Best Yet To Come

T2 unveils eclectic 12th season

Posted: March 17, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Courtesy Photo Joy Jones will star as Nina Simone in TheatreSquared's world premiere production of "Champion."

These are exciting times for Fayetteville's celebrated regional theater TheatreSquared: On March 7, the Fayetteville City Council, at the behest of Mayor Lioneld Jordan, voted to invest $3.1 million from the city's general reserve fund toward the company's ambitious new home at the southeast corner of West Avenue and Spring St. And, today, T2 officially announced the six scintillating shows of its 12th season, which includes two recent Tony Award winners.

Courtesy Photo T2 executive director Martin Miller and artistic director Robert Ford address the crowd of patrons and supporters at Fresco Restaurant ...

A sneak peek of the season was delivered to patrons and donors at a March 12 event held at Fresco Restaurant.

FYI

TheatreSquared’s

2017-18 Season

Aug. 23-Sept. 17 — “Fun Home”: Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron; music by Jeanine Tesori. When her father dies unexpectedly, graphic novelist Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her new life.

Oct. 11-Nov. 5 — “The Champion”: By Amy Evans. Inspired by untold, true events in the life of R&B legend Nina Simone.

Nov. 29-Dec. 31 — “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”: Adapted by Joe Landry. Performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience.

Jan. 24-Feb. 18, 2018 — “The Humans”: By Stephan Karam. After a sleepless night, Mr. Blake brings his family from Pennsylvania to his daughter’s new apartment to celebrate Thanksgiving. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex, mysterious things start to go bump int he night, secrets are revealed, and family tensions reach a boiling point.

March 14-April 8, 2018 — “Vietgone”: By Qui Nguyen. It’s the classic boy meets girl — except this boy and girl are refugees from the Vietnam War newly settled in a relocation camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

April 25-May 20, 2018 — “The Hound of the Baskervilles”: Adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson. When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on the moors with a look of terror still etched on his face, the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes is summoned from Baker Street to unravel the mysteries surrounding his death and investigate an ancient curse.

INFO — theatre2.org

The eclectic 2017-18 season opens with the Tony Award-winning musical, "Fun Home."

"Several years ago, I had the chance to direct two of the best musical theater performers that I've ever worked with -- Rita Harvey and Rob Sutton -- who starred in TheatreSquared's production of 'Next to Normal'," said "Fun Home" director and T2 co-founder Amy Herzberg. "Now, I'm delighted to tell you, Rob and Rita are coming back!" The musical, with book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori, is based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and includes details from her childhood growing up in her family's funeral home business. It won five Tonys in 2015, including Best Musical.

"This is a thoroughly unusual Broadway musical in all the best ways," said Herzberg. "The New York Times called it 'a rare, extraordinary and heart-gripping' play, which I think is a bit of an understatement. I couldn't be more excited."

The second show of the season is Amy Evans' "The Champion," the story of an unforgettable night for Nina Simone and her bandmates, which was workshopped at T2's own Arkansas New Play Festival last year.

"[Evans] spent days with Nina's bandmates learning all the details," said T2 co-founder and artistic director Robert Ford. "It's an intimate, sharply drawn picture of a cultural icon in a turbulent time. And we're hosting its world premiere."

T2 co-founder and director of education and program development Morgan Hicks announced that the holiday show will be "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play," which she called "a wonderful twist on a classic holiday film."

"Five virtuosic actors have gathered in WFMK Studio A for a live radio broadcast to perform dozens of characters with a Foley artist close at hand," said Hicks. "They re-create Bedford Falls before our eyes and ears. It's a highly theatrical and fun adaptation that brings to life Frank Capra's classic story of finding light in a dark time through a community of friends."

Executive director Martin Miller said that the first show of the New Year will be the work of playwright Stephen Karam, whose show "Sons of the Prophet" was previously seen on the T2 stage in Season 7. "Humans" is a family dramedy that takes place over a particularly fraught Thanksgiving dinner.

It won four Tonys in 2016, including Best Play, said Miller. "And we're among the first theaters in the country to be able to produce it."

Herzberg said that she, along with Ford and Miller, first saw the fifth show of the season, Qui Nguyen's "Vietgone," when it was performed at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York.

"It's essentially a classic boy-meets-girl story -- except this boy and girl are refugees from the Vietnam War newly resettled in a relocation camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas," said Herzberg. Playwright Nguyen is a native Arkansan.

"Believe it or not, it's a comedy," said Herzberg of the play, which will be directed by frequent T2 collaborator Kholoud Sawaf.

"And to end the season, something completely different," concluded Ford. "We'll close out with an adaptation best described as Sherlock Holmes meets Monty Python -- a sublimely funny, comic re-imagining of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles.'"

The show will be helmed by director Mark Shanahan, who previously directed T2's fanciful productions of "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Peter and the Starcatcher."

"It's incredible to think that this will be one of our last two seasons in our current venue before we move to a purpose-built beautiful new home," said Ford. "The momentum is definitely building."

NAN What's Up on 03/17/2017