New plays by Paul Rudnick and Charles Busch highlight the recently-announced 1996-1997 season at the WPA Theatre in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. The industrious, successful Off-Broadway company will also present Stupid Kids, by John C. Russell, and an unspecified fourth production.
A humorist, screenwriter and rapier wit, Rudnick is best known as author of Jeffrey. The play, originally produced at the WPA, and as a subsequent film, found humor and compassion in the foibles of a gay man dating in the age of AIDS. The new, as-yet untitled production will reunite the playwright with Christopher Ashley, who directed both the WPA production of Jeffrey and Rudnick's The Naked Truth.
Charles Busch, an actor, novelist and drag queen extraodinaire, is also returning to the WPA, the original home of his Red Scare on Sunset and The Lady in Question. The title hasn't been released, but Kenneth Elliott will direct. This is the team which created the long-running Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, pumping hot blood into high camp.
Finally, John C. Russell's Stupid Kids boasts an on-stage rock band, lending vitality to a play about contemporary teenagers. Director Michael Mayer comes to this production from the national tour of Angels in America and the WPA's production of Hundreds of Hats, the Howard Ashman revue. WPA is currently represented Off-Broadway by Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band. It opened at the WPA on June 20, 1996 and is now running at off Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre.
The much-honored WPA was home to Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's Little Shop of Horrors, Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, Edward Albee's adaptation of Carson McCullers' The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Tom Torpor's Nuts, and Larry L. King's The Night Hank Williams Died. They are a not-for-profit company dedicated to the production of new American plays and musicals, and the revival of neglected classics.
Ticket and subscription information may be obtained by calling the WPA at (212) 206-0523. The theatre is located at 519 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.
-- By Kevin W. Reardon
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