Resident professional theatre company Festival Stage of Winston-Salem will return to downtown's Hanesbrands Theatre for its third season in 2012-13, presenting the Southern comedy The Last Night of Ballyhoo; North Carolina's first production of the drama 33 Variations; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof. The final production of the current season, Hatchetman, takes place May 11-27.
"Festival Stage is thrilled to bring three of the most acclaimed American plays of recent years to Winston-Salem audiences," said Wil Elder, the company's president and CEO. "The upcoming season, Festival Stage's third, continues our commitment to productions of the highest professional quality, from the design of our sets to the casting of actors based all over the country. Or, as we like to say, 'New York appeal and North Carolina convenience.'"
"The magic of a good play is that it condenses a lifetime, catches its characters at a point in the journey at which they are poised to change, and then carries us the rest of the way with them," said Festival Stage's Resident Director Steve Umberger, who will direct each production. "The three playwrights represented at Festival Stage next season are contemporary masters of the art, and these plays are their finest examples of it."
A highlight of the season will be a new partnership with Wake Forest University's Department of Theatre and Dance to present 33 Variations. The cast will include students from the theatre program along with professional actors.
"The opportunity for our students to participate in an extended project with working professionals and the chance to experience the demands of a professional career while still in school is immensely valuable to any young emerging artist," said John E. R. Friedenberg, director of theatre at Wake Forest.
The Last Night of Ballyhoo
By Alfred Uhry – Oct. 19-Nov. 4
This comedy by the playwright of Driving Miss Daisy centers on an upper-class German-Jewish family in Atlanta, Ga., in December 1939. Hitler has just conquered Poland, Gone With the Wind is about to premiere, and the members of the Freitag family – a Jewish family so assimilated they have a Christmas tree in their parlor – are looking forward to Ballyhoo, a lavish cotillion sponsored by their restrictive country club. A visit by an attractive eligible bachelor prompts the family to examine their Jewish identity in this comedy about the best – and worst – of family ties.
The Last Night of Ballyhoo premiered on Broadway in 1997, winning that year's Tony Award for Best Play and earning a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The original Broadway cast included Celia Weston, who graduated from Salem College and the UNC School of the Arts.
By Moisés Kaufman – Feb. 1-24
Produced in collaboration with Wake Forest University
Music and memory transport the audience from present-day New York to 19th century Austria as ailing musicologist Katherine Brandt tries to understand what obsession and genius drove Beethoven to compose 33 variations on a simple theme by an obscure publisher. This examination of the creative process amid a struggle with family reconciliation and life-threatening illness explores passion, parenthood and the moments of beauty that can transform a life.
Festival Stage's production is the first in North Carolina, and the first not to be directed by its playwright Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project). A 2009 Broadway production starring Jane Fonda was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. As part of a first-time-ever collaboration with Wake Forest University, the cast will include some student actors along with the professional cast members.
By David Auburn – May 10-26
A mysterious and potentially ground-breaking mathematical proof provides the framework for this compelling story of passion, potential and forgiveness. Catherine's father was a mathematical genius cursed by mental illness, and his recent death leaves her wondering if she's inherited either condition. While grappling with grief and an unexpected, complicated romance, Catherine finds herself at the center of a fascinating family secret.