Asolo and Sarasota Ballet Will Collaborate to Make Contact; Asolo Season Announced

News   Asolo and Sarasota Ballet Will Collaborate to Make Contact; Asolo Season Announced Asolo Repertory Theatre's 51st season in Sarasota, FL, will kick off with a new production of the dance musical Contact, a collaboration with Sarasota Ballet, Asolo's producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards announced March 9.

The season will also include the American premiere of The Perfume Shop (a new version of the play that inspired She Loves Me and "You've Got Mail"), James Still's Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve, Willy Holtzman's Hearts, the senior-citizen romantic comedy Managing Maxine, the regional hit musical Backwards In High Heels (already known for its popular run on Florida's east coast) and Jason Robert Brown's two-actor marriage and divorce musical, The Last Five Years.

Iain Webb, director of Sarasota Ballet, said in a statement, "Over the last seasons Sarasota has had the chance to see its own ballet company perform ballets by some of the top choreographers in history. At the same time Asolo Rep has received considerable acclaim for theatrical excellence and landmark professional collaborations. A collaboration of this level and profile between Asolo Rep and the Sarasota Ballet in itself is a strong statement, not only for our organizations and the community, but also for the rest of America. A Partnership of this kind not only strengthen the Arts, It reconfirms that Sarasota is the cultural center of Florida."

Contact, first produced by Lincoln Center Theater, offers three one-act dance musicals (with recorded music). It was created by director-choreographer Susan Stroman and writer John Weidman. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

The season will also include new works to be premiered during Asolo Rep's New Play Festival, the first of a planned annual series where the scripts will be explored, "and the audience will be invited into every step of the process from page to stage."

Additionally, Asolo Rep's New Stages project will return with a new title to be announced. Asolo Rep will present its 2009-2010 season on three stages: the Mertz and the Cook Theatres in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, and the historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum.

The Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training also announced its season — a series of four plays in two venues, the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts and the Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum.

For more information, call (941) 351-8000 or (800) 361-8388, or go to the website at www.asolo.org.

Here's the Asolo Repertory Theatre and FSU 2009-10 season at a glance:

MAINSTAGE
Productions in the Mertz Theatre

Contact, created by Susan Stroman and John Weidman, Oct. 24-Nov. 22. "Created by renowned director/choreographer Susan Stroman, Contact's three engaging stories depict the pursuit of life's most elemental connection with another human being: love. The sheer ingenuity of the choreography creates an evening that is as exhilarating as it is delightful." By Asolo Rep in partnership with the Sarasota Ballet.

The Perfume Shop, adapted by E.P. Dowdall, Dec. 4-April 1, 2010. "This bubbly and whimsical comedy is the perfect thing to warm your spirit. Taking place at Christmastime, the plot revolves around two bickering co-workers in a Budapest perfume shop, who unknowingly exchange love letters at night as anonymous pen pals. One of the world's most beloved stories, it's been adapted as "The Shop Around the Corner," "In the Good Old Summertime," "You've Got Mail" and the musical She Loves Me. Come see the American premiere of a new adaptation of Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, the brilliant original that inspired them all."

Repertory Title To Be Announced, Dec. 11-Feb. 23, 2010.

Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve by James Still, Dec. 18-Feb. 25. 2010. "The time: The Beginning. The place: The Garden of Eden. The stage is set for the best known 'battle of the sexes' in human history. In this captivating romantic romp, partly inspired by the comic writing of Mark Twain, the world's first lovers meet in paradise — and everything goes downhill from there. Join the humanity's most famous couple as they learn about themselves, each other, and most importantly, what it means to be human. Witty and tender, Searching for Eden is a modern testament to enduring love."

Hearts by Willy Holtzman, Jan. 22, 2010-April 11, 2010. "Playwright Willy Holtzman's frank and often bittersweet exploration of his father's experiences as a Jewish-American soldier in World War II. As adults, and supposedly 'hardened' war veterans, Donald Waldman and his friends get together to play cards and reminisce. But what happens to the memories that can't be shared? And what about the haunting ones that won't go away? As Donald struggles with issues of long-buried guilt and loss, he discovers that sometimes the only true way to move on is to fully embrace your past. A stirring tribute to the poignant legacy World War II left for the 'Greatest Generation' and their children."

