Pit & Balcony Community Theatre will be introducing their new After Dark Series with an innovative and powerful production of playwright Doug Wright’s Stonewater Rapture.
According to Pit & Balcony Operations Manager Amy Spadafore Loose, the development of this new series of productions is something members and supporters of P&B have discussed over the last few years and are finally able to bring to life. “The concept is ‘Black Box Theatre’ that brings the audience onto the stage and allows us to present shows in various non-traditional formats,” she explains.
“With this particular production the audience will sit on either side of the stage and the play is staged in the middle of the seated audience. We’ll e able to fit 100 people on the stage for this show and each production will be staged differently, depending upon the preferences of the director.”
“This is something you don’t see much in the Great Lakes Bay Region, although Midland Center for the Arts did it a few years ago when they staged God of Carnage in the round – this is basically a variation on that and will also allow us to bring different and more risqué and avant-garde shows to the region that you would normally not see around here and would usually have to go to Grand Rapids or Detroit to catch this type of theatre.”
Written while Wright (Grey Cardens, Quills and the Pulitzer Prize winning I Am My Own Wife) was a student at Yale University) Stonewater Rapture traces the sexual awakening of two teenagers; Whitney, the son of a minister; and Carlyle, a deeply religious girl who lives alone with her mother.
Co-directing the production along with Loose is Chad William Baker, who just finished directing Pit’s successful production of Heathers: The Musical. “This is the first play that Doug Wright ever wrote and it takes place in Stonewater, Texas,” he explains. “It essentially is the story of a boy and girl that are 18-years old and about to graduate high school, each dealing with different issues regarding their sexuality. Both come from strict religious backgrounds, with Whitney raised as a preacher’s son but trying to get away from that. He wants to be the popular guy at school and on the football team, but you realize through the course of the show that he’s adamantly trying to be a person that he isn’t because he is struggling with the fact that he is gay while also trying his hardest not to be gay.”
“I first saw Stonewater Rapture as a student-directed show when in college at Western Michigan University and it really affected my immensely,” adds Amy. “The script is really solid – it’s funny and serious and you find yourself laughing out loud one minute and crying the next. Because its both heart-wrenching and hilarious you experience this broad span of emotions over a one-hour time span; and its been one of those scripts that have stuck we me personally.”
Pit & Balcony’s production of Stonewater Rapture will play for a three day run Thursday through Friday, June 22-23-24th and will star Aubree Harrell as Carlyle and Clayton Singer as Whitney, both SVSU drama students and new to the P&B stage.
“This will be our first installment in the After Dark Series,” concludes Amy, “and next June we’ll be producing Hand of God. We would like to see this series expand to two or three summer productions, but seeing as it’s experimental we are testing the waters with it and introducing it in stages.”
Tickets are only $15.00 for the general public and current season ticket holders can gain admission for only $10.00. Tickets are available by going to PitandBalconyTheatre.com or phoning 989.754.6587.
In related news, Pit & Balcony has just announced the flight of productions that will comprise their 86th Season for 2017-18, which includes five main stage productions along with the ‘After-Dark’ series production in June.
“Pit & Balcony is happy to be able to present both classic as well as new and cutting edge productions to provide our patrons with a wide range of entertainment throughout the upcoming season,” states operations manager Amy Spadafore Loose.
Kicking off the series in October will be Anything Goes, with music & lyrics by Cole Porter and book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and new book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman. This memorable musical if chock full of memorable songs and ambitious tap-dancing and is guaranteed to kick off the new season in high-gear.
Next on the agenda for December is C. Lewis ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is a new dramatization by Joseph Robinette of the Lewis classic, set in the land of Narnia, which faithfully recreates the magic and mystery of Asian, the great lion, his struggle with the White Witch, and the adventures of four children who inadvertently wander from an old wardrobe into the exciting and never-to-be-forgotten Narnnia.
January & February will witness a new adapted production of The Diary of Anne Frank, written by Wendy Kesselman, in this impassioned drama about the lies of eight people hiding from the Nazis in a concealed storage attic, capturing the claustrophobic realities of their daily existence, including their fears, hopes, laughter, and grief.
March will showcase the riotous slapstick of Ken Ludwig’s ‘Moon Over Buffalo’, which focus upon a pair of fading stage stars of the 1950s on the brink of a disastrous split-up caused by George’s dalliance with a young ingénue.
But without doubt, the most exciting production in their newly announced season is the regional premier of Green Day’s explosive musical American Idiot next spring, with book by Billie Joe Armstrong & Michael Mayer and music by the remarkable rock trio Green Day. With a story that involves characters struggling to find meaning in a post-9/11 world, this energy-fueled rock opera executes the storyline using the lyrics from Green Day’s groundbreaking album of the same name, along with it’s follow-up, 21st Century Breakdown.
“With the exception of American Idiot, all of these shows have previously been produced on Pit & Balcony’s stage, but the most recent performance was Moon Over Buffalo, which was done 20 years ago; so it’s nice to bring back these classics and give them a fresh contemporary spin,” notes Amy.
As for their recently concluded 85th season, Spadafore notes that it was one of P&B’s stronger seasons in many years. “We’ve been focusing on expanding our audience and want to make sure that we’re producing shows that appeal to a wide range of audience in terms of age, race, gender, and socio-economic status, and these efforts have paid off,” she explains. “We’ve also established a template that seems to work well in terms of staging a more well-known show to kick-off the season and ending it with a newer cutting edge musical, while filling the middle with more family oriented productions.”
“This seems to be working well for us and our audiences and we’ve definitely seen an increase in season ticket holders along with new faces in the cast this year. Plus we embrace the importance of cultivating interest in the theatre from new generations with our Summer Youth Workshop, which will start July 31st and run through the first two weeks in August,” she concludes. “This week-long camp is for youth aged 12 through 18 and we also offer one-day camp classes for kids aged 4 to 11. People can sign up contacting the Pit & Balcony offices.”
Season tickets are only $89.00 and available by going to PitandBalconyTheatre.com or phoning 989-754.6587. Season tickets save you 16% on general admission and $5 on your After Dark ticket when added to your season ticket order.