For theater fans, theater writers and theater artists of all stripes, there are few times of year as exciting as that stretch of weeks in the late winter/early fall when theater companies take turns announcing the titles of the plays they will be producing in the following theatrical season. It’s a time for actors to polish off their audition monologues (tweaking and changing them to adapt to some exciting dream role they’ve long hoped to play and can now set their sights on). And for theater audiences to make marks far ahead in their calendars, and sometimes even feel inspired to go ahead and purchase that full season subscription they’ve always considered but never actually committed to.
Last weekend, at its annual Broadway Bash fundraiser at Petaluma’s SRJC, Cinnabar Theater (www.cinnabartheater.org) took a short break from performances and auctions to let attendees know what the venerable theater company has planned for 2019/2020. Though specific opening dates were not announced, the line-up itself looks tantalizingly dark, inventive and entertaining.
Opening the season in the fall will be Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s outrageous comedy-musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” followed by five more professional shows, and three Young Repertory shows.
George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” which inspired the Broadway musical “My Fair Lady,” will be staged, as will a holiday review of Kander and Ebb songs titled “The World Goes Round,” David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Ripcord,” Paula Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive” and an English-language production of Gioachino Rossini’s 1817 opera “Cinderella” (aka “La Cenerentola”).
Throughout the 2-19/2020 season, Cinnabar’s Young Rep will present Webber and Rice’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” a stage play adaptation of William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” and finally, “Carrie: The Musical.”
Cinnabar’s not the only theater company making the big season announcement last week. Mill Valley’s Marin Theatre Company (www.marintheatre.org) also released a statement with details of its own 2019/2020 slate of shows, which will come one-play-short of an all-female playwright season.
It all begins October 1, with Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle’s “Sovereignty,” a West Coast premiere about a Cherokee lawyer confronting the ghosts of her grandfathers while attempting to restore her nation’s legal jurisdiction. Next up (November 19-December 8, 2019) is a second West Coast premiere, “Mother of the Maid,” by Jane Anderson, about the mother of Joan of Arc. It will be followed by Heather Raffo’s “Noura” (January 14 – February 2, 2020; yet another West Coast Premiere). Co-produced with San Francisco’s Golden Thread Productions, the play reimagines Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” through the experience of Arab-American women.
After that is the world premiere of Kate Cortesi’s “Love,” a cleverly witty examination of workplace sexual harassment (March 10-29, 2020), Lynn Nottage’s extraordinary “Mlima’s Tale” (April 23-May 17, 2020), which follows the spirit of an illegally poached elephant as her body is turned into commercial products and spread across the globe. The season concludes with Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill’s “Botticelli in the Fire” (Guess what? Another West Coast premiere; June 23-July 12, 2020) , about the 15th century artist’s powerful philosophical conflicts with the church during his painting of “The Birth of Venus.”
— DAVID TEMPLETON