Milwaukee Repertory Theatre announced two world premieres, Work Song and Sounding the River (Huck Finn Revisited), for its 15 show 2000-2001 season.
The new season at the Wisconsin resident theatre, which presents in four spaces, opens Sept. 6-Oct. 8 with Jeffrey Hatcher and Eric Simonson's new piece, Work Song, an exploration of the life of Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright, the gifted architect whose passion for his work cost him a personal life. Simonson directs. Lee E. Ernst will play Wright.
Hatcher penned Scotland Road, Everything's Ducky and Three Viewings, among other plays. Simonson is a busy regional director, a Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble member and a former Tony Award nominee for directing The Song of Jacob Zulu.
The Rep's other premiere is Edward Morgan's Sounding the River, Huck Finn Revisited, Feb. 21-April 1, 2001, described as an bold new examination of the famous Twain novel, with Old Huck and Old Jim reliving their past and laughing and arguing about their legacy, race and Twain. Jim Baker will play Old Huck. Morgan will direct.
Both world premieres are on The Rep's main stage, the Quadracci Powerhouse. Also in the Powerhouse season:
• Engaged, a comedy about the courting woes of Belvawney and his friend, Cheviot, who proposes marriage to every girl he meets. A lesser known work by W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. Artistic director Joseph Hanreddy directs Laura Gordon, Torrey Hanson and Deborah Staples. Oct. 18-Nov. 19.
• Art, Yasmina Reza's international hit about three friends bickering over the value of a white-on-white modern painting. Roberta Levitow directs Torrey Hanson and James Pickering. Nov. 29-Dec. 31.
• Dinah Was, the musical revue of blues singer Dinah Washington's career, by Oliver Goldstick. David Petrarca directs. Jan. 10-Feb. 11, 2001.
• Anna Karenina, a new version of the Tolstoy novel, adapted by Helen Edmundson. Hanreddy directs Deborah Staples in the title role. April 11-May 13, 2001.
In the Stiemke Theater:
• The Weir, Conor McPherson's Irish play about of ghost stories in a pub. Edward Morgan directs Jim Baker, Jonathan Gillard Daly, James Pickering and Kirsten Potter. Oct. 20-Nov. 12.
• The Memory of Water, Shelagh Stephenson's London and Off Broadway play of three sisters on the occasion of their mother's death. Paul Barnes directs. Jan. 19-Feb. 11, 2001.
• Wit, Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of a professor's struggle with cancer. Directed by J.R. Sullivan. Feb. 23-March 19, 2001.
• The Marvelous Wonderettes, Roger Bean's account of a reunited singing "girl group," directed by the author. April 6-29, 2001.
In the Stackner Cabaret:
• A Brief History of White Music, Dee Dee Thomas and David Tweedy's musical satire that takes white music from the '40s (Andrews Sisters), '50s (Elvis Presley) and '60s (The Beach Boys) and gives it a soulful twist. Rick Seeber directs. Sept. 8-Nov. 18.
• Maybe Baby, It's You, Charlie Shanian and Shari Simpson's Off Broadway comedy made up of sketches about relationships. Edward Morgan directs. Nov. 24-Jan. 14, 2001.
• Route 66, Roger Bean's musical revue dedicated to the famous American highway and car culture, featuring such hits as "Little Deuce Coupe," "Mustang Sally," "Route 66" and "Little Red Corvette." Bean directs. Jan. 19-March 18, 2001.
• The Bachelors, a new musical by Fred Alley and James Kaplan, the creators of Guys on Ice and Lumberjacks in Love, about two Wisconsin bachelors. Lloyd and Marvin are roommates who need nothing more than beer and tuna in the fridge to keep them happy -- until a girl comes between them. Book and lyrics are by Alley, music is by Kaplan. The show is inspired, in part, by a time when Alley and Kaplan shared a small studio apartment with two big beds in 1994 in Berkeley, CA.Jeffrey Herbst directs. March 23-May 20, 2001.
In the Pabst Theater:
• The annual favorite, A Christmas Carol, adapted by Hanreddy and Morgan, directed by Hanreddy. Nov. 25-Dec. 24.
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-- By Kenneth Jones