For the first time in its 9-year history, Cambridge's Nora Theatre Company will run two shows in repertory: Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan's off-beat musical, Bed And Sofa, and Wallace Shawn's monologue about the social classes, The Fever. Both shows will run Jan. 23 to March 2.
"What with our limited amount of time to produce this season," said artistic director Mary C. Huntington, "we thought it would be enjoyable as well as practical to go this route." By "limited amount of time," Huntington is referring to the company's current and unwelcome nomadic state.
"We're homeless at the moment," Nora communications manager Karen Gromis told Playbill On-Line. "For six years we were in a building owned by Harvard University, but then they did renovations, and now there's no longer a theatre space in the building. Like a lot of Off-Off Broadway and fringe theatres, we're looking for a home, but we're hoping the Boston Playwrights Theatre space will work out so we can stay a couple of seasons until we find something permanent."
Bed And Sofa, a cult hit at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre, takes its style from a 1927 Soviet silent film by Abram Room. Sung-through, Bed And Sofa contrasts sexual politics and social satire as a poor married couple take in a good-looking young boarder -- who quickly reconfigures the living arrangement.
Pen, who won a 1996 Obie for Best Music for Bed, is also the creator of Goblin Market, Christina Alberta's Father and The Dumb Cake. Klavan, best known for his brilliant one-act comedies, will premiere Creation Of The Humanoids at the Vineyard this spring. Directing Nora's Bed will be Daniel Gidron, who has worked at Jewish Theatre of New England and Worcester Forum Theatre. He's also staged Dario Fo' s Accidental Death Of An Anarchist in Arabic and a rock version of As You Like It, both in Israel.
Featured in Bed And Sofa are Penny Rubinfield (Ludmilla), Chip Phillips (Kolya) and Jeff Sherwood (Volodya). Designing the show will be Mirjana Mladinov (sets), Karen Perlow (lighting), Gail Astrid Buckley (costumes) and Bridget Sullivan (props). Jonathan Goldberg serves as musical director. The Nora company will stage Bed much as the world-premiere Vineyard production did: backed by piano, viola, violin and cello.
An Obie Best Play-winner, The Fever tells of one woman coping with the divide between the haves and have-nots. Starring at the Nora will be Natalie Brown, who has acted at Lyric Stage, American Stage Festival and Theatre By The Sea. Adam T. Zahler, former artistic director of Vermont's Open Stage, directs. Designers are the same as for Bed And Sofa.
Though most easily recognizable as a movie actor (Clueless, The Princess Bride and the title character in Louis Malle's Vanya On 42nd Street), Wallace Shawn has had 6 plays staged at NY's Public Theatre, including Marie And Bruce, A Thought In Three Parts, The Mandrake, Our Late Night and 1985's Aunt Dan And Lemon).
For tickets ($15-$22) and information on the Nora Company's productions of The Fever (op: Jan. 31) and Bed And Sofa (opens Jan. 26), at Boston Playwrights' Theatre space on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, call (617) 491-2026.
--By David Lefkowitz