Monday, August 6, 2012

Station Theatre Announces New Season

Urbana's Station Theatre has a pattern of announcing their new season at their annual end-of-previous-season banquet. That banquet, celebrating the Station's 40th season (see image below -- it's the last time we'll see it!), happened yesterday, and before the evening ended, the 2012-13 schedule had indeed been unveiled.

You can take a look at the seven shows that make up the Station's 41st season here, with the first one, Paula Vogel's "How I Learned to Drive," beginning October 4, to be directed by Thom Schnarre. "How I Learned to Drive" is an intense, disturbing look at incest, as we see how sexuality, family dysfunction, control and society's mixed messages about what it means to be a girl combine to damage a young woman named Li'l Bit. Even her name tells the story, as she is juvenilized and sexualized at the same time. "How I Learned to Drive" earned a host of Obie, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards for its 1997 Off-Broadway production; it also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1998.

Next up is Shakespeare's "Hamlet," directed by Mathew Green. Although I haven't seen Shakespeare at the Station recently, it has certainly been done there, with an Eastern European "Macbeth" in 1994 and a zombified  "Midsummer Night's Dream" in 1995. They also did "The Comedy of Errors" in 1991, and the zippy hip-hop take called "The Bombitty of Errors" in 2008. "Hamlet" is a different kettle of fish, and it will be interesting to see what Green does with it in terms of setting and style. And who will play Hamlet? We'll all find out when "Hamlet" runs from November 1 to 17.

There is just something about three sisters that gets playwrights moving. "Independence," by Lee Blessing, is another in a series of theatrical three-sister plays ("King Lear," "Three Sisters," "Crimes of the Heart," etc.) I'd like to see in repertory some day, with the same actresses playing all the different sets of sisters. Deb Richardson will direct "Independence Day," which follows three sisters in Independence, Iowa, trying to handle a mother who may or may not be crazy, for the Station, with performances from November 29 to December 5.

The controversial (and boisterous, farcical and generally over-the-top) rock musical "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" will open 2013 at the Station, running January 17 to February 2, in a production to be directed by Mikel J. Matthews, Jr., who just finished up with their very well-received production of "Rent." With music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and book by Alex Timbers, "Bloody, Bloody" is a highly fictionalized "rowdy political carnival*" about U.S. President Andrew Jackson and his rise to fame. The show angered Native American groups during its run at New York's Public Theatre, after which it transferred to Broadway, anyway, but then languished at the box office. It's a provocative, outrageous show, mixing sex-fueled rock-star moves with skewed American history in the most cynical, satirical way.

Stephen Karam's "Sons of the Prophet," directed by Gary Ambler, follows, opening on February 21. "Sons of the Prophet," a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, involves a Lebanese-American family supposedly related to Kahlil Gibran, who wrote the bestseller "The Prophet." One of the two sons in the title is inexplicably ill with wounds that just won't heal, leading the Roundabout Theatre to bill "Sons of the Prophet" as "the funniest play about human suffering you're likely to see." Karam has a unique voice in modern American theater, and his "Speech and Debate" played at the Station back in 2009.

Kay Bohannon Holley will direct another piece with historical and sexual hijinks afoot in "Or," by Liz Duffy Adams, who bills herself as a "playwright interested in the poetics common to classical and experimental theater." Playwright, spy and feminist trailblazer Aphra Behn is at the center of "Or," which juggles Behn's desperate need to finish a play along with the demands of three insistent lovers (Nell Gwynne, King Charles II and a spy named William Scot) and the hoped-for end of her espionage game. Time-bending, cross-dressing and double-dealing, "Or" was hailed as "an Aphra-disiac valentine" by Time Out NY. It will run from March 28 to April 13 at the Station.

Closing out the season is "Next to Normal," the Broadway musical about a family breaking into pieces because of the mother's bipolar disorder and her subsequent struggles with treatment. Brian Yorkey wrote the book and lyrics, while Tom Kitt composed the music for "Next to Normal," which surprised a lot of people when it won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize after not being on the shortlist recommended to the Pulitzer committee. It also won Tony Awards for its score, orchestrations and lead actress Alice Ripley. The Station's longtime Artistic Director Rick Orr will direct "Next to Normal," which will open April 25 and close May 11.

Ticket prices range from $10 to $15 for performances at the Station, which all begin at 8 pm. For more information on the 2012-13 season, click here.


* The phrase "rowdy political carnival" comes from Ben Brantley's review in the New York Times

Please note that the images shown here for individual shows are taken from previous productions or movie versions of these shows and may not reflect the Station Theatre's approach to the material.

No comments:

Post a Comment