Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical “Assassins,” a world premiere by Chapel Hill native Loudon Wainwright III, and a mesmerizing duo of plays staged in and around an indoor pool are some of the highlights of the 2013-2014 season from PlayMakers Repertory Company.
PlayMakers is the professional theater company in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The season will also feature Noel Coward’s comedy classic “Private Lives” and the regional premiere of “Love Alone” by Deborah Salem Smith.
The main-stage season will open with the 2010 Olivier Award-winner for Best New Play, “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall.
The theater will also present three plays in its PRC2 second-stage series. Each PRC2 performance includes engaging post-show dialogue between the artists and the audience. These conversations have become the hallmark of the series.
“Our new season features plays that we have been waiting for years to produce,” said PlayMakers producing artistic director Joseph Haj. “It’s an exciting lineup, which we’re so pleased to bring to life for Triangle audiences.”
All performances will be presented in UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Main-stage productions will be in the Paul Green Theatre; PRC2 shows, in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre.
Subscription packages for 2013-2014 are available for purchase. Renewing subscribers can secure their current seats for the new season through May 1. Call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit http://www.playmakersrep.org for information.
Dates and descriptions of the 2013-2014 main-stage plays:
“The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall: Sept. 18 to Oct. 6, 2013
The season opens with a new play acclaimed from London to Broadway. Set on April 3, 1968 in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel, the story unfolds on the historic last night of Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A visitation from a mysterious woman leads him to confront his innermost thoughts and fears on the stormy evening before his assassination. The play has garnered honors including the Olivier Award for Best New Play. The Independent (London) called it “breathtaking, hilarious and heart-stopping.” Variety said “The Mountaintop” is “emotionally powerful and theatrically stunning.”
“Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman and “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare: Performed in rotating repertory, Nov. 2 to Dec. 8, 2013
The Paul Green Theatre will be transformed into a wonderland complete with indoor pool for Zimmerman’s mythological storytelling presented in tandem with Shakespeare’s stormy classic. Haj will co-direct with Dominique Serrand (PlayMakers’ “Imaginary Invalid,” 2012.)
“Metamorphoses,” based on Ovid’s classic poem, presents the tales of Midas, Orpheus and Eurydice, Eros and Psyche, and others, to juxtapose the ancient and the contemporary in breathtaking storytelling and gorgeous imagery, exploring the timeless theme of love in all of its forms. The Chicago Sun-Times called it “altogether transcendent” and TIME Magazine described it as “a glimpse of the divine.”
“The Tempest” has the distinction of being the Bard’s last play and the theater’s first work of magical realism. In the aftermath of a shipwreck of his own conjuring, the exiled Prospero wields magical powers, illusion and manipulation to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place. His machinations bring about revelations, romance and redemption on a mysterious island.
“Private Lives” by Noel Coward: Jan. 22 to Feb. 9, 2014
Sparks fly when divorced, newly remarried lovers land in adjacent honeymoon suites on one glorious evening on the Riviera, igniting a timeless battle of the sexes. A comic masterpiece wrapped in the epitome of glamour and whip-smart wit of the incomparable Noel Coward, “Private Lives” is sophisticated, urbane and as hilariously catty as they come. The New York Times called the Tony and Olivier Award-winner “an enduring marriage of wit and lust … one of the funniest comedies of the 20th century.”
“Love Alone” by Deborah Salem Smith: Feb 26 to March 16, 2014
After a routine medical procedure goes tragically wrong, a lawsuit ensues and the lives of both the patient’s family and a doctor charged with her care are transformed. This new drama focuses on two households as they navigate uncharted waters of loss, anger, humor and longing on their path to healing. PlayMakers’ production will be the regional premiere. The New York Times described “Love Alone” as “lucid, deeply nuanced and fearless work.” The Boston Globe called it “first rate … [a] gleaming gem.”
“Assassins,” music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by John Weidman, based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr.: April 2 to April 20, 2014
Multiple Tony Award-winner “Assassins” is a theatrical tour-de-force combining Sondheim’s signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Haj will direct, with Jack Herrick of The Red Clay Ramblers as music director.
“Nothing quite prepares you for the disturbing brilliance of ‘Assassins” said The New York Times. “Dazzling in its originality” reported Theaterweek. “Dark demented humor, as horrifying as it is hilarious” said the Associated Press.
In the PRC2 second-stage series:
“Surviving Twin,” written and performed by Loudon Wainwright III: Sept. 4 to Sept. 8, 2013
“Surviving Twin,” conceived by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and Chapel Hill native son Loudon Wainwright III, is a posthumous collaboration combining and connecting his music with the writing of his late father, esteemed Life Magazine columnist Loudon Wainwright Jr. The focus of the piece is on fatherhood — being a father and having one. “Surviving Twin” explores the issues of birth, self-identity, loss, mortality, fashion and pet ownership.
Mojo Magazine said Wainwright is “one of America’s most astute lyrical commentators … compelling and emotionally overpowering.” He has also acted in TV shows and films including “M*A*S*H,” “Big Fish,” “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.”
“Hold These Truths” by Jeanne Sakata: Jan. 8 to Jan. 12, 2014
During World War II, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi fights the U.S. government’s orders to forcibly remove and mass incarcerate all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast. As he struggles to reconcile his country’s betrayal with his passionate belief in the U.S. Constitution, he begins a 50-year journey toward a greater understanding of America’s triumphs — and a confrontation with its failures. In May 2012, Hirabayashi was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
StageScene LA called the show “the powerful and moving story of one man, who, in his own words ‘could not give up on the Constitution.’” PlayMakers’ production, the regional premiere, will be directed by Lisa Rothe, who directed the PRC2 world premiere of “Penelope” (2012).
“The Story of the Gun,” created and performed by Mike Daisey, directed by Jean-Michele Gregory: April 23 to April 27, 2014
In this world premiere, specially commissioned by PlayMakers, Daisey tackles his most provocative subject yet, America’s national relationship with guns. Throwing easy answers and partisan bickering out the window, he delves into the history of the gun. How did it evolve as a weapon? What has gun ownership meant in different eras? What does it mean today? Daisey will cut through the political static with hilarious comedy, brilliant observation and pitch-perfect timing. The New York Times has called him “The master storyteller — one of the finest solo performers of his generation.”
For information on PlayMakers’ remaining 2012-2013 season and special events, featuring the musical “Cabaret” (April 3-21), or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.playmakersrep.org or call (919) 962-PLAY (7529).
Based in the College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premiere resident professional theater company. New York’s Drama League has named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatres in America.”