Geva Theatre Center announces 2018-19 season

Posted Mar 26, 2018 at 4:07 PM By Messenger Post Media

Mark Cuddy, artistic director, and Christopher Mannelli, executive director, announced 11 major productions and two festivals for the 2018-19 season at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester.

ESL Federal Credit Union has sponsored the Wilson Stage Series since the 2014-15 season, and continues its commitment as a co-sponsor for the 2018-19 season. It is joined by co-sponsor Rochester Regional Health. Dawn Lipson will serve as honorary season producer.

The Wilson Stage features the original love-rock musical, an one-man tour about the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court, the world premiere of a comedy of errors and mistaken identity, a play that was the toast of Broadway in 2016, a new comedy about what it means to be neighborly and the world premiere of a play about blues legend Son House.

Geva announced the return of the KeyBank production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” as well as a limited return engagement of “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” starring Pam Sherman.

Geva will present a full line-up in the Fielding Stage throughout 2018-19. Fielding Stage will be a venue for the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

As with this current season, over half of next season’s productions are written and/or directed by women. Five plays featured in the 2018-19 season are written by playwrights of color; four plays will be helmed by directors of color.

“Our stories for the stage in 2018-19 will not only include a wide range characters, but also of writers, directors, actors and designers,” Cuddy said. “A third of our subscription shows will be world premieres, owing to our commitment to creating a new body of dramatic literature for the American theater.”

“One our core values at Geva Theatre Center is to create work that celebrates the human experience,” Mannelli said. “In next year’s incredibly exciting season, the Rochester community will see themselves represented in the stories on our stage and be inspired by the artists creating the work.“

The season will open with “Hair” on Sept. 4-Oct. 7. The love-rock musical celebrates the ’60s with songs such as “Aquarius”; “Good Morning, Starshine”; and “Let the Sunshine In.” Claude, Berger and their free-spirited friends balance their bohemian lives with their rebellion against the Vietnam War and the establishment. It’s the summer of love in all its barefoot, long-haired, bell-bottomed, beaded and fringed glory. “Hair” features book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, music by Galt MacDermot and direction by Melissa Rain Anderson.

“Fortune,” written and directed by Deborah Zoe Laufer, will take the stage on Oct. 4-21 as a co-production with the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca. Maude is a 30-something storefront psychic who has given up on love. When Jeremy, a downhearted, love-hungry accountant, stumbles into her shop, she wrestles with fate and destiny.

George Stevens Jr.’s “Thurgood” will run Oct. 16-Nov. 28 with direction by Lou Bellamy. The story of the first African-American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, “Thurgood” spans the 58-year career of Justice Thurgood Marshall, from his early days as the civil rights lawyer arguing Brown v. Board of Education to the end of institutionalized segregation in 1954 and his appointment to the highest court in the land.

Geva will present the world premiere of “Hard Cell,” written by Brent Askari and directed by Skip Greer, on Jan. 8-Feb. 3, 2019. When college professor Nick Abtahi finds himself lost in a small Midwestern town, the welcome mat doesn’t exactly get rolled out by its crazy collection of locals.

“The Magician’s Daughter” also will make its world premiere on Jan. 24-Feb. 10, 2019. Miranda and her father, Prospero, perform an imaginative magic show act, with which they wow everyone at children’s parties. As Miranda grows up, she realizes she can’t ignore the reality of her father’s addiction and her own grief. When a storm tears them apart, Miranda goes on a quest to find her father again. “The Magician’s Daughter” is written by Lila Rose Kaplan and directed by Shelley Butler.

Cuddy will direct “The Humans” by Stephen Karam on Feb. 19-March 17, 2019, as a co-production with Syracuse Stage. Three generations of the Blake family from Scranton, Pennsylvania, gather for Thanksgiving in a tiny New York City apartment. Over toasts, turkey and tough love, family hopes and myths are shared and shattered. “The Humans” won four 2016 Tony awards, including best play.

The season will continue with “Native Gardens” by Karen Zacarias on March 26-April 21, 2019, as a co-production with Syracuse Stage. When a disagreement over a property line turns into a war of green thumbs, neighbors spin out of control with hilarious results. Directed by Melissa Crespo, the new comedy redefines what it means to be neighborly.

Pirronne Yousefzadeh will direct “The Royale” by Marco Ramirez on April 11-28, 2019, as a co-production with Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca. Boxer Jay “The Sport” Jackson wants to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it’s 1905, and in racially segregated Jim Crow America his chances are about as good as getting knocked out.

The season will end with “Revival: The Resurrection of Son House” on May 1-June 2, 2019. “Revival” brings blues legend Son House back to life on the Geva stage, from his beginnings in rural Mississippi, through personal crises and his relatively obscure life in Rochester to the rebirth of his career in 1964. Written and directed by Keith Glover, “Revival” features music by Son House, Billy Thompson and Keith Glover with musical direction by Billy Thompson.

Geva will host special productions and events during the 2018-19 season.

Fielding Stage will host various performances on Sept. 12-22 for the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival.

Festival of a New Theatre, a two-week showcase of new plays and projects currently in Geva’s developmental process, will run on Oct. 29-Nov. 11. More than 330 full-length or short works received readings and/or workshops as part of Geva’s new play development programs, and more than 65 had subsequent productions around the country and the globe.

“A Christmas Carol,” a Rochester holiday tradition, will continue on Nov. 29-Dec. 29. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by a series of ghosts who remind him who he was and what he might yet become. He learns the true meaning of the season and that it’s never too late to make a new start.

“Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” will return on March 12-31, 2019. Erma Bombeck, one of the country’s most beloved humorists, captured the frustrations of her generation by asking, “If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?” Starring columnist Pam Sherman, this is the story behind America’s favorite average housewife who championed the lives of women with an incomparable wit that sprang from the most unexpected place of all — the truth.

Geva partnered with area cultural and community organizations throughout its 45-year history, most recently with Rochester Latino Theatre Co. on “In the Heights,” Susan B. Anthony Museum and House for “The Agitators: the Story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass” and Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester for “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

Subscriptions for the full nine-play 2018-19 season are on sale from $210. The ESL and Rochester Regional Health Wilson Stage Series and Fielding Studio Series are available separately from $120 and $90, respectively. Visit gevatheatre.org/subscribe for information. Subscribers can purchase tickets for “A Christmas Carol” and “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” in June.