Friday, July 24, 2015
Ditch the DVR: Six things to watch besides TV this year
(Spoiler: All six things are shows at The Rep)
Hey, we get it: it’s a great time to be a TV fan. People’s DVRs and digital queues are overstuffed with great shows about things like scheming politicians, fantasy adventures and everything in between.
But here’s a novel thought: maybe there’s something even more exciting that you could be watching this year. Something more engaging, more vivid and more intimate. Something like live theatre at The Rep.
Oh sure, maybe we’re biased, but we believe that our 2015-2016 Mainstage Season beats anything on any TV channel this year.
Want proof? Let’s break it down:
Instead of watching… House of Cards (Netflix)
Try this instead: All the Way, September 9 – October 4
Here’s why: Frank Underwood has a serpent’s charm, we’ll admit, but it’s difficult to genuinely love him. Real-life president Lyndon B. Johnson, on the other hand, has an irascible Texan charisma that draws you in, even when he’s berating his political foes with a cyclone of curse words. And in All the Way, LBJ doesn’t just fight for personal political gain: he fights for the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act, to ensure a just America for all people.
Instead of watching… Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
Try this instead: Angel Street (Gaslight), October 14 – November 8
Here’s why: When it comes to depicting the perils of madness, you don’t need the rogues gallery of literary monsters that pop up in Penny Dreadful. Sometimes the real monsters are right under our noses… or in our heads. The classic Angel Street (Gaslight) is a tense, feverish nightmare where reality seems on the constant verge of shattering. Just in time for Halloween!
Instead of watching… Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Try this instead: Peter and the Starcatcher, December 2 – 27
Here’s why: Whereas Once Upon a Time seems obsessed with shoehorning in every possible Disney fairytale character possible — looking at you, Elsa and Anna — Peter and the Starcatcher tells a rip-roaring story with focus and aplomb. A delightful, family friendly musical, Peter and the Starcatcher serves as a thrilling entryway into the world of Peter Pan, without all the super-creepy shadow stuff.
Instead of watching… Game of Thrones (HBO)
Try this instead: The Lion in Winter, January 6 – 31
Here’s why: Let’s be honest… aren’t you tired of falling in love with Game of Thrones characters, only to see them brutally killed by George R.R. Martin’s fickle pen? With an intriguing cast of family members vying for King Henry II’s crown, The Lion in Winter gives you all the petty regal backstabbing you could ask for… with a minimum of actual stabbing.
Instead of watching… Any lawyer show, ever
Try this instead: Disgraced, February 10 – March 6
Here’s why: Lawyer shows, by nature, feature static characters in open-and-shut cases. A crime happens, the trial starts, the verdict comes down, and everyone moves on… all in an hour or less. But Disgraced is anything but static or straightforward. Delving deep into the messy personal life of a Pakistani-born lawyer, the play offers no shortcuts to justice and no easy answers for the questions it poses about faith and race in America.
Instead of watching… MLB Spring Training (MLB Network)
Try this instead: Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing, March 16 – April 10
Here’s why: We close with probably the most controversial suggestion on this list — what St. Louisan could live without at least some baseball in his or her daily life? But trust us on this one: the MLB season is really, really long, and you don’t want to miss this vibrant, jazz-infused production. Satchel Paige tells the unheralded stories of Negro League players who vied to break into the big leagues despite society’s ugly racial barriers. It’s not just a show about baseball: it’s a story about how America’s pastime and its culture are inexorably intertwined.
July 24, 2015 at 10:36 AM
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Monday, July 20, 2015
Get the rundown on our just-announced 2015-2016 Studio Theatre Series
The black box of The Rep’s Emerson Studio Theatre is a fertile blank canvas.
Despite its compact size, it has hosted a stunningly diverse selection of theatrical experiences. Working within its cozy confines, production teams have brought vivid, intimate performances right into audiences’ laps as part of The Rep’s Studio Theatre Series.
This year’s Studio Theatre season features three more provocative and powerful plays, two of which are world premieres.
