and THE LAST FIVE YEARS.

Mr. Edwards explained, "The dramatic and challenging times in which we live offer unique opportunities to the performing arts. Our mission to entertain, engage and inspire has never seemed more needed even at times urgent. So many of you have expressed such gratitude for the work we are doing and real encouragement to continue be to be a crucial part of the social capital of our city and state. This new season is about the need for connection, for joy and love. Each show will be a kind of refuge from the hurlyburly of the world and yet you will leave each of them charged up and ready to deal with the world. And, we're kicking it all off with an exciting theatrical collaboration that brings together the worlds of dance, music and theatre on one stage."
The season total of 10 productions also includes new works to be premiered during Asolo Rep's NEW PLAY FESTIVAL the first of a planned annual series where the scripts will be explored, and the audience will be invited into every step of the process from page to stage. Additionally, Asolo Rep's New Stages project, launched in 08-09 with THE GIVER, will return with a new title to be announced at a special event in the spring of 2009.
"Over the last seasons Sarasota has had the chance to see its own ballet company perform ballets by some of the top choreographers in history. At the same time Asolo Rep has received considerable acclaim for theatrical excellence and landmark professional collaborations.
A collaboration of this level and profile between Asolo Rep and the Sarasota Ballet in itself is a strong statement, not only for our organizations and the community, but also for the rest of America. A Partnership of this kind not only strengthen the Arts, It reconfirms that Sarasota is the cultural center of Florida." - Iain Webb, Director, Sarasota Ballet

Asolo Rep will present its 2009-2010 season on three stages: the Mertz and the Cook Theatres in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, and the Historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum. Subscriptions are available now. For information on purchasing a subscription or individual tickets for Asolo Repertory Theatre's 2009-2010 season, please contact the box office at 941-351-8000 or toll-free at 800-361-8388, or go to the website at Dates and titles may be subject to change.


Productions in the Mertz Theatre
CONTACT Created by Susan Stroman and John Weidman

A romantic and thrilling dance musical. OCT 24-NOV 22

This romantic, breathtakingly beautiful, and totally unique fusion of music, theatre, and dance won four Tony Awards including Best Musical. Created by renowned director/choreographer Susan Stroman, Contact's three engaging stories depict the pursuit of life's most elemental connection with another human being: love. The sheer ingenuity of the choreography creates an evening that is as exhilarating as it is delightful. In this major new production by Asolo Rep in partnership with the Sarasota Ballet, Contact is a scintillating thrill for the soul as well as the senses.
THE PERFUME SHOP adapted by E.P. Dowdall

A heartwarming comedy for the holidays. DEC 4 - APRIL 1

This bubbly and whimsical comedy is the perfect thing to warm your spirit. Taking place at Christmastime, the plot revolves around two bickering co-workers in a Budapest perfume shop, who unknowingly exchange love letters at night as anonymous pen pals. One of the world's most beloved stories, it's been adapted as The Shop Around the Corner, The Good Old Summertime, You've Got Mail, and the musical She Loves Me. Come see the American premiere of a new adaptation of Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, the brilliant original that inspired them all!


A delightfully comic look at relationships. DEC 18 - FEB 25

The time: The Beginning. The place: The Garden of Eden. The stage is set for the best known "battle of the sexes" in human history. In this captivating romantic romp, partly inspired by the comic writing of Mark Twain, the world's first lovers meet in paradise - and everything goes downhill from there. Join the humanity's most famous couple as they learn about themselves, each other, and most importantly, what it means to be human. Witty and tender, Searching for Eden is a modern testament to enduring love.
HEARTS by Willy Holtzman

A poignant journey of forgiveness and friendship. JAN 22 - APRIL 11

Hearts is playwright Willy Holtzman's frank and often bittersweet exploration of his father's experiences as a Jewish-American soldier in World War II. As adults, and supposedly "hardened" war veterans, Donald Waldman and his friends get together to play cards and reminisce. But what happens to the memories that can't be shared? And what about the haunting ones that won't go away? As Donald struggles with issues of long-buried guilt and loss, he discovers that sometimes the only true way to move on is to fully embrace your past. A stirring tribute to the poignant legacy World War II left for the "Greatest Generation" and their children.
MANAGING MAXINE by Janece Shaffer

A hilarious look at love in the Golden years. MARCH 12 - APRIL 17

All great love feels like young love. Whatever your age, the giddy discovery, the unexpected rush, the surprising insecurity, and the soaring euphoria leave you breathless and exhilarated. It's wonderful, it's terrible - and it's the last thing Maxine Levine expects to interrupt her well-ordered, happy life at 70. But in this honest and hilarious romantic comedy, Maxine discovers that the power of love can change everything, including the very way you embrace your future. Funny and touching in equal measure, Maxine will leave you eager to grow old with the richness that wisdom and experience lend to love.


