Philly's Walnut Street Studio Season Pursues Innovation, "Rarities

News   Philly's Walnut Street Studio Season Pursues Innovation, "Rarities Walnut Street, America's oldest still-running theatre, has announced its 2002 Studio season. Located in Philadelphia, the non-profit theatre group hopes to continue its tradition of providing new and innovative theatre to the public. The new roster, titled "A Season of Remembrance" will begin in January with the world premiere of the play Elegy by Ron Hirsen. The drama portrays a poet who survived the Holocaust and now struggles to forget his violent past. But as he is forced to reckon with old memories, the passion of the poet inside reemerges as well.

Walnut Street, America's oldest still-running theatre, has announced its 2002 Studio season. Located in Philadelphia, the non-profit theatre group hopes to continue its tradition of providing new and innovative theatre to the public. The new roster, titled "A Season of Remembrance" will begin in January with the world premiere of the play Elegy by Ron Hirsen. The drama portrays a poet who survived the Holocaust and now struggles to forget his violent past. But as he is forced to reckon with old memories, the passion of the poet inside reemerges as well.

A spokesperson for the Walnut Street Theatre told Playbill On-Line (Sept. 21) that this premiere is particularly exciting because emotionally- charged plays such as Elegy are "the reason that the space exists in the first place."

Elegy, running Jan. 8-20, 2002, will be directed by Charles Abbott, whose Walnut Street cerdits include My Fair Lady and Singin' in the Rain.

Following Elegy is Brief Lives (Feb. 5-17), the Patrick Garland play about the final days of John Aubrey, the writer who documented lives of 17th century contemporaries such as Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh. Donald Ewer will star as Aubrey and Jenny Turner will direct. Both have a long history with the theatre, their most recent credits being Vising Mr. Green and The Return of Herbert Bracewell, respectively.

Next up, Noel Coward?s musical A Suite in Two Keys gets its Philadelphia premiere at Walnut Street (March 5-17). Suite is made up of two one-acts: A Song at Twilight, a comedy about an aging author who receives a visit from an old lover, and Come Into the Garden Maud, which shows the battle between a wife who wishes to climb to the top of the social ladder and the husband who has no interest in joining her. Richard M. Parison, Jr. Will direct. In April, the political drama Wencelas Square explores the correlation between freedom and inspiration, as a Professor returns to his homeland of Czechoslovakia after five years to find that prosperity has been hampering creativity. William Roudebush returns to the Walnut Street Theatre to direct.

The 2002 season will round out with an extended run (April 26-June 30) of the popular musical Forever Plaid by Stuart Ross. Four young men yearn for fame as a doo-wop group, but after an untimely death, they are given one more chance to perform in the concert they had always dreamed of giving.

Pursuing a 16-year tradition, "A Season of Remembrance" is intended "provide more adventurous theatre experiences to the theatregoers," as its website states. For subscriptions or other information about the Walnut Theatre's Independence Studio on 3 season, call (215) 574-3550, ext. 6, Monday through Friday, or visit their website at www.wstonline.org.

? by Steve Luber