The Stage is Set

An All-Encompassing Preview of a New Season of Local Theater



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The Lady with All the Answers is the deliberately ironic title of Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s one-woman show, subtitled “The Ann Landers Story.” The newspaper advice columnist who defined the genre did indeed find herself in the midst of the sort of marital distress about which she had counseled countless others. (Oct. 28)

Local performer and Venue on 35th stalwart D. D. Delaney brings The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol, his one-actor, 22-character condensation of that classic to the American. This is no novelty act; it’s quite remarkably complete and coherent. (Dec. 5–6)

The Venue and the American team up again for An Evening of Holiday Comedies: Corrupted Christmas Carols & What If? The first, by local playwright and composer Shari Graber, is a short rediscovering-romance-in-a-troubled-marriage musical. The second, by Norfolk’s P. A. Wray, sneaks an anti-bullying message into a bit of seasonal whimsy. (Dec. 13)

It’s A Wonderful Life: Live From WVL Radio Theatre is a live stage version of a (fictional) Christmas Eve 1945 radio broadcast of Capra’s beloved story, done by WVL’s skeleton crew as a blizzard howls outside. (Dec. 14)

With David Mamet’s backstage comic drama, A Life in the Theatre, the well regarded and venerable Walnut Street Theatre brings a fond look at the cross-generational interplay between a veteran actor of fading skills and an up-and-coming talent. (Feb. 5)

Freedom Bound, a historical drama with music, by Ohio-based Mad River Theatre Works, retells the true story of escaped, then captured, then rescued slave Addison White and looks at the people who made the Underground Railroad work. (Feb. 14)

Springtime sees a return of America’s quintessentially Byronic country star. Lovesick Blues: The Life and Music of Hank Williams, Sr., a self-produced one-man show by Robbie Lymon, traces Williams’ life and career in 90 minutes and 20 songs, including one Hank meant to record but never did. (April 11)

Two companies, the Virginia Opera Association and the Virginia Stage Company, dominate the local production scene.

Sweeney Todd, Stephen Sondheim’s grandly gory tale of revenge gone wild, kicked off the VOA’s 40th Anniversary Season. (Director Ron Daniels co-authored the script that turned this Victorian urban myth into a modern, character-rich play.)
(Sept. 26–30)

Todd savages Victorian hypocrisy with demonic incandescence; H.M.S. Pinafore devastates with brilliant hilarity. Class-consciousness, love-conquers-all melodramas, and a host of human follies, are no match for Gilbert and Sullivan’s satirical couplets and light-speed patter. (Norfolk, Nov. 7–11; Virginia Beach, Nov. 15 & 16)

Salome, Richard Strauss’ “steamy combination” of religion, sex and death, swings the VOA thematic pendulum back macabre way. A shocker in 1905, this Oscar Wilde-engendered opera still has the power to rivet and enthrall—and stun. (Jan. 30–Feb. 3)

La Traviata, one of the most beloved of grand operas, closes the VOA Season. Verdi’s masterpiece tearjerker about a courtesan with a golden heart and tubercular lungs gets a fresh treatment from the ever-inventive director Lillian Groag. (Norfolk, March 13–17; Virginia Beach, April 11 & 12)

At the Wells Theatre, Virginia Stage Company’s production of K2 is in full swing. Patrick Meyers’ intense look at a most extreme situation near the roof of the world also reaches for an emotional summit. (Through Oct. 12)

The Book Club Play, by prolific author and playwriting teacher Karen Zacarias, showcases six performers in a dozen or so roles. One domineering lady tries to control the members of her tightly knit bi-weekly club meeting—all closely watched by a documentary camera. (Oct. 28–Nov. 16)

It would not be the Winter Solstice Season without Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; the brilliant Patrick Mullins directs his own adaptation of this classic, refreshing it annually. (Dec. 10–24)

Playwright Sharr White earned his first Broadway production with his psychological thriller The Other Place, racking up a slew of awards and good reviews. (Jan. 20–Feb. 8)
Mullins just might have solved the problem of how to stage, in our essentially egalitarian times, The Taming of the Shrew. His take on Shakespeare’s one-sided, war-between-the sexes comedy uses its oft ignored play-within-a-play structure to delight in wholesale role reversals. (Feb. 24–March 15)

Breath and Imagination by Daniel Beaty chronicles the long life and career of Georgia-born Roland Hayes, considered to be the pioneer African-American male classical vocalist. (He was touring Europe in the 1920s.) (March 31–April 19)

There’s something happening almost every weekend at community, collegiate and youth theaters throughout the region; their shows are often as rewarding as professional stuff. There’s a good seat in the house near anyone who reads this.

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