Trinity Rep Announces New Artistic Director Title After Generous Donation

Trinity Rep has announced that it has received a generous multi-year donation from Arthur P. Solomon and Sally E. Lapides to support its company, community, and education-focused mission. In celebration of this commitment, Trinity Rep’s artistic director position, held by Curt Columbus, will be named “The Arthur P. Solomon and Sally E. Lapides Artistic Director” through June 2022.

“We consider Trinity Rep to be one of Rhode Island’s real jewels and Curt Columbus to be its outstanding artistic director,” said Solomon and. Lapides. “Therefore, both of us feel honored to be associated with such a world class theater and artistic leader.”

“It is a great honor for me, both personally and professionally, to be associated with both Art and Sally,” said Curt Columbus. “Sally Lapides and her family have been supporters of Trinity Repertory Company since its founding, and she is one of the premier corporate and philanthropic leaders of Rhode Island. Art Solomon is a world class businessman who has made his home in Providence. In getting to know him, I have been struck by his intellect, his heart, and his capacity for understanding art. They are people of taste, experience, and class. I know that their naming of the artistic director chair at Trinity brings their imprimatur with it, and I am beyond thrilled.”

Arthur P. Solomon and Sally E. Lapides’ gift supports Trinity Rep’s commitment to reinventing the public square and inspiring dialogue by creating emotionally-stimulating live productions and innovative education programs for all ages and abilities.

Rhode Island’s Tony Award-winning theater, Trinity Rep has created unparalleled professional theater for and with its community since its founding in 1963. Trinity Rep strives to facilitate human connection and has been a driving force behind the creativity that fuels and defines the region for more than 50 years.

Trinity Rep is committed to reinventing the public square and inspiring dialogue by creating emotionally-stimulating live productions that range from classical to contemporary and innovative education programs for all ages and abilities. Its annual production of A Christmas Carol has brought families together for 40 years and made memories for over a million audience members.

Subscriptions for the 2017-18 season are now on sale. The season includes Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau, Into the Breeches! by George Brant, Othello by William Shakespeare, Native Gardens by Karen Zacarías, and Ragtime by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office at (401) 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep’s website at www.TrinityRep.com.

Cast Complete for Paper Mill’s World Premiere of THE HONEYMOONERS MUSICAL

The company will be led by Laura Bell Bundy, Leslie Kritzer, Michael Mastro, and Michael McGrath.

Paper Mill Playhouse, by arrangement with Jeffrey Finn, has announced complete casting for its world-premiere production of the new musical comedy The Honeymooners, based on the CBS television series of the same name.

Directed by Tony Award winner John Rando, with choreography by Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse, and musical direction and vocal arrangements by Remy Kurs, the production is scheduled to begin previews at the New Jersey venue September 28 for a limited run through October 29.

The cast will be headed by Tony Award winner Michael McGrath as Ralph Kramden, Michael Mastro as Ed Norton, Leslie Kritzer as Alice Kramden, and Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy as Trixie Norton, with Lewis Cleale as Bryce Bennett, Lewis J. Stadlen as Old Man Faciamatta, and David Wohl as Allen Upshaw.

The ensemble will feature Holly Ann Butler, Chris Dwan, Hannah Florence, Tessa Grady, Stacey Todd Holt, Ryan Kasprzak, Drew King, Eloise Kropp, Harris Milgrim, Justin Prescott, Lance Roberts, Jeffrey Schecter, Britton Smith, Alison Solomon, Michael Walters, and Kevin Worley.

With a book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss, music by Stephen Weiner, and lyrics by Peter Mills, the new musical concerns Ralph Kramden and buddy Ed Norton, who are still shooting for the moon. “After shocking their wives by winning a high-profile jingle contest,” press notes state, “they are catapulted out of Brooklyn and into the cutthroat world of Madison Avenue advertising, where they discover that their quest for the American Dream might cost them their friendship.”

