Diverse lineup comes to stage for Colonial Players' 2010-2011 season

Judging by the lineup for Colonial Players' 62nd season, the shows will offer exciting and diverse entertainment.

At a recent rehearsal, president Terry Averill and artistic director Beverly van Joolen agreed.

"We have a nice variety of beloved chestnuts, lesser-known comedies, and we're throwing in a spy story," Averill said. "I'm thrilled to have Rick Wade to direct our opening show, 'Private Lives,' and Barry Bach directing the second one, 'Earth and Sky,' which is an intriguing mystery.

"Craig Mummey will direct the next-to-last show of the season, 'Lettice and Lovage' — a comedy that may be new to many audience members."

Van Joolen is excited about "offering audiences an intriguing variety of genres with directors new to Colonial Players, as well as favorite past directors."

• CP's season opens with Noel Coward's "Private Lives." Local director Wade describes the show as "a wonderful play by the best writer of all and timeless in people marrying, divorcing and having affairs." He promises a surprise for audiences at the end of the show.

Debuting in 1930, the comedy tells the story of Elyot and Amanda, divorced for five years, who meet again with new spouses Sybil and Victor and find they are honeymooning in adjoining suites at the same hotel. What ensues becomes delicious fun.

"Private Lives" opens Sept. 17 and runs Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 9. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, plus 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

•Opening Oct. 29 and running Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 20, Douglas Post's one-act mystery "Earth and Sky" tells the noir tale of poet and librarian Sara, whose lover of two months has been murdered. She investigates his life and last days against a backdrop of the violent Chicago underworld.

•Not part of the regular subscription season, Colonial Players' favorite version of "A Christmas Carol," created in 1981 by Wade and Dick Gessner, returns for a Dec. 9-19 run. A public ticket sale is scheduled for Nov. 20.

•Next is Jim Leonard's "The Diviners." First produced in 1980, the story takes place during the depth of the Depression in rural Indiana, where residents deal with storms and drought. Among them is a boy named Buddy who possesses knowledge of nature's forces. Edd Miller will direct "The Diviners," starting Jan. 7 and running Thursdays-Sundays through Jan. 22.

• August Wilson's last play, "Radio Golf," will be directed by Michelle Harmon and is scheduled to run weekends, Feb. 4-26 to coincide with Black History Month. CP tried to stage an earlier Wilson play in 2003 but encountered casting problems, according to marketing director Beth Terranova. "We agreed that this play is too good to pass up. The story of property development versus historical significance is compelling and should resonate with audience members regardless of background or ethnicity."

•Spring arrives with this season's musical: Stephen Sondheim's "Company." This multi-award-winning musical will be directed by Joe Thompson. It introduces the audience to 35-year-old Bobby, whose close circle of married friends pressures him to marry. Sondheim's subtle melodies and witty, wry lyrics give insight into Bobby's single life and perhaps our own as well. "Company" runs weekends, March 18-April 16.

• Peter Shaffer's "Lettice and Lovage" will be directed by veteran Craig Mummey, who will bring the rare comedy by the creator of "Equus" and "Amadeus" to CP.

The play tells the story of Lettice Douffet, an imaginative historic house tour guide who embroiders the facts until she is discovered by her outraged superior. The two women eventually form an improbable alliance that leads to a friendship of kindred spirits. "Lettice and Lovage" runs weekends, May 6-28.

•The 2010-11 season closes with Neil LaBute's "The Shape of Things." The play will be directed by Gary Sheldon, who is new to Colonial Players. Described by van Joolen as "a psychological thriller offering a creative look at the art of manipulation," this one-act 2001 play centers on the nature of art and love in the lives of four young college students at a Midwest university. "The Shape of Things" runs June 10-25.

If you go

Season subscriptions are available for $126 for adults for seven shows and $98 for students and seniors older than 65. Adult subscriptions for five shows are $90 and $70 for students and seniors. Information: 410-268-7373 or thecolonialplayers.org.

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