Stages Repertory of Houston, TX, opens its 20th season with The Pitchfork Disney by British playwright Philip Ridley, for a run Oct. 9-Nov. 1.
Best known for the screenplay of the 1990 hit movie "The Krays," which he also directed, Ridley has written numerous novels for adults and for children as well as a few other plays. The Pitchfork Disney depicts eerily antisocial twins, 28-year-olds who subsist on chocolate and sleeping pills while sequestering themselves in their London flat. When they open their door to a larger-than-life cabaret performer and his grotesquely disfigured assistant, their fear of the outside world does, in fact, come to fruition. Bundy returns to the play that, under his direction, swept the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, D. C., a little while back.
Another type of funny business occurs Nov. 25, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999 with Funny Girl. With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and book by Isobel Lennart, Funny Girl made a star out of Barbra Streisand, who portrayed Fanny Brice's rise from "ugly" chorus girl to Ziegfeld Follies' headliner. "I'm the Greatest Star" is one of the show's standards. Stages' greatest star is yet to be revealed. Bundy directs.
Things get more serious Jan. 20-Feb. 14, 1999, as Mark Ramont helms Athol Fugard's recent Off-Broadway triumph Valley Song. In yet another examination of the shackles of apartheid, the award-winning playwright of, among others, Master Harold and the Boys and The Blood Knot examines, through an emboldened granddaughter and a fearful grandfather, South Africa after oppression has finally been lifted.
Another country, another horror is contemplated Mar. 3-28, 1999, in Kindertransport, which depicts a little-known rescue operation of Jewish children from Nazi Germany. Playwright Diane Samuels tells of the miracle amid the horrors from the point of view of a quintessential, middle-aged Englishwoman who has kept her origins from everyone, including her own daughter. Co-winner of the 1992 Verity Bargate Award and the winner of the 1993 Meyer Whitworth Ward, Kindertransport premiered at the Soho Theatre Company at the Cockpit in London and made its American debut at Manhattan Theatre Club in New York in 1994. One type of battle leads to another Apr. 9-May 2, 1999, in Russell Lees' Nixon's Nixon , the Off-Broadway smash that "eavesdrops" on Nixon and Kissinger the night before Tricky Dick resigns. The real trick here for Stages will be to see how well the chosen actors resemble the historic personages, if not physically, then surely metaphysically.
Politics may make strange bedfellows. But what about censors? Stages ends its season May 12-Jun. 6, 1999, with F. Hugh Herbert's then scandalous The Moon is Blue, a 1951 farce in which a virgin flaunts her purity. Deemed risque for using such words as "virgin," "pregnant," "mistress," and "seduce" in its dialogue, the 1953 film version, with William Holden, David Niven, and Maggie McNamara, and directed by Otto Preminger, was condemned by the Legion of Decency.
For reservations or more information on Stages Repertory's production of The Pitchfork Disney, call (713) 52-STAGE.
-- By Sean McGrath and Peter Szatmary