Onstage Front & Center
Best of both worlds?
Southern Repertory Theatre has long espoused a dual role in the local community, providing both high-quality theater experience and providing opportunities that help draw youngsters into the world of drama.
Its new “collaboration” with the Robert E. Nims Theatre at University of New Orleans appears to enhance both pieces of Southern Rep’s mission.
Southern Rep’s artistic director, Aimée Hayes, announced in October that the theater has expanded its working partnership with UNO. In addition to presenting three productions on the Nims stage in the current season, Hayes and her staff are working closely with several university departments to provide training opportunities for UNO students.
“From a production standpoint, it is so helpful to be working in a wonderful theatre space like the Nims at UNO,” Hayes said. “With a thrust stage and extensive technical capabilities, the space will allow us to produce plays on a larger scale than we had been able to do.”
She notes that this capability is “an absolute necessity” for Southern Rep’s upcoming productions of “Orpheus Descending,” which calls for a cast of 18, and “Colossal,” which incorporates a football team, modern dance and a drum line.
“These truly theatrical plays offer dramatic spectacle on a scale our audiences have rarely gotten to see from us,” Hayes says.
She adds that the Nims Theatre has ample seating with great sight lines and a lobby setup for box office and concessions, as well as plenty of on-site parking.
Hayes has even arranged for pre-theatre dining options for Southern Rep patrons at chef Susan Spicer’s restaurant MONDO on Harrison Avenue.
“Orpheus Descending” by Tennessee Williams will take the stage March 12-April 3, in partnership with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. And “Colossal” is on tap for June 4-18.
UNO’s Nims Theatre is located at 2000 Lakeshore Drive, on the UNO campus.
‘Ragtime’ on tap from Cripple Creek
Cripple Creek Theatre Company, led by artistic director Andrew Vaught, recently completed auditions for its upcoming production of “Ragtime” by Terrence McNally.
The Tony award-winning musical based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow “unpacks the birth of the moving picture, Harlem Renaissance, Harry Houdini, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Henry Ford’s Model T. Ford,” the company says in a press release.
Opulent and muscular, “Ragtime” centers on Coalhouse Walker, an outstanding ragtime jazz pianist who demands dignity for the future American man.
Cripple Creek, which is known for presenting thought-provoking plays that challenge stereotypes, will present “Ragtime” beginning on Aug. 5.
The work follows the company’s successful run of “The Cradle Will Rock” last summer.
Le Petit’s Williams off to a strong start
The new artistic director at the city’s oldest theater soon will wrap up his first season with Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré, and he has already demonstrated his intention to depart from tradition.
Williams, who moved to New Orleans from Hartford, Conn., in the spring of 2015, opened Le Petit’s fall season with the challenging “Our Town,” and in a twist, cast a woman, Carol Sutton, in the role of the narrator, who shows the audience what’s going on in Grover’s Corner without much in the way of scenery.
Williams and managing director Katie Hallman continued the season with “The Bluest Eye” and “Sleeping Beauty.”
Next up is “The Glass Menagerie,” coinciding with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in March.
The season will close with “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” in May.
“Le Petit’s been around for almost a hundred years and we’re here to look towards the next hundred years,” Williams says.
“Our goals are to take this wonderful theater and expand its reach outward to the region and the nation and get it involved in a global conversation.”
Follow the soap
If you think you’re not a fan of soap opera, the ongoing show at The Theatre at St. Claude might very well change your mind.
The long-running live monthly soap opera “Debauchery!,” by Pat Bourgeois, keeps the drama coming with lots of laughs and, of course, the mandatory teasers that keep you hungering for the next episode.
See “Debauchery!,” presented by Southern Repertory Theatre, at The Theatre at St. Claude on March 16, April 13, May 11 and June 15, at 2240 St. Claude Ave. See thetheatreatstclaude.com for more details.