Get ahead of the game with our exclusive preview of the 2015-2016 Studio Theatre Series:
I and You
October 28 - November 15
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Jane Page
The plot: Anthony is an effortlessly popular “A” student; Caroline is a prickly cynic, homebound with a serious illness. This unlikely duo sits in Caroline’s room, trying to cobble together a report on Walt Whitman overnight. As they work and procrastinate, argue and compromise, the teens begin to uncover each other’s hidden depths. Full of surprising humor and emotion, the play explores bravery in the face of an uncertain future and the mysterious connections that bind us.
The pedigree: I and You won the 2014 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, wowing critics with its deft characterization and unpredictable plotting. The voting panel represented dozens of critics from different parts of the country, illustrating the play’s wide-reaching appeal.
* Read an interview between Gunderson and Pulitzer Prize-winner Margaret Edson discussing the play.
* Watch Gunderson describe the play’s themes.
* Watch clips from the show as performed at Olney Theatre Center.
Book by West Hyler and Matt Schatz
Music and Lyrics by Matt Schatz
Additional Music and Lyrics by Jack Herrick
Directed by West Hyler
The plot: In the mid 1800s, John Banvard created the first georama, a three-mile long scrolled painting celebrating the majesty of the Mighty Mississippi. Once a starving sketch artist, his creation catapulted him to a life of luxury and notoriety, but also brought competition and deception that threatened to push his passion to the wayside. Georama illustrates an artist’s rise and fall, and the choice between the art he loves and the life he’s always longed for.
The pedigree: West Hyler is a director who knows how to stage spectacle. He’s helmed high-wire productions at Big Apple Circus in New York’s Lincoln Center, as well as a wide array of regional and New York shows. Matt Schatz has been hailed as “a versatile playwright-lyricist-composer” by the New York Times, and his cleverly catchy music for Georama bears that out. Georama is a world premiere musical that first developed at The Rep’s Ignite! Festival of New Plays.
* Listen to Schatz’s demo music for Georama and get a preview of what the show will sound like.
* Read about the history of panoramic paintings and John Banvard’s contributions to the medium.
March 9 - 27
By Tammy Ryan
Based on the book Hammer of Justice by Liane Ellison Norman
Directed by Seth Gordon
The plot: Molly Rush was focused on the endgame – save the world, protect her family. But what would she have to sacrifice? In 1980, the Pittsburgh housewife and mother of six walked into a General Electric plant and took a hammer to a nuclear warhead to protest the buildup of America’s nuclear arsenal. Based on the true story of the Plowshares Eight, Molly’s Hammer is the account of one woman’s unwavering beliefs and her family’s desperate attempts to protect her from infamy.
The pedigree: Tammy Ryan has won numerous awards, including the 2012 Francesca Primus Prize awarded by the American Theater Critics Association. Like Georama, Molly’s Hammer got its first public reading via The Rep’s Ignite! Festival, helping to prepare it for the stage.
* Watch a reenactment of the trial of Molly Rush, the real life protestor who inspired the play.
* Read a 1990 New York Times article on the Plowshares Eight and Molly Rush.
July 20, 2015 at 2:58 PM
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Brighton Beach Memoirs: Meet the Jerome Family!
Brighton Beach Memoirs cast members Ryan DeLuca, Michael Curran-Dorsano and Lori Wilner sat down with us and answered a few questions about their characters, playing in a hilarious and heartwarming Neil Simon play and what it’s like to play to St. Louis audiences. Enjoy.
Ryan DeLuca - Eugene
Introduce us to Eugene – what is he like? What drew you to this role? Neil Simon makes it very easy to connect to Eugene. He’s a joyful, fun-loving, intuitive kid who is quick to ask questions and quicker to spit out a witty response. Where I connect most with Eugene is the natural structure and flow of his speech, which has become a joy to recite.
How have St. Louis audiences reacted to the play so far? Has anything surprised you? A St. Louis audience is simply a gift. Each house has been filled with very attentive and smart audiences. Half the time they’ve made it to the joke before it’s even stated. At first I was surprised at the audible responses we were getting to the smaller details in the show, but now the contribution from the crowd has a very supportive and comfortable feel.
In real life you’re actually an older brother; what’s it like to get to play the little brother? Being the younger brother is so much fun and freeing. It feels great to be the one who gets away with everything while someone else is constantly in trouble. Never thought that would happen.
What’s your favorite part of the play? The quick banter between the family always cracks me up, and it doesn’t get any more fun than the dinner scene.
