The Arkansas Repertory Theatre on Little Rock's Main Street will open its 2018-19 mainstage season Sept. 5-23 with The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.
"It's such a beautiful play," says the Rep's producing artistic director, John Miller-Stephany, who announced the season for patrons Monday.
He will be directing the drama, set in a post-Depression St. Louis tenement, focusing on a woman nostalgic for her Southern debutante past; her two children, a rebellious son and his painfully shy sister obsessed with her collection of fragile glass animals.
"I'm very fond of Tennessee Williams," Miller-Stephany says. "I've directed a couple of productions at the Guthrie" -- the Minneapolis theater for which he worked before joining the Rep in 2017. "I directed Streetcar Named Desire and Night of the Iguana, but I've never directed Glass Menagerie. It's a delicate piece, kind of like a glass unicorn.
"I was drawn to it because it was Williams' first hit. And it's very accessible. It's one of those plays kids read in school -- ninth-graders, when I went to school -- and perhaps because people begrudgingly read it in school, when they see a production on stage, it's magical."
Miller-Stephany will also direct two other productions this season:
• Dec. 5-30: A musical version of Little Women (music by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, book by Allan Knee, based on the Louisa May Alcott novel). Four sisters, led by tomboy Jo, stand resilient in post-Civil War New England while they and their mother await their father's return from war.
• June 5-23, 2019: Women in Jeopardy by Wendy MacLeod. Three middle-aged divorcees in their 40s have bonded over a book club, but things get chaotic when the new dentist boyfriend of one of them starts displaying a Hannibal Lecter obsession and a collection of "antique" orthodontic contraptions in his basement. "I wanted to throw in a new one contemporary comedy by a woman," Miller-Stephany says. "I rarely laugh out loud when reading a play. It's a guffawing-type piece."
The rest of the season:
• Oct. 24-Nov. 11: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Todd Kreidler's adaptation of William Rose's screenplay for the 1967 film that starred Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier, focusing on an interracial relationship and its impact on the young woman's supposedly liberal parents. Rep founder Cliff Fannin Baker will direct.
"Even given its theme there are moments that are a little uncomfortable," Miller-Stephany says. "It's a really smart adaptation. "It's still set in the '60s, so the subject matter is not fooled around with, but it's very funny and very moving.
"Sadly, it's still quite important in terms of messaging. The laws have changed since '67, when the film came out; there were still so many states where interracial marriage was illegal, so that was really ground-breaking. But even now we're not living in a post-racist society; it's just not. When you think about it, the majority of people in this country, their social circles people are made up of people who look like them. So I think it's still incredibly relevant."
• Feb. 6-24, 2019: As You Like It by William Shakespeare. Giovanna Sardelli, who helmed the Rep's successful and highly antic production of the adaptation of Moliere's School for Lies this season, will direct the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to pursue her beloved into a slightly enchanted forest.
"The Rep has done quite a few Shakespeares in the last five or six years, but they've all been rather serious and very male-centric -- Hamlet, the Scottish Play [Macbeth], Henry V. I thought we should look at one of the comedies, and I was especially drawn to this play because of Rosalind, who is, in my mind and to many critics' minds, the most perfect Shakespeare female character."
He doesn't yet have an actress in mind, but "I love the fact that we're putting a female character center stage, and for that reason, I really wanted to have a woman director. Giovanna did such a good job with School for Lies and she's really eager to do more classical work. I thought this would be a perfect combination."
• March 27-April 21, 2019: Million Dollar Quartet, original concept and direction by Floyd Mutrux, inspired by the music of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins; book by Mutrux and Colin Escott. The show, which has been through here on tour, focuses on the Dec. 4, 1956, Sun Records recording session with Presley, Cash, Perkins, Lewis and producer Sam Philips. Miller-Stephany doesn't think it'll be too hard to cast -- director Hunter Foster, who originated the role of Philips on Broadway, has put together several productions.
Season subscription information is available by calling (501) 378-0405 or online at TheRep.org.
Style on 02/25/2018
Print Headline: 'Beautiful' Glass Menagerie opens Rep's '18-19 season