Smile Politely

Looking forward to 43

This past Sunday, several members of the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre congregated for their annual end-of-summer banquet. The festivities included the usual kudos to actors and directors, shout-outs to volunteers and crew, and a photographic look back at the season’s shows. There is food and drink, of course, and stories are told, but mostly the night winds its way toward a single moment: the announcement of the upcoming season.

In this case, the plays, dates, and directors being announced comprise the Station’s 43rd season, spanning from early October through early May.

Here’s what you can expect:

Oct 2-18

A Kid Like Jake, a play by Daniel Pearle, to be directed by Katie Prosise. The play debuted at Lincoln Center in 2013, and was described thusly: “Alex and her husband, Greg, want only the best for their precocious four-year-old, Jake. When they apply to New York City private schools, part of what makes Jake special—his passion for Cinderella and dress-up—starts to cause concern. The story of a husband and wife trying to do right by their son.” Critics were divided on the play, but it sounds like a perfect fit for the Station’s space and social conscience. Prosise, well-known for her acting with the company made an auspicious directorial debut last season with Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House.

Oct 30-Nov 15

Venus in Fur, a play by David Ives, to be directed by Gary Ambler. This sexually charged two-hander (and Wow, does that sound dirty), which focuses on an aspiring actress and an egotistical playwright, was a huge success on Broadway, earning a Tony for its breakout star, Nina Arianda (pictured, left, with her co-star, Hugh Dancy). The play has had quite a life since then, represented not just in regional theaters (including Chicago’s Goodman Theatre last season) but also, most recently, in a film by Roman Polanski. Of the Broadway production, New York Times critic Charles Isherwood said, “It would be no fun to give away much more detail because the mysteries of Vanda’s motives and Thomas’s true desires are what keep the tension on the boil for the play’s running time of a little more than 90 minutes. The excitement in watching Venus in Fur is in not knowing exactly what the emotional and sexual stakes really are.” Word is that Ambler will hold auditions for these roles, so local actors had best bring your A game.

Dec 4-20

Wintertime, a play by Charles Mee, to be directed by Tim O’Neal. O’Neal, who made his debut last season with the Station’s production of Orphans, will switch gears somewhat with this romantic comedy. In its review of the show’s world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse, Variety said: “Wintertime is a small encyclopedia of classic comedy. Its amorous deliberations recall Moliere, its soulfulness echoes Chekhov, some of its speech rhythms derive from Noel Coward, a single door brought on for everyone to slam is an homage to Feydeau, and its straight-ahead energies are a throwback to Kaufman & Hart—before irony, before our inflated currency of wisecracks and attitude.” For the time of year and the jollity of the holidays, this might be just the thing.

Jan 22-Feb 7

33 Variations, a play by Moises Kaufman, to be directed by Thom Schnarre. This ambitious play tracks two separate but connected stories from two very different time periods: in the past, Beethoven is at work on his “Diabelli” Variations; in the present, a musicologist struggles to complete her work on these Variations (and repair her relationship with her daughter) after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Schnarre directed last season’s Good Boys and True, and his penchant for a mix of style and substance should be well-suited to Kaufman’s play, which walks a line between artistic passion and family drama.

Feb 19-Mar 7

Floyd Collins, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, book by Tina Landau, and additional lyrics by Landau, to be directed by Kyle A. Thomas. In this show from Playwrights Horizons, the titular Floyd Collins, exploring Kentucky’s Sand Cave, falls through a tight passageway and becomes trapped undergound. His family and his fellow cavers try to free him, and a media circus is whipped up around his plight. There will be lots of juicy roles for men in this show, the fall-to-spring season’s sole musical, the sound of which is drawn primarily from bluegrass and folk music. And, while Floyd Collins never had a proper Broadway run, it did happen to win a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and an Obie Award for Best Score. Thomas, who directed How I Became a Pirate for Parkland College Theatre last season, was last seen at the Station in this past summer’s Putting It Together.

Mar 26-Apr 11

As has become typical, there is blank box on the Station’s spring calendar with the letters “TBA” stamped on it. And, as usual, this abbreviation shrouds in mystery the latest production to be directed by Station Artistic Director Rick Orr. Whatever the play To Be Announced is revealed to be, it will have a cherry spot in the season and a veteran director in Orr, who has put up, in recent seasons, big-name recent Broadway shows like God of Carnage and Red. This is not to say, by the way, that Orr doesn’t know what he’s directing come March. Rest assured that he does. It simply means that the general public won’t find out until the rights have become available for whatever big-name recent Broadway show he has in his sights.

Apr 23-May 9

Appropriate, a play by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, to be directed by Mike Prosise. The play, which had its world premiere at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre, is often cited for its raucous humor and should promise, in addition to a tight ensemble, a Hoarders-ready set. Victory Gardens said, in its synopsis: “When the Lafayettes descend upon a crumbling Arkansan plantation to liquidate their dead patriarch’s estate, his three adult children collide over clutter, debt, and a contentious family history. But after a disturbing discovery surfaces among their father’s possessions, the reunion takes a turn for the explosive, unleashing a series of crackling surprises and confrontations.” Prosise, who directed Mauritius a few seasons ago at the Station, is a near-constant presence on local stages, and his production of Appropriate will hopefully be another in a recent string of smart, edgy comedies to close out the Station’s regular season.

With its usual mix of lesser-known scripts, raw emotion, and wicked humor, the Station has proposed a very promising season. And as always, you can check out the Station Theatre website for updates and ticket reservations.

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