The production will also have set design by Beowulf Boritt; costume design by Jess Goldstein; lighting design by Jason Lyons; sound design by Kai Harada; hair, wig, and makeup design by Leah J. Loukas; with orchestrations by Doug Besterman and dance arrangements by Sam Davis. The production stage manager is Timothy R. Semon. Casting is by Telsey + Company, Patrick Goodwin, CSA.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $34 and may be purchased by calling (973) 376-4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org.

Learn more from Playbill.com here.

The Fountain Theatre Presents Mother-Daughter Tale RUNAWAY HOME

Sometimes what you’re searching for is right where you started. The Fountain Theatre presents a powerful, funny and deeply moving mother-daughter story by Jeremy J. Kamps. Multiple award-winning Shirley Jo Finney returns to the Fountain to direct the world premiere of Runaway Home for a Sept. 16 opening.

Three years after Hurricane Katrina, the unhealed wounds of New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward continue to fester. Camille Spirlin(ABC’s American Koko, Fox TV’sRosewood, Nickelodeon’s Marvin Marvin) stars as 14-year-old runaway Kali. Rhyming, stealing and scamming her way through the still-destroyed neighborhood, she embarks on a journey to pick through the wreckage of what used to be her life. While the rest of the country’s attention drifts, the neighborhood’s residents are left to repair the damage from the inside out. As their attempts at renewal leave a path of destruction in their wake, Kali bears witness to what the floodwaters left behind…

“This play couldn’t be more timely,” says Fountain co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “Hurricane Katrina may have ceased in 2005, but the storm of racism, poverty and class inequality rages on in our country to this day. We need look no further than Flint, Michigan, to see systemic government prejudice against citizens of color and the poor. But as Jeremy’s play so beautifully demonstrates, the bonds of family and community will weather any storm.”

When Kamps traveled to New Orleans two years after Katrina to volunteer “gutting and mucking” (stripping homes to the studs to remove mold), he had been teaching middle school in Connecticut. He already had an idea in his head about a runaway girl who collects other people’s garbage, finding meaning in the meaningless.

“Kali’s world paralleled the displacement, hope for renewal, fracture and resilience I was seeing in the social-political reality of the Lower 9th Ward,” he explains. “Whenever a character’s inner life and experience are so congruent with an important social issue, that’s the story I want to write.”

While in New Orleans, Kamps met Antoine, a man in his ’70s who had just returned to what had been his family’s home for generations. Antoine was going from house to house trying to trace relatives, friends, acquaintances and neighbors, to find out what had happened to them in the years since the storm. “His friendship helped me honor the stories of this community in a truthful way – to see the past, present and future of the Lower 9th through their eyes,” says the playwright.

Read the full article from Broadway World here.

Are We Pussy Riot?

Logan Ellis and Barbara Hammond in rehearsal for We Are Pussy RiotKent, WA
©Annabel Clark

Like so much of America, Hammond began following the story art collective Pussy Riot after their it slammed onto our social media feeds in February of 2012. That month, five young women entered Moscow’s Church of Christ the Savior, covered their faces in bright balaclavas, and yarled a punk prayer—“Virgin Mary, put Putin away!” The action was short—guards dragged them out after less than one minute—but the resulting media firestorm was long. After Pussy Riot uploaded a video of the event to YouTube the girls were charged with “inciting religious hatred,” tried and sent to labor camps for two years.

To tell their story, Hammond flooded herself with research material—she read exhaustively, attended protests at the Russian Embassy in New York, traveled to Moscow. The resulting piece, woven from real text and rich with music and audience participation (though not of an arbitrary, invasive variety), views the Pussy Riot story from many angles: the women themselves, the Western media that fixated on them, an orthodox Church employee, a Russian political prisoner without the advantage of Western media attention.

The play premiered at the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepard University in 2015, where it was a commissioned work. Hammond and Ellis met the following year at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, and she mentioned she’d written a sort-of-musical about Pussy Riot. “When [Theatre Battery] read the play all together, what stood out was how it’s reaching out about international, socio-political events that might feel alien to our audience, but that because of current events in our country are going to feel extremely prescient.”

