Current VPA News

Syracuse Stage announced the six shows that will make up the 2019/2020 subscription season: “Twelve Angry Men,” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” “The Wolves,” “Amadeus,” “Once” and the East Coast premiere of “Yoga Play.”  The subscription season runs Oct. 9, 2019 – June 14, 2020.

The season will be preceded by an off-subscription production, the world premiere of “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” by Keenan Scott II and directed by TV, stage and film actor Taye Diggs. The play runs Sept. 4 – 22, 2019. The Cold Read Festival of New Plays returns for a third season with Octavio Solis as playwright-in-residence working on a new play and nationally recognized poet Charles Martin represented by his new translation of “Medea.”

In announcing the season, Syracuse Stage artistic director Robert Hupp said, “We’re crafting a season of plays and musicals that celebrate diverse and powerful voices. Our 47th season brings to life rich stories that entertain and delight; it’s a poignant season of love and loss, of justice and jealousy. We sought works that make you stand up and take notice. Hot off the press or written more than 60 years ago, set in a mid-century courtroom, an 18th century royal court, a fantastical beast’s castle, an Irish bar or a fitness studio, the plays and musicals of our new season were chosen because they tell exciting stories you won’t see, hear or feel anywhere else. And they’re brought to life by amazing actors, directors and designers who’ll conjure all the magic you’ve come to expect from a season at Syracuse Stage.”

Adapted by Reginald Rose from his 1954 teleplay, “Twelve Angry Men” is a taut drama that unfolds as a jury deliberates following the trial of a teenager accused of murdering his father. Initially, conviction seems certain. One holdout among the 12 complicates the path to a swift verdict by insisting on careful examination of the evidence, which slowly raises reasonable doubt and simmering tensions among the jurors. With a young man’s life in the balance, prejudice, passion and human failings collide in the search for truth. Playwright/director James Still directs “Twelve Angry Men,” which Syracuse Stage will co-produce with Indiana Repertory Theatre. A star-studded film adaptation was released in 1957.

Director Donna Drake returns to Syracuse Stage for her third consecutive holiday musical with “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” Previously, Drake directed “The Wizard of Oz” and “Elf The Musical.” Co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama, the show will feature spectacular flying effects, sumptuous costumes and lavish sets as befit this beloved family favorite. The story of how young Belle helps the Beast break an evil spell and resume his former state as a prince is adored the world over with its timeless theme of the importance of knowing how to love and be loved.

Nine 16- and 17-year-olds make up a girls indoor soccer team in “The Wolves.” Over a series of wintry Saturdays on an AstroTurf indoor field somewhere in suburban America, the team members perform their ritual pre-game warm-up. Between stretches and pep talks, cajoling and consoling, jokes and jibes, an eye-opening and sympathetic portrait of nine young women emerges, revealing their complexities and confusions as they grapple with issues large and small, near at hand and far away. Through precisely orchestrated cross talk, crisp overlapping dialogue, and some pretty nifty footwork, playwright Sarah DeLappe celebrates these young women as independent individuals: athletes, scholars, daughters, students and friends. A favorite of New York critics and a hit with audiences at Lincoln Center, “The Wolves” is one of the most produced plays in the country. “The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play,” wrote The New York Times.

Following his acclaimed performance in “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” (2017), Mickey Rowe returns to Syracuse Stage to take on the role of musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in “Amadeus,” directed by Hupp. Written by Peter Shaffer (“Equus”), “Amadeus” delightfully mixes history and mystery in an imaginative exploration of artistic rivalry in the extreme. On Dec. 5, 1791, Mozart died at the age of 35, cause of death “rheumatic inflammatory fever.” But was the cause of the cause natural? Borrowing from a play by Alexander Pushkin, Shaffer places rival composer Antonio Salieri as prime suspect in the death of the “obscene child” with the preternatural ability. Is there a clue in Salieri’s final composition: “The Death of Mozart – or, Did I Do It?”

“Amadeus” enjoyed immense success in London and New York when it was first produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It took the Tony Award for Best Play in 1981. The 1984 film, directed by Milos Foreman, earned the Academy Award for Best Picture and earned F. Murray Abraham Best Actor for his portrayal of Salieri. There have been numerous successful revivals, including recently at its original home The National Theatre in London. Syracuse Stage produced it in 2003 under the direction of Michael Donald Edwards. For the 19/20 production, Syracuse Stage will partner withSymphoria to present a series of related musical events.

“‘Amadeus’ has it all: it’s a murder mystery wrapped in a human drama about genius and jealousy; it’s a theatrical tour de force that is as delicious as the delectable Italian confections that haunt Salieri’s dreams,” Hupp said. “I’m thrilled that one of our favorite actors, Mickey Rowe, will return to give life to Mozart, the L’Enfant terrible at the center of our story.”

