Music and magic on Lyric's list


Lineup: `Sound of Music,' `Spirit,' `Penn & Teller' are highlights of the coming season at the Lyric Opera House.

May 31, 1999|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

Musicals, comedy, magic and even a trip to the circus will highlight Performing Arts Productions' 1999-2000 season at the Lyric Opera House.

The shows range from such classic American musicals as "The Sound of Music" and "Annie" to the Native American extravaganza, "Spirit," and the Big Apple Circus' first purely theatrical, non-tent production -- "OOPS."

In all, eight different shows will be offered in subscription packages consisting of three or five productions -- a change in format aimed at attracting broad as well as more specialized audiences.

"We're trying to provide patrons with more choice and more flexibility, and if they can subscribe to the full five new shows that's great, and if the smaller packages fit their needs, we'd like to provide them as well," said Nicholas A. Litrenta, president of Performing Arts Productions.

Here are the subscription offerings:

"The Sound of Music," Sept. 21-26. Richard Chamberlain, currently starring in the Broadway revival of this 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, will re-create the role of Captain von Trapp in the touring production, co-presented with the Mechanic Theatre.

"Spirit -- A Journey in Dance, Drums and Song," Nov. 2-7. A multi-media celebration of Native American culture, "Spirit" made its television debut as a PBS special in March.

The production has a cast of more than 80 performers, including dancers, an orchestra of modern and tribal instruments, a girls choir and, of course, drummers.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," Jan. 18-23. Returning to Baltimore for the fourth time, this Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical will star Patrick Cassidy and Debbie Gibson and once again feature a choir of local children.

"Penn & Teller," Feb. 1-6. The magicians who delight audiences -- and infuriate other magicians by revealing the tricks of their trade -- will pay their third visit to Baltimore.

"The Male Intellect -- an oxymoron?", Feb. 29-March 5. Former stand-up comic Bob Dubac portrays five male characters in his 90-minute look at the treacherous terrain of male-female relationships.

The show has already played long runs in Chicago and Boston and plans to transfer to Broadway in spring 2000.

"OOPS! The Big Apple Circus Stage Show," March 28-April 2. Venturing out of the Big Top and into the theater, "OOPS!" is directed and designed by Tony Award-winning designer Tony Walton and will showcase an international roster of circus stars.

"Buddy -- The Buddy Holly Story," May 9-14. The short but stellar career of the late, legendary rock and roller is the subject of this musical, which is part concert and part biography. Running in London for 10 years, "Buddy" first played Baltimore in 1991.

"Annie," June 6-11. Martin Charnin, director and lyricist of this 1977 Little Orphan Annie musical, will also stage the new revival.

Subscriptions to the Lyric season go on sale June 6. Five-play packages range from $95-$235; three-play packages range from $62-$160.

In addition, two popular Lyric shows will return as non-subscription attractions, "Riverdance," Feb. 15-20, and "Defending the Caveman," Dec. 12-Jan. 1. For more information call 410-494- 2712.

`Macbeth' at Center Stage

Center Stage has replaced next season's production of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" with its first-ever staging of Shakespeare's "Macbeth." The change came about because Albee has withdrawn all regional theater rights for "Virginia Woolf" in anticipation of a New York production and tour.

"Macbeth" will be presented in the Pearlstone Theater in spring 2000, the fifth slot of the Center Stage season.

Tim Vasen, the theater's resident director, will direct a cast of 10 actors portraying 40 roles in what he calls "a stark and highly theatrical production."

The Shakespearean tragedy will feature a set design by Michael Vaughn Sims, who also designed Vasen's production of "Travels with My Aunt" in October. Casting has not yet been announced. (For more information call 410-332- 0033.)

Also at Center Stage, Denise A. Gantt, who has spent the past five years as project director of Theater for a New Generation, the theater's program aimed at attracting theatergoers under age 30, has accepted the position of director of education and associate producer of the Old Vat Room at Arena Stage in Washington.

A Baltimore playwright and actress, Gantt is completing her thesis in the graduate theater program at Towson University.

Before heading Theater for a New Generation, she spent five years working in Center Stage's development office.

The Old Vat Room will re-open in fall 2000.

"They've been renting it out and now they're going to do readings, small productions and performance art," Gantt said. "That's sort of the direction I've been interested in moving into for a while -- producing and creating work." Gantt's first day at Arena will be Aug. 1.

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