When Theatrical Outfit opens its Gospel music play Tent Meeting this week, artistic director Tom Key will announce the theater's 2009-2010 season. Despite the current economic conditions, the downtown playhouse's 33rd season presents no shortage of artistic ambition and includes two world premieres with strong local ties. Exact dates have yet to be announced, but the press release includes some details.
KING (September): The Outfit stages this world premiere, with libretto, music, and lyrics by Douglas Tappin. The story of a preacher from Atlanta, this glorious musical tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., blends the operatic form with indigenous gospel, blues and other contemporary musical influences and features a cast of twenty-five and a fifteen-person orchestra.
Around the World in 80 Days (Oct.-Nov.). Adapted by Mark Brown from the novel by Jules Verne. The original Amazing Race, this comedy/adventure, set in 1872, is a high-spirited romp through different continents, cultures and time zones that puts one mans life and fortunes at risk. (Key would probably make a great Phileas Fogg.)
Amahl and the Night Visitor (December, 2009). Composed and written by Gian Carlo Menotti. This vocal score is a new and revised edition of the well-known opera that made television history on Christmas Eve, 1951, and is in collaboration with the Georgia State University School of Music. Haunting and vivid musical interpretations capture the humble life of a crippled child and his impoverished mother and describe one mesmerizing evening when traveling magi from the East mysteriously seek rest with them.
Brownie Points (February, 2010). Theatrical Outfit offers its first comic-drama from Janece Shaffer, an Atlanta playwright oft-produced by the Alliance Theatre and Horizon Theatre. When a fierce, unexpected storm strands a group of mothers and daughters overnight in the woods, ethnic prejudices, some latent, others blatant, bubble to the surface and force the adults to examine which is deeperthe shared experience of motherhood or the divisive judgments of their upbringing.
The Sunset Limited (March - April, 2010). No Country for Old Men author Cormac McCarthy ominously describes this drama as A novel in dramatic form. In a split-second intervention, the character Black, a Christian ex-con, prevents the character White, a nihilistic and world-weary professor, from hurtling himself in the path of an oncoming commuter train. The ensuing philosophical sparring between the two sparks an intriguing articulation of opposing belief systems and the internal debate between innate human isolation versus transcendent communion.
Blues in the Night (April - May, 2010) Conceived and originally directed by Sheldon Epps, this bluesy revue celebrates the music of the likes of Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer. The "safest" play on the Outfit's schedule (along with Summer '09's remount of Cotton Patch Gospel), it should offer a showcase for some of Atlanta's best chanteuses.
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