Managing Maxine by Janece Shaffer, March 12, 2010-April 17, 2010. "All great love feels like young love. Whatever your age, the giddy discovery, the unexpected rush, the surprising insecurity, and the soaring euphoria leave you breathless and exhilarated. It's wonderful, it's terrible — and it's the last thing Maxine Levine expects to interrupt her well-ordered, happy life at 70. But in this honest and hilarious romantic comedy, Maxine discovers that the power of love can change everything, including the very way you embrace your future. Funny and touching in equal measure, Maxine will leave you eager to grow old with the richness that wisdom and experience lend to love."

Backwards In High Heels, conceived and developed by Lynnette Barkley & Christopher McGovern, book/original songs/arrangements by Christopher McGovern, May 7-30, 2010. "A celebration of the remarkable life and times of the multi-talented entertainment dynamo Ginger Rogers. The show takes an in-depth look at the public and private life of this timeless beauty, combining cherished standards from Berlin, Gershwin and Kern with new original songs, a compelling play, and stunning dance sequences. Funny, moving, and a visual feast, Backwards in High Heels is a complete and wonderfully satisfying night of theatre that will have both audiences and critics cheering."

OFF-MAIN

New Stages Project: Title To Be Announced, Oct. 21-Nov. 8. "New Stages is a bold educational initiative designed specifically for upper elementary and middle school audiences. By providing a superior theatrical experience, Asolo Rep challenges young minds and promotes opportunities to grow and learn. Modeled to enhance curricular goals, New Stages is a dynamic tool to help teachers and students integrate theatre into everyday learning. Asolo Rep is also pleased to offer selected public performances, giving families the chance to share the joys of theatre together. This year's New Stages selection is an inspirational production that will engage young audiences across Southwest Florida." In the Asolo Theater.

The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown, Jan. 21, 2010-Feb. 28, 2010. "The thrill of first love is universal. But most of us have also known heartbreak. The Last Five Years, an emotionally powerful and intimate musical from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, lets us feel both at once. Two New Yorkers in their twenties meet, marry, and grow apart over the course of five years. It's a familiar fable, but told in a new and exciting way: her story starts at the end of the relationship, his begins the day they first met. The score is rich with fresh, beautiful gems from one of today's hottest composers. Funny, uplifting, and full of poignant yearning, The Last Five Years proves that even when a love affair is over, its glow lingers on." In the Asolo Theater.

New Play Festival, March 24, 2010-April 18, 2010. "Join Asolo Rep for an exciting new festival celebrating the best in new American plays. Two scripts will be produced during the festival, and the audience will be invited into every step of the process — from attending open rehearsals, to special events with the playwrights, talkback sessions, and finally the performances themselves. Featuring Asolo Rep company members in both shows, and offering an unparalleled chance to engage with plays and playwrights at the very beginning of their journey, the first annual Asolo Rep New Play Festival is not an event to be missed." In the Cook Theatre.

THE FSU/ASOLO CONSERVATORY FOR ACTOR TRAINING 2009-2010 SEASON

The Mystery Plays by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, Oct. 27-Nov. 15. "Two tales of psychological terror and the unknown by the most intriguing young writer in America today. A young filmmaker barely escapes a deadly train accident and discovers how close we all reside to the afterlife. A brother and sister try to assemble the details of a horrible murder fifteen years after it took place. The boundaries of reality and illusion are constantly shifting in this exciting play opening just in time for Halloween."

Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall, Jan. 5-24, 2010. "This edgy new play explores the politics of mental illness with enormous power and scathing comedy. At a National Health Service Hospital in London, two psychiatrists lock horns over the diagnosis of a young black patient, and a dangerous game of power, ego and racial prejudice unfold. As brilliantly comic as it is provocative, this Olivier award-winning play for 2000 raises questions for which there are no answers and leads the audience on a complex and emotional journey."

Machinal by Sophie Treadwell, March 2-21, 2010. "A classic play from early 20th century America. An ordinary young woman is foolish enough to believe she can have it all: career, home, marriage, children, pleasure, and love. Her inevitable downfall and the play's shattering conclusion still has the power to fascinate and shock."

The Game of Love and Chance by Pierre Marivaux, April 14-May 3, 2010. "One of France's great classic playwrights, and the man who brought subtle psychological insight to classic comedy. Two headstrong children are betrothed to each other by their parents, in spite of the fact that they have never been introduced. Trying to exert their independence, the two children trade places with their servants in order to get a good look at their fiancés. In doing so, however, they only manage to confuse their families, their friends, and their own hearts." In the Asolo Theater.