St. Paul's History Theatre has announced a 2018-19 season — and it still has a place to play it in.
Last year it signed a 10-year lease with McNally Smith College of Music, which owns the building that has been home to the theater since 1988. Two weeks later, McNally Smith declared bankruptcy.
Since then, a number of potential buyers have toured the building and indicated interest in keeping the History Theatre in place. In the meantime, the theater was informed that bankruptcy trustees will grant it a lease through June 2019, the end of its next season.
"It's a little nerve-racking because we don't know exactly where we're headed," said artistic director Ron Peluso. "We're not at liberty to talk about who the potential buyer is, but all the people we have talked to, all the leading contenders, say they want us to stay and be the anchor tenant."
Once a buyer is in place, said Peluso, the hope is to secure a 10-year lease so History Theatre can make some upgrades to its Ralph Rapson-designed space.
"We've never wanted to leave, no matter what," said Peluso. "We have Plan B's in place, in case something would happen, but that's not our choice."
The season includes:
"The Great Society," Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan's sequel to "All the Way," about Lyndon Baines Johnson. Reuniting the "All the Way" leads, including Pearce Bunting as LBJ, Shawn Hamilton as the Rev. Martin Luther King and Andrew Erskine Wheeler as Hubert H. Humphrey, it launches the season in October.
"Teen Idol: The Bobby Vee Story" features the return of Tyler Michaels as Vee. Revised since its 2016 run, the show is about the Fargo native who, as a teenager, was picked to fill in for Buddy Holly at a concert after Holly's tragic death, and went on to record such hits as "Take Good Care of My Baby."
"Stewardess," written by Kira Obolensky, spotlights Mary Pat Laffey, who began working for Northwest Airlines back in the days when "stews" were regularly weighed in and measured. In the mid-'60s, she filed a landmark lawsuit to battle unfair treatment of women.
"Sisters of Peace," about the McDonald sisters from Hollywood Township, Minn. They joined the Sisters of St. Joseph's of Carondelet in the 1940s and '50s and developed a passion for social justice. The play's January reading, which featured Sue Scott and Wendy Lehr, attracted a standing-room-only crowd of about 600, six times the average size for a History Theatre reading.
"Dirty Business: The Spy Musical" surveils the exploits of Betty Pack, a Minnesota socialite who became a counteragent during World War II. Its lyrics and book are by Laurie Flanigan-Hegge ("Sweet Land, the Musical") and music is by Robert Elhai, who did the arrangements for the theater's wildly popular "Glensheen."