Owing to cost, labor and subscribership, it's unusual to find a regional theatre that will mount as many as ten plays in a season. Well, always up for a challenge, Denver Center Theatre Company will offer ten plays in one production -- and that's just the beginning of their 2000-2001 season, announced March 8.
Tantalus: An Epic Myth for a New Millennium, arriving Sept. 15-Dec. 17, is a ten-play cycle centering on the Trojan War. Presented in association with London's Royal Shakespeare Company, Tantalus will have three directors: Peter Hall, Mick Gordon and Edward Hall marshalling a cast of 22, with productions divided between the Stage and Space Theatres.
Penned by John Barton, the ten original plays of Tantalus tell of Helen of Troy, Odysseus, Achilles and that gift horse in the mouth of which the Greeks shouldn't have looked. Segments will be shown over three consecutive weekday evenings or compacted over the weekend, with a Grand Ballroom meal added into the overall experience. According to a company press release, the cast will feature four members of the RSC, four Denver Center company members, and 14 actors chosen from auditions.
From ancient times, Denver Center will then move to the Roaring 20s for a revival of George Kelly's The Show-Off, directed by Nagle Jackson. Jamie Horton stars as Aubrey Piper, a fast-talking deal-maker who woos young Amy despite her mother's no-nonsense work ethic, which is totally at odds with Aubrey's lifestyle.
Author Kelly's nine other Broadway plays include the Pulitzer-prize winning Craig's Wife. A vaudeville performer, Kelly based The Show-Off on a sketch he wrote called "Poor Aubrey." Running Oct. 18-Dec. 16 on the Ricketson stage, The Show-Off also stars Kathleen M. Brady as implacable Mrs. Fisher, Robert Westenberg (Into the Woods), Mark Rubald, Bill Christ and Robin Moseley.
Come the new year, Randal Myler will direct the world premiere of 1933, a comedy-drama based on John Fante's novel, "1933 Was a Bad Year." Myler and Brockman Seawell are adapting the piece, about the son of Italian immigrants who balks at joining his dad's bricklaying business and instead hopes to pitch major-league baseball. Developed in the U.S. West TheatreFest, 1933 plays at the Ricketson Theatre space Jan. 10 March 3, 2000.
David Hare's socially-conscious drama, Amy's View, arrives Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2001, with Gordana Rashovich starring as the title character's mother, a headstrong actress who makes irreproachable career moves -- and a really stupid financial investment. Esme also alienates her daughter by picking on her plucky, movie-maker boyfriend. John Hutton costars as an older gentleman destined to worship Esme but never possess her.
Other works by Hare include Via Dolorosa, The Judas Kiss and The Blue Room, which, with Amy's View, all ran on Broadway within a twelve-month period.
Things lighten up Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2001, when William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing hits the stage of The Stage. Nagle Jackson directs this romantic battle of the sexes between Beatrice and Benedict (Robin Moseley and Jamie Horton), with Robert Westenberg playing Don Pedro, Tony Church as Leonato, Richard Risso as Dogberry and Bill Christ as Don John, whose lustful avarice nearly turns the frothy comedy into a dark tragedy.
And speaking of greedy twerps, Lillian Hellman's cynical nailbiter, The Little Foxes, is full of them. Each member of the Hubbard family fights over power and money until the indirect murder of the family patriarch leaves one standing just a little higher than the others. Starring in the Denver mounting are Bill Christ, John Hutton and Gordana Rashovich (as Regina, a role recently played on Broadway by Stockard Channing). The Little Foxes, directed by Bruce Sevy, takes The Stage Theatre March 22-April 21, 2001.
March 28, May 19, 2001 brings another world premiere: Inna Beginning, conceived by Gary Leon Hill, Jamie Horton and Lee Stametz. Hill penned the book and Stametz the music for this satirical and spiritual look at our automated age, that almost sounds like an updating of Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine. This description from the press release: "The atomic clock measures time. It is accurate to the nanosecond. But the measurement of time is arbitrary. Dodge is not arbitrary. His corporate world runs like, well, a clock -- until he discovers that his body cannot keep pace." Ultimately, Dodge discovers that there's a spiritual dimension to humanity that can't be measured by time and machines. Developed in the 1999 US West Theatrefest, Inna Beginning will be directed by Jamie Horton on the Ricketson stage.
Certainly, the machines that came to fruition in Inna Beginning were presaged in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, a look at Russia just before the industrial revolution changed the whole fabric of the country's class structure. In Vanya, the title character and his niece endure the arrival of various friends and relations, only to pine for the wrong partners and watch years of scrimping and organization go for naught. Jamie Horton plays Vanya in Anthony Powell's staging (May 10-June 16), with Tony Church and Gordana Rashovich playing the old doctor and his still vibrant, new wife.
Closing the Denver season will be one more world premiere: Pork Pie: An Original Jazz Play, written by Michael Genet and directed by Israel Hicks. Set in seemingly-peaceful 1955 South Carolina, Pork Pie imagines an epic battle between good and evil, with live jazz propelling the action. Pork Pie is served up May 17-June 16, 2001 on the Stage Theatre.
For ticket and subscription information on Denver Center's 22nd season call (800) 641-1222 or check out their website: http://www.denvercenter.org.
-- By David Lefkowitz