Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Twenty years ago Murphys Creek Theatre presented its first production in the Black Bart Playhouse. Over the past two decades the organization has grown and expanded while still maintaining its community roots.

The theater now boasts two venues - the Black Bart Playhouse in downtown Murphys and the outdoor amphitheater on San Domino Road at the former Stevenot Winery.

The company has expanded its education program andcommunity involvement and continues to present professional live theatre in the Sierra foorthills.

Murphys Creek Theatre will launch its 20th anniversary season next week. The season includes five popular selections from the theater's past productions and introduces two special events.

The 2014 season will be split amonth three shows at the Black Bart Playhouse at 580 S. Algiers St. and two shows at the Cornelia B. Stevenot Memorial Amphitheater at 2690 San Domingo Road.

The season will begin with a revival of the first play MCT ever produced - "Rumors," by Neil Simon - at the Black Bart Playhouse. Moving to the amphitheater for the summer, the season will continue with one of Shakespeare's best loved comedies, "Twelfth Night." The third offering will be a spoof of the world's greatest tragedy, "I Hate Hamlet."

Moving back to the playhouse for the fall, MCT will revive one of its most successful shows, "Escanaba in da Moonlight." Closing the 20th season will be a unique staging of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol."

The Neil Simon farce "Rumors," directed by MCT Artistic Director Graham Scott Green, will run March 21 through April 19 at the Black Bart Playhouse.

"At a large, tastefully appointed Sneden's Landing townhouse, the deputy mayor of New York has just shot himself. Though only a flesh wound, four couples are about to experience a severe attack of comedy," Green said.

Gathering for their 10th wedding anniversary, the host lies bleeding in the other room and his wife is nowhere in sight. His lawyer, Ken and wife Chris must get "the story" straight before the other guests arrive.

"As the confusions and miscommunications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcical hilarity," Green said. "Many of the original cast members will return for this fast paced exploration of gossip and misdirection."

The outdooors "Theatre Under the Stars" program will open with one of William Shakespeare's most popular comedies, "Twelfth Night" directed by Tara Kayton. This production will be set in Havana, Cuba, and run June 13 through July 20.

"Unforgettable characters filled with unrequited love will make their way through dark humor, Catholic guilt, liquor, and cigar filled Havana nights," Green said. "While the lovelorn Duke Orsino plots to win the heart of the mourning Olivia, an alliance of servants and hangers-on scheme against the high handedness of Olivia's steward, the pompous Malvolio. When Orsino engages the cross-dressed Viola, who has disguised herself as a young man under the name Cesario, to plead with Olivia on his behalf, a bittersweet and hilarious chain of events follows."

The second show of the summer will be "I Hate Hamlet," by Paul Rudnick, directed by Green.

A young and successful television actor relocates to New York, where he rents a marvelous, gothic apartment. With his television career in limbo, the actor is offered the opportunity to play Hamlet onstage, but there's one problem: He hates Hamlet. His dilemma deepens with the entrance of John Barrymore's ghost, who arrives intoxicated and in full costume to the apartment that once was his.

"The contrast between the two actors, the towering, dissipated Barrymore, whose Hamlet was the greatest of his time, and Andrew Rally, hot young television star, leads to a wildly funny duel over women, art, success, duty, television, and yes, the apartment," Green said.

"I Hate Hamlet" will run Aug. 1 through Sept. 6.

In September, MCT moves back indoors to the Black Bart Playhouse with one of the most successful productions of its history, "Escanaba in da Moonlight," written by Jeff Daniels and again directed by Green.

When the Soady clan reunites for the opening day of deer season at the family's Upper Peninsula camp, 35-year-old Reuben Soady brings with him the infamous reputation of being the oldest Soady in the history of the Soadys never to bag a buck.

"In a hunting story to beat all hunting stories, 'Escanaba in da Moonlight' spins a hilarious tale of humor, horror and heart as Reuben goes to any and all lengths to remove himself from the wrong end of the family record book," Green said.

"Escanaba" will run Sept. 19 through Oct. 12.

Closing the 20th season will be a unique staging of Charles Dickens classic tale of salvation, "A Christmas Carol," directed by Tara Kayton.

Miser Ebenezer Scrooge is awakened on Christmas Eve by spirits who reveal to him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties, and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways.

"A Christmas Carol" will run Nov. 28 through Dec. 20. Walkabout town performances will be available for this production on a first-come, first-served basis.

Murphys Creek Theatre also will continue its renowned youth educational program, "The Mirror Project," June 23 to July 21, and present two special events this year - "The Mirror Project Alumni Show" on July 6 and a special Halloween treat, "The Rocky Horror Show Show," a one-night only concert on Halloween night, Friday, Oct. 31.

"The most exciting news of the year is the addition of Tara Kayton to the MCT staff as producer of the 2014 season," Green said. "Tara directed 2012's production of 'The Imaginary Invalid' and last season's critically acclaimed production of 'The Santaland Diaries."

Kayton holds a master of fine arts degree in theater management from the Yale School of Drama and a bachelor's degree from San Diego State University, and is an alumna of the British American Drama Academy, Oxford University Program.

She has worked at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre in Boston, and Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. At Yale, Kayton was company manager for Yale Repertory Theatre, managing director of the Yale Cabaret and producer of the Yale Summer Cabaret Shakespeare Festival.

Recently, she was associate producer of One Year Lease Theatre Company's summer residency in Greece and comes to MCT from Marin Theatre Company.

Tickets for the 2014 season are available by calling 728-8422 or online at