Scoop: IRT’s 2009/2010 season

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“We are very intentionally reaching out to family audiences,” says Indiana Repertory Theatre Managing Director Steven Stolen, in discussing with me the about-to-be-announced 2009/2010 schedule for our state’s largest regional theater.

He’s not doing that just through programming—which includes a full mainstage production of “Romeo and Juliet” (unlike the truncated 90-minute versions in recent seasons), an adaptation of the popular young adult novel “The Giver,” and a season-ending theatrical take on “Around the World in 80 Days.”

The IRT’s family-friendly focus also will impact the surrounding theater, where a new Saturday afternoon program will allow parents to drop off their 5-12 year olds for “concurrent appropriate activities” while the grown-ups go to a show. For subscribers who want to leave the kids at home for weeknight shows, the IRT will also be offering a babysitter rebate program.

Of course, the theater would also like the kids to see some shows, so a 3-4 show family package of tickets will also be available.

Not all of the upcoming season will be targeting kids, of course.

The season opens with playwright-in-residence James Still’s Lincoln play “The Heavens are Hung in Black,” which recently premiered at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. It will play on the mainstage. “The Giver” will follow on the upperstage.

“A Christmas Carol” will, of course, be back for the holidays while, on the upperstage, IRT Associate Artist, Priscilla Lindsay (and “Christmas Carol” director) will star in the popular two-hander “Love Letters.”

A modern-dress “Romeo and Juliet” (“It won’t be tights and pantaloons,” says Stolen) comes next, which the IRT hopes will appeal to both student audiences and traditional theatergoers.

Meanwhile, in the season’s most form-breaking move, three full-length, one-person shows will be presented in repertory, including Rob Johansen in Nuvo scribe David Hoppe’s “After Paul McCartney” and Millicent Wright in Charlayne Woodard’s “Pretty Fire.” The third play has yet to be confirmed.

The spring brings a lesser known comedy, Steven Dietz’s fourth-wall-breaking “Becky’s New Car” and the hoped-for crowd-pleasing “Around the World in 80 Days.”

Some notes:

–There are no co-productions with other theaters this year. (The IRT’s “The Ladies Man” recently packed up and moved to Rochester. Upcoming “Crowns” will be shared with Syracuse.) This could allow for easier extension of popular shows.

–Was the decision to book the “Going Solo” trio of one-person shows influenced by the popularity of the Indy Fringe festival? “That wasn’t the decision maker,” says Stolen. “But it does give us a chance to intentionally try to reach that audience.” He adds that there will be chances to see two or three of the shows in the same weekend (at regularly IRT prices).

–“Love Letters” has often been performed with rotating casts of celebrities, local and otherwise. That won’t be the case here, where Stolen says, “It will be a real production”–although there may be opportunities for local notables to get into the act on dark nights.

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