Welcome! Once again, it is my pleasure to introduce our 2015-16 Mainstage Season. As always, our pledge remains to present you with a wonderfully diverse range of plays creatively conceptualized and professionally realized by some of the best theatre artists in Hampton Roads. Because we are who we are, we will always keep one eye on the redemptive and the other on God’s kingdom truths as revealed in the human condition. So let’s get started!
About our season opener, Janece Shaffer’s Brownie Points, one respected San Diego-based critic, opined, “…[Shaffer] deserves major brownie points for turning out a…comedic…smart…and serious look at what contemporary American women think of race, religion, and above all, their roles as mothers...” We then tackle one of Broadway’s classic thrillers, Frederick Knott’s Wait Until Dark. New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther notes, “…the tension is terrific…the action is wild as the blind woman uses all her courage and ingenuity to foil her assailants and save her life.” The end of this play will have your heart leaping in your chest. We close the fall semester with a crown jewel of the Broadway stage, Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s, The Man Who Came to Dinner. Few writers can claim to have mastered the art of the set-up and punch-line with the aplomb of Kaufman and Hart.
Our spring semester kicks off with a play universally recognized as one of the great classics of the English Renaissance, Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. This is THE classic morality tale of the man who contracts to sell his soul for power, experience, pleasure and knowledge. Is there an escape clause? Come find out! Next comes Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, a masterfully satirical examination of humanity’s tendency to embrace “herd mentality.” We bow out with Rupert Holmes’ wonderfully mad-cap musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Yes, the guy who brought us the “Pina-Colada Song” is actually an accomplished playwright, lyricist and composer for the Broadway stage! Here he offers us a down-on-its-luck London Music Hall (Vaudeville) company, as it strives to survive by improvising a musical end to Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name. Your votes determine how the show ends! This Tony Award winner offers some of the most raucous and fun musical numbers I’ve seen in years, “There You Are!,” “The Wages of Sin,” “Off to the Races,” “Moonfall,” and the inspiring anthem, “Writing on the Wall.”
Michael Hill-Kirkland, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Theatre Arts