Seeing the announcement of the new season at a theater company is akin to being served an exquisite menu of superb dishes, each appealing in its own way, and each instilling a desire to taste the dish.
Such is the new season just announced by artistic director Joy Hawkins at the Red Barn Theatre in Key West – its 38th consecutive season of bringing top-notch professional theater to the island. Four contemporary new plays and a classic special event production make this a captivating season of varying tastes, and very up-to-the-minute in terms of relevance.
“I think all of these plays speak so much to the current human condition,” said Hawkins. “And they address situations we don’t normally see on stage…real people, living real lives, addressed in a real way. They’re laced with humor, despite their tough subjects, but they’re ultimately about change in today’s world: how do we deal with it? How do we find new tools to deal with what we’re faced with? These plays get that across with humor and humanity.”
And Hawkins went far afield to find these tasty gems. She attended the Contemporary American Theatre Festival and the Humana Festival, two hotbeds of great new plays.
“These are plays that really spoke to me,” Hawkins said. “They really stood out. We’re on the cutting edge this season with what’s new and making waves across the country.”
First up is Mark St. Germain’s “Dancing Lessons”, running December 19 through January 13 of the new year. The play is a hilarious and heartwarming story about a man with Asberger’s Syndrome who hires an injured Broadway dancer to teach him enough dancing to survive an awards dinner. Directed by Hawkins, the play will star Key West favorites Carolyn Cooper and Dave Bootle.
Following this strong opening production will be one of even more power, “20th Century Blues” by Susan Miller, the flat-out hit of last year’s Contemporary American Theatre Festival’s 25th Season. It runs January 23 to February 17. Again directed by Hawkins, the play is a sharply funny and evocative exploration of time that centers on four women – fast friends through life – who have chronicled their lives together in annual photo shoots. But when these private photos have the potential to become part of a public exhibit, mutiny erupts and relationships are tested. Featured will be Marjorie Paul-Shook, Annie Miners, Peggy Montgomery, Deborah Jacobson, Kathy Russ, and Justin Ahearn.
Next up is a Special Event production of the classic “Always…Patsy Cline”, by Ted Swindley, running February 26 through March 10. One of the most produced plays in America, this down-home musical tells the story of Patsy Cline as told through the eyes of her pen pal, Louise Seeger, featuring many of Patsy’s classic hits. It will star Christine Mild and Joy Hawkins, who have performed the play countless times. It’s a great story and a tribute to Cline, her enduring music, and to friendship. Musical Director Jim Rice has put together a great band to back up his talented cast.
“Native Gardens”, by Karen Zacharias, is a hilarious new comedy of good intentions and bad manners. It will run March 20 through April 7, and be directed by Murphy Davis. A high-powered lawyer and his wife move next door to two community stalwarts, and when a minor dispute erupts over the placement of a backyard fence, events spiral into an all-out war of taste, class, privilege, and entitlement. The results are hilarious. Featured will be Bob Bowersox, Rebecca Gleason, Luis Febo, and Morgan Fraga.
As if this powerful season couldn’t get better, the Red Barn’s final main stage production will be “Cry It Out”, a stunning, brand new play by Molly Smith Metzler, one of the writers of the hit TV shows “Orange Is The New Black” and “Codes of Conduct”. Running April 17 through May 5 and again directed by Hawkins, this exceptional play centers on a woman on maternity leave, who, starving for conversation, invites her neighbor – also a new mom – for coffee. Despite their differences, they become fast friends, and this dark-edged comedy takes an honest look at the absurdities of being home with a baby, the dilemma of returning to work, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship. Featured will be Erin McKenna, Amber McDonald Good, and Michael Castellano.
Season Subscriptions are available that include all four main stage productions. Visit the “Buy Tickets/Donate” page on this website to see all Subscription packages or to make a donation to ensure the continued success of what Florida Monthly Magazine called “One of the Best Professional Theatres in South Florida.”