Thursday, March 31, 2011

Actors Theatre of Louisville's 2011-12 Slate

Here's today's Actors Theatre of Louisville presser that outlines the upcoming season as Marc Masterson prepares to depart for California's South Coast Repertory. Former ATL Producing Director Jon Jory is coming back - to direct a show:


From classic storytelling to thought provoking writing, From an off-Broadway premiere to a Tony Award-nominated drama, Marc Masterson's Final Season Line up Promises a Diverse Array of Exciting Productions

Louisville, KY - Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Jennifer Bielstein are pleased to announce Actors Theatre's 48th season lineup.

"The 2011-2012 upcoming Brown-Forman series is an exciting multi-faceted program which includes the staging of two classic novels; a heartwarming and honest exploration of the personal impact of war; a three-time Tony Award-nominated play about love, longing, and science, and the regional premiere of an Off-Broadway hit. Plus, an exciting line up of new plays in the 36th Annual Humana Festival and the return of three holiday favorites", said Masterson on his final season selection as Artistic Director of Actors Theatre. "Actors Theatre has a fantastic team of staff with whom I have worked with for many years and in whose experience and incredible expertise I have confidence to successfully realize my final season."

Jennifer Bielstein, Actors Theatre's Managing Director adds, "The 2011-2012 Season represents a vibrant mix of classic storytelling, critically lauded new plays making a splash with audiences around the country, timely contemporary work that help us to take a closer look at the human experience and the issues that are central to our lives today, and the warmth and humor of our annual holiday shows. It's precisely the mix of entertaining and challenging programming that audiences in Louisville have come to expect and enjoy from Marc's eleven seasons at the Actors Theatre. At a time when the role of the arts is more vital than ever, we are thrilled to be able to provide an outlet for laughter, love, collaboration and exchange to the citizens of Louisville."

We open the 2011-2012 Season with Jon Jory's brand new adaptation of Jane Austen's beloved story of sisterhood and the search for the perfect match in Sense & Sensibility (August 30 through September 24). Jory's adaptation was recently described in the Chicago Tribune as "truly excellent" and we are thrilled to announce that he will return to Actors Theatre to direct this Austen classic.

In October, Mark Twain's popular American tale is brought to life in Laura Eason's magical new adaptation, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (October 4 through October 29). Sure to be a hit with the entire family, this production is presented as a co-production with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Kansas City Repertory Theatre and will be directed by Jeremy B. Cohen, Artistic Director of Playwright's Center, Minneapolis.

Next up a play that has been receiving praise from audiences and critics alike around the country. Opening November 15 and running through December 17 in the Bingham Theatre, Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez's acclaimed play ReEntry explores the true personal impact of war of those immediately affected by it; veterans and their families.

Actors Theatre slams into the New Year with The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (January 3 through February 4, 2012). Making its first stop since its Off-Broadway premiere, Kristoffer Diaz's comedy about power, race and class in the world of professional wrestling will be directed by Associate Artistic Director, Sean Daniels.

The season continues with Sarah Ruhl's scintillating and marvelously entertaining play In The Next Room or the vibrator play. Three-time Tony Award nominee, including Best Play, and a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Ruhl's drama will run in the Pamela Brown Auditorium (January 24 through February 18, 2012).

The season will culminate in the 36th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays, February 26 through April 15, which continues to be the country's leading opportunity to see groundbreaking, brand-new work by the American Theatre's most talented living writers. The festival is underwritten by The Humana Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Humana, Inc. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

Plus, back again by popular demand are the holiday classics A Fifth Third Bank's A Christmas Carol (December 6 - December 23), A Christmas Story (November 8 - 27) and the return of Louisville's Halloween cult-thriller, Fifth Third Bank's Dracula (September 14 - October 30).

2011-2012 season ticket packages are on sale now starting as low as $121 and are available online at or by calling the Box Office at 502-584-1205.

