The Guthrie Theatre company, announcing what it calls a “season of firsts,” has released its 2001-02 schedule of plays. Altogether, eight contemporary plays and a holiday classic comprise the coming Guthrie season. In a prepared statement artistic director Dowling said, “The mainstage season will bring together the works of contemporary dramatists from England and Ireland together with classics from Shakespeare and Molière, as well as a masterpiece from one of America's greatest playwrights.”
Peter Shaffer's Amadeus opens the season on July 27. Dowling directs Shaffer’s story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. Told from Salieri's perspective, the series of flashbacks portrays Salieri near the end of his life as he “fears that God has abandoned him due to his angry attempts to destroy his competitor.” Charles Janasz stars as Salieri and T.R. Knight (Guthrie’s production of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! ) stars as Mozart.
Long Wharf artistic director Doug Hughes travels to the Guthrie to helm noted Irish author Hugh Leonard's Da, beginning Sept. 28. Hughes directed She Stoops to Conquer at the Guthrie in 1996. The Tony Award-winning best play of 1978, Da is being co-produced by Guthrie and Long Wharf. Production notes describe Da as “a delightful and humorous exploration of the contradictory and seemingly impassable rift that separates a man from his father.”
Guthrie will stage William Shakespeare's tragedy Antony and Cleopatra for this first time, beginning Jan. 25, 2002. Mark Lamos directs Laila Robins (Guthrie’s Hedda Gabler and Summer and Smoke) as Cleopatra. Michael Bogdanov and Jeffrey Hatcher’s new play with music, Speak Easy, or The Bootleg Gentleman starts April 5, 2002. Based on Molière's comedy, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, the adaptation deals with “a businessman determined to buy his way into the privileges of high society in 1930’s gangland Chicago.” Bogdanov directs.
Tennessee Williams' Camino Real gets its first Guthrie staging beginning May 17, 2002. Rarely produced, Camino Real will be directed by Michael Kahn, the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. According to production notes “the real and the imaginary converge and freely play off each other, as a down-on-his-luck boxer meets a group of larger-than-life characters, including Lord Byron, Casanova and Don Quixote.”
Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children kicks off the season at the Guthrie Lab on Aug. 8. Co-produced with Houston’s Alley Theater and the Hartford Stage Company, the play involves the life of a former Union soldier who settles in the south, as told by his daughters in a series of monologues.
Guthrie associate artistic director John Miller-Stephany (Guthrie’s Sweeney Todd) returns to helm Merrily We Roll Along which begins October 17. First staged on Broadway in 1981, the Stephen Sondheim and George Furth musical “chronicles the ups and downs of an artistic friendship facing the temptations and perils of success.”
The Guthrie Lab season wraps up with Lee Blessing's Thief River beginning Feb. 20. Ethan McSweeny directs the story of “two Midwestern young men from 1950 through 2005 as they try to learn who they really are.” McSweeny directed Guthrie Lab’s 2000 production of Side Man.
Guthrie on Tour will also present Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! in various cities and towns “across the upper Midwest” from February to May 2002. Douglas C. Wager directs the story of delicate family relations; the set design is by Ming Cho Lee.
Season subscriptions to the Guthrie Theater range from $70-$195 (mainstage) and $53-$83 for the Guthrie Lab. Single tickets are $16-$44 (mainstage) and $18-$35 for (Guthrie Lab). Season subscriptions go on sale July 6. The Guthrie Theater box office is located at 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis. For information call (612) 377-2224 or toll-free (877) 44 STAGE. Single tickets can also be purchased online at www.guthrietheater.org.
—By Murdoch McBride