It’s been a busy few weeks since True West closed, and there’s lots of news about the rest of Season 5: American Visions. First up, our exciting partnership with Stageworks on another American classic: Inherit the Wind.
I’m thrilled to be directing Inherit the Wind, the landmark American courtroom drama by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. The production previews on Thursday, with the official opening on Friday night. We’ve assembled a great cast for this American classic, inspired by the famous Scopes Monkey Trial about the teaching of evolution in public schools. Heading the cast is TampaRep favorite Jim Wicker (Imagining Madoff, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) as Matthew Harrison Brady, a dramatic re-imaging of William Jennings Bryan. Standing against Brady is another legal giant, Henry Drummond (Clarence Darrow in real life), played by Richard Coppinger (Stageworks’ Superior Donuts).
Our next mainstage production is the Florida premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s fascinating true tale of groundbreaking women scientists Silent Sky in the Smith Black Box Theater at Tampa Preparatory School on May 5. Gunderson creates an exquisite blend of science, history, family ties, and fragile love, as a passionate young woman must map her own passage through a society determined to keep her in her place. Of a recent Atlanta production, ArtsATL wrote: “Silent Sky… could act as a simple reminder of what a pleasant, thought-provoking evening at the theater ought to look like. It’s a lively, funny, accessible play that’s alive with interesting ideas.” Gunderson recently received the Dramatists Guild’s prestigious Lanford Wilson Award for 2016, and is already one of the most-produced playwrights in the United States. Her drama I and You is now enjoying a successful Off-Broadway run.
For Silent Sky, director Connie LaMarca-Frankel (TampaRep’s I DO! I DO!) has assembled a celestial cast of TampaRep veterans, including Emilia Sargent (Blanche DuBois in TampaRep’s A Streetcar Named Desire), Lynne Locher (The Children’s Hour), Caroline Jett (True West) and Derrick Phillips (the title role in Tampa Shakespeare Festival’s upcoming Richard III), plus newcomer Karissa Barber.
We’re also excited about another partnership, this one with Creative Loafing. We’ve teamed up to present Conversation Starters: staged readings of new plays you won’t be able to stop talking about. Starting on April 11th with The Gun Show, we’ll be presenting two additional plays: Blackberry Winter (May 9) and Johnny Ten Beers’ Daughter (June 13). The Gun Show features Jim Wicker and is directed by Elizabeth Brincklow. Each reading will be followed by a talkback — it’s a conversation, after all.
We’ll close American Visions with a production of Eugene O’Neill’s epic masterpiece, The Iceman Cometh. Starring Ned Averill-Snell as Theodore “Hickey” Hickman and Michael Mahoney as Larry Slade, O’Neill’s play finds humor and pathos among the derelicts who inhabit Harry Hope’s saloon in lower Manhattan in the early 20th century. Iceman recently received an outstanding production at New York’s BAM Theatre, starring Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy. The large TampaRep cast features some of Tampa’s finest actors: Jack Holloway, Micahel McGreevy, Jordan Foote, Josh Goff, and more, with up-and-coming actor Nick Hoop in the crucial role of Don Parritt.
Iceman opens on June 16th in Studio 120 on the USF Tampa campus.
Thank you — and we’ll see you at the Theatre.
C. David Frankel