Thursday, March 3, 2005
This year PacRep dreams big, staging not only the biggest production of its 23-season existence, but new live musicals, more renowned Shakespeare, and a handful of the edgy, intimate ensemble pieces that have earned the iconic company a reputation for risk-taking.
Marching under the Tempest-uous banner, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” PacRep embarks on its 2005 campaign this week, launching an intriguing season of plays and musicals that makes good on the company’s long-standing mission to “present bold and daring interpretations of the great plays of the world stage.”
“We’re trying to attack all the senses over here,” says Artistic Director Stephen Moorer.
The new season kicks off this Saturday with David Hwang’s modern masterpiece M. Butterfly. First produced in 1988, and inspired by the Puccini opera, Hwang’s play examines cultural and gender stereotypes of East and West. Based on a true incident of international espionage, M. Butterfly charts the decades-long affair between a French diplomat and a Chinese opera star—and the great deceptions that destroy his career and shatter his notions of love, loyalty and pride.
“Aside from the fact that I’ve always thought it was one of the greatest plays of all time,” Moorer says, “I chose it because it breaks the fourth wall; it’s based on a true story; it has very strong characters; it has a multi-role ensemble; it’s very theatrical, very in-your-face, in a way that’s reminiscent of Amadeus or Shakespeare’s Othello. But more than anything, I chose it because it makes people question their own fantasies and foibles.”
In rotating repertory with M. Butterfly is Marie Jones’ celebrated Stones in His Pockets, a delightful send-up of the film industry. All hell breaks loose when a Hollywood film studio descends on a rural Irish village, sending two aspiring movie extras bouncing from the film shoot to the catering table, from a glamorous starlet’s trailer to the local pub where the locals and Hollywood crew all gather.
“I saw this play in London when it was the toast of the West End,” Moorer says. “I look to the British a lot. They’ve been doing it right for about 400 years. It’s perfect for PacRep. Two actors playing 15 different roles. It’s hilarious.”
PacRep’s summer repertory will open in the Golden Bough Theatre June 18 with the Central Coast premiere of the hit musical revue, My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra. My Way features four singers and an on-stage jazz combo doing 57 numbers that Sinatra made famous.
“This is really a follow-up to our Buddy Holly tribute,” Moorer says. “It’s a response to the whole phenomenon that play created in this community. It’s been the most popular musical revue in America for the last two years.”
In repertory with My Way will be the Central Coast premiere of William Nicholson’s recent Broadway hit, a Tony Award nominee for Best Play, The Retreat From Moscow, beginning July 6 in the Circle Theatre.
“This is about the break-up of the family unit. How in the modern age, a partner can come home and just say, ‘I’m done,’” Moorer says. “It’s more intimate, perfect for the Circle Theatre.”
This year, PacRep’s annual family musical at the Outdoor Forest Theater is the highly anticipated production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, adapted by Linda Woolverton and directed for PacRep by Walter deFaria. In an unprecedented move—and a major triumph for PacRep—the Disney Corporation has released the rights to its current Broadway hit and PacRep has been chosen to present the Central Coast premiere.
“It’s unheard of to get the rights to something still running on Broadway,” Moorer says. “This will be the biggest production in terms of budget, cast, set, everything—that we’ve ever done.”
In September, Moorer takes the opportunity to laugh at himself—a renowned Shakespeare conspiracy theorist who believes someone other than William Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s plays. The Beard of Avon, which opens Sept. 2 in the Circle Theatre, is a clever who-dunnit and witty farce that poses the controversial question: Who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays?
Continuing the 95-year tradition of Shakespeare at the Outdoor Forest Theater, PacRep presents Othello, the timeless love story which confronts the issues of racism, questions the notion of loyalty, and is a warning of what can result from a suspicious mind.
Completing PacRep’s 2005 season is the musical comedy Johnny Guitar. Based on the cult western film starring Joan Crawford, this musical spoofs ‘50s-style movie acting, melodramatic romance, and rough-and-tumble cowboy action.
“We were in negotiation for another play and the rights company told us, ‘We just got this Obie award-winning best new musical and we’d like to give it to you,’” Moorer says. “We got the CD, got the script and what a joy! The music is so good, so strong. Every song is hummable, very catchy, very fun.”<>The 2005 PacRep Season opens this Saturday at 7:30pm with M. Butterfly in the Golden Bough Playhouse, Monte Verde between 8th and 9th, Carmel. $22-30/adults; $15-20/seniors and students; $16/children under 12. 622-0700 or www.pacrep.org for more info.>