With a book by the brilliant Irish playwright Enda Walsh, it is no surprise that the Broadway musical adaptation of “Once” was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won eight including Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book in 2012. A year later it also won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. “Once” started as a charming independent film about a jaded Irish busker on the verge of abandoning his songs and a young Czech émigré who rekindles his passion for music and his desire for life and love. Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová took Best Song at the 2008 Academy Awards for “Falling Slowly.” On stage, their story springs to life with the spirit and energy of a lively pub music session as the performers serve as cast and band. A tender and surprising love story combines with great songs in a warmly affecting show that understands the power of music to move the human heart.

The season closes with comedy and the East Coast premiere of “Yoga Play,” also directed by Hupp. Written by Dipika Guha, “Yoga Play” joyfully skewers that holy grail of marketing directors the world over—authenticity. When the new CEO of high end Jojomon athletic wear (think of something that ends with citrus) learns that their prized lavender scented yoga pants are being made by a manufacturer accused of using child laborers, she goes into full damage-control mode and commences a search for a real-deal, reclusive and revered yogi to salvage the company’s image. She succeeds in finding him, but he is not quite what she expected. The fall-out proves fertile comic fodder for Guha, who is a rising star and was recently awarded a Venturous Playwright Fellowship by The Lark.

“It’s fun to pack surprises into our season and ‘Yoga Play’ is just that: a delightful new comedy to wrap things up,” Hupp said. “Funny, yes, but right on the money, too, as playwright Dipika Guha turns the fitness industry on its ear. You don’t have to be into yoga to relish this send up of the ‘authenticity’ industry.”

Directed by renowned artist Taye Diggs, and written by Keenan Scott II, one of today’s boldest new voices, “Thoughts of a Colored Man” blends language, music and dance into a daringly universal new play. Welcome to the vibrant inner life of being Black, proud and thriving in the 21st century. Set over a single day, this richly theatrical mosaic goes beyond the rhythms of the basketball court and the boisterousness of the barbershop. It sheds brilliant light into the hearts and minds of a community of men searching for their most triumphant selves. And what they reveal are the deeply human hopes, dreams, fears and sensitivities of all men, all people.

As playwright-in-residence at the third annual Cold Read Festival of New Plays, renowned Latino playwright Octavio Solis will share a draft of new work in progress. Solis has written more than 20 plays and has been produced at more than 25 theaters nationwide including Yale Repertory Theater, Mark Taper Forum, Denver Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His memoir “Retablos: Stories From A Life Lived Along The Border” was released in October 2018 and recounts his childhood in El Paso, Texas. Solis served as a cultural consultant on the Disney Pixar film “Coco."

“Writing the American story through a Mexican-American lens, Octavio Solis has been a singular poetic and daring voice in the American Theater for more than 20 years,” said Syracuse Stage Associate Artistic Director and Cold Read curator Kyle Bass. “I’m thrilled to bring his necessary voice, exciting new work and generosity of spirit to Cold Read.”

Martin, who features as the local author in Cold Read’s “Write Here” presentation, lives in Syracuse and is the author of eight books of poetry. His new translation of Euripides’ “Medea” has been published by University of California Press.

The 2019/2020 season opens Sept. 4, 2019 and runs through June 14, 2020. Subscriptions are on sale now.

 

SHOW DETAILS
Subscription Season

“Twelve Angry Men”
By Reginald Rose
Directed by James Still
Co-produced with Indiana Repertory Theatre
Oct. 9 – 27, 2019

1954. A teenager is accused of murdering his father. His fate rests with 12 jurors. “He doesn’t stand a chance,” mutters the courtroom guard. As the jurors deliberate, the impulse to quickly convict is thwarted by one holdout, who insists on a close evaluation of the evidence. Slowly, without hectoring rhetoric or even firm belief in the youth’s innocence, he argues the case for further questioning. Then gradually and in different ways, other jurors begin to change their minds, a development that fuels simmering tension and threatens volatile confrontation. Prejudices, passions and human failings collide in a search for truth as a young man’s life hangs in the balance. A taut and absorbing drama as compelling now as when it was written.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton
Directed by Donna Drake
Choreography by Anthony Salatino
Musical Direction by Brian Cimmet
Flying Effects by ZFX Inc.
Co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama
Nov. 22, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020

Be our guest for a beloved musical sure to delight the whole family. Spectacular costumes and fantastic sets combine with enchanting songs in this classic story about finding the magic in love. A wicked curse has transformed a young prince into a ghastly Beast. To break the power of this spell and return to his former self, the Beast must learn how to love and be loved. His fate is in the hands of a young woman, Belle, who must guide and teach him before he is lost forever. A tale as old as time to celebrate the holiday season. 

