September marks the official beginning of Wisconsin’s theater season. Following are nutshell previews of three provocative opening productions by southeastern Wisconsin theater companies, along with each company’s season schedule.
Director David Cesarini opens Next Act Theatre’s new season with “Perfect Mendacity,” playwright Jason Wells’ dark comedy/thriller on the nature of truth in our post 9-11 world. Winner of the 2010 Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for an emerging playwright, Wells tells the story of Walter Kreutzer (Mark Ulrich), a microbiologist working for a defense contractor who learns to beat the lie detector test to protect his family and friends. Also featured are Lee Palmer, Marti Goebel, Eddie Marion and Cesarini. Performances run Sept. 19–Oct. 13.
Next Act’s season continues with:
• “Groucho: A Life in Revue,” Nov. 14–Dec. 8.
• “It’s A Wonderful Life: Live Radio Show,” Dec. 12–Jan. 5.
• “Race,” the Milwaukee premiere of a work by David Mamet, Jan. 30–Feb. 23.
• “Three Views of the Same Object,” also a Milwaukee premiere, April 3–27.
Dale Gutzman’s intrepid theater troupe opens its season with the Midwest premiere of “Grey Gardens: The Musical.” The show is based on the 1975 cult documentary about Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Once bright names on New York’s social register, the pair became East Hampton’s most notorious recluses. The 2007 musical by Doug Wright, Scott Frankel and Michael Korie was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and won three. With Niffer Clark, Jack Forbes Wilson and Marilyn White. Performances run Sept. 11–22.
Off the Wall’s production calendar continues with:
• “The Divine Sister,” a one-nun comedy featuring Mark Hagen, Oct. 24–Nov. 3.
• “Cole for Christmas: A Cole Porter Christmas,” a new musical revue by Gutzman, Dec. 18–31.
• “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a classic David Mamet play with Robert Hirschi, Feb. 6–16.
• Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” featuring Gutzman and Marilyn White, March 27–April 6.
• “Giovanni: The Loves and Legends of Don Juan,” starring Jeremy Welter as the famed lover and David Flores as his servant Leporello, May 29–June 8.
The Racine Theater Guild opened its 76th season in July with “The Rocky Horror Show,” and the comedy continues this month with “Suite Surrender.” Michael McKeever’s farce concerns two feuding divas destined for a Florida USO show who are mistakenly booked into the same hotel suite. The fur flies amid mistaken identities, overwrought egos and high-energy mayhem in this salute to classic Hollywood farces. Performances run Sept. 13–29.
Other shows on Racine Theatre Guild’s current production schedule are:
• “Deathtrap,” Ira Levin’s popular thriller, Oct. 25–Nov. 10.
• “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” the musical based on the animated film, Dec. 6–15.
• “Almost, Maine,” nine pseudo-absurdist vignettes about relationships, Jan. 17–Feb. 2.
• “37 Postcards,” a comedy about an eccentric family, Feb. 28–March 16.
• “The Miracle Worker,” William Gibson’s award-winning story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, April 4–13.
• “Les Misérables,” which appears to be Wisconsin’s most often-produced play this season, May 16– June 1.