CT's Stamford Center Erects Empire, Musical About the Famed Building, in 2004-05

News   CT's Stamford Center Erects Empire, Musical About the Famed Building, in 2004-05 Stamford Center for the Arts in Connecticut will offer a mix of tours and in-house works — including a new play, a new musical, plus readings and workshop stagings — in its 2004-05 season.

In addition to tours of Oklahoma!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Playboy of the Western World and 42nd Street, SCA will stage the new musical, Empire, about the storied Empire State Building, beginning Sept. 17. A play by the late Jerry Sterner (Other People's Money) is also in negotiation for a workshop production.

Last season, Empire was seen as a work in progress and presented during the Monday Night Musical Series at SCA. The new musical has book, music and lyrics by Caroline Sherman and Bob Hull and is directed by Clayton Phillips.

"Empire concerns the men and women who bravely embodied the American spirit during the dark days of the Great Depression by building what was then the tallest structure in the world — The Empire State Building," according to the announcement. The building "became the symbol of what's best about America and pursuing dreams, with hope and an optimistic vision of the future."

The Stamford engagement of Empire plays through Sept. 26 at Rich Forum. Performances of Empire the following week, Oct. 1-3, will benefit The NOELLE Foundation.

Workshop productions of two new pieces will be seen in 2004-05. From last season's Monday Night Musicals concerts, Mothers and Sons, will be seen as part of the January 2005 Workshops in Rep initiative. Music and lyrics are by Kevin Connors; book is by Kevin Connors and Joe Landry. It's billed as "a contemporary musical about truth, compassion, acceptance and understanding," according to the SCA announcement. "On the surface, three mothers and their three sons seem to be living perfect lives in suburban Connecticut. An explosive event causes the mothers to question how well they really know their sons." Also in the Workshops in Rep series is the late Jerry Sterner's play Crossing the Double White Line (in negotiation), in which "a wife is offered an obscene amount of money to let her husband leave the family and roam the country in search of his youth. What will she say or do? Take the money and run, or hold onto what is most precious..."

Programming for the SCA is packaged into distinct subscriptions known as the Broadway Series and the Theatre Series, with performances held at the 1,580-seat Palace Theatre and/or nearby Rich Forum, which has two spaces — a 757-seat proscenium and a small black box theatre.

Both series kick off at Rich Forum on Sept. 17-26 with Empire and both series end with The Fantasticks (directed by SCA artistic director George Moredock III) June 14-26, 2005. All other productions in each series are different.

Also on the SCA Broadway Series season are 42nd Street (Oct. 29-31 at the Palace Theatre); Oklahoma! (Nov. 26-28 at the Palace Theatre); Jesus Christ Superstar (March 4-6, 2005, at the Palace Theatre).

The so-called Theatre Series at SCA includes The Dublin, Ireland-based Abbey Theatre's production of The Playboy of the Western World (Oct. 19-24 at Rich Forum); Workshops in Rep, described as the step between a reading and a full production, featuring the musical Mothers and Sons and Jerry Sterner's Crossing the Double White Line, performed in repertory Jan. 18-30, 2005 at Rich Forum; Expectations, a new play about the hopes and dreams of three women, by Susan Barsky, directed by George E. Moredock III (February-March 2005); Sixth Annual Fringe Festival of New Plays (April 5-May 1, 2005), which allows actors, directors, playwrights and the audience to participate in the birth of new plays, performed as staged readings by a resident repertory company of professional actors; Michele Lowe's dark comedy about marriage and a meat locker, The Smell of the Kill, a production from Florida's Asolo Theatre (May 17-22, 2005, at Rich Forum).

Subscriptions to Stamford Center for the Arts' Broadway Series and the Theatre Series are currently on sale. Complete details are available by calling the box office at (203) 325-4466 or on SCA's website at www.onlyatsca.com.

The Palace Theatre is at 61 Atlantic Street, and Rich Forum is at 307 Atlantic Street.

Douglas C. Evans is executive director of Stamford Center for the Arts and George E. Moredock III is artistic director.