Tennessee Repertory Theatre
2011/2012 Season Announced!
Arthur Miller's All My Sons
October 1–15, 2011
Previews: Sept. 29–30
Tony Award-winner for Best Writer (Arthur Miller, 1947) and Best Revival (1987)
Winner of the Drama Critics' Award for Best New Play in 1947 and multiple Tony Award-winner, All My Sons established Arthur Miller as a leading voice in the American theatre. All My Sons introduced themes that thread through Miller's work as a whole: the relationships between fathers and sons and the conflict between business and personal ethics.
In this classic American drama, Joe Keller and Herbert Deever—partners in a machine shop during World War II—turned out defective airplane parts, causing the deaths of many men. Deever was sent to prison while Keller escaped punishment and went on to make a lot of money. In a work of tremendous power, a love affair between Keller's son and Deever’s daughter, the bitterness of George Keller who returns from the war to find his father in prison and his father's partner free, and the reaction of a son to his father's guilt escalate toward a climax of electrifying intensity.
This show has been on my dying-to-do list for a long time. The time seems right because the subject of this intense family drama is more relevant than ever, as we struggle harder than ever as a society to figure out what the parameters of personal responsibility are. We are split politically over ideas related to the goals of the individual vs. the good of the community: are we only beholden to our own interests, connected to no one but whoever is in our own back yard, or are we part of a larger web of responsibility? If we do something that is good for ourselves, but other people we don’t even know may suffer as a result, where does the moral compass fall? When heads of corporations place the highest priority on their personal bottom line, if employees are left without pensions or healthcare or even jobs, is that OK? After all, they’re just pursuing our American definition of success—make as much money as possible, and by the way, don’t be shy about it. This play, through the story of the Keller family, explores with gut-wrenching results questions of personal responsibility and integrity and the interconnectivity of all of us. I think this play will stir your heart and your thinking, and I look forward to the conversations it will ignite.
God of Carnage
by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
February 4–18, 2012
Previews: Feb. 2–3
2009 Tony Award-winner for Best Play
The other day in the neighborhood park, little Ferdinand whacked his playmate Bruno with a stick, breaking two teeth. So it is important that the parents of the boys set the right example and sit down to discuss the matter calmly and reasonably, right? After all, nothing will be gained by behaving like children…
Human nature, red in tooth and claw. Yasmina Reza—the writer who drew maximum laughs from Minimalist art in Art—uses her corrosive wit to strip away the thin veneer of civilization in this Tony Award-winning comedy of manners… without the manners.
This is the one play I knew we’d do the moment we could get rights for it—sharp dialogue and characters requiring exceptional acting that makes us really look at ourselves and our behaviors. Two sets of parents get together to calmly discuss the bad behavior of their young sons (one hit the other) and they soon descend into an immaturity that by contrast with what they SAY they are trying to be is perfect parody of self-important politically correct grown-ups. What are we REALLY like underneath, when on the outside we’re pretending to be adults in a civilized society? What happens if we are driven to drop the façade? What would happen if we all said what we really think, unfettered by the constraints of politeness? God of Carnage is an acting tour de force, and I am especially excited by a play that offers four meaty roles. The best part of my job is getting to work with terrific actors in amazing roles, so I look forward to sharing with you the acting talent that can drive this one home. Human nature needs to be poked with a sharp stick now and then—I Iove the way this play does that. Quite simply, this Tony winner is one of the most scathingly funny plays out there today, revealing and reveling in human nature, and one that Middle Tennessee deserves to see in its own backyard.
by Tony Award-winning playwright Tracy Letts
March 17–31, 2012
Previews: March 15–16
Welcome to Superior Donuts—a forlorn donut shop in a diverse, slowly gentrifying uptown Chicago neighborhood. Both sweet and substantive, Superior Donuts tells the story of how an unlikely friendship can emerge in the most unexpected places as a downtrodden donut shop owner hires a street-savvy, aspiring young writer with hustle and bright ideas. Filled with humor, humanity, and characters found in our everyday lives, Superior Donuts stirs up the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship while analyzing the American Dream… and what living in America can do to it.
"A witty, seductive, live-wire and greatly entertaining dark comedy that you just don’t want to end.” –Chicago Tribune
When circulating plays to consider for the season among the staff, there is always one that the staff falls in love with: Darwin in Malibu, Yankee Tavern, and this season, Superior Donuts is the one that won our hearts. These smallish, not-widely-known contemporary plays that we as theatre artists get so excited about also tend to be the contemporary plays that arouse a lot of curiosity and response from our patrons. Like Yankee Tavern, even if you’ve not heard of it before, Superior Donuts is being embraced by regional theatres across the country and appeared this year on the Top Ten most produced plays list published by Theatre Communications Group. And like Yankee Tavern, I predict this is the play you’ll enjoy so much you’ll be patting yourself on the back for trusting us on this one. Few contemporary playwrights manage to blend brilliant dialogue and compelling characters as well as Tracy Letts, who also wrote August: Osage County. This is a very different kind of play, for those of you who came to hear August at our last REPaloud, but like August, there is insightful, character-driven humor in unexpected ways. Besides its wit, the best part about Superior Donuts: it tells a great story about courage and friendship, and your heart will not go unaffected.