Actors Theatre of Louisville's 48th Season lineup:

Sense & Sensibility
adapted and directed by Jon Jory from the novel by Jane Austen
August 30- September 24, 2011

A lack of family fortune means limited marriage prospects for the Dashwood sisters - two girls who are only alike in their hope to find a husband. Scandalous secrets and tumultuous twists line the path to true love in Jon Jory's brand new adaption of this classic tale of flirtation and folly, in which the two sisters find that neither Elinor's common sense nor Marianne's passion may offer up the key to happiness.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Laura Eason adapted from the novel by Mark Twain
directed by Jeremy B. Cohen
October 4- October 29, 2011

Reconnect with Mark Twain's incomparable classic in a magical new production, perfect for the whole family. In idyllic 1840s Missouri, Tom and his friends revel in all that is grand and glorious about childhood. This mischievous rascal, joined by Huckleberry Finn, can charm Aunt Polly, save the town from a local criminal and win the heart of fair Becky Thatcher, all in the course of one small-town day. Produced in association with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and Kansas City Repertory Theatre

by Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez
directed by KJ Sanchez
November 15- December 17, 2011

Inspirational, honest, and heartwarming; frank, funny, and long overdue. This surprising and acclaimed new play, based on interviews with combat veterans and their families, puts aside politics and Hollywood alike to probe the unvarnished and powerfully personal truths of those who serve and sacrifice. How do you shift from battlefields to backyard barbecues? What is the price paid by families at home when husbands, mothers, sons, and sisters go to war?

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
by Kristoffer Diaz
directed by Sean Daniels
January 3 - February 4, 2012

A comic powerslam of a play, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity - in its first stop since its Off-Broadway premiere - is a theatrical event that dares to throw political correctness out of the ring. Macedonio "The Mace" Guerra is a pro wrestler who recruits his ticket to the big time: a charismatic, trash-talking Indian kid from Brooklyn who's the perfect foil to the All-American champion, Chad Deity. But when their rivalry is used to exploit racial stereotypes in the name of ratings, all three men find themselves fighting for much more than the championship title.

In The Next Room or the vibrator play
by Sarah Ruhl
directed by Laura Gordon
January 24 - February 18, 2012

This critically lauded play about love, longing, and science takes place in a proper Victorian home where a doctor invents a most extraordinary device for treating "hysteria." As his wife overhears the treatment of his patients in the next room, long dormant thoughts and feelings begin to stir. This smart, classy and touching Tony Award-nominated play about marriage and intimacy, and how the invention of electricity fused them together, is sure to be the buzz of the city! Co-production with Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

The 36th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays
February 26- April 15

The Humana Festival is the premier event of its kind in the nation, debuting new plays right in your backyard! Catch groundbreaking world premieres that represent many generations, many voices and many views-including yours. The festival runs the gamut from comedies to dramas to plays that forge new theatrical territory. Combined with world-class design and performances, this celebration of American playwrights' innovation and imagination has something in it for everyone.


Fifth Third Bank's Dracula
originally dramatized by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston from Bram Stoker's world famous novel, Dracula, as adapted & directed by William McNulty
September 14 - October 30, 2011

Experience the gothic story as you've never seen it before, with recently redesigned sets, costumes, lighting and sound-plus thrills and chills that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Christmas Story with support provided by Fifth Third Bank
by Philip Grecian based on the motion picture A Christmas Story © 1983 Turner Entertainment Co., distributed by Warner Bros., written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown and Rob Clark, and on the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd
directed by Sean Daniels
November 8 -27, 2011

In this Christmas adventure like no other, a boy's ardent campaign for a Red Ryder BB gun against all odds ("You'll shoot your eye out!") unfolds amid seasonal shenanigans involving a leg lamp, a bunny suit and a tongue stuck on a frozen flagpole. Relive a family tradition or start one anew by joining Ralphie and his family for this stage adaption of the beloved film inspired by Jean Shepherd's classic American story of Christmas-and growing up-in the Midwest.

