Arizona Theatre Company creates the most thrilling professional theatre in the Southwest in 2010-2011, with electric moments of pure beauty, magic and deeply felt emotion in a mix of comedy, drama, classics and musicals. The new season opens with the Southwest premiere of the musical BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS, about the journey of Hollywood goddess Ginger Rogers; followed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright August Wilson's Ma Rainey'S BLACK BOTTOM, directed by Lou Bellamy and starring renowned recording artist Jevetta Steele as Ma Rainey. ATC's new season follows with the Arizona premiere of Woody Guthrie'S AMERICAN SONG, directed by ATC favorite Randal Myler, followed by the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher's TEN CHIMNEYS set at the legendary summer estate of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Neil Simon's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play LOST IN YONKERS continues ATC's AMERICA PLAYS! Celebrating Great American Stories initiative for a fourth season; and a twelfth anniversary revival of audience favorite, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, with the original ATC cast and designs. The 2010-2011 season also includes a limited engagement presentation of The Acting Company and Guthrie Theater's production of ROMEO AND JULIET.
The season opens with the new musical BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS, conceived and developed by Lynnette Barkley and Christopher McGovern with book/original songs/arrangements by Christopher McGovern and featuring the music of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Jerome Kern.Ginger Rogers danced her way into our hearts in the arms of Fred Astaire, setting the gold standard for grace and elegance on the silver screen. In her surprising true-life story, we follow her from the vaudeville stage at the age of 15 to the Golden Age of the musical and her ascension to Hollywood goddess. Accompanied by the music of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern combined with new songs, Backwards in High Heels is the story of Virginia McMath, a small-town girl from Texas who dazzled the whole wide world as Ginger Rogers, playing everything from 'the girl next door' to the modern woman with a mind of her own. It's a candy box of show-stopping dance numbers, great songs and some surprising revelations about the movie legend. Backwards in High Heels will be directed and choreographed by Broadway veterans Scott Schwartz and Patti Columbo. It runs from September 10, 2010 through October 2, 2010 in Tucson and October 7, 2010 through October 24, 2010 in Phoenix. It is a co-production with the Asolo Theatre, The Cleveland Playhouse and San Jose Repertory Theatre.
The season continues with Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright August Wilson's Ma Rainey'S BLACK BOTTOM. "You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life." It's 1927 and Ma Rainey, the Mother of the Blues, is getting ready to record the jazz songs that she sings like no one else. As she strides into the recording studio, she squares off against a battling quartet of musicians, a tight-fisted producer and her manager who's just trying to keep the recording session on track. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom gives us a gripping look at a time when even the most legendary singer of her day had to fight for every scrap of respect she could get. Starring renowned recording artist Jevetta Steele as Ma Rainey and directed by Lou Bellamy (Jitney and A Raisin in the Sunat ATC), it is co-produced with Penumbra Theatre at the Guthrie Theater. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom runs from October 16, 2010 through November 6, 2010 in Tucson and November 11, 2010 through November 28, 2010 in Phoenix. Contains mature themes and language.
ATC produces an Arizona premiere when we journey with America's greatest folksinger in a musical voyage conceived and adapted by Peter Glazer, Woody Guthrie'S AMERICAN SONG. Bound for Glory, Nine Hundred Miles, Lonesome Valley, This Land Is Your Land. We all know them and we've all sung them - songs about the open road, fighting for one's rights, and the beauty of nature. Now meet the man that brought them all to life. As he looked for work and his next meal, Woody sang the stories of a whole nation determined to survive the Great Depression. Pull up a chair and join with us in discovering and celebrating the great American who gave our country its voice. Woody Guthrie's American Songwill be directed by Randal Myler, who previously brought Arizona Theatre Company audiences to rousing standing ovations with Hank Williams: Lost Highway, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, Touch the Namesand Love, Janis. Woody Guthrie's American Song runs from November 27, 2010 through December 18, 2010 in Tucson and December 30, 2010 through January 16, 2011 in Phoenix.
