Rep Stage, Howard County's professional equity theater in residence at Howard Community College in Columbia, has announced its lineup of plays for the 2004-2005 season.
The company begins with one brilliant playwright's take on another: Tom Stoppard's English translation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, a piece that asks such questions as "What is love?" and "What does it truly mean to be an artist?"
The Seagull spotlights Karl Miller, who played Septimus Hodge in last season's production of Stoppard's Arcadia; Nigel Reed, a Helen Hayes Award winner for Outstanding Lead Actor in Rep Stage's extraordinary production of The Judas Kiss a couple of seasons back; and Bruce Nelson, last year's Helen Hayes Outstanding Actor for Rep Stage's The Dazzle.
Megan Anderson and Helen Hedman, a Helen Hayes nominee for her role in Piaf, also star.
The Seagull, which runs Sept. 24 through Oct. 10, will be directed by Rep Stage's associate artistic director, Kasi Campbell, who was awarded the Helen Hayes Award for The Dazzle.
"What I like best about this Seagull cast is that we have so many good clowns, people who can dig into Chekhov's language and really make it work," said Campbell, who has spent the summer laying the groundwork for her first Chekhov experience as a director.
Beginning Oct. 9, Rep Stage will present the East Coast premiere of Eric Houston's Becoming Adele, starring feature film and television actress Audrey Wasilewski.
The piece is about the struggles and triumphs of a Brooklyn waitress striving to make a life for herself and her daughter.
Once based in Washington, Wasilewski lives in Los Angeles, where she has landed roles in The West Wing, E.R., Friends and Ally McBeal.
Adele will run at Smith Theatre through Nov. 21.
From Jan. 28 to Feb. 20, the company will offer the Baltimore-Washington premiere of Kimberley Akimbo, the David Lindsay-Abaire play described by The New York Times as "haunting and hilarious."
The subject is progeria, a horrifying disease that ages children prematurely. "But it's actually a dark comedy; episodic, life-affirming and pretty far out," Campbell said. The ill child's mother is a hopeless hypochondriac, and her aunt may have murdered a neighbor.
Bruce Nelson, Helen Hedman, Kerri Rambow and Sherri Edelin anchor the cast.
The season's final offering is Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, which will be presented in collaboration with Baltimore's Everyman Theatre and Baltimore School for the Arts.
Directed by the Helen Hayes Award-winning Donald Hicken, the play is a meditation on the collateral damage unleashed when lying and hypocrisy reach critical mass.
Megan Anderson, Deborah Hazlett and multiple Helen Hayes Award-winner Tana Hicken star in this intense story of two teachers whose lives are changed when a malicious student spreads unfounded rumors about their relationship. The play runs from Feb. 25 to March 13.
Subscriptions to the 2004-2005 season of Rep Stage are available for $52 to $70 and may be obtained by calling Rep Stage at 410-772-4900 or visiting www.howardcc. edu/repstage.