The company run by managing director David Jobin and artistic director Tracy Brigden announced its 2003-04 season May 7, and the slate includes seven works — book ended by the world premieres of Michele Lowe's String of Pearls and Adam Rapp's Gompers — split between City Theatre's 272-seat mainstage and in its 100- seat Hamburg Studio Theatre.
String of Pearls by Michele Lowe (Oct. 9-Nov. 2), on the mainstage at the top of the season, is directed by Eric Simonson (Milwaukee Rep's Work Song and Moby Dick). The play is billed as a "gently comic, wonderfully magical puzzle, about a string of pearls that passes through the hands of a fascinating collection of women. Led by Helena Ruoti, a cast of four will play numerous characters who covet, steal, give, and lose this necklace, creating a dazzling thread of spellbinding stories."
Gompers by Adam Rapp (May 6-30, 2004), on the mainstage at the end of the season, was commissioned by City Theatre and will be directed by Tracy Brigden. Bingo O'Malley will be part of the large cast in this world premiere, about the depressed former milltown of Gompers. "When the prospect of riverboat gambling is announced, however, and a golden greyhound is born under a tree, the citizens of Gompers learn how elusive a true miracle can be," according to the season announcement. The American premiere of Rapp's play Blackbird was produced at City Theatre.
Lovely Day by Leslie Ayvazian (Oct. 30-Dec. 7), in the Hamburg Studio Theatre, is directed by Brigden. A cast of three is featured in the "drama about a family dealing with increasingly discordant political beliefs when the son is forced to register for the draft." Playwright Leslie Ayvazian will also star.
The musical Café Puttanesca (Nov. 20-Dec. 21), with book by Terrence J. Nolen and Michael Ogborn, music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn, plays the mainstage. Local favorite Jilline Ringle (of the cabaret shows Mondo Mangia and La Dolce Vita) is featured in the musical that's co-produced with Arden Theatre in Philly (where it plays prior to Pittsburgh). Nolen directs the new show by Baby Case and Barrymore Award-winning composer Ogborn. The show is set in 1946 Amsterdam at a gathering of prostitutes who have stories to tell — and pastiche songs to sing — at their favorite bar. 2.5 Minute Ride, written and performed by Lisa Kron, plays Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 2004, on the mainstage. It's the Pittsburgh premiere of Kron's monologue "alternating between her journey to Auschwitz with her Holocaust survivor father, her family's annual pilgrimage to Cedar Point, and her brother's marriage to his Internet bride." The one-woman show "illuminates how easily horror and humor can co-exist in the same moment," according to City Theatre. The work was seen at The Public Theater, and won a 1999 Obie Award.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Topdog/Underdog (March 4-April 4, 2004) by Suzan-Lori Parks plays the mainstage. Directed by Tracy Brigden, "a life-changing game of three card monte is at the heart of this darkly comic fable about race, brotherhood, and deception. Ray Anthony Thomas, last seen at City Theatre in A Raisin in the Sun, will co-star."
Lee Blessing's Chesapeake (April 22-May 30, 2004) plays the Hamburg Studio Theatre. "This thoughtful, funny and suspenseful piece pits a performance artist against the right-wing senator who stripped him of his NEA grant. The senator's Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Lucky, also features prominently in this off-kilter take on America's culture wars." Blessing's other plays include A Walk in the Woods, Thief River, Cobb and Eleemosynary, among others.
For complete information, call (412) 431-CITY or visit www.citytheatrecompany.org.