Conceived & Developed by Lynnette Barkley & Christopher McGovern

Book/Original Songs/Arrangements by Christopher McGovern

A new musical about an all-time American favorite. MAY 7 - MAY 30

Backwards in High Heels is a celebration of the remarkable life and times of the multi-talented entertainment dynamo Ginger Rogers. The show takes an in-depth look at the public and private life of this timeless beauty, combining cherished standards from Berlin, Gershwin and Kern with new original songs, a compelling play, and stunning dance sequences. Funny, moving, and a visual feast, Backwards in High Heels is a complete and wonderfully satisfying night of theatre that will have both audiences and critics cheering.


A dynamic educational experience for students and families. OCT 21 - NOV 8

The title will be announced in spring 2009. New Stages is a bold educational initiative designed specifically for upper elementary and middle school audiences. By providing a superior theatrical experience, Asolo Rep challenges young minds and promotes opportunities to grow and learn. Modeled to enhance curricular goals, New Stages is a dynamic tool to help teachers and students integrate theatre into everyday learning. Asolo Rep is also pleased to offer selected public performances, giving families the chance to share the joys of theatre together. This year's New Stages selection is an inspirational production that will engage young audiences across Southwest Florida. Presented in the Historic Asolo Theater.

THE LAST FIVE YEARS by Jason Robert Brown

An intimate and uplifting musical in the Historic Asolo Theater. JAN 21 - FEB 28

The thrill of first love is universal. But most of us have also known heartbreak. The Last Five Years, an emotionally powerful and intimate musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, lets us feel both at once. Two New Yorkers in their twenties meet, marry, and grow apart over the course of five years. It's a familiar fable, but told in a new and exciting way: her story starts at the end of the relationship, his begins the day they first met. The score is rich with fresh, beautiful gems from one of today's hottest composers. Funny, uplifting, and full of poignant yearning, The Last Five Years proves that even when a love affair is over, its glow lingers on.


An exciting journey from page to stage. MARCH 24 - APRIL 18

Join Asolo Rep for an exciting new festival celebrating the best in new American plays. Two scripts will be produced during the festival, and the audience will be invited into every step of the process - from attending open rehearsals, to special events with the playwrights, talkback sessions, and finally the performances themselves. Featuring Asolo Rep company members in both shows, and offering an unparalleled chance to engage with plays and playwrights at the very beginning of their journey, the first annual Asolo Rep New Play Festival is not an event to be missed. In the Cook Theatre

Greg Leaming, the associate artistic director for Asolo Repertory Theatre and director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, also took the stage to announce the 2009-2010 Conservatory season, which features some of the country's most talented acting students performing in a series of four plays taking the stage in two venues-the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts and the Historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum.

THE MYSTERY PLAYS by Roberto Aquirre Sacasa

preview October 27, runs October 28 - Nov. 15

Two tales of psychological terror and the unknown by the most intriguing young writer in America today. A young filmmaker barely escapes a deadly train accident and discovers how close we all reside to the afterlife. A brother and sister try to assemble the details of a horrible murder fifteen years after it took place. The boundaries of reality and illusion are constantly shifting in this exciting play opening just in time for Halloween.
BLUE/ORANGE by Joe Penhall

preview Jan 5, runs Jan 6 - 24

This edgy new play explores the politics of mental illness with enormous power and scathing comedy. At a National Health Service Hospital in London, two psychiatrists lock horns over the diagnosis of a young black patient, and a dangerous game of power, ego and racial prejudice unfold. As brilliantly comic as it is provocative, this Olivier award-winning play for 2000 raises questions for which there are no answers and leads the audience on a complex and emotional journey.

MACHINAL by Sophie Treadwell.

preview March 2, runs March 3 - 21

A classic play from early 20th century America. An ordinary young woman is foolish enough to believe she can have it all: career, home, marriage, children, pleasure, and love. Her inevitable downfall and the play's shattering conclusion still has the power to fascinate and shock. . .


preview April 14, runs April 15 - May 3

One of France's great classic playwrights, and the man who brought subtle psychological insight to classic comedy. Two headstrong children are betrothed to each other by their parents, in spite of the fact that they have never been introduced. Trying to exert their independence, the two children trade places with their servants in order to get a good look at their fiancés. In doing so, however, they only manage to confuse their families, their friends, and their own hearts. . A romantic comedy presented on the Historic Asolo stage.

