Barrington Stage Company rolls out 'ambitious and energetic' 2016 season

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PITTSFIELD >> Three world premieres — one drama and two musicals; a reimagining of one of Gilbert & Sullivan's most popular operettas; and plays by Mark St. Germain, David Lindsay-Abaire, and Nina Raines comprise Barrington Stage Company's 2016 season — its 22nd.

What Barrington Stage Company founding artistic director Julianne Boyd characterized in a telephone interview as "an ambitious and energetic season" begins May 18 in BSC's St. Germain Stage in the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center on Linden Street with "Presto Change-O," a world premiere musical about three generations of magicians. The season ends in October on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage with Mark St. Germain's 1995 Off-Broadway success, "Camping With Henry and Tom," which, based on a true incident, imagines the conversations that took place between Henry Ford and Thomas Edison during a camping trip into the Maryland woods in 1921.

Also in the intimate St. Germain Stage:

• "Kimberley Akimbo" by David Lindsay-Abaire, June 16-July 9, starring Debra Jo Rupp in a play about a New Jersey teenager with a rare condition that causes her body to age faster than normal.

• "Broadway Bounty Hunter," a world premiere musical by Joe Iconis (music and lyrics) and Iconis, Lance Rubin and Jason SweetTooth Williams (book) starring actress-singer Annie Golden as an unemployed actress who becomes a bounty hunter on the trail of an ex-Broadway producer turned drug lord, Aug. 12-Sept. 3.

A fourth production will be announced shortly.

The Boyd-Quinson Mainstage on Union Street opens June 17 with the world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown's "American Son," a drama about what happens when a biracial couple is called into a police station when their son's car is found.

Between "American Son" and "Camping With Henry and Tom" come:

• Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance" about an ingenuous 21-year-old man born in a leap year, incompetent pirates and bumbling policemen, directed by John Rando and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, the creative team for BSC's hugely successful "On the Town," July 15-Aug. 12, and;

• Nina Raines' "Tribes," Aug. 18-Sept. 3, about the dynamics between a young man who was born deaf, his politically incorrect family and a young woman on the brink of deafness who comes into the young man's life. Jenn Thompson, who directed last season's "Lost in Yonkers," will pilot this production.

"I hadn't realized while I was putting the season together that, with the exception of 'Pirates of Penzance,' all the plays about social issues are on the Mainstage," Boyd said by telephone from New York. "It's a very different look for us."

"American Son," which Boyd will direct, had a reading last summer at BSC.

"I feel very strongly about this play," Boyd said. "I'm hoping we can reach, in particular, young people of color and their families."

Boyd said she is scheduling a series of ancillary community events — discussions, talks, workshops — relating to the play's themes and issues over the first weekend of July.

Boyd said she has wanted to produce "Tribes" ever since she saw the play at its premiere in 2010 at the Royal Court in London. The drama was produced Off-Broadway in 2012 at Barrow Street Theatre and won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for outstanding play.

"It just seemed to fit right in with this season," Boyd said.

At the same time, Boyd explained, "we will need to do a lot of preparation with this play."

Because she is required to use a deaf actor who can speak in the leading role, Boyd said she will need to use sign language interpreters during auditions and rehearsals.

Boyd said "Pirates of Penzance" was the easiest choice to make. She wanted something to lighten the Mainstage schedule and she wanted Rando and Bergasse, who teamed so successfully on "On the Town," to come back. Their only availability coincided with the second slot on the Mainstage schedule.

"I remembered that (director Wilford Leach) approached 'Pirates' more like a musical than an operetta (in his 1981 Broadway production with Kevin Kline, Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith, among others)," Boyd said, suggesting that Rando and Bergasse's production might be somewhat similar in tone.

Where social issues dominate the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, at the St. Germain, Boyd said, "it's all come and have fun."

She describes the opener, "Presto Change-O," which has been in development at BSC, as "great for the family."

"It's a complicated show so I wanted (its creators and performers) to haver full access to the stage for rehearsals. That's why it's opening the season," Boyd explained

She was invited to a reading of "Broadway Bounty Hunter" in New York and was drawn to it instantly because of the material and the artists involved. And "Kimberly Akimbo," she said, seemed a natural match for Rupp and Ruggiero, who is artistic director of TheaterWorks in Hartford, Conn., where he directed the play in 2007, with Rosemary Prinz heading the cast.

One more play has yet to be announced for the St. Germain space.

Overall, Boyd said, the 2016 season has a somewhat different look than past seasons. What excites her, she said, is working with "artists whose work we want to support, creative people who do great work. It's almost like home."

Tickets go on sale March 1.

Season at a glance

BOYD-QUINSON MAINSTAGE

• "American Son" by Christopher-Demos Brown (world premiere): Directed by Julianne Boyd. June 17-July 9. Press opening — June 22

• Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance": Directed by John Rando, Choreography by Joshua Bergasse. July 15-Aug. 13. Press opening — July 20

• "Tribes" by Nina Raines: Directed by Jenn Thompson. Aug. 18-Sept.3. Press opening — Aug. 21

• "Camping With Henry and Tom" by Mark St. Germain: Oct. 5-23. Press opening — Oct. 9

ST. GERMAIN STAGE

• "Presto Change-O" (world premiere). Music by Joel Waggoner. Book and lyrics by Eric Price: Directed by Marc Bruni. May 18-June 11. Press opening — May 25

• "Kimberly Akimbo" by David Lindsay-Abaire: Directed by Rob Ruggiero. June 16-July 9. Press opening — June 19

• "Broadway Bounty Hunter" (world premiere) Music and lyrics by Joe Iconis. Book by Joe Iconis, Lance Rubin, and Jason SweetTooth Williams: Directed by Leah Gardiner. Aug. 12-Sept. 3/ Opens Aug. 19

Additional St. Germain Stage production to be announced


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