Magazine article American Theatre

Front & Center

Magazine article American Theatre

Front & Center

Article excerpt

NEW TAKES ON OLD TALES: Ondine may be best known as the watery vehicle that steered Audrey Hepburn to stardom (in its 1954 Broadway production of die Jean Giraudoux play), but San Francisco's Cutting Ball Theater has its own take on the mermaid-meets-mortal myth (Feb. 5-March 6). The theatre's website ("come ashore and explore the elements") makes this world premiere adaptation by Katharine Sherman sound positively immersive.

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Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., fresh on the heels of Arena Stage's Oliver! revival comes the nearby Kennedy Center's new musical OLIVERio: A Brazilian Twist (Jan. 30-Feb. 21). With book and lyrics by Karen Zacarias, music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, and direction by Juliette Carrillo, the new show features a gender switch--Oli is now a girl who masquerades as a boy--as well as such un-Dickensian locales as beaches, Carnaval, and favelas (actually, on second thought, favelas are pretty Dickensian).

In Austin, two thorny classics get make overs: Generic Ensemble Company mounts The Mikado: Reclaimed at VORTEX Repertory Company (Feb. 12-27), in a production conceived and directed by kt shorb, and Rude Mechs returns to the task of Fixing Timon of Athens (Feb. 4-27).

Finally, after a recent bow at San Francisco's Cowell Theater, the Bay Area-based ShadowLight Productions brings Feathers of Fire to Brooklyn Academy of Music (Feb. 5-7). This shadow-puppet/digital animation version of the tale of star-crossed Zal and Rudabeh is adapted by Hamid Rahmanian from a portion of the tenth-century Persian epic poem Shahnameh ("The Epic of Kings").

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HISTORY STRAIGHT UP: If the past is foreign country, many theatres are making the trip this month. At Kansas City, Mo.'s Coterie Theatre, Wendy Lement and Bethany Dunakin 's And Justice for Some: The Freedom Trial of Anthony Burns [1858] cross-examines the case of a runaway slave whose return to his Southern master helped create the momentum for Lincoln's new Republican Party to take the White House (Jan. 26-Feb. 21). At St. Paul, Minn.'s History Theatre, Carlyle Brown's George Bonga: Black Voyageur tells the story of a half-black/half-Ojibwe fur trader in pre-Civil War Minnesota, charged with hunting down an Ojibwe fugitive (Feb. 6-28). At Pittsburgh's City Theatre, Keith Reddin's Some Brighter Distance (Jan. 2 3-Feb. 14) tackles the dilemma of German rocket scientist Arthur Rudolph, a key player in the American space program until revelations of his Nazi past drove him from the U.S. At South Carolina's Charleston Stage, Julian Wiles's The Seat of Justice (Feb. 19-March 6) recalls the 1947 desegregation case in rural Clarendon County, S.C., that led eventually to the landmark Brown v. …

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