In Circus-Friendly Sarasota, Barnum to Launch Asolo's 50th Season; World Premiere Also Planned

News   In Circus-Friendly Sarasota, Barnum to Launch Asolo's 50th Season; World Premiere Also Planned Asolo Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season in Sarasota, FL, will open with Cy Coleman, Mark Bramble and Michael Stewart's musical, Barnum, and include the premiere of the Jason Wells thriller, Perfect Mendacity, in spring 2009.

In between, expect plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw, Jeff Baron, Jeffrey Hatcher and more. The season's slate was announced March 10 by producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards, who directed the hot Asolo production of A Tale of Two Cities, the musical, last fall.

The Asolo's upcoming season will be on three stages — the 500-seat Mertz and the 161-seat Cook Theatres in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, and the 260-seat Historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum (the troupe's first home). Asolo is a rare true repertory theatre, offering performances in rotating rep.

Steeped in circus history, Sarasota is the famous winter home of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, and site of the Ringling Museum, so Barnum — inspired by the life of showman and circus partner P.T. Barnum — seems a natural for the resident Equity troupe. Gordon Greenberg will direct. It will play the Mertz Theatre Nov. 15-Dec. 20.

Wells' Men of Tortuga had its world premiere at Asolo Rep. His new play is about "spies, lies and polygraphs." In Perfect Mendacity, May 15-June 14, 2009, in the Cook Theatre, "Walter works in the world of secrets. His personal and professional lives collide when his past comes back to haunt him. This politically charged thrill ride will leave you on the edge of your seat to the last second."

Asolo Rep's 2008-09 season also includes:

  • This Wonderful Life, a one-man stage adaptation of "It's a Wonderful Life," by Steve Murray, conceived by Mark Setlock, in the Historic Asolo Theater, Dec. 5-28.
  • The Imaginary Invalid, the comedy by Moliere, adapted by Constance Congdon, in the Mertz Theatre, Jan. 2-March 1, 2009.
  • A play to be announced, Jan. 9-April 16, 2009.
  • The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare's late-career romance of a royal family (and friendships) torn apart by irrational jealousy, in the Mertz Theatre, Jan. 23-May 16, 2009.
  • Visiting Mr. Green, Jeff Baron's warm comedy about two very different men forced to interact and find common ground, in the Historic Asolo Theater, Jan. 30-Feb. 21, 2009. Longtime Asolo artistic director Howard Millman, now retired, will return to direct. David Howard will star.
  • Murderers, Jeffrey Hatcher's comedy about unlikely criminals in a Florida retirement community, in the Mertz Theatre, March 13-May 23, 2009.
  • The Devil's Disciple, George Bernard Shaw's American Revolution-set play, in the Mertz Theatre, March 20-May 24, 2009.
  • Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, the play with music by Stephen Temperley, about the rich, untalented singer, in the Mertz Theatre, June 5-28, 2009. Also planned for the coming season is the play for young audiences, The Giver by Eric Coble, based on the Newbery Award-winning children's book by Lois Lowry, Oct. 21-Nov. 8, in the Historic Asolo Theater.

    For more information visit www.asolo.org.

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    Coinciding with the Asolo announcement is the 2008-09 season announcement by FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. The graduate theatre program, directed by Greg Leaming, the associate artistic director for Asolo Repertory Theatre, will offer a series of four plays November 2008 to May 2009 in two venues — he Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts and the Historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum.

    On the slate:

  • Wilder! Wilder! Wilder!, five one-act plays by Thornton Wilder, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright "who transformed the American theatre by combining compassion and enormous heart with a brilliant sense of theatricality," in the Cook, Nov. 4-23.
  • Blur, Melanie Marnich's quirky comedy about a teen with an eye disease, in the Cook, Jan. 6-25, 2009.
  • Miss Julie, August Strindberg's classic about an young woman who "reaches outside of her class to dance and flirt with the footman in her father's household," in the Cook, March 3-22, 2009.
  • Three Postcards, the musical play about three old friends meeting in a Greenwich Village restaurant, by Craig Lucas with music and lyrics by Craig Carnelia, in the Asolo Theater, April 14-May 3, 2009.
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