It’s that time of year again. We’re roasting chestnuts on open fires, dashing through the snow, and rocking around the Christmas tree. Oh, yes, and anticipating the announcement of the Bobcat Players’ upcoming season. At least, that’s what December means to me.
As the Bobcat Players’ artistic director, I have the awesome and sometimes overwhelming task of putting together our season of four plays. I am very fortunate to have an incredible team of readers to guide and advise me in this endeavor: Keith Zagorski, Josh Antoon, Casey Novak, Patty Hamilton, and Heather Bixler. It’s a great mix of personalities, ages, tastes, and opinions. And somehow, fueled by copious amounts of food over long, hard hours, we come up with myriad possibilities – and have some fun along the way.
But that’s enough of the process. Let’s look to the plays for our 2019 season. I am particularly proud of this year’s choices as every one of them represents a genuine challenge. We will take our audiences from the beautiful landscape of Italy to the teeming streets of 1960s Brighton, England, to the deep waters of Boston Harbor, to the hot and sultry French Quarter of New Orleans. And all – mind you – without having to leave the Ed Schaughency Theater.
We open with a beautifully written romantic comedy that is perfect for spring. Matthew Barber’s Enchanted April is exactly that – enchanting. It’s been on our horizon for a while, but it came into focus again after Rosh Raines (last summer’s director of Too Many Cooks) reminded me of its extraordinary characters and inspired messages. This is a play about an improbable quartet of women living in the dark aftermath of the First World War. They long for escape, meaning, and adventure, and they find it when they rent an Italian castle for the month of April. I have a weakness for plays about women bonding and drawing strength from one another. I believe our audiences feel the same way, and hopefully this will fill the bill. It’s a touching story.
Summer always is a time for us as a community theater to celebrate the carefree, the uninhibited, and the whimsical. Our July show is all of those and far more. We are proud to present a recent Broadway hit, One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, a hilarious commedia dell arte’ piece based on a seventeenth century classic by Goldoni. Commedia dell arte’ is a style of theatre that presents stock characters in hysterical dilemmas. This play is filled with both. It is the fast-paced tale of a down-on-his-luck British chap who finds himself serving two demanding masters at the same time. And he can keep neither of them, nor his duties, nor his cravings straight. Add to this ensemble comedy music from the 1960s and beyond (Beatles fans, take note) and we’re sure to add a spark to the season.
Perhaps our greatest leap of faith ever comes with our fall show. My greatest literary love always has been twentieth century American classics, and after years of discussion we are producing A Streetcar Named Desire. This icon of the American theatre cemented Tennessee Williams’ reputation as a giant in his field. He created incredible characters: tormented Blanche DuBois, her sensuous sister Stella, her ruthless brother-in-law, the rough-hewn Stanley Kowalski, and the gentle, fumbling Mitch. We are honored and excited to bring these characters in this passionate drama to the Bobcat Players’ stage. We can’t wait for our audiences to take a memorable ride on that infamous streetcar.
We instituted our season special, a one-weekend show, seven years ago with Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom’s beautiful tale of friendship, Tuesdays With Morrie. Our goal, then and now, was to bring to our stage plays that we otherwise could not incorporate into our regular season. Some boasted very small casts; others tackled quirky subjects. We have treated all of them in the most minimal way with bare bones staging that allows the actors and the script to carry the performance.
This year we have found a highly entertaining noir-style comedy, Red Herring by Michael Holinger. Part murder mystery, part nostalgic slice of the fifties, part romantic comedy, part social commentary – this script has it all. It begins with a body fished out of Boston Harbor and takes shape with Russian spies and FBI agents, nosy landladies fussy bridal shop owners, and hardened cops. Ultimately it is the love story of three impossibly different couples who all seek meaning and comfort in a crazy world. It’s a most engaging script that will make use of our new lights and sound system and test our technical savvy. It’s sure to be a theatrical experience like no other. [As an aside: Red Herring is the only show in our season that did not make it to Broadway, so there is no official playbill available to post here. But don't worry, we'll have lots of fun insight about it available for you in the future!]
We also are excited to announce that we are welcoming three new directors to the fold: Jessica Patterson–Galayda, Lora Oxenreiter, and Barbara Burgess LeFebvre. Stay tuned for more about them in future blogs.
So that’s the season, varied and vastly entertaining. It entails more than thirty roles, hopefully bringing to the stage some veterans audiences have loved and some newcomers audiences will be eager to meet. Auditions are scheduled, as always, for early January, so anyone who has an urge to be onstage is invited to come out. If the stage isn’t your thing, we need volunteers behind the scenes as well. We welcome anyone who is curious to join our theater family. And we hope that whether performer or stagehand or faithful audience member that, like us, you will fall in love with the theater.