RED BANK – Two River Theater Company has announced an eight-play lineup for its 2012-13 season. The season will kick off in September with Suzan-Lori Parks directing her award-winning play Topdog/Underdog on the 10th anniversary of its winning the Pulitzer Prize. The season will also include classics and modern masterpieces, new works, and a commissioned world-premiere musical, A Wind in the Willows Christmas, which will be developed at the theater this year and debut in December.
“This season reflects our ambition to make Two River a home for a family of artists and a community of audiences,” said John Dias, artistic director. “Many of the great theater artists who have made this current season so fulfilling will be returning, along with other great writers and directors who will be working at Two River for the first time. We’re thrilled to have so many theater luminaries and exciting new talent here, working on exceptional plays and musicals, and participating in the vital cultural life of Red Bank.”
Topdog/Underdog will be staged Sept. 8-30 in the season in the Rechnitz Theater. It is a darkly comic tale of two brothers, Lincoln and Booth – names given to them as a joke by their father. Obsessed with a street con game, three-card monte, the brothers are haunted by their own pasts and our country’s history. Topdog/Underdog contains adult language and content and is recommended for mature audiences.
Parks most recently adapted the book of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which received 10 Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Musical for its current Broadway production.
No Place to Go, written by Ethan Lipton and directed by Leigh Silverman and with music composed and performed by Ethan Lipton + His Orchestra, will be offered Oct. 6 –Nov. 4 in the Marion Huber Theater.
The corporation where he’s worked for the past 10 years is moving to another planet, and Lipton doesn’t want to go. Commissioned and originally produced by Joe’s Pub, No Place to Go is Lipton’s irreverent, deeply compassionate musical ode to America’s workforce – and a love letter to friends, family, and country. The songs of Ethan Lipton + His Orchestra are steeped in American musical traditions (including jazz, blues, folk, country, and lounge) but his subjects are thoroughly contemporary, winning him acclaim as a modern troubadour.
Shakespeare’s Henry V, directed by Michael Sexton, will be presented Oct. 20-Nov. 11 in the Rechnitz Theater.
Having inherited the throne, Henry must live down his wild adolescent past and unite his people. A young, vital, and ambitious leader, he commits his troops to war – and must then examine the cost of glory. Brimming with intrigue, battles, comedy, and romance, Henry V will feature some of New York’s most accomplished young Shakespearean actors.
A Wind in the Willows Christmas, directed by Amanda Dehnert, will be presented Dec. 8-30 on the Rechnitz Theater stage.
Commissioned by the Two River Theater, A Wind in the Willows Christmas, is a world-premiere musical based on the classic of children’s literature by Kenneth Grahame. The beloved tale of one Mole’s search for a place to call home follows the adventures of the Water Rat, Mr. Toad, and Mr. Badger as they discover that home is where your friends are.
The musical will be the fifth collaboration from the team of Grammy Award-winning composer Mike Reid and lyricist Sarah Schlesinger; their musical In This House had its world premiere at Two River this season. Bookwriter Mindi Dickstein wrote the lyrics for the Broadway musical Little Women, which toured the U.S. after its run in New York.
Present Laughter will be presented Feb. 16-March 10 in the Rechnitz Theater. Michael Cumpsty, a 2012 Tony Award nominee for his performance in the Broadway production of End of the Rainbow, returns to Two River to star in this classic Noel Coward play.
Acclaimed for his performance as Benedick last season in Much Ado About Nothing, Cumpsty will star in this sparkling, sophisticated comedy as the debonair matinee idol Garry Essendine, the center of a vortex of friends, lovers, producers, and playwrights – all of whom invade his glamorous, 1930s art-deco style London home, demanding his attention. This valentine to the theater is the third Coward play produced by Two River Theater, following Blithe Spirit and Private Lives.
The Electric Baby, by Stefanie Zadravec and directed by May Adrales, will be presented April 6-May 5 in the Marion Huber Theater.
Folk tales and folklore infuse this moving, powerful, and hopeful story about damaged people, unexpected relationships, and what it means to live in the center of your own life. A group of lost souls are brought together by an accident, and form unlikely connections that will change all of their lives. At the center of this new play is the magical child of a Romanian mother and Nigerian father, who glows with an unearthly light. The Electric Baby contains adult language.
The Rechnitz Theater will be the venue for 2.5 Minute Ride from April 20-May 12. Lisa Kron has written the drama and will star solo in the performance that interweaves her father’s history as a child of the Holocaust with her family’s annual trip to an amusement park in Ohio. 2.5 Minute Ride is a poignant, funny, complex meditation on tragedy, grief, and family.
Kron’s plays include Well, which opened to critical acclaim on Broadway in 2006 and received two Tony nominations, and In the Wake. Mark Brokaw will direct the play.
August Wilson’s Two Trains Running, will be the final offering of the 2012-13 season and will be presented June 1-23 in the Rechnitz Theater.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson will direct the 1960s play from Wilson’s 10-play cycle about the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century. Two Trains Running illuminates the personal stories of ordinary people against the backdrop of social change and political upheaval. Santiago-Hudson’s production of Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! is now running at New York’s Signature Theatre.
Plays, artists and dates are subject to change. For additional information, visit www.trtc.org.
Discount ticket packages, ranging from three to seven productions, are on sale now. Individual tickets and, for a limited time, a discount four-pack for A Wind in the Willows Christmas are also available.
Tickets are available from www.trtc.org or by calling 732-345-1400. Single tickets for all other productions will go on sale July 1.
Two River Theater Company is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division within the Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hickory Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Monmouth University, Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, OceanFirst Foundation, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation, and many other generous foundations, corporations and businesses.