Highlights of the Autumn Season

Don’t Miss It: ‘Rent’
It’s had 12 years on Broadway, but for the many people who have not had
a chance to see it — or want to catch it again — good news: The ground-breaking musical phenomenon “Rent” is available in New Orleans.

Jonathan Larson’s rock musical plays Le Petit Theatre’s main stage Sept. 19-Oct. 12, directed by Sonny Borey and Derek Franklin, and choreographed by Karen Hebert.

“Rent” is the inspiring story of a group of Manhattan East Village artists struggling to discover their voices and find love during tough economic times. Based on Giacomo Puccini’s classic 1896 opera, “La Boheme,” the musical digs into gritty issues that include homelessness, AIDS and drug addiction, all articulated by a talented young cast belting powerful songs.

Several cast members are returning to their former home to appear in the New Orleans production of the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical. Among them are Roy Haylock (aka Bianca Del Rio), Tory Andrus, Idella Johnson, James St. Junior and Joey Taranto. Reserve early for one of the season’s biggest musical highlights.

rent | Sept. 19-Oct. 12, Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. Le Petit Theatre
du Vieux Carré, 616 St. Peter St. (French Quarter), New Orleans,www.lepetittheatre.com, 504-522-2081.

Talent Scouting
For the seventh time in as many years, Le Chat Noir Cabaret Theater has cast its net in hopes of landing a promising catch. Le Chat will present its annual New Plays Festival in November. It’s part of proprietor Barbara Motley’s ongoing effort to elicit new works by up-and-comers and give them an audience that could help set their works on fire.

This year’s festival directors and featured playwrights are Pat Bourgeois and Gabrielle Reisman. The juried festival will choose top works from those
submitted for presentation. All selected plays will be directed by Carl Walker.
The New Plays Festival, which is associated with the first New Orleans Fringe Festival, runs Nov. 14-16 and 21-23 at Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans. For more information, contact Gabrielle Reisman,
504-481-4091, 1-5 p.m., weekdays.

Choosing Sides
An Off-Broadway hit has landed just off the French Quarter and likely will wow audiences here just as it did there. Southern Rep Theatre launched its Main Stage season with the hilarious “Speech and Debate,” a comedy, with music, by young playwright Stephen Karam.

Extended twice after it originally opened at The Roundabout in Manhattan, the work focuses on three high school misfits who find each other via the Internet and decide to combat local corruption, sex scandals and bad casting when they sign up for the newly formed speech-and-debate team. Their efforts culminate in a time-traveling George Michael-inspired musical version of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.”

Featured actors in this regional premiere include Natalie Boyd, James Bartelle, Sean Glazebrook and Liann Pattison. Southern Rep Artistic Director Aimée Hayes directs. Southern Rep will host “talkbacks” for the audience after the Sunday matinees.

speech and debate | Sept. 6–28
(previews Sept. 3, 4, 5), Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun.
at 3 p.m., Southern Rep Theatre, 333 Canal St. (third floor, Canal Place), New Orleans, www.southernrep.com or 504-522-6545.

Preppy Angst
Being young, very smart and ensconced in a British boarding school does not necessarily make life simple. Recently formed production company FourFront Theatre will explain in its upcoming presentation of “The History Boys.”
The six-time Tony-winning play by Alan Bennett will unfold at Southern Rep in October, bringing together a bunch of bright, unruly high school boys who are being prepped — they hope — for university life at Oxford or Cambridge. The efforts of the boys and the adults around them raises issues much more complicated than the application process itself. Fred Nuccio directs.

the history boys |
Oct. 17-26, presented by FourFront Theatre at Southern Rep Theatre, 333 Canal St. (third floor, Canal Place), New Orleans, www.southernrep.com or 504-522-6545.

Good Bets
High camp takes center stage soon at Le Chat Noir when Running With Scissors presents its ’60s-style romp “Die! Mommy! Die!” The Charles Busch comedy follows the travails of lounge singer Angela Arden, who has high hopes of reviving her stagnating career. As she also struggles with a dreadfully unhappy family life, could hunky gigolo Tony Parker be a bright spot on the horizon?

die! mommy! die! | Sept. 26-Oct. 19, Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun at 6 p.m. Produced by Running With Scissors at Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, 504-581-5812.

The NOLA Project delves into history and presents its first musical when the company stages “Assassins” in October. The New Orleans premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s controversial musical will be directed by company member A.J. Allegra and will feature local and New York talent in relating a musical tale of attempts on the lives of U.S. presidents through history.

assassins | Oct. 17-Nov. 2, Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. Presented by The NOLA Project at Muriel’s Cabaret at Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter St., New Orleans, 504-522-2081. •

Categories: Front & Center, Theatre + Art