Baltimore's Center Stage's new season gets underway on Sept. 25 when performances begin of the Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt. Tim Vasen directs this popular Giles Havergal stage version of Greene's novel about stuffy, retired Henry Pulling and his adventures with his Aunt Augusta. Havergal has said the story "is really about the age-old problem of trying to find a balance between freedom and discipline, license and control. Should you allow people freedom to do whatever they want or control them to a degree?... Henry Pulling's eyes are opened to a completely different world than he has ever experienced."
Though the novel offers over two dozen eccentric characters, Travels With My Aunt the play has only four actors playing all of them -- including the female roles. Laurence O'Dwyer, Ken Cheeseman, Craig Mathers, Terry Alexander star.
The production takes place in the Pearlstone Theatre and officially opens Sept. 30 for a run Oct. 25.
Next at the Pearlstone is As You Like It (Nov. 12-Dec. 20; opening Nov. 18), William Shakespeare's comedy, directed by artistic director Irene Lewis. This woodland romp tells of cousins who escape a corrupt kingdom and find romance -- albeit cross-dressed -- in the forest.
Jitney (Jan. 8-Feb. 14; opening Jan. 13)--August Wilson's recently revised, early drama, about the eccentric and sometimes desperate denizens of a Pittsburgh gypsy cab stand--follows. Marion McClinton directs this co-production with Boston's Huntington Theatre Company. It's expected that Wilson will do further work on the piece in conjunction with this production. The Pearlstone season end's with Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession (Mar. 26-May 2; opening Apr. 1). Lewis returns to the helm to pilot the Shavian tale of prostitution and social hypocrisy.
Meanwhile, in the smaller Head Theater, things get rolling with Heather MacDonald's An Almost Holy Picture (Jan. 29-Feb. 18; opening Feb. 3). In the play, Samuel's daughter Ariel is born with a rare disorder. He is convinced it God's punishment for his wrongs, though his local bishop convinces him that "grace enters thorough a wound." No director has been named. Gum (Mar. 7-28; opening Mar. 12), by Karen Hartman, comes next. The drama, which contains explicit language and sexual content, traces the sisters Lina and Rahmi as they face the The former, a world premiere by Karen Hartman, is about two religious, adolescent sisters facing the rite of circumcision. The latter, by Heather MacDonald, tells of a man whose baby girl is born with a rare disorder. Will he regain his faith in God and in himself?
The Center Stage season will conclude with either Dianne McIntyre's musical (with songs by Kysia Bostic), I Could Stop On a Dime and Get Ten Cents Change or Lynn Nottage's Crumbs From The Table of Joy. The former tells of McIntyre's father and his life in 1920s-30s Cleveland. The latter looks at Harlem in the 1950s.
For subscriptions ($66-$214), tickets and information on the Center Stage season, please call (410) 332-0033.
With 13,600 subscribers in tow (up a full thousand from last year), Baltimore's Center Stage attracts more than 110,000 patrons over the course of a season.
-- By David Lefkowitz