NextStop Theatre Company, the Herndon-based professional theatre company which has grown out of one of the DC-area’s best community theaters, announced an ambitious five-production season for 2013-2014 last Friday.
NextStop will launch its professional existence with a production of The 39 Steps, Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movies about a young man at loose ends who finds himself desperately trying to prevent the passage of secret British war material to the Nazis. The play is notorious for its requirement that four actors play more than 140 roles, often slipping from one character to the next between sentences. Artistic Director Evan Hoffman will direct The Thirty-Nine Steps, which will run from September 26 to October 20, 2013.
The next step for NextStop will be two holiday plays in rep: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol and The Twelve Dates of Christmas. Jacob Marley’s, unsurprisingly, is a take on the Dickens classic from the point of view of Ebenezer Scrooge’s erstwhile (and dead) business partner, whose efforts to redeem the curmudgeonly reprobate with whom he once worked must achieve not only Scrooge’s redemption but his own. Matt Anderson – himself a distinguished community theater actor before turning pro – will direct Tom Mala’s one-actor play, which will run from December 3 to the 29th of this year.
Twelve Dates – another one-actor play – examines the life of Mary, whose dreams of a comfortable life and family are shattered when she sees her fiancée – on national TV! – canoodling with a co-worker. Her grim reentry into the dating life against the rich holiday milieu of the already-settled is the grist of playwright Ginna Hoben’s mill. “The poetics employed at times within the script are beautiful, and the imagery draws the viewer in,” said Columbus Underground’s Lisa Much. “[Hoben’s] detailed portrayal of various characters she encounters simply come to life.” The Twelve Dates of Christmas will run from December 4-29, 2013.
NextStop ushers in the new year with a radically rethought Richard III, in which Shakespeare’s most terrifying monarch is portrayed not as a hunchback but as a deaf man made malevolent by the unsympathetic reception he gets in a hearing world. Dr. Lindsey D. Snyder of Gallaudet University will direct this production, which will run from January 30 to February 23 of next year.
The final stop in NextStop’s season will be its first musical: Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. This wildly imaginative reimagining of classic fairy tales introduces well-known characters to each other and carries broad cultural and even theological implications, hinting at creation myths and the death of God. The book is by longtime Sondheim collaborator James Lapine. Hoffman will direct this production, which will run from May 1 to June 1, 2014.
NextStop represents the evolution of the Elden Street Players, a high-end and much-lauded community theater which will be completing its twenty-fifth and final season this year with productions of RED (June 7-29), for the kids, Snow White and Rose Red (June 15 – 30), and Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change (August 2 – 24). Over its fourteen years with WATCH – community theater’s equivalent of the Helen Hayes awards – the Elden Street Players have won sixty-three awards for excellence in all aspects of theatrical production.