The new season at Evanston, IL' Next Theatre will, indeed, have a number of new elements, starting with artistic director Kate Buckley, who replaced four-year AD Steve Pickering in early May. Also new is the addition of air-conditioning to the company's Noyes Center theatre.
Most importantly, two world premieres will be part of Next's five-play season, including an adaptation of an H.G. Wells story and a piece about 19th Century France.
Starting things off is Pickering and Charley Sherman's adaptation of Scientific Romances, to be directed by the former artistic director (Sept. 11-Oct. 10, opening Sept. 14). Romances adapts both "The Invisible Man" and "The War of the Worlds." The show's title refers to a term used to describe sci-fi before there was the term sci-fi.
Michael Grant plays the Invisible Man, alongside co-stars Derek Hasenstab, Genna Brocone, Kipleigh Brown, Amanda Clower, Michael Hagedorn, Raymond Kester, Michele Mesmer, David Silvis and Luke Wilkins. Birgitta Victorson choreographs; Peter Rybolt serves as fight choreographer.
My Three Angels, a comedy by Sam & Bella Spewack, tells of three crooks on work-release in French Guyana, hoping to spread some Christmas cheer. Sarah Tucker directs (Nov. 13-Dec. 12, opening Nov. 17). Richard Nelsons drama of Czech emigrees in America, Between East and West, arrives Jan. 15-Feb. 13, 1999 (opening Jan. 18, 1999). Doug Finlayson directs a cast that includes real-life married couple Peter Rybolt and Peggy Dunne. Nelson's other plays include Some Americans Abroad and Principia Scriptoriae.
Developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in 1996, Kira Obolensky's The Adventures of Herculina will world premiere at Next Mar. 16, 1999 (running Mar. 12-Apr. 10, 1999). Sarah Tucker stages this work, based on the erotic diary of a 19th Century French teenager.
Ending the season, May 7-June 5, 1999 (opening May 10, 1999) will be artistic director Buckley's staging of Eric Bentley's political drama, Are You Now or Have You Ever Been. The drama looks at Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist witch-hunt via his House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1940s-50s. Bruce A. Young will play outspoken entertainer Paul Robeson in the fact-based drama.
A founding member of Shakespeare Rep, Buckley has a Next resume that include Henry V (co-staged with Pickering) and a Jeff-nominated Macbeth.
While paying off two-thirds of the theatre's debt, Pickering staged 11 world premieres during his four-year tenure. His play choices included Son of Celluloid, The Ice-Fishing Play, The History of the Devil and the recent Burning Chrome.
For subscriptions ($50-$90) and information on shows at Nex Theatre, 927 Noyes St., Evanston call (847) 475-1875.
-- By David Lefkowitz