Howard County’s Rep Stage will celebrate its 20th year by exploring the 20th century, manipulating time through a four-play season which takes us from somber ghost story to high-octane farce.
The company will open its season with The Tempermentals, a historical docudrama about the founding of the Mattachine Society in 1950, and the two men who founded it, the Communist Harry Hay and Rudi Gernreich, a costumer who later became famous for his invention of the topless bathing suit. It took almost freakish courage to be a “Tempermental” (which was a code word for a gay person) in the middle of the last century; Hay (who was drummed out of the party as a consequence) and Gernreich had it in spades. Ben Brantley of the New York Times called The Tempermentals “eminently likeable” and “more than just an inspirational history lesson.” The Rep Stage production, which Kasi Campbell will direct, runs from August 29 to September 16 of 2012.
Rep Stage will move from the inspirational to the melancholy with the production of J.M. Barrie’s Mary Rose. Barrie, who is remembered principally for Peter Pan, explored a different sort of Neverland in 1919 with Mary Rose, the story of a little girl who, on holiday with her family on a remote Scottish island, disappears for three weeks, returning with no memory of time having passed. Years later, Mary Rose, now a married woman, returns with her husband to the same island and – well, you can see what happens. Christopher Isherwood of the New York Times thought Mary Rose was an “elegantly plotted ghost story” and Alfred Hitchcock wanted to film it, but could not find backers who thought it would be a commercial success. Mary Rose, Michael Stebbins directing, will run at Rep Stage from Halloween until November 18 of this year, and will feature Bill Largess, Christine Demuth, and Maureen Kerrigan.
The company will initiate the new year with Home, the story of Cephus Miles, a young African-American who rambles between his rural North Carolina home and the big cities of the north during the 1950s through the 1970s, riding through the turbulence of the Civil Rights era and the Viet Nam war. In traditional productions only three actors play the play’s twenty-five characters, although Rep Stage has not announced how they will approach this aspect of the play. AP called Home a “deeply felt memory play.” Duane Boutte will direct this production, which will run between February 27 and March 17 of 2013.
The season closes with a production of the “Mad Men”-esque farce Boeing-Boeing, in which a Parisian architect juggles his relationship with three airline stewardesses (each of which he promises is his only amour) by carefully plotting their flight times to assure that only one will be in Paris at a time. Unfortunately for him, the airline for which they work introduces a faster jet. “Tricked out in thoroughly Mod ’60s style…this latest edition of a play named for an aircraft soars right out of its time zone and into some unpolluted stratosphere of classic physical comedy…propelled by the same gusty spirit that animated Commedia dell’Arte and the silent films of Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd,” Brantley said. Boeing-Boeing will run from April 17 to May 5 of next year. Karl Kippola will direct.
Tickets for the 2012-2013 season are not yet on sale.