The Guthrie Theater has revealed the two shows it held back when it unveiled its 2017-18 season in early March.
The theater will stage “West Side Story” as its big summer musical June 16-Aug. 26, 2018 — the centennial year of composer Leonard Bernstein's birth — officials announced Monday, a day after an Ordway Center production of the classic musical closed in St. Paul.
And in an extraordinary coup, the Guthrie also will produce “Indecent” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, which opens Tuesday on Broadway. The play, co-conceived and directed by Rebecca Taichman, deals with a theater controversy nearly a century ago, when a drama about a lesbian romance between a prostitute and the daughter of a Jewish brothel owner made its Broadway debut. A director for the Guthrie production, scheduled for Feb. 17-March 24, 2018, has not been announced.
“These two shows are part of the larger tapestry of the season and they’re in conversation with each other and with everything else,” said Guthrie artistic director Joe Haj (pictured above in a photo by Keri Pickett). “We open our season with ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ a 400-year-old play, and close it with ‘West Side Story,’ the classic book musical that it inspired.”
Haj will helm “West Side Story,” which never has been staged by the Guthrie and has been on his own bucket list for years. “We’ll be making it for the thrust stage and doing it right,” he said, thanks to a multi-year, $1 million producing gift from Twin Cities philanthropists Bill and Penny George that will allow the hiring of a full orchestra and large cast for the musical.
Haj, incidentally, saw the Ordway production. “A very good job,” he said. “Obviously, I have particular ideas about how I would like to approach that work and how it might go into the thrust,” as opposed to a proscenium like the Ordway’s.
“These two shows round out a season that, as a whole, offers such a diversity of voices and a lot of relevant, moving conversations,” said Haj. “It’s very exciting.”