Fifth Third Bank's A Christmas Carol
adapted by Barbara Field from Charles Dickens
directed by Sean Daniels
December 6 - December 23, 2011

Louisville's biggest and best holiday tradition-the classic story of Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the spirits of Christmas, told with the warmth of holiday music and visual splendor.


Season tickets are on sale now and are available or online at or by calling the Box Office at 502-584-1205.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tennessee Williams at 100

Tennessee Williams was born 100 years ago today. That seems so hard to believe, just as it's hard to fathom that he's been dead for 28 years. I'm reminded of a passage from Tom's closing monologue in The Glass Menagerie, "...for time is the longest distance between two places...".

Why? Maybe it's because the mix of soulful lyricism, scathing satire and raw violence found in more than a few of his plays is an American cocktail that continues to intoxicate us. His plays are seemingly performed here, there and everywhere on a regular basis, so while he may have left us his creations certainly have not.

I won't be seeing a Tennessee Williams play today. I'm also too far away from the Big Easy to attend this week's 25th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. To mark the occasion I'm going to continue perusing a remarkable boxed set from The Library of America that recently arrived at my door. The non-profit publisher issued The Collected Plays of Tennessee Williams on March 14.

The two volumes were originally published in 2000. An elegant shot of the playwright (as shown in photo above provided by the publisher) with cigarette holder in hand adorns one side and the closed end of the black box that holds those two books; a picture from the original 1947 stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire is on the other side.

Inside that box you'll find 32 of Williams' plays grouped from 1937-1955 in the first volume and 1957-1980 in the second. The late author and New York Times drama critic Mel Gussow edited these editions along with Tennessee Williams Journal editor Kenneth Holditch. Their chronology and notes alone are worth purchasing these books if you want to delve deeper into the man Holditch has called "...the poet...of the outcast."

From Spring Storm to A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur you feel the exhilarating, and sometimes terrifying, rollercoaster ride that Williams and his creations took over the span of more than 40 years. If there are flaws - and arguably there are many in his later, often more experimental works - those flaws are part of a rich, achingly etched dramatic mural.

The box set has a list price of $80 but there are several sites offering discounts on the set including and Barnes and Noble. If you love American theater, you have to have these volumes.

Here's a rare TV interview with Tennessee Williams that begins with his thoughts on the poet Hart Crane. Like so much in his star-crossed life, Tennessee's wish to be buried at sea "near the bones" of the man he so admired wasn't honored at his death; his brother Dakin insisted that Tennessee's remains were buried next to his mother's grave at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nashville Opera Announces 2011-12 Season

The upcoming season slate is out for Nashville Opera. Here's the presser:

March 14, 2011 (NASHVILLE, TN) — Nashville Opera‘s 2011-12 season will feature three beloved opera productions: Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, and the Nashville Opera premiere of Giacomo Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West). 3-show, 2-show, and FLEX voucher season ticket orders are available online at, or directly from the Nashville Opera’s Box Office by calling (615) 832-5242. Individual reserved seats will be available for purchase on Monday, August 29. Nashville Opera subscription packages offer significant discounts over the published single ticket prices which range in price from $19 to $95, plus other exclusive perks. Nashville Opera now offers a convenient installment payment option for subscribers which is available online or through the Nashville Opera Box Office.

“We are proud to continue Nashville Opera’s tradition of creating legendary productions,” says John Hoomes, Artistic Director. “The 2011-12 season, our 31st since the company’s founding in 1981, features three unique and popular operatic works, and will display the best and brightest opera talent throughout the year.”

Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata will be performed on Thursday, October 13 at 7 pm and Saturday, October 15 at 8 pm at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall located at 505 Deaderick Street in Downtown Nashville. The opera is sung in Italian with projected English translations, and features the Nashville Symphony under the direction of Maestro Christopher Larkin. Principal artists include Emily Pulley, soprano as Violetta; Joshua Kohl, tenor as Alfredo; Grant Youngblood, baritone as Germont.