“The Wolves”
By Sarah DeLappe
Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
Co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama
Performed in the Storch Theatre
Jan. 22 – Feb. 16, 2020

Enter a world you think you may know. The Wolves are a girls soccer team. The nine players are 16 and 17 years old. Over a series of wintry Saturdays on an AstroTurf indoor soccer field somewhere in suburban America, they perform their ritual pre-game warm-up. Between stretches and pep talks, cajoling and consoling, jokes and jibes, an eye-opening and sympathetic portrait of nine young women emerges, revealing their complexities and confusions as they grapple with issues large and small, near at hand and far away. Through precisely orchestrated cross talk, snappy overlapping dialogue and some pretty nifty footwork, playwright Sarah DeLappe celebrates these young women as independent individuals: athletes, scholars, daughters, students and friends. “The scary, exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence emanates from every scene of this uncannily assured first play,” wrote The New York Times.

“Amadeus”
By Peter Shaffer
Directed by Robert Hupp
Co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama
March 11 – 29, 2020

Mickey Rowe (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”) returns to Syracuse Stage to take on the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in this contemporary favorite about artistic rivalry and suspected murder. Antonio Salieri has pledged his life to God in exchange for success as a composer. Yet the music that most captures God’s voice comes not from Salieri, but from the prodigy Mozart. Could jealousy have driven Salieri to murder this “obscene child” who is unworthy of the musical genius he possesses? On the eve of his own death, Salieri reveals his final composition: “The Death of Mozart – or, Did I Do It?”  Well, did he or didn’t he? An enticing and enjoyable theatrical experience enhanced by a variety of musical events in partnership with Symphoria. 

“Once”
Book by Enda Walsh
Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney
Directed by Mark Cuddy
April 15 – May 3, 2020

The exuberant spirit of a lively pub session (what the Irish call craic) meets an out-of-the-ordinary love story in this irresistible musical based on the beloved indie film. Guy has been busking on Dublin’s Grafton St. for too long. He’s ready to chuck his music and forget the girlfriend who relocated to New York. Girl is an émigré from the Czech Republic with a tangled personal life, a passion for music and a belief in Guy and his songs. It’s a complicated business this love. It doesn’t always turn out as expected. Sometimes, that’s ok. Nominated for 11 Tony Awards and winner of eight, including Best Musical, “Once” is a warmly affecting show that understands the power of music to move the human heart.

“Yoga Play”
By Dipika Guha
Directed by Robert Hupp
May 27 – June 14, 2020

Joan has a big problem. Recently named CEO of athletic-wear giant Jojomon—think high-end brand that’s part 60s one-hit wonder and part citrus fruit—she even more recently learned that a BBC investigative team is about to expose her Bangladeshi manufacturer of lavender scented yoga pants as an exploiter of child labor. Suddenly, Jojomon’s family of customers is all atwitter with accusations of inauthenticity. Only one solution will do—find a reclusive and revered yogi to serve as a spokesman and restore the company’s all-important claim to authenticity. They find him all right. The rest is 90 minutes of side-splitting comedy. The East Coast premiere of a timely new comedy by Dipika Guha, a talent to watch who was recently awarded a Venturous Playwright Fellowship by The Lark.

Off-Subscription: A Cold Read World Premiere Event

“Thoughts of a Colored Man”
By Keenan Scott II
Directed by Taye Diggs
Music composed by Madison McFerrin
Choreography by Jenny Parsinen 
In association with Brian Moreland
Associate directed by Shannon Stoeke
Sept. 4 – 22, 2019

As the sun rises on an ordinary day in New York, seven men are about to discover the extraordinary. Directed by renowned artist Taye Diggs, and written by Keenan Scott II, one of today’s boldest new voices, Thoughts of a Colored Man blends language, music and dance into a daringly universal new play. Welcome to the vibrant inner life of being Black, proud and thriving in the 21st century. Set over a single day, this richly theatrical mosaic goes beyond the rhythms of the basketball court and the boisterousness of the barbershop. It sheds brilliant light into the hearts and minds of a community of men searching for their most triumphant selves. And what they reveal are the deeply human hopes, dreams, fears and sensitivities of all men, all people.

Cold Read: A Festival of Hot New Plays
Playwright-in-Residence Octavio Solis
Write Here Featured Author Charles Martin
Curated by Kyle Bass
April 1 - 5, 2020