HENRY AND ALICE GO INTO THE WILD American Debut and More Set for Park Square Theatre's 2017-18 Season
Park Square Theatre is gearing up for its next season with world, American and Midwest premieres in a season that will showcase the Twin Cities diversity and talent.
"With our newest programming, we're continuing an active search for theatre that can unite us - acts of theatre that can elicit 'aha' moments of unexpected pleasure or empathy," said Artistic Director Richard Cook.
The 2017-2018 Season will open on Park Square's Andy Boss Thrust Stage in September with the American premiere of Henry and Alice Go Into the Wild by Michele Riml, one of Canada's most popular playwrights. Park Square's American premiere of Riml's Sexy Laundry in 2014 was an audience hit. Directed by Mary M. Finnerty, who also directed Sexy Laundry, Henry and Alice Go Into the Wild finds the middle aged protagonists once again working to revive their relationship in the wake of the loss of Henry's job and an uncertain financial future. "What this play explores so delightfully is what happens to our most important and intimate relationships when life delivers a radical "curve ball," says Cook. "Audiences had such an instant connection with these characters, that I wanted to bring them back in the intimacy of the Boss where we can literally go 'into the wild' alongside them."
"Our subscribers will thoroughly enjoy their "second date" with Alice and Henry and coming to know them a bit better," said Director Mary M Finnerty. "This time their relationship is challenged by the elements including bears, mosquitoes, unwanted (pesky) relatives."
Next up is a new Joel Sass take on Shakespeare's Hamlet that will play on the Proscenium Stage for both general audiences and to thousands of high school students during an extended run of weekday matinees. "I'll be compressing the playing time to deliver maximum tension and excitement, "said Director Joel Sazz. "The kingdom in which this Danish prince wrestles with his fate will be a claustrophobic, modern-dress world of elegant metal screens and two-way mirrors, featuring contemporary music, and live video effects that will create an incredibly intimate relationship between the characters and the audience. Any great production of HAMLET rests in the hands of its performers, and I'm excited to explore all the rich potential of our diverse and talented acting community when assembling our ensemble of actors."
The quartet of shows Cook is announcing includes two hits from recent Humana Play Festivals in Louisville, Kentucky. Dot and Cardboard Piano premiered to accolades in Louisville ("Dot is a devastatingly flawless work of Contemporary Theatre- playing with characters who are both so familiar, but also layered deep enough, that everyone can find themselves in the intricate, intertwined struggles of this production." -- WFPL News, Louisville's NPR affiliate), then went directly to a well received run in New York. It is the third play written by well-known actor Colman Domingo. Domingo starred in the award winning The Scottsboro Boys on and Off Broadway and has co-starred in many films such as the Academy Award nominated Paramount film Selma and Lee Daniels' The Butler. He currently stars on AMC's Fear The Walking Dead as Victor Strand. As a playwright, Domingo has had commissions from The American Conservatory, People's Light and Theatre Company Theatre and residencies at Sundance Theater Lab, Banff Playwrights Colony (Canada), and New York Theater Workshop.
Like Lydia Diamond's Stick Fly, which Park Square premiered in 2013, Dot tells the story of an upper-middle class African American family, this time in West Philadelphia. Dot is the fading matriarch of a clan coming together for the holidays. Oldest daughter Susan has shouldered the increasing burden of caring for Dot, and wants her sister Averie and her brother Donnie and his husband to help out. Turns out, they are all going through their own relationship and financial challenges. Throw in Dot's part-time caregiver from Kazakhstan and you get a family brew simmering with angst and plenty of comedy. "This play is easy to love, both deeply felt and uproariously funny, "says Cook. "It asks - very knowingly - how do we find the energy and heart to truly support each other?"
Cardboard Piano, which takes to the Boss Stage in January 2018, "raises the stakes" says Cook. "In civil wars - both militant and spiritual - how do you "fix" a damaged soul . . . can we truly pass through violence to forgiveness?" Both the patrons who saw the premiere at last spring's Humana Festival and Park Square's playreaders literally begged Cook to produce this play on the Boss. The first act is set on the eve of the Millennium where two young women pledge themselves to each other in a church ruined by the civil war raging in Uganda. The same actors revisit the church decades later playing different characters to explore what has and hasn't changed in the heart of this community. The playwright, Hansol Jung, is from South Korea with commissions from Playwrights Horizons, Ma-Yi Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her work has been developed at the Royal Court (London), New York Theatre Workshop, Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor, O'Neill Conference and Sundance Theatre Lab. She has also translated over 30 English musicals into Korean, including Evita, Dracula, and Spamalot.
"This season's plays are thrilling to me in the ways they carry forward our goal to live and lead as a theatre for artful social impact," says Executive Director Michael-jon Pease. "Two are written by women and two by artists of color. The roles written for artists of color are meaty and richly drawn - and Richard's producing style will round out the other roles and creative teams just as diversely."
Park Square's goal with this split season is to keep at least a full year of programming in front of Twin Cities' audiences at all times. "The reality is that our work is ongoing and the old convention of waiting until a fixed moment to release a full year of programming keeps patrons from accessing what we already know is ahead," says Pease. "Now those who haven't already built a season package can choose from multiple productions on our stages starting with Flower Drum Song (which starts previews January 20) through Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery next June."
Cook is clearly delighted with the diversity and scope of his line-up. "In each of these plays - through shared laughter, thought and tears - we hope to heal a little while we entertain a lot."
