Stages Show Dramatic Range

Poignant plays dot a season full of musical classics and comedy

From raw, anguished drama to light musical comedy to ultra-high camp, audiences will find plenty to love
on local stages as the fall theater season continues in full swing.

Just as "God of Carnage" winds up a successful run at Southern Repertory Theatre, Artistic Director Aimée Hayes is preparing to open the 2010 Tony Award-winning "Red," a raw and provocative piece about master abstract expressionist Mark Rothko.

Featuring Bob Edes Jr. and Sean Glazebrook, Hayes will direct the play, which follows Rothko's emotional journey from confident ambition into troubled self-doubt.

"As part of our 25th anniversary season, I wanted to present dynamic powerhouse stories where we really get to see terrific characters," Hayes says. She believes the line-up fits the bill.

Rothko, who briefly worked in New Orleans during the 1950s when he served as artist-in-residence at Newcomb College, developed a strong local following that has endured. Hayes says the local visual arts community is excited about the play, and she hints that Southern Rep will team up with other organizations on events that celebrate both "Red" and Rothko during the play's run, Nov. 2-20.

Later in the season, Southern Rep will almost certainly score a success with "A Streetcar Named Desire." Tennessee Williams' quintessentially New Orleans work captures "the conflict New Orleans has between nostalgia and our desire to be modern" better than nearly any other work, Hayes says.

"Streetcar is so much about the Old South versus New South, and our city is like that now," she says. "We are very much at a crossroads."

Hayes will star in the coveted role of Blanche Dubois, with Michael Aaron Santos as Stanley Kowalski,  Ashley Ricord as Stella and Mike Harkins as Mitch. "Streetcar" will run March 21-April 8.

Between those dramatic high points, Southern Rep plans offerings that include a Christmas show by Ricky Graham. "The Pecan Cracker," described as "The Nutcracker Suite, Louisiana style," will delight family audiences, Hayes says.

She adds that the inimitable Graham will grace the stage, as will campy troupe Running With Scissors, at various times throughout the year. And Theatre 13 will bring musical productions including "Spring Awakening" and "The Divine Sister" to Southern Rep in January and February.

Meanwhile, West Bank audiences can catch Theater 13 in action with "The Drowsy Chaperone," concluding Oct. 16 at Jefferson Performing Arts Society's Westwego theater.

JPAS keeps the musical excitement coming on the east bank, with "Fiddler on the Roof" playing at Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie, Oct. 22-30. The classic story of a poor Russian dairyman raising his five daughters in a tight-knit Jewish community has touched audiences around the world with its humor and warmth.

The entertainment-packed season continues at with the comedy "The Hallelujah Girls" at Teatro Wego! Theatre, Oct. 21-Nov. 6. And family audiences will want to put Danny O'Flaherty's "Celtic Christmas" on their calendar for the holidays.

The new year brings the delightful "Hairspray" to Jefferson Performing Arts Center, with a musical beach party called "Bikinis" and the "Nunsense Hollywood Bowl Show" slated for the organization's West Bank theaters in January and February.

Need still more to tickle your theatrical senses? Reserve your seats at Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. The worldwide party musical "Rock of Ages" hits the stage there Nov. 1-6, with more than two dozen rockin' 1980s hit tunes swirling around an unlikely love story set in a famous rock club.

You'll have just enough time to recover before the theater's next blockbuster opens. Don't miss a breathtaking new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific," opening Nov. 29.

Set on a tropical island during World War II, the musical tells the sweeping romantic story of two couples and how their happiness is threatened by the realities of war and their own prejudices. The beloved score’s songs include “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” and “There is Nothin’ Like A Dame.”

All in all, it's a season worth waiting for – but you don't have to wait. Check our theater profiles in the following pages for details of all the shows coming up and playing right now on stages across New Orleans.
 

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