Independent theatre and production companies provide the star power that illuminates local stages, and the fall season shows them at their brightest.
Two of the most high-energy figures on the scene are already off to the races.

Musical and children's theater pros Kelly Fouchi and Gary Rucker founded Theatre 13 two years ago with the aim of providing professional opportunities for local talent and bringing new productions to the city.

The pair soon will wrap up "The Drowsy Chaperone," directed by Rucker and choreographed by Fouchi, at Jefferson Performing Arts Center's Westwego Theater. Co-produced by JPAS and starring Ricky Graham and Brian Peterson, the show closes Oct. 16.

Soon Theatre 13 will begin work on "Spring Awakening," a new musical slated for the Southern Repertory Theatre stage in mid-January.

Fouchi says the work is a departure from "big, flashy musicals" the duo often selects.

"The show has a ravishing rock score that every actor wants to sing, mixed with the storytelling of a classic piece retained in its original setting, provincial Germany," she says.

Another highlight of Theatre 13's season is "Legally Blonde," coming in the form of a musical adaptation of the movie. "We have been pursuing this title for two years and we're excited because, creatively, we feel like we can really do it justice," Fouchi says.

In addition, she and Rucker will team up again with Graham and his frequent cohort in comedy, Varla Jean Merman, in a co-production of "The Divine Sister" at Southern Rep.  "Knowing how wonderful these two are to work with we jumped at the opportunity," Fouchi says.

Graham will direct the comedy play, which pays homage to every Hollywood film ever made about nuns for "an evening of stage satire that only Ricky and Varla Jean can spin up," she says Fouchi and Rucker, who never let a season pass without a children's production, this year have chosen "Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr." The youngsters slated for the show are students at Fouchi's performing arts studio who are looking forward to showing off their tap-dancing prowess. "We wanted to give them an opportunity to really showcase their talents," she says. See for details of all the productions.

While Theatre 13 dominates the musical scene, elsewhere, a couple of leaders in the category of serious drama continue to flex their muscle. Cripple Creek Theatre Company and Goat in the Road Productions collaborated on the original "The Future is a Fancyland Place" (playing through Oct. 2).

Cripple Creek, which has put itself at the local forefront in cultural, historical and political drama since its founding by Andrew Vaught and Andrew Kingsley in 2006, made waves last season with the original "A Crude Trilogy" by Vaught, and a dazzling "Threepenny Opera."

Check for details of upcoming productions on Cripple Creek's home stage at the Allways Lounge and Theater.

Speaking of original works, Mondo Bizarro and New Noise soon will bring a year of effort on the unusual "Pchile Goyin" to fruition. The story of a woman swallowed by a lake, described as a folk tale of transformation, will come to life through large-scale puppetry, shadow projections and live music, Oct. 28-Nov. 20. (Check or for location and times.)

Veteran performance artist Kathy Randels and ArtSpot Productions bring a 19th century Louisiana plantation drama to the New
Orleans African American Museum in October. "Rumours of War" is a performance in three parts conceived and directed by Randels
in collaboration with numerous local professional artists.

With an original music score by Sean LaRocca, and set and costume design by Shawn Hall, the piece was originally produced by ArtSpot Productions and the University of New Orleans Women's Center with support from the Contemporary Arts Center's Performance Support Program. Check or call the museum at 504-566-1136 for dates and times.

Finally, here's one more idea to keep the drama doldrums at bay. The edgy Silk Dress Productions is wrapping up its Edward Albee Project in October with a production of "Tiny Alice." George Patterson will direct the play, billed as a "macabre spectacle." See for details.