Guthrie: 14 plays for 2011-12

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2011 - 5:15 PM

The range of plays, to be spread among three stages, varies from Shakespeare to Neil Simon to Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

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Tracie Bennett repeats her break-out performance as Minnesota's own Judy Garland in "End of the Rainbow" on the McGuire Proscenium Stage.

Photo: Nobby Clark, Credit Photograph By Nobby Clark

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The Guthrie Theater has announced 14 plays for the 2011-12 season, spread among three stages. The slate includes a Judy Garland import from London, work by Neil Simon and Tennessee Williams and an adaptation by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. Ten of the plays are part of the subscription season.

On the thrust stage, director Joe Dowling opens the season with Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," Sept. 10-Nov. 5, with Broadway actor Dearbhla Molloy; Dowling will again direct Crispin Whittell's adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," Nov. 19-Dec. 30; Williams is represented with "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Jan. 14-Feb. 26; British director Christopher Luscombe will stage Noël Coward's "Hay Fever," March 10-April 22.

The Guthrie continues its partnership with Penumbra Theatre -- but for the first time on the thrust stage -- with a production of James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner," directed by Lou Bellamy and running May 5-June 17.

"The play lends itself to the thrust and we'll have a gospel choir on the stage," Dowling said of the production. It will feature actress Greta Oglesby.

The thrust season concludes with Gary Gisselman directing Guthrie veterans Raye Birk and Peter Michael Goetz in Simon's "The Sunshine Boys," July 7-Sept. 2.

The proscenium season begins with Heaney's poetic adaptation of "The Burial at Thebes," based on Sophocles' "Antigone." Marcela Lorca will direct, with original music by J.D. Steele. It runs Sept. 24-Nov. 6. John Miller-Stephany directs the chestnut "Charley's Aunt." It runs Nov. 26-Jan. 15.

In January 2012, the proscenium will give the American premiere of "End of the Rainbow," by Peter Quilter. A hit in London, the piece focuses on Garland's career. Olivier Award-winning actor Tracie Bennett will repeat her London performance as Garland at the Guthrie, Jan. 28-March 11. The Guthrie said Tuesday that the show will go to Broadway after its Minneapolis engagement, which is being "enhanced" with money from commercial producers.

Dowling will direct Donald Margulies' "Time Stands Still," April 7-May 20. In June 2012, Miller-Stephany will mount the American premiere of "Roman Holiday," an adaptation of the film that uses Cole Porter songs and a book by Paul Blake, who did "Irving Berlin's White Christmas." It will run June 9-Aug. 19.

The Guthrie will produce three works in the upstairs studio. Benjamin McGovern, who programs the space, will direct "The Edge of Our Bodies," by Adam Rapp, Oct. 2-Nov. 20. The Acting Company, which has co-produced Shakespeare stagings the past two seasons in the proscenium, will move upstairs with "Julius Caesar," Jan 14-Feb. 5, directed by Rob Melrose ("Happy Days" in the studio). The third production is a Conor McPherson adaptation of "The Birds," a short story by Daphne du Maurier.

"We haven't done our own productions in the studio for a couple of years for financial reasons," Dowling said. "So we are anxious to fulfill the promise of us using all three theaters in separate productions."

Information on subscription packages is at 612-377-2224 or www.guthrietheater.org.

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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