“This play and this company are a great fit because Pussy Riot was an anonymous art collective, and Theatre Battery is a loose collective of like-minded people with a collective voice,” Hammond says. “Pussy Riot was adamant that no admission was charged to any of their events, and Theatre Battery has radical hospitality.”

Radical Hospitality, a concept pioneered by Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, is about eliminating barriers to entry. “Nobody who is not a traditional theatergoer has any reason to believe that 25 dollars or even 10 dollars is a good deal on a play,” Ellis says. “When you have no context, stepping into a storefront theatre with a play that you’ve never heard of is actually a big risk for people and a good reason to not want to do it.” And so, Theatre Battery tickets are free.

“It allows people to get away from the expectation that you’re purchasing a piece of entertainment, and more into the idea that you’re tapping into a community resource,” he says. “Just like a library or a church, everyone is welcome to this, and walking in isn’t going to cost you anything.”

Read the full article from City Arts here.

INDIANAPOLIS THEATER: REVIEWS “Human Rites,” Written by Seth Rozin, at the Phoenix Theatre (5 stars)

Review by Lisa Gauthier Mitchison, read the full review here.

Alan is a tenured cultural psychology professor. When one of his undergraduate classes submits a letter of complaint about a paper of his destined for publication, which he shared with them during a class, the dean, Michaela, challenges her former lover because she uncompromisingly rejects his research on female circumcision being performed in Africa. She dismisses his work as being credible, stating that he, as an American white male, could not reliably procure this information and claiming that the intangible nature of his field cannot provide actual facts.

His findings show that the majority of the women having the procedure embrace it as sacred because it is an initiation into the empowering women’s secret society of Bondo. They feel they are claiming their bodies’ femininity, and it forms bonds of sisterhood among them. Michaela also accuses Alan of stealing her similar research idea and of fetishizing black women. However, her own vitriol seems to be moored more in her own anger as a woman scorned (even ten years later) and in her own cultural superiority complex. Michaela has arranged to have the study repeated, headed up by a highly recommended graduate student at the university, who is from Sierra Leone, Lydia—a young black woman.

Rob Johansen, as Alan, and Milicent Wright, as Michaela, are both well-known, accomplished presences on Indianapolis stages, and they do not disappoint here. Under guest director Lavina Jadhwani, their body language, facial expressions, and line delivery create a realistic portrayal of a couple at odds both personally and professionally. Given their shared history, Johansen’s initial awkwardness and Michaela’s cold reception of him make their elevating, heated confrontational debate more personal.

humanrites2
“Human Rites” at the Phoenix Theatre

They are joined on stage by Paeton Chavis, as Lydia, who is also a force on stage. Her character holds her own, chin high, when faced with her educational “superiors.” In this role, she exudes the passion and strength of conviction that is often most evident in a younger generation. She also adopts a lilting accent to reiterate her character’s heritage. (Whether it is authentic or not, I cannot say, not being a student of African language, but dialect coach Chelsea Anderson pulled a musical cadence from Chavis.)

The show’s uses the hot-button issue of female circumcision, but through this, it also takes to task people’s inherent if subconscious belief of their own culture’s superiority. While the show is intense, there are brief moments of levity to break up the swirling rush of intellectual discourse. The emotionally charged verbal sparring can be overwhelming, but the inclusion of these breathers deters mental overload in preparation for the next onslaught of academic and personally fueled arguments.

Phoenix’s lower stage is moved almost to the center of the room, designed by Bernie Killian, allowing audiences an even closer and immersive experience.

Seth Rozin’s new play is based on actual accounts, not just speculation, which expands the play’s purpose, challenging audiences to examine their own emotional reactions and cultural prejudices.

The show is ninety minutes with no intermission, so get your drinks and cookie bars before it starts.

For an interesting read on the subject, check out https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/04/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-anthropologist/389640/.

  • Through August 13, Thursdays at 7  p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., $27; Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., $33
  • www.phoenixtheare.org