It is my distinct pleasure to introduce our 2016-17 Mainstage Season. As it has been for fourteen years, our mission remains to bring you a fabulously diverse range of plays, imaginatively conceived, and professionally realized. Those of you who are returning know that we seek to highlight redemptive themes and God’s Kingdom Truths in every play we produce, and this year will be no exception. In the darkness the light shines brightest. So—curtain up!
Our season opener is William McNulty’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic tale of gothic horror, Dracula. This perennial favorite is performed every fall at the world famous Actors Theatre of Louisville. Of this classic tale of good versus evil, Charles Whaley of CurtainUp opined, “"...perfect family fare... There are enough scary moments to keep even jaded grownups on the edge of their seats. ...A spine-tingling winner." We will then soundly strike your funny bone with one of the Bard’s most celebrated of comedies, Much Ado About Nothing. If you enjoyed Sam and Diane in the 90s Sitcom Cheers, you’ll love Beatrice and Benedick. No two lovers ever sparred more energetically, or skewered each other more mercilessly with razor sharp wit. As is typical around here, you can expect a new twist on this classic play that has served as an iconic template for squaring lovers since the late 16th c.
Our spring semester begins with one of the most revered comedies of the English-speaking stage, Oscar Wilde’s brilliant satire on the English Aristocracy and the Well-Made-Play, The Importance of Being Earnest. In search of love, is it possible for two young men to get more tied up, tangled up, and thoroughly ensnared in their own duplicity than Jack and Algie? You’ll be the judge of that! We next catch a train to the countryside—but instead of visiting Jack’s friend Bunberry, we’ll travel to the Russian countryside, and the estate of the renowned actress, Arkadina Nikolaevna. It is our pleasure to give you the play that established the Moscow Art Theatre as the foremost producer of early Realism, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Can an aging actress and her would-be playwright son reconcile and move beyond farcical misstep, thwarted ambition, and consequences of the heart? We finish out the season with what could arguably be the most beloved icon of the American Musical Theatre, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! Beautifully scored, with an exquisite libretto, and a pitch perfect blend of comedy, drama, song, and dance, this musical masterpiece has never left the stage since it premiered in 1943. An immediate box-office smash, it ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances, later enjoying award-winning revivals, national tours, foreign productions and an Academy Award-winning 1955 film adaptation. This Tony Award winner offers some of the most recognizable of songs including “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’”, “Surrey with the Fringe On Top”, “Kansas City”, “People Will Say We’re in Love”, “I’m Just A Girl Who Cain’t Say No”, and the inspiring “Oklahoma!”.
Michael Hill-Kirkland, Ph.D.
Department of Theatre Arts