Who needs New York?

Regional theaters offer impressive Fall choices

June 10, 2010
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Last week, I needed to cancel an east coast trip that was going to involve a batch of Broadway shows (see blog post here).

In thinking about rescheduling, though, I found myself checking out upcoming shows happening beyond Broadway. Specifically, I looked to some of the major regional theaters in the country.

And while I look forward to getting back to New York soon, what I really wish is that I could spend a season travelling the country sampling the best of what's being generated outside of Manhattan.

There's a lot going on this Fall alone. And if you happen to be in Chicago, Atlanta or just about any other reasonably sized city, I encourage you to check out what's being offered by local professional theater companies. I know I will.

For example:

The Goodman Theatre in Chicago is opening its season in September with Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide,” directed by Mary Zimmerman. There are also new plays by Sarah Ruhl and David Henry Hwang, both of which are expected to move on to New York. Details here.

Signature Theater in Arlington, Virginia, is premiering “A Fox on the Fairway,” a new comedy from Ken Ludwig (“Lend Me a Tenor”). It opens in October after a revival of the musical “Chess.” Details here.

Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park is launching the heading-for-Broadway “High,” featuring Kathleen Turner as a formerly hard-drinking nun who tries to help a young drug user. Details here

Alliance Theatre in Atlanta has enlisted director/choreographer Debbie Allen for its September production of “Twist,” a New Orleans-based take on “Oliver Twist.” This is a project that’s been in development for a long time—I saw it staged in Philadelphia back in 1993. Details here. 

Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis will be premiering the latest from Marsha Norman (best known for (‘Night Mother”). This one is “The Master Butchers Singing Club,” based on the novel by Louise Erdrich about a small town life between the world wars. Details here.

Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre also will be in the new musical business with "Leap of Faith," with music by Alan Menken ("Beauty and the Beast") Concerning a fake faith healer, it's based on the Steve Martin movie. Details here.

(And, no, I'm not ignoring Indianapolis. Look for IBJ's A&E season preview in early September.)

Your thoughts? Care to share any great outside-of-New-York or Indy theater experiences?

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  • Jeff Daniels
    A trip to Chelsea, Michigan is worth taking to visit Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose Theater. I don't think the new season has been announced, but anytime he revives "Escanaba in da Moonlight," drop what you're doing and make reservations! It is the funniest show I have ever seen and absolutely nails the family traditions associated with hunting in MIchigan's Upper Peninsula.
  • Thanks Lou!
    Lou - thanks for the heads up on Kathleen Turner in Cincinnati. I hadn't heard about that yet and am definitely going to go. - Travis D.
  • National New Play Network
    Whenever I go to another city on business for my day job, I check to see if there is a member theatre from the National New Play Network. (nnpn dot org) I learned about this network via the Indianapolis member: our own Phoenix Theatre.

    I am not always in town or free to go out when a show is on, but when I am, I have good experiences with these theatres, even if they are doing something other than a new play.

    For example, the first time I saw "Rabbit Hole," by David Lindsay-Abaire, was a year ago February at the Curious Theatre in Denver. It was a powerful experience that informed my subsequent viewings of the IRT's production and then Carmel Community Players' production. Because of my theatre adventure in Denver, "Rabbit Hole" has become one of my favorite plays. I wish I had time to see the current production by the Spotlight Players in Beech Grove.

    A few years ago I saw what I think might have been the world premiere of "Dead Man's Cell Phone," by Sarah Ruhl, at the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC. That was before I had started blogging regularly about theatre and before I had heard of the NNPN. My travel companion and I just stumbled on that wonderful little theatre by accident!

    I enjoyed the Wooly's production, and was delighted to learn recently that "Dead Man's Cell Phone" will be part of the Carmel Community Players' 2010-2011 season.

    If the local NNPN theatre is dark when I am in town, I try to see some other kind of live theatre show. Some have been better than others, but that is true of anything related to travel - restaurants, hotels, airlines, beaches, cabana boys.

    Experiencing a live theatre show is my favorite kind of adventure at home or away. It has also become my favorite kind of travel souvenir.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit

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