Little Shop of Horrors
music and lyrics by Alan Menken, book by Howard Ashman
April 28–May 19, 2012
Previews: April 26–27
Seymour Krelborn is a nerdy orphan working in a flower show with a huge crush on Audrey, a bleach-blond in spike heels. But there's one problem: Audrey has a boyfriend, a dentist in a black leather jacket with sadistic tendencies. So what's Seymour to do?
Enter Audrey II, an anthromorphic cross between a Venus flytrap and an avocado that Seymour finds. Audrey II offers help… but for a cost; the plant seems to have a craving for blood and soon begins to sing for its supper. Will Audrey II take over the world? Will Seymour and Audrey wind up together?
Little Shop of Horrors is one of the most beloved American musicals of all-time with instantly recognizable songs like “Suddenly Seymour,” “Somewhere That’s Green,” and “Skid Row (Downtown).”
I admit freely that Little Shop of Horrors is one of my guilty pleasures. There are very few musicals whose music I enjoy more—it’s fun and it’s witty and you really can’t resist singing along. I also have a soft spot in my heart for dark and twisted comedy. The plot of this story, if you don’t know it, is dark, twisted, and very funny. It is also very insidious—if you’re not careful, you’ll actually be prompted to serious thought, after you’re finished laughing. What are YOU willing to do to protect the one you love? What sacrifices are you willing to make to appear successful? What lengths will you go to to achieve your idea of a perfect life? How much do you hate your dentist? Comedy, romance, a talking plant, and great music… what’s not to love about this American cult classic? This is another show that the staff was uniformly very excited about—it’s exciting to think about the combination of the talented musical theatre actors here in Nashville with the delicious scenic and technical opportunities—you won’t want to miss what Gary Hoff will do in the Johnson Theatre for this, and you certainly won’t want to miss meeting Audrey II.
The holidays are a special time of the year, and let’s face it, during that time we want special holiday entertainment. Part of the joy of the season is about getting out, seeing something to put you in the mood, sharing experiences with families or friends or co-workers in the theatre that add to the celebration of the season. Another big part of the season is enjoying tradition, and considering how vital a certain holiday show has become to many of you, I admit I’m delighted that something we do has come to mean so much to you. So I decided to offer a small “buffet” of holiday choices, satisfying varying degrees of tradition. For those feeling a little naughty, we have David Sedaris’s sardonic take on the holidays The Santaland Diaries. For those feeling a little nice we are serving A Christmas Story. To complete the buffet, we have a limited engagement of David Alford’s Christmas Down Home, featuring his one-man version of Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory,” a piece which for a few years was an important, regular part of the Nashville holiday season. Artistically it is a satisfying combination since the three choices are wildly different in tone and content, each with its unique voice, internal integrity and ability to connect. And I literally get asked about these three holiday stories all year long, so it is nice to be able to serve them up in one very special holiday season.
Holiday Special 1: The Santaland Diaries
by David Sedaris
November 19 –December 3, 2011
Previews: Nov. 17–18
Featuring the Return of Matt Chiorini
He wears yellow velvet knickers, a forest green velvet smock, and a perky little hat decorated with spangles. This is his work uniform.
Yes, it’s Crumpet the Elf from The Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris’s sardonic look at his employment as an elf at Macy’s during the holiday season.
This hilarious one-man show has been one of Tennessee Rep’s most requested holiday productions. Out of work, our slacker decides to become a Macy’s elf during the seasonal crunch. At first the job is simply humiliating, but once the thousands of visitors start pouring through Santa’s workshop, he becomes battle weary and bitter. Taking consolation in the fact that some of the other elves were television extras on One Life to Live, he grins and bears it, occasionally taking out his frustrations on the children and parents alike.
“A delightfully thorny account of working as a Yuletide elf at Macy’s. Priceless observations, both outrageous and subtle. Destined to hold a place in the annals of American humor writing.” –New York Times
Holiday Special 2: A Christmas Story
adapted by Phillip Grecian from the motion picture by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, and Bob Clark
December 8 –22, 2011
Regions Day Dec. 7
Nashville's Newest Holiday Tradition! Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his unflappable campaign to get Santa (or anyone else) to give him a "legendary official Red Rider carbine-action 200 shot range-model air rifle." Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher, and even Santa Claus himself at Goldblatt's Department Store. The consistent response: "You'll shoot your eye out." This irresistible piece of Americana is guaranteed to warm the heart and tickle the funny bone.
"Thanks to Tennessee Repertory Theatre's wonderfully evocative production of the play, based on the iconic holiday movie, if I could possibly have another more satisfying theatre experience, I could scarcely dream it." –Jeffrey Ellis, broadway.com
Holiday Special 3: David Alford's Christmas Down Home
Featuring Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory”
December 11–12, 2011
David Alford returns to Tennessee Rep’s stage to share a warm-hearted evening of holiday song and story, with a very special centerpiece: Truman Capote's “A Christmas Memory” as told by David Alford with accompaniment by Paul Carrol Binkley.