By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun
9:26 AM EDT, May 27, 2011
A year from now, Everyman Theatre will begin packing for the big move to a freshly renovated venue on the west side of town. To help stem any regrets, the title of the last show in the company's current Charles Street location will carry a familiar admonition: "You Can't Take It With You."
That 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy about family, society and politics by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart is one of three classic 20th-century works to be featured on the 2011-2012 season, along with two recent, much-admired plays and a winter cabaret show.
"I couldn't resist doing 'You Can't Take It With You' at the end of our swan song season here," said Everyman artistic director Vincent Lancisi. "The Charles Street building was never meant to be a theater. It originally was a bowling alley. But this is our home and has been for 16 years, so I want to celebrate that, to toast everything we've done here and go out with a bang."
All nine members of Everyman's resident company will be in the production of "You Can't Take It With You," which will open in May 2012, directed by Lancisi. Filling out the rest of the large cast will be actors who have made regular appearances with the company.
The 2011-2012 lineup begins in September with Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," a powerful look at an African-American family carving out a future in 1950s Chicago. The cast will include resident artist Dawn Ursula.
"This is such a timeless classic," Lancisi said. "When I went back and read it, I felt it could have been written today. I think it is the quintessential family drama."
November will see one of Noel Coward's best-known works, "Private Lives," a droll examination of a divorced couple colliding with past memories and affections.
"We've only done one Noel Coward work, and that was a dozen years ago," Lancisi said. "Bruce Nelson and Deborah Hazlett will star. They are at the perfect place in their careers to play these roles."
In January, the company turns to a work by Michael Weller, "Fifty Words," which played Off-Broadway to considerable praise in 2008. The Everyman production makes the play's Baltimore premiere.
"It is a really compelling drama about what happens to a couple when their 9-year-old goes away for a night and they have to interact with each other," Lancisi said. "They go from amorous lovemaking to wanting to kill each other. It's marital warfare, a la Edward Albee. This is one to definitely leave the children at home."
Slated for March is another Baltimore premiere, Tarell Alvin McCraney's "The Brother Size," a hit at the Under the Radar Festival in New York in 2007. The plot involves two siblings in Louisiana bayou country. One has just been released from jail and goes to work for his brother's auto shop. Complications follow the arrival of another former prisoner.
"The play brings in West African myths and all sorts of music — soul, hip-hop, rhythm and blues," Lancisi said. "There's a ceremonial aspect to the piece. But it's a very conventional story, really. It's a riveting story about brotherhood and temptation. At its core, it's about the need for community. I think our audience will drink it up."
For several years now, Everyman has spiced its season with a winter cabaret devoted to the music of a single creative artist or team. The choice for 2011-12 is Dorothy Fields, the lyricist whose decades-long career included collaborations with some of the best songwriters in the business.
She penned the words to such hits as "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "I'm In the Mood for Love," along with such Broadway shows as "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "Sweet Charity." Howard Breitbart will direct the salute to Fields.
Construction on a $17.5 million project to create Everyman's new home out of the century-old Town Theatre on West Fayette Street began three weeks ago (about $750,000 remains to be raised). An official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled June 7.
"We had a lot of feedback from our patrons, expressing a fear of moving, a fear of change," Lancisi said, "but I'm hearing less of that now. I think people understand this is not a move we are choosing lightly. And we're doing everything in our power to hang onto everything that makes Everyman Theatre unique."
For more information on Everyman Theatre's 2011-12 season, call 410-752-2208 or go to everymantheatre.org.
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