Playwright Steven Dietz channels Henrik Ibsen in the world premiere play, Paragon Springs, an American resetting of Ibsen's famed social drama, An Enemy of the People, opening April 14 at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.
Dietz, who has found a wide canvas for his new works at The Rep, draws on Ibsen to tell the story of Dr. Thomas Stockman, who discovers that the "healing waters" luring tourists into his Wisconsin town, in 1926, are infested with bacteria. Fearing economic collapse, the townspeople ignore his warnings and brand him "an enemy of the people."
Dietz is author of Private Eyes, Rocket Man, Force of Nature, a Dracula adaptation and Silence, all produced at The Rep. Paragon Springs is a Rep commission. An Enemy of the People first appeared in 1893, in Norway. The U.S. premiere was 1924.
Other plays by Dietz include Lonely Planet, God's Country, Ten November, Foolin' Around With Infinity, Painting It Red and More Fun Than Bowling.
Previews for Paragon Springs, directed by Rep artistic director Joseph Hanreddy, began April 12. Performances continue to May 14 in the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. The cast includes Laurie Birmingham, Jonathan Gillard Daly, Lee E. Ernst, Ron Frazier, Torrey Hanson, Jim Pickering, Rose Pickering, Kirsten Potter, Deborah Staples and Brian Vaughn.
Designers are Kent Dorsey (scenic and lighting), Helen Q. Huang (costumes), Lindsay Jones (sound). Ed Burgess is the choreographer.
Tickets are $5-$36. The Rep is at 108 E. Wells St. in downtown Milwaukee. Call (414) 224-9490 for information, or try the web site at www.milwaukeerep.com.
The Rep's three houses -- the Stiemke, the Stackner Cabaret and the Powerhouse -- are under the roof of the Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex. The Rep uses a core company of 13 actors for productions throughout the season, augmenting casts with other talent when necessary.
-- By Kenneth Jones