Phoenix lands latest Tony-winning play to launch 2013/2014 season

July 10, 2013
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In a possible case of "good things come to those who wait," the notoriously late-on-committing-to-an-upcoming-season Phoenix Theatre announced it will kick off 2013/2014 with Christopher Durang's latest comedy, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."

Only a month ago, Durang picked up a Tony award for Best Play for the still-running Broadway hit.

It's the eighth Durang show the Phoenix will have produced. And it launches a season that will be challenging (to say the least) for the theater to market: Apart from the annual installment of "A Very Phoenix X-Mas," the season does not include much that may be even remotely familiar to most theater-goers.

That's not a bad thing. It's just a challenging thing.

The lineup includes a new play by Stephen Dietz, whose "Yankee Tavern" and "Becky's New Car" were seen in Indy a few seasons back. There's Nina Raine's "Tribes," about a deaf man in a hearing family, which had a well-reviewed New York run. I'm also looking forward to seeing "North of the Boulevard," a play by Bruce Graham, whose prolific career—filled with smart, blue-collar plays—I followed while living in his Philadelphia home base.

While the Phoenix has drawn attention for its recent run of popular, edgy musicals ("Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson," "Next to Normal," "Avenue Q," etc.), there's no such title in the new season. However, "Spun," a less-tested musical that was originally commissioned and produced by the Bloomington Playwrights Project, gets an April-May slot.

The theater also will continue its commitment to performing plays in Spanish, which it will do with some performances of "Bless Me, Ultima," an adaptation of the popular novel.

There's more, too, including a June show whose title, well, let's just say I have to have a meeting first with my editor to see how we're going to handle that one.

Your thoughts?

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  • Promising season
    The Phoenix has become one of my favorite venues the last few years for its mix of Broadway plays and musicals, and lesser known plays. "Challenging" is a good word for this season because most titles and playwrights are unfamiliar but I have no doubt they will continue the tradition of excellent productions with talented casts.
  • Phoenix
    At a board meeting for the Phoenix last night, I asked the same thing about the June Play. It will be interesting to see how the media handles it. Nonetheless, I have tried to see all shows for a number of years now and am seldom disappointed.
  • They generally are weak marketers
    Looks like an interesting season, but I'm usually underwhelmed by the Phoenix marketing: more amateurish than their history and production quality merits, too little engaged in quality social media efforts, and too reliant on a logo/photo and a paragraph description.
  • Play Title
    “Cockfight Play” is not the title of the terrific, tense little comedy by Mike Bartlett is the way Ben Brantley referred to it in New York Times review.

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