Emily Pulley is a frequent presence at the Metropolitan Opera, and has performed such legendary roles as Marguerite in Faust, Nedda in I Pagliacci, Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Musetta in La bohème, Valencienne in The Merry Widow, Thérèse in Les Mamelles de Tirésias, and Die Zauberflöte directed by Julie Taymor. She made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Mimi in La bohème.

Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata is a glamorous and heartfelt portrait of a worldly courtesan forced to give up the man of her dreams, and has become the third most popular opera in the world behind only La bohème and Madama Butterfly. Produced by Nashville Opera for the first time in eight years, this tale of love and selfless sacrifice weaves an amazing range of emotions into a nearly perfect dramatic confection. The memorable score positively glows with poignant preludes, inspired ensembles, and marvelously crafted duets. An irresistible classic!

Ruggero Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci will be performed Friday, December 2 at 8 pm; Saturday, December 3 at 8 pm; and Sunday, December 4 at 2 pm at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s James K. Polk Theater. Principal artists include Allan Glassman, tenor as Canio; Elizabeth Caballero, soprano as Nedda; and Todd Thomas, baritone as Tonio. Pagliacci is sung in Italian with projected English translations, and features the Nashville Opera Orchestra under the direction of Maestro William Boggs.

This famous play-within-a-play-where the clown who makes others laugh is sobbing inside, because onstage and off, his actress-wife is having a torrid affair with a younger man-is high-testosterone Italian opera at its best! Full of irony and some of the most powerful music ever written, Pagliacci cemented the new, more realistic (read shocking and gritty!) verismo opera into the art form’s canon. Based on the lives of real people, verismo opera was calculated to stir an emotional reaction from audiences, and Pagliacci has been doing just that since 1890!

Tenor Allan Glassman, a regular at the Metropolitan Opera, triumphed as Herod in a new production of Salome starring Karita Mattila in 2004, and has since been heard in the MET’s productions of Die Frau Ohne Schatten, Boris Godunov, The Great Gatsby, Carmen, Elektra, Káta Kabanová and The Ghost of Versailles, among others. He has also been a frequent guest at New York City Opera, where he has performed the title role in Les Contes D’Hoffmann, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Don José in Carmen and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, among many other productions.

Giacomo Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West) will be performed Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm and Saturday, April 14 at 8 pm in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Andrew Jackson Hall. Principal artists include Othalie Graham, soprano as Minnie; Roy C. Smith as Dick Johnson, reprising his critically-acclaimed Chicago Lyric Opera role; Malcolm MacKenzie as Jack Rance. The Girl of the Golden West is sung in Italian with projected English Translations, and features the Nashville Symphony under the direction of Maestro Dean Williamson.

Everyone loves a good Western: a handsome outlaw in disguise, the sheriff in hot pursuit, and a garter-snapping, pistol-packing, poker-playing heroine who knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em to save the man she loves. Puccini was fascinated by the American West, and California during the Gold Rush was perfect for the adventures of one of his most memorable leading ladies. Rough-and-tumble characters, soaring arias, and a harmonically sumptuous score in the original “spaghetti Western” inspired by a 1905 play about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. A company premiere!

Roy Cornelius Smith is fast becoming known for his voice of great natural beauty, his compelling dramatic interpretations, and his fine musicianship. He has already been heard on some of the world’s great operatic stages including the Metropolitan Opera, Salzburger Festspiele, Volksoper Wien, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Nashville Opera, and the New Israeli Opera. He has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice, Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.

About Nashville Opera
Nashville Opera, Tennessee’s largest professional opera company, is dedicated to creating legendary productions and programs. Among the most successful regional companies in the United States of America, Nashville Opera has presented three different world premiere operas since its inception in 1981. Main stage performances are presented at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and play to over 17,000 people annually. Nashville Opera’s extensive education and outreach touring program reaches over 30,000 students throughout Middle Tennessee. These projects are supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Metro Nashville Arts Commission.