Why will audiences love this show? Besides the fact that the show is funny, heartwarming, and relevant, Brighton Beach Memoirs is relatable to any audience member. Whether someone is connecting to a particular character, reliving a pastime, or losing themselves in a day in the life of the Jerome family, they are going to love what they experience.
Michael Curran-Dorsano - Stanley
Introduce us to Stanley – what is he like? What drew you to this role? Stanley is a young man transitioning into adulthood. Impulsive, daring, charismatic, but doesn’t always think things through. Above all, he has a strong moral center inherited from his father. He is wrestling with defining himself as a moral human being and also facing the challenges of being a working adult. He loves his family dearly, even though they drive him crazy. I was so glad when I was cast in this role because I am like Stanley in so many ways. I love Neil Simon, I love this era, and the job has been a blessing.
How have St. Louis audiences reacted to the play so far? Has anything surprised you? I was surprised by how vocal and enthusiastic they are! St. Louis loves theater, and is so engaged. What a great town, and a great audience!
In real life you’re actually a younger brother; what’s it like to get to play big brother to Eugene? Eye opening. I finally sympathize with my brother. Really quite an interesting role reversal for me… Makes me appreciate our time together even more. And of course Ryan plays the part so well, it certainly makes me regret a few things I did to my brother…
What’s your favorite part of the play? I would say the scenes with my father. I think I relate to that dynamic the most, partially due to the fact that I wasn’t an older brother so the Eugene scenes have taken longer to sink in. Also, Adam Heller is fantastic and a pleasure to work with. I suppose the scenes with Lori (my mom) as well. Though they are short and sweet, they are full, and she embodies the matriarch so well.
Why will audiences love this show? The show is so relevant because its an accurate and multifaceted portrayal of the family unit. Everyone can relate to these experiences. And Neil Simon is hilarious. His humor is so old school and springs from a generation that understood wit, and rhythm and timing. There isn’t anyone like him anymore. I feel like most of the comedy I see today is so jaded, vulgar and self depreciating that it’s refreshing to hear someone make a joke that doesn’t involve a curse word every 1.5 seconds. The man really knew how to make people laugh, and all without leaving the privacy of the American home.
Lori Wilner - Kate
Introduce us to Kate (Eugene and Stanley’s mom) – what is she like? What drew you to this role? Kate is a terrific part. She is a fiercely strong and capable Jewish woman. She holds the family together and orchestrates the well-being of an entire family and household. She represents tough love. She also has a wicked sense of humor and a warmth that she demonstrates not so much with words, but with action. There is tremendous range in Kate, so I get to be efficient, stern, loving, enraged, worried, vulnerable, repentant and ironic. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s enough to give you the idea. Also, Neil Simon writes such perfect dialogue and the rhythms are so easy to say that the laughs are practically guaranteed.
How have St. Louis audiences reacted to the play so far? Has anything surprised you? St. Louis audiences have responded very enthusiastically to the play. They are totally with the story - the funny parts, the powerful parts, the sad parts. They are right there. Sometimes there is nervous laughter or gasps at something with high emotional velocity. It’s always fun to hear that kind of vocalized response when you’re doing a play.
What’s your favorite part of the play? My favorite part of the play, I think, is a short scene with Jack (my husband) in the second act. It shows a surprising intimacy between them - a light loving moment in the midst of a real scare that is lovely to do every night. And of course I get to have it with the wonderful Adam Heller!
Why will audiences love this show? Audiences have so much to love about Brighton Beach Memoirs. It shows a family struggling to get by and thrive in difficult times while at the same time trying to stay open to more global concerns. The comedy is completely character-driven, which means you fall in love with the idiosyncrasies of the people in this family and how they relate to one another under stress. You recognize yourself and your own family. And Neil Simon is such a brilliant craftsman that you discover all this in the most effortless, delicious way. It’s a great journey, and one that is still so relevant today. The particulars may have changed - the clothes, the current events, the music, etc, but the basic questions of how to live, thrive, love, educate the next generation, have community and pay homage to the generation that came before are just as relevant as ever! I’m glad to be in such a terrific production at The Rep.
Hurry! Show closes September 30. Click here to get your tickets and learn more about Brighton Beach Memoirs.
September 19, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Behind the Scenes