Stage West has been busy during the pandemic, renovating its existing Jerry Russell Theatre and building a new, flexible, black box space called the Evelyn Wheeler Swenson Theatre, or "the Evie" for short.
And now both are ready to welcome back audiences with Stage West's 43rd season. It’s a mix of three shows from the 41st season, which was partially canceled due to COVID-19, and four more which "have been on our short list for the past year," says artistic director Dana Schultes. Six of the seven are regional premieres, and sadly only one is by a female-identifying playwright.
A regional premiere from Stage West favorite Aaron Posner is up first: JQA, about John Quincey Adams. He lived his life backwards: brilliant diplomat in his youth, fervent congressman as a man, ineffectual president in his prime. This unique and timely play imagines a kaleidoscope of confrontations between JQA and some of his key contemporaries. It runs in the Swenson Theatre October 7-31, 2021.
Another regional premiere comes around in time for Christmas: Scrooge in Rouge. It's billed as "an English music hall Christmas carol" with book and lyrics by Ricky Graham, additional material by Jeffery Roberson, "other interesting bits" by Yvette Hargis, and original music composed by Jefferson Turner. In it, The Royal Music Hall Variety Players' production of A Christmas Carol is in a pickle after 20 members of the company suddenly fall ill. This leaves the three remaining members to plow on (so to speak) through a musical performance of the Dickens classic. It promises all the cheeky puns, bawdy songs, and cross-dressing, all running in the Russell Theatre from December 2-24, 2021.
Jason Odell Williams' Church & State is a hold-over from last year, now making its regional premiere in the Russell Theatre. Three days before his bid for re-election — in the wake of another school shooting — a U.S. senator has a life-altering crisis of faith, triggering an off-the-cuff comment which sends the entire campaign into a tailspin. His wife and campaign manager try to contain the damage, but in a country where religion influences politics and politics have become a religion, how do you reach the people and stay true to yourself? It runs January 27-February 20, 2022.
Overlapping with Church & State is the regional premier of On the Exhale by Martin Zimmerman. When a senseless act of violence changes her life forever, a college professor finds herself inexplicably drawn to the very weapon used to perpetrate the crime — and to the irresistible feeling of power that comes from holding life and death in her hands. Peering down the barrel of a uniquely American crisis, this perspective-bending, one-woman tour de force intimately examines our collective grief over a national epidemic that we all want to end. It runs in the Swenson Theatre, February 3-20, 2022.
Mischief lurks in the sleepy village of Edmonton in Jen Silverman's Witch, as a slick young devil arrives in search of a few fresh souls. As the townsfolk reveal their deepest secrets and desires, bargains are struck, tables are turned, and an outcast woman living at the edge of the village proves to be much more than she seems. This regional premiere — it's a comedy! — runs in the Russell Theatre, March 17-April 10, 2022.
Another show postponed from last year is the regional premiere of Into the Breeches! by George Brant. It’s 1942, and there’s a problem at Oberon Playhouse — with the director and leading men all off at war, it looks like the season will be canceled. That is, until a determined and passionate group of ladies rally the troops at home and set out to put on an all-female production of Shakespeare’s Henry V. It runs in the Swenson Theatre from June 9-July 3, 2022.
Finally, Stephen Adly Guirgis' Pulitzer Prize-winning play Between Riverside and Crazy closes out the season in the Russell Theatre. Irrepressible ex-cop and recent widower Walter Washington is under a lot of pressure. He’s in an ongoing legal battle, clinging desperately to grievances from the past. Barely holding on to the palatial rent-controlled Manhattan apartment that he shares with his newly paroled son and a ragtag surrogate family who calls him “Pops,” he is not ready to accept payout or surrender. But as tensions come to a head in a swirl of demands from family and friends, a final ultimatum from former NYPD colleagues causes Pops to draw the line and make some demands of his own. It runs August 18-September 11, 2022.
Season tickets will go on sale June 28, and will include the Bargain Season Ticket (good on Thursdays only) at $154 each, the Standard Season Ticket at $231 each, the Premium Season Ticket (which includes several additional perks) at $351 each, and the Select 4 Season Ticket (where patrons choose four shows from the list) at $136 each.
To purchase tickets or get more information, go online or call Stage West at 817-784-9378.