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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Find Your Seats

Comic snap and crackle, dark humor, drama, the marriage plot — pick your poison, because at New Harmony Theatre there’s something for everyone. In the midst of NHT’s 25th season, producing artistic director Elliot Wasserman promises the best of contemporary entertainment with a sprinkle of refreshing classics.

What kind of theater is this, anyway?
NHT has a particular advantage in bringing the very best talent to its stage, Wasserman says. It’s an equity theater contracted through the Actors Equity Association, a union of professional actors and stage managers from the best theaters in the country.

“This season, most of our actors are from New York and Los Angeles,” says Wasserman. “They’ve appeared on Broadway, in movies, or on television.” For example, actress Missi Pyle (playing Constance in The Artist) appeared in NHT’s first production of the summer, God of Carnage, a dark comedy, with other TV and stage veterans.

Though produced by the University of Southern Indiana, NHT remains a professional theater, offering apprenticeships and internships to students in technical and theatrical roles. Another special connection between NHT and USI is the Repertory Project, an opportunity for student performers and stage managers to interact and work side-by-side with professionals interested in sharing their craft.

Wasserman considers the theater itself to have an intimate design. “It excels at character-driven plays with a strong human interest,” he says. “Romantic comedies, farces, and small musicals — its stage is proportioned for these works, and the audience size is appropriate to the stage.”

The shows?
Wasserman loves the classics, but finds it important to exhibit Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize, and Drama Desk winning plays with heart and edge. “Albee, Williams, Miller, O’Neill, and Inge won’t be forgotten, but they deserve to be freshly experienced, made part of the new,” he says.

Closing out this summer is Pete ‘n’ Keely, a musical about a near-forgotten singing duo set in the ’60s. Will America’s two “favorite” sweetheart singers really get back together? Between songs, this musical gives audiences a backstage look at the relationship between the musicians. According to Wasserman, NHT chose Pete ‘n’ Keely to “put a brightly comic finish on a season that featured first a dark comedy, God of Carnage, followed by a moving drama, The Retreat from Moscow.” The first two plays were both examinations of marriage, not to mention recent Broadway successes.

What to expect
Wasserman gives us a look at NHT’s summer 2013 lineup, the 100th anniversary of the Murphy Auditorium.

Boeing Boeing, by Mark Camoletti: “Recently revived on Broadway, but written in the early 1960s, Boeing Boeing is a classic farce in which one man decides he can carry on romances with three beautiful flight attendants simultaneously, as long as their separate airlines keep two of them in the air at all times. We will land that one on our stage in mid-June.”

Fences, by August Wilson: “At the beginning of July, we will produce what is arguably one of the greatest American plays of the last 30 years — Fences. This play examines the life of Troy Maxon, an African-American athlete born too early to ever enjoy success in professional baseball, who, now in the 1950s, is trapped in his bitter disappointments and confronted by responsibilities which he knows will not excuse him.”

Cotton Patch Gospel, by Harry Chapin: “We end the season with Cotton Patch Gospel, the bluegrass retelling of the gospel which finds the infant Jesus born in an abandoned trailer behind a motel in Gainesville, Ga. The late Harry Chapin, one of America’s great modern troubadours, wrote the music to support a virtuoso storyteller with creativity, humor, and heart.”

Pete ‘n’ Keely – July 20, 21, 27, 28, and Aug. 3 & 5 at 7:30 p.m.; July 22, 28, 29, and Aug. 4 & 5 at 2 p.m. $29 for adults, $12 under 25, $27 over 60. For more information call 812-682-3115 or visit www.newharmonytheatre.com.

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