Two shows about music — one an Outer Critics Circle Best Musical awardee; the other a show about the awfulest music ever — will bookend Rep Stage’s 2019-2020 Season, which will also include a world premiere by a local playwright and a much-acclaimed new play about life after life for recently slaughtered African-American males.
The Rep Stage Season will open with Souvenir, the comic story of the excruciating vocal musical misadventures of Florence Foster Jenkins, who operated under the delusion that she was an operatic soprano and had the money to back it up. Told from the cynical perspective of her hired pianist, Cosme McMoon, Souvenir traces Jenkins “rise” before a rapt audience from private concerts to an astonishing performance at Carnegie Hall. Jenkins may be the origin of the phrase “so bad it’s good”, but Souvenir is generally thought simply to be good. Susan Galbraith, in this review for DCTS, noted that Stephen Temperley’s play is “about overstepping ambition, the phenomenon of celebrity, the truth of not being able to see or hear ourselves, the indomitability of the human spirit, and friendship.” Rep Stage Artistic Director Joseph Ritsch directs; from September 5 – 22, 2019.
Bob Bartlett, whose most recent play was set in a laundromat, will stage Reps’ next play — a reworking of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, called E2 — in a Medieval Court. Many consider Edward II to be the Florence Foster Jenkins of English monarchs, but the central event around his downfall in Marlowe’s play — his elevation of his male consort above his queen — has resonances today. Bartlett’s play, which Ritsch will direct, explores the intersection of sexuality, power, and gender. From October 31 to November 17 of this year.
Rep Stage’s 2020 begins with Kill Move Paradise, James Ijames’ much-acclaimed play about four African-American males — three men and a child — who meet in a sort of Purgatory after being violently ripped from their lives. “Moments of poignant clowning may remind you…of Beckett” says David Fox of Philadelphia Magazine. “A lump-in-the-throat passage in which each man recalls the last thing he remembers…recalls the gorgeous final scene of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Yet Ijames’ writing is vividly, singularly his own.” Danielle Drakes directs; from February 20 to March 8 of next year.
Rep Stage wraps up its season with Dames at Sea, a 1960s musical which begins as a parody of 1930s musicals and ends up as the real thing. A young ingénue faints into the arms of a sailor who aspires to be a songwriter; the theater must be torn down; and the protagonists set up a new theater in an ocean liner. Music and marriage ensue. Adventure Theatre/MTC Artistic Director Michael Bobbitt will direct; the show will run from April 30 to May 17 of 2020.
Tickets to the 2019-2020 Rep Stage season are not yet available.