Baltimore will soon see the world premieres of new plays by Warren Leight (Side Man) and Lynn Nottage (Crumbs From the Table of Joy), as well as a revival of the Fats Waller revue Ain't Misbehavin'. All three will be part of the 2002-03 season of Center Stage, Baltimore's largest resident theatre.
The Waller musical is a co-production with Arena Stage in Washington, DC. It will originate in Baltimore and then take the short trip west to Arena's capital digs. Ken Roberson will direct. No casting has been announced.
Ain't Misbehavin' was conceived by Richard Maltby, Jr., and Murray Horwitz, and was a huge hit on Broadway in 1978. A cast featuring Nell Carter, Ken Page, Andre De Shields, Armelia McQueen and Charlaine (now Charlayne) Woodard, sang such comical and ribald Waller creations as "Honeysuckle Rose," "The Joint Is Jumping" and the title tune. The show started at Manhattan Theatre Club before transferring to Broadway, where it played 1,604 performances. At the time, Waller's music had fallen into disuse, but the show has since ensured the enduring popularity of the pianist-composer's work.
No Foreigners Beyond This Point is the second new Leight play to emerge since the playwright took home the 1999 Tony Award for Side Man (the first was Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine, which played Off-Broadway in 2000 2001). Like much of the writer's work, it draws on Leight's own experiences—in this case, his 1980-81 stint teaching English in China. In the story, two American teachers find themselves "in a remote village where the Beatles are as unknown as personal privacy."
The play was commissioned by Center Stage and read in its First Look series last season. Tim Vasen will direct. Nottage's Intimate Apparel was also a Center Stage commission. The play is set in 1905 New York and concerns a black seamstress who threads needles for everyone from members of the upper crust to prostitutes.
The schedule runs as follows:
- Peter Pan, Oct. 4-Dec. 1, Head Theater
- No Foreigners Beyond This Point, Nov. 21-Dec. 22, Pearlstone Theater
- Ain't Misbehavin', Jan. 10-Feb. 23, 2003, Pearlstone Theater
- Intimate Apparel, Feb. 14-March 23, 2003, Head Theater
- Mary Stuart, April 4-May 4, 2003, Pearlstone Theater
- The Rainmaker, May 16-June 15, 2003, Pearlstone Theater
For ticket information, call (410) 332-0033. —By Robert Simonson