up next on local stages: drama queens and the bard

As the winter performance season gives way to spring, the lineup on local theater stages ranges from poignant drama to rollicking entertainment. Southern Repertory Theatre is set to deliver both.

March brings to the Southern Rep stage a touching and eye-opening story written and performed by Carlo Alban, an actor who launched a TV and film career with a role in the PBS series “Sesame Street.” The picture of a “normal” kid, Albin was in fact part of a family struggling under immigration pressures. Albin tells his story in the one-man play, “Intrîngulis,” directed by David Anzuelo.

Later in the season Southern Rep will take a sharp turn with “The Norman Conquests,” which Artistic Director Aimée Hayes terms “a three-play comedic theatrical event.” The works depict the central character, Norman, at his home during a single weekend, and each play puts him in a different part of the house. Audiences can choose to see the three plays on a single day or in separate seatings. Featuring Cripple Creek Theater’s Andrew Vaught as Norman, the trilogy also brings local musical comedy star Ricky Graham to the Southern Rep stage. “It’s the first time he’s ever worked with us artistically,” Hayes says.

Meanwhile, music in many styles will highlight the stage at Le Chat Noir Theatre du Cabaret, where the lineup ranges from chic styling to gender-bending comedy. Le Chat proprietor Barbara Motley hails the impending return of chanteuse Karen Akers in May or June (dates were still being set at press time). Regular appearances over the years by the internationally known singer helped Le Chat become a prominent fixture of the cabaret circuit.

New fare by other familiar players will unfold at Le Chat in March. Jeff Roberson’s alter ego Varla Jean Merman will belt out musical comedy in “Loose Chanteuse,” followed a few days later by Graham and his all-new “Renew Revue.” April brings a more serious turn when director Carl Walker and All Kinds of Theatre return with “Native Tongues,” featuring a series of stellar authors and monologues.

Across town at Tulane University, work has begun on the 18th annual Shakespeare Festival. Artistic Director Jim Fitzmorris says the summer program will “continue working Shakespeare through the filter of New
Orleans’ culture,” presenting “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest” in June, July and August.
Meanwhile, Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre is gearing up for its 44th season, which will kick off in May with “Man of La Mancha,” followed by productions of “Into the Woods” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

Musical theater holds sway in Jefferson parish as well this spring. Dennis Assaf, artistic director of Jefferson Performing Arts Society, brings the world’s most beloved musical, “The Sound of Music,” to the East Jefferson stage for a March-April run. And early April finds Disney’s “The AristoCats for Kids” on stage at the society’s Westwego Performing Arts Theatre.

At Anthony Bean Community Theatre on Carrollton Avenue, Bean continues putting real-life New Orleans drama on stage following the highly successful run of his play about and starring former New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas. This month, look for “Marrero Action,” a play written by local radio personality Hal Clark.

Finally, a musical gem from the past returns to New Orleans this summer. Composer Harry Mayronne’s “Black & White Blues” previously had a three-year run here, followed by a 2006 off-Broadway production. In July, Mayronne will present the newly titled “Waiting Around – the Restaurant Musical,” featuring original cast member Chris Wecklein. Watch for an announcement of dates and times at Allways Lounge and Theatre.

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