Eight actors. Some 60 characters. A whole lot of dry cleaning.
That's what's in store Sept. 25 when both Virginia Stage Company and Center Stage in Baltimore open separate stagings of Giles Havergal's all- male ensemble adaptation of Travels With My Aunt, drawn from the breezy Graham Greene novel.
The conceit of the popular Off-Broadway comedy has four men playing 32 characters -- including women. Yet they wear conservative business suits, reflecting the temperament of the narrator, a buttoned-down English bank clerk whisked on adventures by his Aunt Augusta (played by a man in a suit, too).
Robert Moss, artistic director of Syracuse Stage, directs the Virginia staging featuring Wynn Harmon, David McCann, Mark Schwahn and John Thomas Waite, through Oct. 11 at the Wells Theatre. It moves to Syracuse in late October.
Center Stage Resident Director Tim Vasen directs the Baltimore production through Oct. 25 at the Pearlstone Theatre. Featured are Craig Mathers, Ken Cheeseman, Terry Alexander and Laurence O'Dwyer. For Virginia Stage Company information, call (757) 627-1234.
For Baltimore Center Stage information, call (410) 332-0033.
* Highlighting Virginia Stage's 20th season (1998-99) will be a new play by New York-based playwright Lanie Robertson, whose Nasty Little Secrets recently had a run Off-Broadway at Primary Stages. The new work, Nobody Lonesome for Me, has legendary country-western singer Hank Williams stranded at a gas station in West Virginia, where he regales the station owner with songs and stories of his life. The play's title comes from a Williams standard. The production will run Oct. 25-Nov. 15.
Robertson has been an artistic associate of Virginia Stage for three years. The company has staged three other Robertson works, A Penny for the Guy, Alfred Stieglitz Loves O'Keeffe, and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. No casting or director has been announced for Nobody Lonesome for Me.
Following a seasonal run of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Virginia will present one of the first regional productions of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Jan. 17-Feb. 7, 1999). The Irish drama is currently playing on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
The season continues with Falsettos (Feb. 21-Mar. 14, 1999), William Finn's musical about modern relationships, both straight and gay. Finn's new work, A New Brain, recently played at Lincoln Center. The Virginia Stage season concludes with Oscar Wilde's classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest (Apr. 4-25, 1999).
* Baltimore's 1998-99 line-up, includes:
As You Like It, William Shakespeare's comedy will be directed by artistic director Irene Lewis. Nov. 12-Dec. 20.
Jitney, August Wilson's recently revised early drama, about the eccentric and sometimes desperate denizens of a Pittsburgh gypsy cab stand in the 1970s. Marion McClinton directs this co-production with Boston's Huntington Theatre Company. It's expected that Wilson will do further work on the piece in conjunction with this production, Jan. 8-Feb. 14, 1999.
On the second stage will come Gum (March 7-28, 1999) and An Almost Holy Picture (Jan. 29-Feb. 28). The former, a world premiere by Karen Hartman, is about two religious, adolescent sisters facing the rite of circumcision. The latter, by Heather MacDonald, tells of a man whose baby girl is born with a rare disorder. Will he regain his faith in God and in himself?
The Center Stage season will conclude with Dianne McIntyre's musical (with songs by Kysia Bostic), I Could Stop On a Dime and Get Ten Cents Change, a "ballroom drama" tells of McIntyre's father and his life in 1920s-30s Cleveland.
* With 13,600 subscribers in tow (up a full thousand from last year), Baltimore's Center Stage attracts more than 110,000 patrons over the course of a season.