Savor the Moment

A guide to the 2009-10 cultural season
Eugenia Uhl

You can almost feel it, can’t you? Anticipation of the coming season of live performances is morphing into unabashed excitement as opening dates draw near.

Rehearsals are under way on stages across the city. Local theaters and performing arts organizations are gearing up for one of the biggest seasons ever.

Here is a small taste of their many offerings, including our “hot picks” from their season schedules. Check their Web sites for details and call now to reserve your seat.

AT THE THEATER

Actor’s Theatre of New Orleans, 4539 N. Interstate 10 Service Road; Metairie; 456-4111; www.actorstheatreofneworleans.com Founder René J.F. Piazza presents a season of theatrical fun, beginning with Camp Chaos (Oct. 8-24).

Hot pick: Four Dogs and a Bone (Nov. 5-21). Written by John Patrick Shanley, this adult comedy follows two actresses, a producer and a first-time screenwriter at work on a woefully under-budgeted movie.

Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans; 862-7529; 208.106.165.75/Main.cfm Founder and Artistic Director Anthony Bean has dedicated this theater to developing young talent and providing a stage where novices and professional actors may work side by side.

Hot picks: The Piano Lesson (Sept. 4-27). A Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by August Wilson starring Gwendolyne Foxworth, Wilbert Williams and Harold X. Evans. In 1936 Pittsburgh, Boy Willie and his sister Bernice battle over the future of a treasured heirloom: a piano.

A Raisin in the Sun (Oct. 30-Nov. 22). Starring Anthony Bean. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of this groundbreaking 1959 classic.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Jefferson Performing Arts Center, 400 Phlox St., Metairie; Box office: 885-2000. Westwego Performing Arts Theatre, 177-A Sala Ave., Westwego. Teatro WEGO! Dinner Theater, 177 Sala Ave., Westwego; Box office: 371-3330; www.jpas.org The 32nd season of this regional powerhouse, under the direction of Dennis Assaf, offers something for everyone. The organization presents a diverse line-up on stages in three separate locations (see above).

Hot picks: Viagara Falls (Oct. 2-18) at Teatro Wego! Dinner Theatre. A local premiere that promises laughs aplenty about the waning days of physical pleasure for two widowers as they celebrate a 77th birthday.

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show (Oct. 23-Nov. 7) at Westwego Performing Arts Theatre. Starring Lara Grice and Richard Hutton, this deliberately kitschy rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi Gothic is a rollicking good time.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Nov. 28-Dec. 13) at Jefferson Performing Arts Center. Featuring popular songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, it’s family theater at its best.

Le Chat Noir Cabaret Theater, 715 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans; Box office: 581-5812; cabaretlechatnoir.com The intimate 125-seat theater is the premiere venue for cabaret-type performance. Owner Barbara Motley regularly presents local and national stars, and nurtures an abundance of new talent.

Hot pick: Bless Ya, Boys: A History of the Black and Gold (Oct. 15-24). Presented by Shine Productions, this kick-off to the Saints football season takes a comedic look back and an optimistic look ahead.

Le Petit Thèâtre du Vieux Carré, 616 St. Peter St., New Orleans; 522-2081; www.lepetittheatre.com The city’s oldest theater is set for “comeback” season loaded with lively entertainment. In spring 2010, watch for the recent Tony Award-winning musical Grey Gardens (May 6-23), in a co-production with Southern Repertory Theatre.

Hot picks: Aida (Sept. 3-20). Music by Elton John; lyrics by Tim Rice. A contemporary musical take on a grand classic tale of an enslaved Nubian princess and an Egyptian soldier. With a pop-rock score that features stirring ballads and rousing choral numbers.

Damn Yankees (Oct. 15-Nov. 1). Music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Middle-aged baseball fanatic Joe Boyd trades his soul to the devil for a chance to lead his favorite team to victory in the pennant race against the New York Yankees.

Marigny Theatre, 2240 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans; 218-5778; marignytheatre.org New management associated with AllWays Lounge has broadened the scope of works of this nearly decade-old theater.