Henry and Alice Go into the Wild
Sept 15 - Oct 22, 2017 Comedy Andy Boss Thrust Stage
By Michele Riml; Directed by Mary M. Finnerty; American Premiere
The hilarious follow up to the smash hit Sexy Laundry! Your favorite married couple is back in the perfect, laugh-a-minute comedy. When Henry unexpectedly loses his job, he and Alice are thrown into a mid-life crisis and are forced to reconsider their dreams for a comfortable retirement. In an attempt to make the sparks fly again (and keep costs down), they forego their usual summer cottage for a humble campsite and a copy of Camping for Dummies. The new environment isn't the only challenge they face as they examine their relationship in the tangle of the wilderness.
William Shakespeare's Hamlet
Oct 13 - Nov 11, 2017 Tragedy Proscenium Stage
Adapted and Directed by Joel Sass; World Premiere Adaptation
Devastated by his father's death and disgusted by his mother's hasty marriage to his hated uncle, Denmark's Prince Hamlet has hit the rock bottom of despair. Now the ghost of his father appears, claiming the uncle murdered him - driving Hamlet to avenge a crime that may or may not be a product of his own imagining. Grand in scope, rich in language, this classic story of haunting, both literal and metaphorical, ranks among Shakespeare's finest masterpieces.
These hits from the 2015 and 2016 Humana Play Festivals earned high praise from our subscribers who went to Louisville, Kentucky for the world premiere productions - as well as from our volunteer play readers.
Dec 8, 2017 - Jan 7, 2018 Comedy-Drama Proscenium Stage
By Colman Domingo; Midwest Premiere
For the holiday season, hot off its hit New York run, comes an uproariously funny new play from playwright/actor Colman Domingo (Wild With Happy / star of The Scottsboro Boys and Selma). Dotty and her three adult children are home for the holidays in West Philly, but this year there is more than presents and yuletide on their mind. While Dotty fights to maintain a grasp on her memory, brother and sisters collide in a riotous mid-life family brawl where losing your mind and losing your sanity are two different things.
Jan 19 - Feb 18, 2018 Drama Andy Boss Thrust Stage
By Hansol Jung; Midwest Premiere
Is our capacity for love greater than violence? In Northern Uganda, the daughter of an American missionary and a local teenage girl steal into a candlelit church to exchange vows in a secret wedding ceremony. But when an escalating civil war encroaches on their fragile union, they cannot escape its reach. Confronting the cost of intolerance, this powerful drama examines violence, the struggle to rebuild, as well as the human capacity for love and forgiveness. Audience Advisory: This play contains gunshots, strong language and adult content.
And the season continues....notes from Artistic Director Richard Cook:
"Pirates is Park Square's first Gilbert & Sullivan - it will be as literate and full of cleverness as ever. And the music will be in great hands: Doug Scholz-Carlson has brought Park Square's Johnny Baseball and Snow Queen to life, and stages good stories with great music for opera companies around the country. Add the zest and invention he brought to The Liar - what fun!
"We turned general audiences AND students away for the recent impassioned, sold-out production of A Raisin in the Sun. We're eager to share it again with both important audiences.
"Our Diary is a beautiful, deeply-felt production that touches over 10,000 teens year after year. I'm excited and proud to share it with the broader public.
"Park Square has a history of exploring the Sherlock/Watson canon with creativity and delight. Baskerville is Theatrical with a capital "T" - a perfect summer treat."
The Pirates of Penzance
Feb 9 - March 25, 2018 Comedy-Musical
Conceived and directed by Doug Scholz-Carlson; Midwest Premiere
A rainy country house weekend inspires a group of amazingly talented friends to put on their favorite swashbuckling show. They find the full score in the music room and then raid the attics for costumes. You'll get all the music you love, along with a few surprises when Mansfield Park meets Topsy Turvy in this sexy steampunk operetta.
A Raisin in the Sun (subscriber add-on show)
Andy Boss Thrust Stage
Feb 22 - Mar 4, 2018 Drama
Back by popular demand for just six performances!
This fiercely moving portrait of a family struggling with poverty, racism, and inner conflict as they strive for a better life was the first play written by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway. It is about a family whose hopes and dreams are deferred until one day, the opportunity to move on up and out of Chicago's South Side to a wealthy white neighborhood provides that very real hope for the future the Younger family needs. "A sterling production at Park Square." - Star Tribune, 2016
The Diary of Anne Frank (subscriber add-on show)
April 19, 22, 26, 28, 2018
It has been 75 years since Anne Frank was given a diary by her father. Revisit this poignant classic yourself and share it with the young people in your life. You'll be inspired by the hope of a young girl who in the midst of the Holocaust could write: "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart...if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again."
Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
June 15 - Aug 5, 2018 Mystery
By Ken Ludwig; Area Premiere
The game's afoot in this hilarious thriller that's anything but elementary! From the award-winning mastermind of mayhem, Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor), comes a fast-paced comedy about everyone's favorite detective solving his most notorious case. Five actors play over 40 comical characters, filling the stage with suspects, allies and heirs. When the wealthy Henry Baskerville is threatened by the fable of a bloodthirsty hound on the moors, Holmes and Watson are on the case to sniff out the culprit.
PLUS, yet to be announced...
A New Production from Flying Foot Forum June 2018
A New Collaboration with Mu Performing Arts July 2018
All shows will be in Park Square's two theatre performance center in the Historic Hamm Building, 408 St. Peter Street, downtown Saint Paul. Shows, dates and artists are subject to change. Season subscription packages are on sale now and available at 651.291.7005.