Williamston Theatre 2018/2019 Season

We are just past the halfway point of this season, and neck deep in rehearsals for Doublewide, but the wheel keeps turning. I’m so pleased to announce our upcoming Season!

Williamston Theatre 2018/2019 Season

Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson
September 20 – October 21, 2018

Based on the true story and science of early 20th century female “computers” at Harvard Observatory. Astonishing discoveries await Henrietta Leavitt as she maps distant stars in galaxies beyond our own. But this brilliant, headstrong pioneer must struggle for recognition in the man’s world of turn-of-the-century astronomy. In this exquisite blend of science, history, family ties, and fragile love, a passionate young woman must map her own passage through a society determined to keep a woman in her place. An inspiring, stunningly beautiful tale.

A Hunting Shack Christmas by Jessica Lind Peterson
Nov. 15 – Dec. 23, 2018

Looking to sort out his life, Charlie heads up to the hunting shack that’s been in his family for generations. Instead of the peace of mind he was looking for, he finds himself buried in a blizzard of snow, unexpected family squatters, beef jerky, crazy internet romance, and more snow. Can he sort it all out in time for his wedding anniversary? And who the heck is Helge?!

To Quiet The Quiet by Christy Hall
Jan. 24 – Feb. 24, 2019
A World Premiere

Having suffered great loss and heartbreak in her life, Kathy, now middle-aged and alone, is a woman on the edge. Haunted by her past, and her own personal demons, Kathy seems to be losing the battle against her thoughts, her words, her fears. And the one man who can help Kathy may prove to be just as powerless against her. This new mystery play will keep you riveted through it’s deepest, darkest secrets.

The Gin Game by D.L. Coburn
March 21 – April 20, 2019
Featuring Ruth Crawford and Hugh Maguire
1978 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Drama

Weller Martin is playing solitaire on the porch of a seedy nursing home. Enter Fonsia Dorsey, a prim, self-righteous woman. They discover they both dislike the home and enjoy gin rummy, so they begin to play. As they play, intimate details begin to reveal themselves, and what follows was called by the New York Times “The closest thing the theatre offers to a duel at 10 paces.”

New Releases by Joseph Zettelmaier
May 9 – June 9, 2019
A World Premiere

Jen is going down with the sinking ship. That ship is Avid Video, a small-time video rental store that is circling the drain. One night, a strange woman comes in to rent a video that has never been rented…one that Jen didn’t even know the store carried. The two of them strike a bizarre deal, and as the months go on, Jen struggles to unravel the mystery of this woman, even as the store she loves marches towards extinction. A warm comedy that’ll melt your funny bone and touch your heart.

Popcorn Falls by James Hindman
June 20 – July 28, 2019

The sleepy town of Popcorn Falls is forced into bankruptcy when a neighboring town threatens to turn them into a sewage treatment plant. Their only hope – OPEN A THEATRE! Two actors play over twenty roles in a world of farce, love and desperation proving once and for all that art can save the world. You won’t want to miss this hilarious, theatrical whirlwind!

For fun, a program letter

Just for fun, and because I’m asked about the process of  “Season Selection” often, here’s the program letter I wrote for our current production of Murder For Two (which, by the way, is selling like HOTCAKES! – if you think of hotcakes as something that sell a lot, quickly.)

In the inside cover of the playbill for each show, one of us writes a “letter” to the patrons, just a “Thanks for being here” or an update on the season, or an “state of the union” about the theatre itself, that kind of thing.  This time I just had fun with the topic of Season Selection.  Here it is!

Hi everyone,

Welcome to Williamston Theatre, and our production of Murder For Two.  I am SO pleased that you’re here for this wonderful show! 

I’m often stopped by members of our delightful audiences, people we consider to be part of the WT family, who want to share their thoughts on the plays we choose.  I have to say, I love those conversations.  Some folks enjoy everything, some folks will say “This was the best one! I sure needed that laugh, do more of these!” and then in the next minute I’ll have a patron say “This was fun but, boy, 1984 was better –those hard-hitting dramas that make us think are my favorite!” 

Getting so much interaction and response from people is one of my favorite parts of this job.  If the audience didn’t come, wasn’t invested, there’d be no reason for us to keep going – it’s the connection between audience and artist, between storyteller and participating receiver, that makes the theatre vital and alive.  This isn’t a video on a screen – it’s a live connection, and that’s so important!  

There’s another reason I love talking with our patrons though – and that’s the VARIETY of comments I get.  The diversity of likes and passions that all of you share with us is inspiring.  That’s why we work to keep a variety in our selection of plays for each season.   Put on a hard-hitting literary adaptation of a dystopian future? Sure.  Then follow that with a gentle, thoughtful story about a professor and a student each at a crossroad in life?  Yep.  End with an incredibly fun, funny, energetic musical that will make people laugh and shake their heads in amazement as one woman bounces back and forth between a dozen characters?  You better believe that’s the kind of season I like!  Why? Because LIFE is like that.  It changes.  It’s never all the same thing.  There’s always something new happening, some new challenge, some new lesson, and some new way for us to deal with it all. 

A good theatre season… it’s like a good meal – not every course is the same.  You get your main course, vegetables, soups, and your desserts.  Each has their own flavor, and it’s the combination of the flavors that make it work.  An evening of just main courses?  Too heavy.  An evening of just desserts?  You’re done after two (well… let’s be honest…. maybe three!) 

So – here we are, at the end of Season Eleven.  We’ve officially arrived at Dessert.  I truly hope you enjoy this fun, funny, toe-tapping piece.  I hope you leave here laughing, in a wonderful mood, and ready to face the world with a smile. 