The season continues with the world premiere of Jeffrey Hatcher's TEN CHIMNEYS, a new play commissioned by Arizona Theatre Company. "Not many people know what it's like to be an artist, an actress. "I'm a sea gull! I'm a sea gull!" How do you say, "I'm a seagull, I'm a seagull," and not have the audience laugh at you?"Love, intrigue, romance and suicide. And that's just in the play they're rehearsing. In the late 1930s, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the two most revered stars of the Broadway stage, decide to perform Chekhov's masterpiece The Sea Gull. But first they must retreat to 'investigate' the play at Ten Chimneys, their legendary Wisconsin estate, where they are surrounded by actors, family and hangers-on. When a young actress named Uta Hagen arrives, a romantic triangle begins to mirror the events in Chekhov's play about passion and art. The result is a sweet, sad, funny and revealing look at the private lives of artists who are always on the stage. Ten Chimneys is a world premiere by Jeffrey Hatcher, author of ATC's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Ellaand Tuesdays with Morrie. Ten Chimneys runs from January 22, 2011 through February 12, 2011 in Tucson and February 17, 2011 through March 6, 2011 in Phoenix.
The fourth installment of ATC's AMERICA PLAYS! Celebrating Great American Storiesinitiative is Neil Simon's LOST IN YONKERS. "There's nothing like family, boys! The one place in the world you're safe, is with your family ... right?"Meet the Kurnitz family. Grandma is the matriarch with a will of iron and a hardwood cane who spared no rod in raising her four children. When her two teenage grandsons are forced by circumstances to live with her for a year, the clash of generations and battle of wills leads the whole family to learn important lessons about duty, devotion, trust and love. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for Best Play, and as comical as it is poignant, Lost in Yonkersis the masterwork of Neil Simon's career and is certain to leave you spellbound with laughter and tears. Past AMERICA PLAYS! productions include The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun and To Kill a Mockingbird. This unique initiative is designed to engage audiences both through the onstage performance and community activities designed to enhance the understanding of this classic play. Directed by Arizona Theatre Company Associate Artistic Director Samantha K. Wyer, Lost in Yonkers runs from February 26, 2011 through March 19, 2011 in Tucson and March 24, 2011 through April 10, 2011 in Phoenix.
ATC brings back a comedic classic with the reprise of Charles Ludlam's THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP. "It's hard to convince people of the supernatural. Most people have enough trouble believing in the natural." Audiences laughed until they couldn't breathe when we produced this virtuoso quick-change horror story a dozen years ago. You asked for it - so we're bringing it all back to endanger your funny bone again! Two lightning-fast actors portray all the residents of the Mandacrest estate--as well as a host of vampires, werewolves, mummys and things that go bump in the night--who travel from the moors of England to the tombs of Egypt and back again. With Gothic plot turns thrown out like thumbtacks in the road, along with a stage full of outrageous sets and costumes, Irma Vep will keep you in stitches right up until the final twist. Featuring the same two comic geniuses in the cast, Bob Sorenson and R. Hamilton Wright, and directed once again by Arizona Theatre Company Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein, The Mystery of Irma Vep runs from April 9, 2011 through April 30, 2011 in Tucson and May 5, 2011 through May 22, 2011 in Phoenix.
As an addition to Arizona Theatre Company's 2010-2011 season, audiences have the opportunity to enjoy the limited engagement presentation of The Acting Company and Guthrie Theater's production of William Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET. This is a chance to see 'the greatest love story ever told' performed by two of America's premier classical theatre companies. Shakespeare's brilliance was never brighter and more piercing than in this tale of young lovers who triumph over, and then fall victim to, two families at war. This masterpiece lives anew for every generation and paints a vivid picture of the moment when the intoxication of youthful passion soars highest. In poetic language unmatched by any writer, the story of two star-crossed lovers has never been so gripping, or so dangerous, as in this stirring new production. The New York Times called the production "Exhilarating" and "Impressive." Romeo and Juliet runs in each city for one week only, in Phoenix from November 4, 2010 through November 7, 2010 and in Tucson from November 11, 2010 through November 14, 2010.
For more information about Arizona Theatre Company and the 2010-2011 season, call the ATC box office in Tucson or Phoenix. All Tucson performances take place at the Temple of Music and Art in downtown Tucson (330 S. Scott Avenue); call (520) 622-2823. All Phoenix performances take place at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix (222 E. Monroe Street); call (602) 256-6995. Or, visit www.arizonatheatre.org.