In the latest reflection of its continuing expansion, Everyman Theatre will add a seventh performance each week to its 2007-2008 season. The forthcoming season is also newsworthy in other respects: It will include the theater's first Shakespeare production as well as the Baltimore premiere of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean.
With audiences averaging 90 percent capacity and two seasons yet to go before Everyman moves from 1727 N. Charles St. to new quarters in the west side's Town Theatre, the additional performance - at 7 p.m. Sunday - is a way to accommodate theatergoers in the interim.
Everyman's first foray into Shakespeare - a production of Much Ado About Nothing, scheduled for November - is also a sign of growth. "What I've been trying to do with our season over the past couple of years," says artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi, "is broaden the scope of what we do and the style of what we do."
Here's a look at the lineup:
Sight Unseen (Aug. 29-Oct. 7). Everyman will begin and end the season with plays about art. The opener, Donald Margulies' 1992 Obie Award winner, examines the price of fame - and of the past - on an artist whose paintings sell for huge sums, "sight unseen." Lancisi will direct a cast including company member Deborah Hazlett.
Much Ado About Nothing (Nov. 7-Dec. 16). "I never went after a major classic until I felt we had the resources to do it," Lancisi says. "Part of what excites me about Much Ado is that it has a lot of roles for company members." Hazlett will star in the comedy about witty sparring partners, Beatrice and Benedick. Megan Anderson, Wil Love, Carl Schurr and Stan Weiman will join her.
The Turn of the Screw (Jan. 16-Feb. 24). Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Henry James' ghost story uses only two actors. Under Donald Hicken's direction, Anderson will play the governess hired to care for two orphaned children, and Bruce Nelson will play the characters the governess encounters.
Gem of the Ocean (March 19-April 27). This local premiere is the first installment in Wilson's 10-part chronicle of 20th century African-American life. Set in 1904 Pittsburgh, the play introduces themes, characters and ancestors of characters that figure into later plays in the cycle. Jennifer L. Nelson, producing artistic director of Washington's African Continuum Theatre Company, will direct; cast members will include Doug Brown, Dawn Ursula and Craig Wallace.
Art (May 21-June 29). Yasmina Reza's play focuses on an abstract, white-on-white painting, whose purchase threatens the relationship among three friends. Lancisi, who will direct this 1998 Tony Award winner, describes its themes as friendship and the value of art.
The Explore! Everyman series - launched last fall - will continue next season. Created, Lancisi explains, "to explore different art forms that are related to our work but are not part of our main season," it will include a concert of music by Rodgers and Hart in the winter; a performance by Baltimore slam poet Gayle Danley in the spring; and possibly a third offering.
In an effort to attract more young people, Everyman is introducing a student subscription to its main season and launching a Myspace page, myspace.com/everymantheatre.
Discount subscriptions for educators are also being added, and curtain time for weekend matinees is being changed to 2 p.m.
Finally, the theater's annual gala benefit will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday at the France Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 N. Eutaw St., and will feature the Count Basie Orchestra, dinner, and silent and live auctions. Tickets cost $125 and are still available. Call 410-752-4049.
Subscriptions to the five-play 2007-2008 season range from $70-$140; student subscriptions are $70. For more information call 410-752-2208 or visit everymantheatre.org.