July 27--LAS CRUCES -- Las Cruces' reputation as the Broadway of the Southwest should add some luster during the 2014-15 season, as a new summer theater company joins the "big three" and regional independent and children's company productions with a new roster of presentations that will include premieres of brand new works.
Las Cruces Community Theater, the American Southwest Theatre Company at New Mexico State University, and Black Box Theatre/No Strings Theatre Company will offer comedy, drama, mystery, musicals and some new takes on beloved classics.
The ASTC lineup will include a musical inspired by a Charles Dickens novel, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," and Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
"I'm extremely enthusiastic about 'Other Desert Cities,' by Jon Robin Baitz, scheduled for spring, which is among the best new American plays of the past few years. I think our season reflects an exciting balance of brand new work developed here at NMSU, a new American play, a musical, and Shakespeare," said William Storm, interim department head for NMSU Theatre Arts.
"We will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the High Desert Play Development Workshop, begun in 2004-05, the purpose of which is to develop new works for theater," Storm said. "We are opening the season with 'West Highland Way,' by Meridith Friedman, which was developed as a High Desert play this past January in a week-long workshop with the playwright in residence. In January 2015, we will be giving a second workshop to 'For the Falls,' by Emily Dendinger -- work that began here this past January."
Las Cruces Community Theatre
Las Cruces Community Theatre will also premiere new works this season.
"Mark Medoff has already gotten several submissions from playwrights for a directoral project premiering a new work in March, and in April, we'll have the world premiere of 'Shoulders' by Jeffry Kinghorn. I love the idea that we're actually premiering two new works this season. We're also featuring a thriller, 'Death Trap,' a female version of 'The Odd Couple,' and two musicals: 'Meet Me in St. Louis' and 'Company' by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth. It's a pretty good mix. We feel we can't lose with a season like this," said Janet Mazdra, LCCT board president.
It's an amazing season. We're opening with a musical, 'The Full Monty' and there's a lot of buzz about that one," Mazdra said.
Black Box Theatre
Ceil Herman, who founded and owns the No Strings Theatre Company/Black Box Theatre with her husband Peter, reports the couple are pleased with their season lineup and think audiences will be, too.
"It's very patron-friendly. We have a lot of comedies. There are no musicals, but 'The Arabian Nights' has a lot of music and dance in it. We'll have 'Rocket Man,' by Steven Dietz. 'Greater Tuna' did extremely well and patrons asked for a sequel, so 'Greater Tuna Christmas' will be our holiday presentation this year. We'll also be presenting the Southwest premiere of a new play, 'Mad Gravity,' by William Downs. I think it's a really great, exciting season and our patrons will really like it," Herman said.
Scaffolding Theatre Company
In June, the new Scaffolding Theatre Company made its debut with a presentation of the Tony Award-winning musical "Nine." The company, founded by veteran performer, director, producer and educator Megan McQueen of Las Cruces and Justin Lucero of El Paso, plans to stage two summer productions annually.
Las Cruces has even evolved its own off-Broadway theater scene which continues to thrive, too, with avant-garde presentations by Lo-Fi Productions and by Boba CafÉ, 1900 S. Espina St., which presents regular dinner theater cabaret, special events and premieres of original works and musical revues.
The Rio Grande Theatre will host several theatrical presentations, including traveling shows, special revues, free Every Other Tuesday presentations and annual summer Missoula Children's Theater workshops.
Kathleen Albers, director of the DoÑa Ana Arts Council, which manages the Rio Grande Theatre, announced that more professional productions are planned, similar to their presentation this year of the Broadway hit, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."
DoÑa Ana Lyric Opera presents shows that feature NMSU students and visiting professionals. For information, call 575-646-2067, or visit nmsu.edu/~music.
Las Cruces Chamber Ballet's presentations include annual performances of the holiday classic "The Nutcracker," Dec. 18 through 21 at NMSU's Atkinson Music Center Recital Hall and periodic dance reviews. For information, call 575-527-1893.
Other special performances are presented by venues that range from area restaurants to the Pan American Center and the Las Cruces Convention Center.
Several youth theater organizations offer workshops, training and productions for the public.
NMSU Theater Arts Children's Theatre Workshop runs September through May. For information, call 575-646-4517, or visit http://theatre.nmsu.edu/nmsu/CTW.
A Children's Theatre of the Mesilla Valley (zianet.com/act, 575-571-1413) is a local nonprofit that offers year-round theater and film training to area youth.
Starlight Children's Theatre Company of Las Cruces offers productions, too, including sophisticated musical presentations based on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. For information, call 575-521-7400 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local public and private schools also offer plays and theatrical presentations throughout the year.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.
Black Box Theatre/ No Strings Company
Where: Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
How much: $12, $10 students and seniors (over 65). Preferred Patron Package season ticket: $72, $60 students and seniors
Info and reservations: 575 523-1223, no-strings.org
--"Rocket Man," by Steven Dietz, directed by Ceil Herman, Aug. 29 to Sept. 14. This serious comedy about the road not taken explores one man's obsessive desire to find his "parallel world." Donny Rowan has placed everything he owns on his front lawn, along with a sign that reads: "Here's my life. Make an offer."
--"Moonlight and Magnolias," by Ron Hutchinson, directed by Shaud Hadfield, Oct. 10 to 26. In 1939, Hollywood is abuzz. Legendary producer David O. Selznick has shut down production of his new epic, "Gone with the Wind." The screenplay, you see, just doesn't work. So what's an all-powerful movie mogul to do? He locks screenwriter Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming in his office, closes the shades, and on a diet of bananas and peanuts, the three men labor over five days to fashion a screenplay for one of the most successful and beloved films of all time.