For information on purchasing a subscription or individual tickets to the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training 2009-2010 season, please contact the Box Office at 941-351-8000 or toll-free at 800-361-8388, or go to the website at
Biography information

Michael Donald Edwards (Producing Artistic Director; Director) begins his fourth season as producing artistic director at Asolo Repertory Theatre in 2009-2010. Prior to his time at Asolo Rep, he was the associate artistic director for Syracuse Stage and also served as artistic director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz in California for six years. Mr. Edwards has directed at Indiana Repertory Theatre; Geva Theatre; Syracuse Stage; The Shakespeare Theatre; San Jose Rep; Opera San Jose; the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; the Old Globe in San Diego; Virginia Stage Company; the Virginia Opera; the State Theatre of South Australia; Opera Australia; Victoria State Opera; and the Metropolitan Opera. He has received a Garland Award for Best Direction for his production of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His productions of Shopping and F***ing in San Francisco and Los Angeles also received Garland Awards for Best Production and Best Ensemble. He received a Drama Logue Award for Best Direction for his production of Richard III at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and his production of Transgressor in Los Angeles also received Drama Logue Awards for Best Play and Best Direction. Mr. Edwards has previously directed The Smell of the Kill, Amadeus, Nobody Don't Like Yogi, Darwin in Malibu, A Tale of Two Cities, Equus and The Winter's Tale for Asolo Rep. He will also direct the 2009 world premiere of Perfect Mendacity.
LINDA M. DIGABRIELE (Managing Director) joined Asolo Rep in 1973. Prior to her appointment as managing director, she held several other positions with Asolo Rep, including administrative director, director of touring programs and stage manager. During her 12-year tenure with the touring programs, Ms. DiGabriele orchestrated 26 regional and national tours for Asolo Rep's mainstage and educational companies. A graduate of Florida State University, her professional theatre experience includes acting and directing. Ms. DiGabriele has served on an advisory panel for the National Endowment for the Arts and, for five years, the John F. Kennedy Center's Theatre for Young Audiences. She also serves on the executive committee for the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), a national organization of regional not-for-profit professional theatres. Ms. DiGabriele is a past president of the Florida Professional Theatre Association. She has served the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs as a member of various panels including the Grant Awards Task Force, Theatre Grants, Arts in Educations Grants, and the Cultural Institution Programs review committee. She has also served on the board of directors for ASSITEJ/USA, an international theatre organization for young audiences, and the Florida Cultural Alliance. Ms. DiGabriele received the Florida Professional Theatre Association Richard G. Fallon Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.
GREG LEAMING (Director, FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training; Associate Artistic Director, Asolo Repertory Theatre) Leaming directed Pericles, Blue Window, Murder by Poe, and Three Postcards for the FSU/Asolo Conservatory; and directed the world premiere of Men of Tortuga, his translation/adaptation of Anything to Declare?, The Play's The Thing and The Imaginary Invalid, and was Dramaturg of A Tale of Two Cities for Asolo Rep. Other credits include Associate Director and Producing Director, Hartford Stage Company; Artistic Director, Portland Stage Company; Director of Artistic Programming and Acting Artistic Director, Long Wharf Theatre; Associate Professor of Theatre and Head of Directing, Southern Methodist University. Off Broadway, he directed the world premiere of Constance Congdon's Lips for Primary Stages. Other productions include: Arms and the Man, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Intimate Exchanges, Anna Christie, The Illusion, Private Lives, Baltimore Waltz, On The Verge and the world premieres of Constance Congdon's Losing Father's Body, Jeffrey Hatcher's Turn of the Screw, Keith Curran's Church of the Sole Survivor, Steven Druckman's Going Native, Theresa Rebeck's Abstract Expression, Joe Sutton's The Third Army, Alan Knee's Syncopation and David Schulner's An Infinite Ache for theatres including Stage West, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare, Dorset Theatre Festival, Hangar Theatre, and Florida Stage. He has developed new works with New Dramatists, New York Theatre Workshop, New York Stage and Film, Cape Cod Theatre Project, The Gathering at Bigfork and Theatre of the First Amendment.

Asolo Repertory Theatre is Florida's premier professional theatre and one of the most important cultural forces in the United States, crafting the highest quality productions of classical, contemporary, and newly commissioned work all performed in the rarest form of rotating repertory. With an accomplished resident company, complemented by distinguished guest artists, and the charming ambiance of its turn-of-the-century mainstage theatre, Asolo Rep provides enchantment extraordinaire for visitors to the Sarasota area. The 2008-2009 Season marked Asolo Rep's 50th anniversary. Under the skillful leadership of Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards and Managing Director Linda DiGabriele this world-class institution has gained national acclaim, yet remains dedicated to its core mission-Entertain, Engage, and Inspire audiences of all kinds!

The Asolo Repertory Theatre (AKA: Asolo Theatre Company, Inc.) is funded in part by the Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Department of State, The Florida Arts Council, the City and County of Sarasota and the Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council, and the Sarasota Arts Council. The Asolo Rep's Shakespeare productions are sponsored in part by Shakespeare in American Communities, a national theater initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Sallie Mae Fund in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Additional funding is also received through the efforts of support groups including the Asolo Angel Association, the Asolo Theatre Guild, The Directors Emeritus and the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations.


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