Every year, Michael Butler spends days at a time living with a play he has read as he considers it for production by Center REPertory Company.
He spends many waking hours imagining the actors to cast, or how a set would look in Lesher Center’s theaters. Butler, Center REP’s artistic director, wonders whether an audience will like it and whether it would be exciting for the company to produce.
The 2012-2013 season is a result of all that consideration, flavored with shots of inspiration. Center REP will partner with Contra Costa Musical Theatre to present a lineup of shows that emphasize variety and entertainment. There is the beloved The Sound of Music, the sizzling Sweet Charity, a charming Steve Martin play and a Hitchcock-inspired spy caper. For its Off-Center productions, Rep presents two new comedies that encourage us to laugh at our plugged-in lives and appreciate cultural diversity.
Lucky Stiff (Aug. 31—Oct. 7) Center REPertory Company always hits its season running – or rather, singing and dancing – with a musical. Lucky Stiff is a farce set in Monte Carlo that features a Weekend at Bernie’s component. The words and music for Lucky Stiff come from the Tony Award-winning team behind Ragtime.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Fall): Joseph marked the first major success of the blockbuster duo of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. Based on the biblical story of Joseph, this CCMT production will celebrate Weber and Rice’s catchy songs and universal themes.
The Underpants: (Oct. 19-Nov. 17): Away from popular Hollywood movies, Steve Martin demonstrates his brainy humor in New Yorker stories and plays that wed slapstick comedy and high-brown cultural references. With The Underpants, Martin adapted a 1910 German farce that satirizes bourgeois conformity by showing what happens to a proper young couple when the wife’s bloomers fall down in public.
Status Update (Nov. 1 – Nov. 18): If you worry you spend too much time on Facebook, this world premiere production of a new work could put your anxiety into context. Annabel goes on a modern-day trip to web Wonderland when she literally gets sucked into the Internet.
A Christmas Carol (Dec. 6-16): Center REP’s version of Dickens’ holiday tale has become a Bay Area favorite. It features a talented cast, sets, costumes, music and special effects that winningly capture Dickens’ London and his story’s heart.
Old Wicked Songs (Feb. 1—March 2): Hoping shatter the artistic block that’s plagued his career, a young American piano prodigy ventures to Vienna to work with elderly vocal teacher who assigns him to play Schumann’s “Dichterliebe” song cycle. In this Center REP production, two very different men form a friendship with music as their common bond.
The 39 Steps (March 29—April 27): Take a Hitchcock spy thriller, add lots of Monty Python, and you have The 39 Steps. This Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning play pays homage to lightening-paced spy capers and theater’s use of wit and ingenuity to create spectacular moments. Four four actors will play 150 characters in Center REP’s version of a hero eluding assassins on a speeding train, through a plane crash and around the streets of London.
The Sound of Music (spring): Many of us grew up either wanting to be the Liesl of the 1965 movie or having a crush on her. Liesl of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” renown is the oldest daughter of the Von Trapp family whose lives are transformed by Maria, the singing nun. CCMT brings to life all the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs that make Sound of Music one an enduring favorite.
Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World (April 25 – May 12): Center REP’s second Off-Center production is a Bay Area premiere about the romance between an Egyptian immigrant and a white waitress. While negotiating the twists and turns of any relationship, the couple also face assumptions that divide cultures
Sweet Charity (May 17 – June 22): This musical has a killer pedigree, and Butler is very excited that this will be Center REP’s season finale. The plot, about a dance hall girl looking for love, is based on a Fellini film. Neil Simon wrote the stage adaptation and the legendary Bob Fosse directed and choreographed the Broadway show to multiple Tony Award wins. The song and dance numbers, including “Hey, Big Spender” and “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” are among Broadway’s best.
For information and tickets, call (925) 943-SHOW (7469) or visit http://www.lesherartscenter.org.