Season Offers Shakespeare, Sondheim, Hansberry, Marx Brothers and Three World Premieres
February 1, 2013
Ashland, Ore.— Artistic Director Bill Rauch announced the Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2014 playbill today.
“Next season is packed with characters trying to figure out how to live their lives responsibly in relation to their rapidly changing societies,” Rauch said. “Our Shakespeare productions are a robust quartet of comedy, romance and tragedy in all three theatre spaces. OSF is also continuing to explore its commitment to musicals, American classics and plays from the American Revolutions cycle. In many ways, next season is a response to and deepening of the programming in the current and past few years. We are excited to be presenting the first of our Edgerton musical commissions, and we are set to rediscover a neglected play by Lorraine Hansberry. We will continue the LBJ story begun in 2012 with Robert Schenkkan's ALL THE WAY. We are also expanding our playbill to include a popular musical outdoors as well as a world premiere adaptation of a beloved American novel. Four of our projects are written wholly or in part by five extraordinary female writers. We are proud to offer projects for multiple generations of families to enjoy together, including journeys to forests, an island, and other planets.”
In the Angus Bowmer Theatre
The season will open with William Shakespeare’s last great romance, THE TEMPEST. The banished Duke of Milan, Prospero, has been waiting for the right circumstances to use his magic arts to lure his usurping brother to his island. What begins as an act of revenge ends as a surprising act of forgiveness. This fairytale–like play with its powerful and transcendent message will run all season.
Playing all season in repertory with THE TEMPEST is the Marx Brothers farce THE COCOANUTS, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by George S. Kaufman, with additional text by Morrie Ryskind, and adapted by Mark Bedard. When last we left the boys (ANIMAL CRACKERS, 2012), they were dismantling the Long Island estate of Mrs. Rittenhouse. This time, they take on the booming Florida real estate market. And we all know who's going to win that game!
Also opening at the top of the season and playing through early July is the neglected classic drama THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN’S WINDOW, by Lorraine Hansberry, author of LES BLANCS and A RAISIN IN THE SUN (produced at OSF in 1998 and 2004). THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN’S WINDOW originally opened on Broadway in 1964 and ran for 101 performances, closing on the night Hansberry died. This production honors the 50th anniversary of that opening. Set in the early 1960s in a Greenwich Village apartment, the story focuses on Sidney, an erstwhile newspaper publisher and devotee of the bohemian lifestyle, and his wife, Iris, an aspiring actress. Their constant bickering belies their affection for each other, but politics and a family tragedy remind them that compassion is the way to fight an uncaring and self-indulgent community.
Opening in April is the world premiere adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s award-winning book A WRINKLE IN TIME, adapted by Tracy Young. This enduring and epic science fiction fantasy tale has at its center a young woman and her clairvoyant little brother who must find their mysteriously absent father. With help from supernatural beings, they must confront IT, an evil force that threatens to conquer the universe. This story about the power of love and the strength of family has long held appeal for the young and young at heart.
In July, the final show to open in the Bowmer is the world premiere by Robert Schenkkan, THE GREAT SOCIETY. THE GREAT SOCIETY continues the story begun in Schenkkan’s ALL THE WAY (2012). President Lyndon Baines Johnson is in his second term—his legitimate term—but crises mount as the Vietnam War escalates out of control and domestic unrest threatens to boil over at home, putting the legislation and social change so dear to his heart in jeopardy. Schenkkan gives us Johnson and his time as they were–epic and Shakespearean. THE GREAT SOCIETY, commissioned by and co-produced with Seattle Repertory Theatre, is being developed by American Revolutions.
In the Thomas Theatre
We will continue our dual yearlong explorations of Shakespeare by running THE COMEDY OF ERRORS all year in the Thomas Theatre. A family is split apart during a storm and, years later, unknowingly find themselves in the same town. Set in the Harlem Renaissance, this joyful production situates itself just after the Great Migration when many African Americans headed north to find work and a new life.
The second play to open is Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize–winning play, WATER BY THE SPOONFUL. This compelling drama about recovering drug addicts who hunger for a sense of community and family will open in March and close in June, then re-open in September and run through the end of the season, enabling more audience members to see this passionate new work. Ms. Hudes also is one of OSF’s commissioned writers for American Revolutions.
The final play to open in the Thomas Theatre, FAMILY ALBUM, will run from July through Labor Day weekend. FAMILY ALBUM is a hilarious and ultimately poignant story about a road weary middle-aged rock band that decides to move in with a family. This world premiere musical features book and lyrics by Tony Award-winner Stew, music co-composed by Stew and OBIE Award-winner Heidi Rodewald.The play was commissioned by OSF with support from the Edgerton Foundation. FAMILY ALBUM offers us a peek at a rarely seen side of the rock and roll life, and draws deeply on Stew and Heidi's 16 years of making music together and touring. Stew and Heidi Rodewald are co-creators of the musical PASSING STRANGE, which was commissioned by Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Public Theater in 2006 and moved to Broadway in 2008. PASSING STRANGE earned multiple Obie awards and seven Tony Award nominations, winning the Tony for Best Book of a Musical.
On the Elizabethan Stage
RICHARD III, one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, will be presented on the outdoor stage for the first time in 30 years. A morality tale written in bold strokes, it features a villain theatregoers love to hate–Richard, who draws in the audience through his charm and humor and confides in them by sharing his murderous plans, only to turn into a monster before their very eyes.
OSF is pleased to announce that it is again staging a musical outside—Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s brilliant INTO THE WOODS. Winner of several Tony Awards, including Best Score and Best Book, this musical is a witty and irreverent reimagining of several classic fairy tales, including Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. The outdoor stage is the perfect backdrop to illuminate this rich and complex character-based musical.
The final show to open outside is Shakespeare’s youthful comedy THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA. Love is in the air but is only as constant as the fickle hearts of the aptly named Valentine and Proteus, the titular characters who let their impulses lead them into situations that challenge their friendship. And, of course, THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA also features two other beloved characters: Launce and his canine companion, Crab.
The 2014 season will begin previews on February 14 and open the weekend of February 21–23. The opening performances on the Elizabethan Stage will be the weekend of June 13–15. The season will run through November 2.
2014 SEASON AT A GLANCE
ANGUS BOWMER THEATRE
THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare
February 14–November 2
THE COCOANUTS Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin; book by George S. Kaufman, with additional text by Morrie Ryskind; adapted by Mark Bedard
February 16–November 2
THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEIN’S WINDOW by Lorraine Hansberry
February 15–July 6
A WRINKLE IN TIME based on the book by Madeleine L’Engle; adapted by Tracy Young
April 16–November 1
THE GREAT SOCIETY by Robert Schenkkan World Premiere
Commissioned by and co-produced with Seattle Repertory Theatre
July 24–November 1
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare
February 20–November 2
WATER BY THE SPOONFUL by Quiara Alegría Hudes
March 26–June 20, September 3–November 2
FAMILY ALBUM Book and lyrics by Stew; Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald World Premiere
July 5–August 31
ELIZABETHAN STAGE/ALLEN PAVILION
RICHARD III by William Shakespeare
June 3–October 10
INTO THE WOODS Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; book by James Lapine
June 4–October 11
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA by William Shakespeare
June 5–October 12