For '06-'07, Everyman sets 2 premieres

CRITIC'S CORNER

Critic's Corner// Theater

April 06, 2006|By J. WYNN ROUSUCK | J. WYNN ROUSUCK,SUN THEATER CRITIC

Two area premieres and a Restoration comedy will be among the offerings in Everyman Theatre's 2006-2007 season.

"When we compete for the rights to plays, we compete with over 50 theaters in Washington," said Everyman artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi. "To be able to do the Baltimore-Washington premiere of two plays - Lee Blessing's Going to St. Ives and Michael Hollinger's Opus - is a great thrill for us."

A play about a string quartet, Opus, which has only been produced in Pennsylvania and is not yet published, is "the newest play we've ever done," Lancisi said. Calling it "the closest we've come to a world premiere," the artistic director described it as a first step toward an eventual goal of producing brand-new scripts.

The season also includes the oldest play Everyman has ever produced - Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1771 The School for Scandal. "It's long been our desire to work on classics," Lancisi said, "we just have avoided them because of the huge cast sizes and cost. So, being able to produce The School for Scandal is a very exciting developmental move."

Speaking of moves, Everyman has outgrown its home in the 1700 block of North Charles Street, and its proposal to relocate to the site of the former Chesapeake Restaurant at the south end of the block was not accepted by the city last fall. Lancisi said the theater's board "is actively pursuing alternative sites - all within the city." The coming season, however, will be produced at the current site.

Here's a look at the lineup:

Opus (Sept. 5-Oct. 15). "Elegant and provoking" is the way Lancisi describes this new play by the Philadelphia-based author of Red Herring (a 2003 Everyman hit). Opus zeroes in on a string quartet that loses one of its members days before its highest-profile performance - a televised concert at the White House. Lancisi will direct a cast headed by company members Megan Anderson and Frederick Strother.

The School for Scandal (Nov. 7-Dec. 17). Sheridan's comedy of bad manners will feature a large cast including Deborah Hazlett, Wil Love, Bruce R. Nelson, Carl Schurr and Strother. Lancisi is enthusiastic about directing this satirical look at 18th-century society "because of the grandeur of the costumes, the powdered wigs on men and women [and] the bigger-than-life style of the characters, which are ... not often seen in an up-close intimate setting."

Going to St. Ives (Jan. 16-Feb. 25). The mother of an African dictator visits a British surgeon in this two-person work by the playwright best known for the Cold War drama A Walk in the Woods. "What Lee Blessing is so great at doing is saying, `Imagine what would happen if ... ?'" explains Lancisi, who calls St. Ives "a dialectic between black and white, between civilization and savagery, between order and chaos."

And a Nightingale Sang (March 20-April 29). A British family during World War II is the subject of this comedy/drama by C.P. Taylor. Lancisi says he has long wanted to produce this play, which is infused with period music. Stan Weiman will portray the grandfather; Rosemary Knower, the mother; and Kyle Prue, an American soldier who falls in love with one of her daughters.

Betrayal (May 15-June 24). As its first play by 2005 Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter, Everyman has chosen the British playwright's best-known and possibly most accessible work - an account of a marriage and an affair, related in reverse. Hazlett will play the wife in this "heartwrenching and fascinating tale of relationships from three different points of view - the husband, the wife and the lover," as Lancisi puts it.

In addition to its regular season, Everyman plans to offer a cabaret series, the details of which are still being completed.

Finally, this year's fundraiser, which benefits the theater's education programs, is scheduled for June 3 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, 830 E. Pratt St. Tickets are $175.

Subscriptions to Everyman's five-play season cost $60-$130. For information about subscriptions or the fundraiser, call 410-752-2208 or visit every mantheatre.org.

j.wynn.rousuck@baltsun.com

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