Everyman season turns to women

Theme: Forthcoming productions include five American plays, many of which focus on women and family.

Theater

April 19, 2001|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

It'll be the year of the woman and the family next season at Everyman Theatre.

The roster of five plays, all by American-born playwrights, includes Lillian Hellman's "Watch on the Rhine," August Wilson's "Fences" and three Baltimore premieres.

"They're all American, and there's a lot in this season about family, although that was not intentional," said artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi in announcing the 2001-2002 offerings. "We do have that emerging theme, and it's certainly incredibly diverse families - traditional and non-traditional."

A blend of recent off-Broadway plays and modern classics, the season gives theatergoers the comfort of revisiting chestnuts. But at the same time, it allows them to experience shows that have made a stir in New York but haven't yet made it to Baltimore.

In addition, several plays - including the one-woman show "Rose," about an octogenarian Jewish immigrant, and "The Waverly Gallery," about an art gallery owner battling Alzheimer's disease, feature strong women's roles. "It's time that we celebrate women in theater," Lancisi said.

Here's the lineup, in the order in which the plays will be produced:

"Watch on the Rhine." Set outside Washington, Hellman's 1941 drama focuses on a comfortable American family forced to face the rising threat of Nazism when the German-born son-in-law seeks refuge for his wife and children. Everyman resident company member Tana Hicken, who played the daughter in Center Stage's 1980 production, will now play the widowed matriarch. Her husband, Donald Hicken, directs.

"The Waverly Gallery," by Kenneth Lonergan. Company member Vivienne Shub will portray the Alzheimer's-afflicted gallery owner and free spirit in this off-Broadway hit by the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of "You Can Count on Me."

"Every once in a while at Everyman we try to do an issue play," said Lancisi, who will direct the mid-Atlantic premiere. "This is an issue play, [and] the issue is Alzheimer's, but the play really is about family. It's about how this family deals with their beloved grandmother as she gets older. Actually the word `Alzheimer's' is never brought up." The production will also feature Rosemary Knower, Kyle Prue and Stan Weiman.

"Fences." A veteran of several other August Wilson plays, Frederick Strother, currently playing the doctor in Everyman's production of "Blues for an Alabama Sky," will return to take the lead role of a former Negro League ballplayer in Wilson's 1990 Pulitzer Prize winner.

"Rose," by Martin Sherman. The season's other mid-Atlantic premiere, this play by the author of "Bent" focuses on an 80-year-old Russian-born survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, now living in Miami Beach. "Her life sort of chronicles the 20th century," said Lancisi, who will direct Shub in the role.

"Side Man," by Warren Leight. Everyman will wrap up the season with the Baltimore premiere of the 1999 winner of the Tony Award for best play. Resident director Grover Gardner directs a cast including Deborah Hazlett and Timmy Rae James in this largely autobiographical account of the family of a jazz trumpet player.

Subscriptions to the five-play season range from $63 to $106.

In other news from Everyman, the theater's annual fund-raising gala, "Salute! Everyman," will take place 7 p.m.-11 p.m., June 16. This year's 10th anniversary celebration will include professional dancers and living statues, plus an open bar, gourmet supper and auction. Music will be provided by the jazz band Avalon. Tickets cost $125.

For information on the season or the gala, call 410-752-2208.

`Dinah' cast change

There's been a cast change in Center Stage's production of "Dinah Was."

David A. White, who played the roles of two of singer Dinah Washington's love interests, has left the cast to join the national tour of the musical "The Full Monty." He has been replaced by Darryl Alan Reed, who played these roles in several productions of "Dinah Was," including off-Broadway and at Washington's Arena Stage.

"Dinah Was" continues at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St., through May 20. Call 410-332-0033.

Cancellation

"Forever Tango," scheduled to run Friday through Sunday at the Lyric Opera House, has been canceled. The event will not be rescheduled. Refund information: 301-808-2405.

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