This-coming season, Baltimore's Center Stage Theatre will be the place to chew on Gum, take a Jitney, stare at An Almost Holy Picture, Travel with Graham Green's Aunt, marvel at Mrs. Warren's Profession, and do it all just As You Like It.
All those plays, plus one more (as yet unannounced), will comprise Center Stage's 36th season, Sept. 1998-June 1999. Tickets go onsale in August, when exact dates for the roster will be announced.
Here's the 1998-99 line-up, in order of appearance:
Travels With My Aunt, Giles Havergal's hit adaptation of Graham Greene's darkly comic novel. Stuffy, retired Henry Pulling meets his Aunt Augusta, leading to "a manic itinerary of love affairs, smuggling and murder." Havergal has said the story "is really about the age-old problem of trying to find a balance between freedom and discipline, license and control. Should you allow people freedom to do whatever they want or control them to a degree?... Henry Pulling's eyes are opened to a completely different world than he has ever experienced."
Though the novel offers over two dozen eccentric characters, Travels With My Aunt the play has only four actors playing all of them -- including the female roles. As You Like It, William Shakespeare's comedy will be directed by artistic director Irene Lewis, who's currently in New York staging The Skin of Our Teeth for NYSF's Shakespeare in the Park. This woodland romp tells of cousins who escape a corrupt kingdom and find romance -- albeit cross-dressed -- in the forest.
Jitney, August Wilson's recently revised, early drama, about the eccentric and sometimes desperate denizens of a Pittsburgh gypsy cab stand. 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.
On the second stage will come Gum and An Almost Holy Picture. 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 either Dianne McIntyre's musical (with songs by Kysia Bostic), I Could Stop On a Dime and Get Ten Cents Change or Lynn Nottage's Crumbs From The Table of Joy. The former tells of McIntyre's father and his life in 1920s-30s Cleveland. The latter looks at Harlem in the 1950s.
For subscriptions ($66-$214), tickets and information on the Center Stage season, please call (410) 332-0033.
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.
-- By David Lefkowitz