Everyman Theatre Artistic Director Vincent M. Lancisi wanted… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun…)
Everyman Theatre has been on a roll since the beginning of 2013, when the company inaugurated its inviting new downtown space.
The first full season in that venue — there's one more play left, "Tribes," opening May 28 — has been marked by exceptionally effective stagings of diverse works (three were given extra weeks to meet demand).
"That's why it took so long to come up with a second season," said Everyman's artistic director, Vincent Lancisi. "I really felt intimidated by the scope of this one."
What Lancisi devised for 2014-2015 is a promising mix of three Baltimore premieres and three vintage plays. Anticipating continued box-office strength, each will have a five-week run instead of the company's usual four. And Wednesday matinees will be added to take some pressure off the packed Saturday matinees.
The season opens with one of the new-to-Baltimore pieces, "The Understudy," by Theresa Rebeck, who created the NBC show "Smash."
This comic/satiric work from 2007 involves an established actor unhappily reduced to serving as understudy for an action movie star in a Broadway play. To add complications, the stage manager is the understudy's former fiancee.
The production, running Aug. 27 to Sept. 28, will feature resident company members Beth Hylton, Clinton Brandhagen and the newest addition to the troupe, Danny Gavigan. Joseph Ritsch, co-artistic director of Rep Stage, will direct.
The season continues Oct. 15 to Nov. 16 with a play that had its New York debut only three months ago — "Grounded," by George Brant. A 2013 hit in London and at the Edinburgh Festival, this one-woman work is about an American fighter pilot who has to give up her F-16 when she learns she is pregnant. She ends up piloting drones from a base near Las Vegas.
Resident company member Megan Anderson will star in this Baltimore premiere, directed by Derek Goldman, who led Everyman's staging of Ronald Harwood's "The Dresser" this season. This will be Everyman's first co-production with the Olney Theatre Center, which will present the play next spring.
The third local premiere is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner "Ruined," by Lynn Nottage, whose "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark" is currently enjoying a vivid staging at Everyman.
"Ruined," with a nod to Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage," is set amid civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and revolves around a character named Mama Nadi, who runs a bar/brothel. "She manages to find the redemptive in all those atrocities," Lancisi said.
"Vera Stark" star Dawn Ursula will portray Mama Nadi. Noted theater and opera director Tazewell Thompson will make his Everyman debut directing this production, which runs Feb. 4 to March 8, 2015.
The season also offers a revival of Ira Levin's 1978 hit, "Deathtrap," Dec. 10 to Jan. 11. "We've never done a thriller before," Lancisi said, adding with a laugh: "It will be our holiday play."
"Deathtrap," known for its comic touches as well as it abundant plot twists, concerns a playwright with writer's block who sees a way out when a former student shows up bearing a surefire script. Murderous thoughts and deeds ensue.
Lancisi will direct a cast that includes Gavigan and fellow resident company member Bruce Randolph Nelson.
Henrik Ibsen's classic "Ghosts," a dark look at marriage and morals, will be on the boards April 1 to May 3, 2015.
Resident actor Deborah Hazlett will star as the conflicted Mrs. Alving. "I'll never forget her Hedda Gabler [in 2003], and it seems like the right time for her to do this role," Lancisi said.
The cast for "Ghosts" also includes Nelson and will be directed Donald Hicken, who guided the Everyman production of John Logan's "Red" with Nelson earlier this season.
Ibsen's bleakness will give way to Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" to close the season. This comedy about a novelist, two spectral wives and a wacky medium will run May 27 to June 28, 2015.
In addition to such company members as Anderson, Hylton and Nelson, the cast, directed by Lancisi, will include Nancy Robinette as the medium. She was last seen at Everyman in 2013, giving a memorable performance as Mattie Fae in Tracy Letts' "August: Osage County."
Subscription renewals for the 2014-2015 season go on sale this week; new subscriptions will go on sale May 27. For more information, call 410-752-2208, or go to everymantheatre.org.