TheatreVirginia's new artistic director, Benny Sato Ambush, joins the Richmond, VA, Equity company July 23, inheriting a season chosen by outgoing director George Black.
A spokesman for the LORT troupe that operates out of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts said that the second half of the 2001-2002 season may have some programming changes based on Ambush's wishes. The company opens its 47th season with a revival of Loften Mitchell's Bubbling Brown Sugar, a revue of Harlem song favorites of the 1920s, directed by George Faison, Oct. 10-Nov. 3.
The season continues with a return staging of A Wonderful Life, the Sheldon Harnick-Joe Raposo musical version of "It's a Wonderful Life" that was a previous TheatreVirginia hit, Nov. 28-Dec. 22; Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Wit, Jan. 9-Feb. 2, 2002; Charles Ludlam's two-actor gothic horror comedy, The Mystery of Irma Vep, Feb. 20-March 16, 2002; the Richmond premiere of Rebecca Gilman's provocative race play, Spinning Into Butter April 3-27, 2002; and the local premiere of the smash Off-Broadway revue, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, May 15-June 8, 2002.
Ambush joins the company as it looks to relocate in the next five years to a converted department store in abandoned downtown Richmond. The city of Richmond and a group called Richmond Renaissance are creating a plan that will relocate performing arts organizations, retailers and residences in one district.
Ambush was most recently director of the Institute for Teledramatic Arts and Technology at California State University (Monterey Bay), which offers an "integrated, multidisciplinary study of theatre production, filmmaking, video/television production and multimedia production." He is a past associate artistic director of San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre (1990-95). He was a director in residence at Florida Stage, producing director of Oakland Ensemble Theatre, co-artistic director of San Francisco Bay Playwrights Festival and acting artistic director at Rites and Reason Theatre in Providence, RI. He has more than 30 regional directing credits under his belt. His work has been seen at ACT, Florida Stage, Arizona Theater Company, Old Globe Theatre, Ford's Theater, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Geva Theatre. For information about TheatreVirginia, call (804) 353-6161 or visit www.theatreva.com.
— By Kenneth Jones