Lastly – I hope you join us for next season!  We’re cookin’ up a 6-course meal that’ll knock your socks off. 

Thanks for being a part of the family.

-Tony

PS – If you see one of us in the lobby – don’t forget to tell us what you think!  

The Williamston Theatre 2017-2018 Season!

I’m very excited to be able to release this into the wild!

Williamston Theatre

2017-2018 Season

 

THE TAMING

By Lauren Gunderson

Directed by Lynn Lammers

September 21 – October 22, 2017

A Michigan Premiere

Tweetering, pandashrews, and undying giddiness for James Madison – what else would you expect to find at a Miss America pageant? In this hilarious, raucous, all-female “power-play,” contestant Katherine has political aspirations to match her beauty pageant ambitions. All she needs to revolutionize the American government is the help of one ultra-conservative senator’s aide on the cusp of a career breakthrough, and one bleeding-heart liberal blogger who will do anything for her cause. Here’s lookin’ at you, America!

 

BEAU JEST

By James Sherman

Directed by Tony Caselli

November 16 – December 23, 2017

Sarah is a nice Jewish girl with a problem: her parents want her married to a nice Jewish boy. They have never met her boyfriend, a WASP executive named Chris Kringle. She tells them she is dating a Jewish doctor and they insist on meeting him. She plans a dinner party and, over the heated protests of Chris, employs an escort service to send her a Jewish date to be Dr. Steinberg. Instead, they send Bob Schroeder, an aspiring actor who agrees to perform the impersonation. Hilarity ensues in this charming family comedy with a tender heart.

 

OUR LADY OF POISON

By Joseph Zettelmaier

Directed by Shannon Ferrante

January 25 – February 23, 2018

A World Premiere

1659, Rome, Italy. Giulia Tofana and her daughter Girolama are beloved apothecaries, and skilled poisoners. This mother-daughter team run an infamous underground operation to provide unfortunate wives with an escape from untenable marriages. When the young bride of a nobleman requests their help, an unexpected romance blossoms. But that very love threatens to destroy the life Giulia has built for her family. Based on historical events.

 

DOUBLEWIDE

By Stephen Spotswood

Directed by Tony Caselli

March 22 – April 22, 2018

NNPN Rolling World Premiere

Jim Starkey’s version of the American Dream is a modest one: to build a home on his one-acre plot of land and replace his doublewide trailer with something his daughter, Lorelai, can inherit. When a highway expansion project shatters their dreams, Jim must decide how far he can be pushed and Lorelai is left to build her own future. A heartfelt and often funny drama that explores how far one family will go to hold onto their American Dream.

 

OUT OF ORBIT

by Jennifer Maisel

Director Frannie Shepherd-Bates

May 17 – June 17, 2018

A World Premiere

Meet the Jet Propulsion Lab Scientist mom and her underachiever teenage daughter. Sara lives on Mars time, spearheading the Mars Rover Expedition, visiting a planet she cannot touch. Her daughter, Lis, on earth time, falls under the spell of an internet Romeo. Sometimes it takes being worlds apart for an exploring woman and a longing-to-be-explored girl to find each other in our increasingly disconnected universe. A tender comedy about the challenges of a unique mother-daughter relationship.

 

THE GIN GAME

by D.L. Coburn

Directed by John Lepard

July 12 – August 18, 2018

Weller Martin is playing solitaire on the porch of a seedy nursing home. Enter Fonsia Dorsey, a prim, self-righteous lady. The friendship between these two made-for-each-other strangers comes about when Weller talks Fonsia into letting him tutor her in the fine, if forgotten, art of playing gin rummy. The relationship develops and the brutal realities of aging are revealed through their card playing. This Winner of the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama shows that a hand of cards can pack as hard a punch as boxing gloves.

A pretty good Friday…

Lots of looking to the future today.

I got to nail down the rights to the last of the plays for our 2017-2018 Season at Williamston Theatre.  Confirmed rights and dates with one of the licensors, and sent out a couple of playwright contracts for some of our world premieres.

Season selection is one of my favorite parts of being an Artistic Director.  There’s something energizing and exciting about it – working with the staff to nail down what our shows will be, what the face of our organization will be for a season.  “This is who we are this year, everybody!  Come hang out!”  There’s a sense of The Future – moving forward, growing, making things – creation.  I love it.

Also, I started speaking with our prospective new apprentices.  Lining up interviews, discussing when they’d be able to meet, looking over resumes, that kind of stuff.  Looking into who and what the rest of this season, and all of next season, will bring to the team.

Proofread a big press release from the National New Play Network for a project we’re involved in.  That’ll go out next week, announcing a fun thing that we’ve not yet been able to talk about much.

Plus, I got to have a phone call with my daughter in Finland.  It’s her birthday!  Well, for us her birthday will happen tomorrow, but at 5pm here we called her because Finland is 7 hours ahead of us and she was out at Midnight CELEBRATING her birthday!  How our little girl is suddenly 19 and living on the other side of the planet is still something I’m struggling to grasp, but just texting with her today and talking with her tonight reminded me of how bright and exciting her future is.  And her little brother is on a bus to a weekend Show Choir retreat where he’s going to have a blast singing, dancing and hanging out with friends.  So much potential and goodness coming for both of them!

So, yep.  The future.  So many good things are on the way.  Sure, there are challenges, that goes without saying.  But that’s part of the fun.  Do I know exactly what I’ll be doing a year from now?  2 years?  5? Nope.  I can guess, I can hope, I can plan… and then life will do what it does regardless of my hopes and plans.  But looking around right now, I’m sure glad I’m here – and I kind of can’t wait to see what happens!

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