--"A Tuna Christmas," by Ed Howard, Jaston Williams and Joe Sears, directed by Ceil Herman, Nov. 21 to Dec. 7. It's Christmas in the third smallest town in Texas. Radio station OKKK news personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie, played by Algernon D'Ammassa and David Reyes, report on various Yuletide activities, including hot competition in the annual lawn display contest. Many colorful Tuna denizens, including some you will recognize from "Greater Tuna," and some appearing here for the first time, join in the holiday fun.
--"Impossible Marriage," by Beth Henley, directed by Nikka Ziemer, Jan. 30 to Feb. 15. This well-reviewed comedy received critical acclaim. "What gives the play its savor and joy are, as usual, Henley's women -- those ditsy females, unknown to natural law, who always seem to get their own way, disconcerting even when they don't know what their own way is," raved the New York Post. "It's about what happens when a younger woman marries an older man, and it's very, very funny," said Ceil Herman, founder of the Black Box Theatre/No Strings Theatre Company with her husband, Peter Herman.
--"The Hothouse," by Harold Pinter, directed by Algernon D'Ammassa, March 13 to 29. Set in an unnamed government institution of dubious purpose, which is run by an assemblage of bumbling, sometimes sinister, and often hilarious bureaucrats, the play finds the author at the top of his youthful powers.
--"Mad Gravity," by William Missouri Downs, directed by Ceil Herman, May 1 to 17. This new comedy by the author of "Cockeyed," focuses on two Dada performance artists who have built a theatre in their living room. Tonight their home/theatre is hosting a dinner party. Things go quickly awry when they discover the other couple wasn't told about the live audience and go bad to worse when they discover an asteroid is heading their way. They and the audience are forced to answer existential questions: Can humans be good if no one is watching? What is the meaning of life? What the hell is performance art?
--"Arabian Nights," by Dominic Cooke, directed by Karen Caroe, June 5 to 21. A simple and delightfully inventive re-telling of the stories from the Arabian Nights.
American Southwest Theatre Company
Where: Center for the Arts, 1000 E. University Ave.
How much: $17, $14 seniors 65 and up, NMSU faculty/staff; $10 ages 3 to 17, NMSU students; $5 high school students. Season tickets are $56; $50 for senior citizens, NMSU faculty/staff, and students. Coupon Book is $105 with eight coupons for any performances.
Info: 575-646-4515, nmsutheatre.com.
--"West Highland Way," by Meredith Friedman, directed by Larissa Luray, Sept. 26 to Oct. 12. Jane, reeling from a broken engagement, sets forth on a 95-mile walking trail in Scotland with her father. When a chance encounter with a charming Irishman re-opens her heart, she must choose between her old life and an uncertain future.
--"The Mystery of Edwin Drood," book, music and lyrics by Rupert Holmes, directed by Josh Chenard, Nov. 21 to Dec. 7. Based on Charles Dickens' unfinished novel, this Tony Award-winning musical follows the exploits of the Theatre Royale Music Hall Company as they attempt to complete the unfinished story of Edwin Drood. The audience will choose a different ending to the show each night.
--"Other Desert Cities," by Jon Robin Baitz, directed by Josh Chenard, Feb. 20 to March 8. The conservative Wyeth household's family Christmas erupts when their liberal daughter Brooke arrives bearing a soon-to-be published memoir full of family secrets.
--"Twelfth Night," by William Shakespeare, directed by Larissa Lury, April 17 to May 3. After surviving a shipwreck, Viola arrives in Illyria and disguises herself as a man. But when Lady Olivia falls in love with her, and twin brother Sebastian suddenly appears, chaos and laughter abound.
Las Cruces Community Theatre
Where: Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main St.
How much: $9 to $14, depending on age and play
Season tickets: $55, Senior/Student/Military: $50
Info: 575-523-1200, lcctnm.org
--"Death Trap," by Ira Levin, directed by Les Boyce, Oct. 10 to 26. One of the great popular successes of recent Broadway history, this ingeniously-constructed play offers a rare and skillful blending of two priceless theatrical ingredients -- gasp-inducing thrills and spontaneous laughter. Dealing with the devious machinations of a writer of thrillers whose recent offerings have been flops, and who is prepared to go to any lengths to improve his fortunes, it provides twists and turns and sudden shocks.
--"Meet Me in St. Louis," by Hugh Wheeler, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine, directed by Janet Mazdra, Dec. 5 to 21. Join the Smith family at the 1904 World's Fair, and see how their love and respect for each other is tempered with the genuine humor that can only be generated by such a special family. Memorable musical numbers include "The Boy Next Door," "A Raving Beauty," "The Trolley Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
--"The Odd Couple" by Neil Simon, directed by larry chandler , Jan. 23 to Feb. 8. Unger and Madison are at it again! Florence Unger and Olive Madison, that is, in the female version of the classic comedy. Instead of the poker party that begins the original version, Ms. Madison has invited the girls over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. The Pidgeon sisters have been replaced by the two Constanzuela brothers. But the hilarity remains the same.
--Mark Medoff Project: March 6 to 22. Tony-Award winning playwright Medoff will direct an original production chosen from script submissions.
--"Shoulders," by Jeffrey Kinghorn, directed by David Edwards, April 24 to May 10. The McClintocks, a family of women in San Francisco in 1942, have come through the great depression thanks to the grit of Lorraine, the eldest daughter, a shipyard welder, upon whom her mother and younger sister depend to keep the family going. As the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor leads to fear of invasion on the beaches of California, Lorraine helps their Japanese-American neighbor prepare for internment, while she is forced to choose between a life with a man who has declared his love for her, and the responsibility she has toward her family who are not able to survive in a world at war without her.
--"Company," by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, directed by W. Dale Pawley, June 12 to 28. On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor Robert contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks, and even a wedding, his married friends explain the pros and cons of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious, yet accurate, array of interactions.
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