The White Barn Theatre, an East Coast institution for 55 years, has four world premieres and one American premiere lined up for its summer 2002 season, to begin July 12 with Joshua Pearl's Courting the Muse, a cabaret musical starring Lillias White.
The professional Equity company has remarkably short runs (one weekend each) considering the shows are fully staged and designed. This is the 55th season for the Westport, CT, company. Events play every weekend July 7-Aug. 18.
The theatre was founded in 1947 by the late Off-Broadway producing legend Lucille Lortel, a champion of new voices, experimental works and American premieres of foreign works. She served as artistic director until her death in 1999.
An exhibit and stage presentation called Design Magic on the White Barn Stage will be seen 6 PM July 6, marking the opening of the White Barn Theatre Museum. The event includes stage designer and author Leo B. Meyer and historian and author Dr. Mary C. Henderson. Admission is free of charge.
Pearl's Courting the Muse, July 12-14, is billed as a cabaret musical starring Lillias White (a Tony Award-winner for The Life) and Mark Pinter ("All My Children"). It concerns "a talented composer who is totally blocked until he encounters the diva of his dreams." The American premiere of Miracle follows July 19-21. The work by acclaimed South African playwright Reza de Wet is "about a lovable troupe of actors down on their luck. What kind of miracle can save them?"
A Weekend of Dance plays July 26-28, supervised by two-time Tony Award-winner Donald Saddler. It features dance pieces Get Out of the House by Sarah Skaggs Company, Cotton Club Rhapsody by Mercedes Ellington & Company, and Robocop by Kenichi Ebina of Bridgeport. On Sunday, July 28, a 3 PM seminar with dance luminaries, including Frederic Franklin of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, is scheduled.
The world premiere of The Astronaut by Arlette Ricci plays Aug. 2-4, directed by Michael Arabian. It tells of Dimitri, "who had it all until he gave it up for the ultimate trip to the unknown." Playwright Ricci is the granddaughter of Nina Ricci, founder of Parfums Nina Ricci, Paris.
The world premiere of Come a Little Closer, with music and lyrics by John Wallowitch and book/direction by Kimothy Cruse, is set for Aug. 9-11. The cabaret musical "is about life, love, laughter and song for two couples...and a best friend."
Patrick Page's Swansong gets its world premiere, directed by Burry Fredrik, Aug. 16-18. It is "a tale of Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare — life-long rivals and the best of friends." Actor Sam Tsoutsouvas, who made two appearances on the White Barn stage last season in The Colossus of Rhodes and Sad Hotel, plays the role of Jonson. This is the first play by Page, an actor currently touring in The Lion King and who appeared in Arms and the Man at Long Wharf Theatre last season.
Performances are 8 PM Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 4 PM Saturdays. Full subscriptions for the six-play series range from $150-$180. Single tickets range from $30 to $35. Student Rush tickets are $10 with I.D., one-half hour before curtain.
Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre is located on Newtown Ave., Westport. For information, directions, and tickets, visit whitebarntheatre.org or call (203) 227-3768.