Hot pick: Finer Noble Gases (October). Check the Web site for dates and details on this indie rock musical presented by NOLA Project and the New Orleans Indie Rock Collective.

Rivertown Repertory Theatre, 325 Minor St., Kenner; 468-7221; rivertownrepertorytheatre.org Music, comedy and mystery are on tap for the Kenner theater’s 22nd season.

Hot pick: Camelot (Sept. 18-Oct. 4). Lerner and Loewe’s huge Broadway hit brings back such unforgettable tunes as “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “How to Handle a Woman” and of course, “Camelot.”

Southern Rep Theater, 333 Canal Place, 3rd floor, New Orleans; 522-6545;  www.southernrep.com Artistic Director Aimée Hayes continues Southern Rep’s tradition of presenting high-quality performances of American works, with emphasis on new plays. On stage Nov. 4-Dec. 6 is the regional premiere of I Am My Own Wife, by Doug Wright, directed by Carl Walker.

Hot picks:  Opus (Sept. 16-Oct. 11). Directed by Mark Routher. Violinist-turned-playwright Michael Hollinger creates a witty and telling portrait of a high-caliber string quartet. Explore power, glory and what a girl’s gotta do to play with the big boys.

The Southern Rep “New Play Bacchanal” (Jan. 14-31, 2010), wherein original plays by local writers get their first exposure via workshops, readings and explorations featuring New Orleans actors.

BROADWAY IS BACK!

Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, 801 N. Rampart St., New Orleans; 525-1052; www.mahaliajacksontheater.com After a triumphant reopening last winter, the beautifully renovated theater launches its first full season by bringing touring Broadway shows back to the city. Included in the line-up are: The Color Purple (Dec. 1-6), Wicked (March 24-April 11, 2010) and Avenue Q (June 8-13).

Hot picks: Cats (Oct. 27-Nov. 1). One of Broadway’s longest-running shows fills the local stage with spectacle and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Mamma Mia! (Feb. 2-7, 2010). A mother, a daughter, three possible dads and a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget.

PRESENTING CLASSICAL PERFORMANCES

Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; 1010 Common St., Ste. 2120, New Orleans; Box office: 523-6530; www.lpomusic.com Music Director and Principal Conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto will lead the orchestra through a full season of exciting performances. Pianist Fabio Bidini launches the season with “Romeo Meets Rachmaninov” on Sept. 17. Other featured soloists of the season include Lera Auerbach, Anne Marie McDermott and Midori.

Hot picks:  “Yo-Yo Ma Plays Schumann” (Oct. 18) at Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.

Mendelssohn’s “Scottish Symphony” (Oct. 29) at First Baptist Church in New Orleans, featuring principal guest conductor Klauspeter Seibel.

New Orleans Ballet Association, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts; 801 N. Rampart St., New Orleans; Box office: 522-0996; www.nobadance.com World-class dance companies and artists perform classical and contemporary programs at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Coming in February 2010, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns for their first local appearance since 2005.

Hot picks: Houston Ballet (Oct. 24). The company returns with a command performance of masterworks by Welch, Tharp, Duato and Forsythe.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (Jan. 29). The lovable all-male company kicks off the Mardi Gras season.

New Orleans Opera Association, Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts;

New Orleans, Box office: 529-3000, (800) 881-4459; www.neworleansopera.org General and Artistic Director Robert Lyall leads the association in a glorious 67th season that will bring stunning performances by stellar casts to the Placido Domingo Stage of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. Upcoming in 2010 are presentations of Verdi’s “Messa de Requiem” (Jan. 22 and 24) and Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (March 19 and 21).

Hot picks: Puccini’s Tosca (Oct. 9 and 11) featuring Mary Elizabeth Williams in the title role, with Antonello Palombi and Mark Rucker.

Roméo et Juliette (Nov. 20 and 22) featuring Paul Groves, Nicole Cabell and Mark Schnaible.
 

Categories: Entertainment Features

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