Stage 3 unveils 20th anniversary plays

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Stage 3 Theatre Company of Sonora will celebrate its 20th season in 2013, with Artistic Director Don Bilotti announcing an eclectic roster of plays for the year.

"We're tremendously excited to bring this quality and breadth to our audience," Bilotti said. "We have included comedies and dramas, modern classics, hot-off-the-press Broadway hits and a spectacular and unexpected holiday surprise."

Here is the 2013 season, with descriptions by Bilotti:

• "Fences," by August Wilson, Feb. 8 to March 17, winner of Pulitzer and Tony awards.

"Gorgeous. Thrilling. Unmissable." - The New Yorker.

"I wasn't just moved. I was transfixed." - The New York Post.

By 1957, Troy Maxson was washed up. Once a great star in the Negro baseball leagues, his career was strangled by racism. Now a garbage collector in Pittsburgh, he has scraped together a life, a family and a world of which he can be proud. But, at the dawn of the Civil Rights era, forces are at work that threaten to rip apart everything he's struggled to build.

Filled with humor, compassion and sheer joy - not to mention some of the most majestic writing you'll ever see - "Fences" opens the Stage 3 season with a thunderclap.

• "Other Desert Cities," by Jon Robin Baitz, April 19 to May 19, Outer Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer finalist.

"Packs a roundhouse punch." - Wall Street Journal.

"Grandly entertaining." -Backstage.

"Juicy and surprising." - New York Daily News.

"A major work ... this play is the real thing." - Newsday.

Somewhere, secluded in the great desert of California, the once politically powerful Wyeths, Polly and Lyman, are enjoying the kind of retirement of which most people can only dream. Wealthy, respected and celebrated, they stand at the pinnacle of their lives.

But concealed in their golden world, there is a tiny, almost imperceptible crack, a fault line buried so deep that it has almost slipped from memory. Tremors begin when novelist daughter Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family's history. That seismic pressure escalates until an earthquake of cataclysmic proportions is only a heartbeat away.

With a high wire balance between comedy and intense family drama, the New York times called "Cities" an "an orgy of eloquence" and proclaimed that "all family reunions should be this satisfying."

• "The Diviners," by James Leonard, June 21 to July 28.

"Astounding … Compelling." - New York Magazine.

"Warmth, humor and love for humanity." - Variety.

"A gem." - The Denver Post.

In the heat-scorched Dust Bowl of the 1930s, young Buddy Layman has become something of a legend in Zion, the Indiana town where he lives. Having barely escaped drowning when he was 4, he is now mentally scarred and irrationally terrified of water.

Somehow, Buddy has developed a miraculous gift. He can find precious water. But there is more than one kind of diviner in this world and when disillusioned preacher C.C. Showers shambles into parched Zion, he finds a community that is thirsting for more than water. He befriends young Buddy and sets off a chain of events that no one could have foreseen.

With a tapestry of characters that are rich, deep and full of life, one critic hailed "The Diviners" as a "lyrical fable set in bucolic America, a fascinating yarn that bristles with complex psychological undercurrents and a hint of Greek tragedy. It floods the stage with emotion."

• "A Streetcar Named Desire," by Tennessee Williams, Sept. 6 to Oct. 13, Pulitzer Prize and Drama Critics Circle Best Play.

"Superb." - New York Times.

"Enthralling." - Variety.

"Throbbingly alive, compassionate, heart-wrenchingly human." - New York Daily News.

Yes, that "Streetcar Named Desire." In 1947, Tennessee Williams wrote a play so towering, so affecting that it changed theater overnight. The shock wave of that Big Bang can still be felt today. Look on any list of the most important American plays and you'll find "Streetcar,"either at the top or very close.

Blanche Dubois, Stanley Kowalski and the rest have become icons of mythic proportions, not only because of the great actors that have inhabited their skins, but also because of the mighty and almost primeval story they tell.

Stripped of its mythic trappings and layers of literary commentary, "Streetcar" is simply gripping drama with unexpected lightning bolts of humor and moments of heartbreaking tenderness. Stage 3's intimate space is perfect for this steaming, sultry pressure cooker.

• "The Game's Afoot," by Ken Ludwig, Nov. 15 to Dec. 22.

"Murderously Funny!" -Broadway World.

"Inspired whodunit … twists that cause the audience to gasp." - Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"Hilarious, quirky and thrilling … fantastically fun." - Clue Into Cleveland.

Twas the night before Christmas and all thought with dread, just who was the killer and who would be dead?

And now for a completely different type of holiday entertainment from the author of "Crazy For You," "Lend Me A Tenor," "Moon Over Buffalo" and more than a dozen other plays.

It's Christmas Eve at the castle of William Gillette, the American actor who became famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes on the stage. Gillette has invited a few of his closest-wackiest-most colorful friends to spend the holidays.

He hopes to have the traditional caroling, the warm camaraderie, the hearty toasts and, oh yes, to smoke out the one that has been trying to kill him.

The Cleveland Examiner said it best: "From the intriguing opening mini play within a play to the surprise last scene a split second before final curtain, 'The Game's Afoot' gives you everything you love about great live theater. Billed as a comedy thriller you will find yourself swept along for a wild and funny ride."

Happy Homicide from Stage 3.

Season and single tickets are now available. Two free "early bird bonus tickets" will be included with each 2013 subscription.

For more information, contact Stage 3 at 536-1778 or visit stage3.org.

11884801
The Union Democrat
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