(Sarasota, FL)—Florida Studio Theatre announces its 2015-16 Mainstage Season. Opening the season is the BROADWAY HIT One Man, Two Guvnors, followed by the REGIONAL PREMIERES of the smart, stirring Butler and the quirky comedy Outside Mullingar. Finishing out the season is Alabama Story, a thought-provoking new play.
The season opens November 18 and plays through May 28 on FST’s Keating and Gompertz Stages (Downtown Sarasota). A subscription to all four plays may be purchased for as little as $59, online at www.floridastudiotheatre.org or by calling the Box Office at (941) 366-9000.
This Mainstage season kicks off in 60s swingin’ England. Opening in the Gompertz Theatre on November 20 is the BROADWAY HIT, One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean, based on Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters. Francis Henshall, a disarming and doltish man, finds himself employed by a local gangster and a notorious criminal. While desperately trying to prevent discovery of his dual employment, inspired insanity, high-low antics, and nimble wordplay ensue – all backed by live musicians paying homage to rockabilly and a certain Fab Four.
Directing this wacky, intelligent comedy is Joe Discher. Previously serving as the Associate Artistic Director at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Discher’s credits include Butler, Macbeth, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Grapes of Wrath.The New York Times calls One Man, Two Guvnors, “A runaway hit” and The New York Post says it “Leaves no comic stone unturned.”
“It’s an actor’s dream,” said Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins in a recent interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “Richard Bean is so smart in his writing, not only in thought, but in his approach to physical comedy as well. You get to know his characters empathetically and what they really want. It’s bright, naughty, and deals with the corruption of humanity in a delightful way.”
Next up is the REGIONAL PREMIERE of Butler by Richard Strand. This show opens in the Keating Theatre on December 11. During the Civil War, 1861, an escaped slave seeks sanctuary, but the laws of the land are unrelenting. With sharp wit and tongue-in-cheek humor, Butler takes us on a journey through legal loopholes to find the true meaning of freedom. Premiering at New Jersey Repertory Company in 2014 followed by a production at Barrington Stage Company, The New York Times calls it “Uproarious…thoughtful and rollicking.” Broadway World describes it as, “Captivating” with “Humor, warmth, and wit.”
According to Hopkins, “While it is set in a very important historical setting, this play teaches us about the relations between man that we still deal with today. It’s a very smart production. An escapee slave comes face to face with a Major General. For centuries, African Americans have studied the white man because they had to in order to survive. It’s only been in the last few decades that the white man has studied African Americans. That’s what this play mimics and mirrors to me. That’s what keeps it fresh and contemporary – not just another history piece.”
Claiming the third slot of the season is the REGIONAL PREMIERE of Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley, opening in the Gompertz Theatre on February 5. From the author of Doubt and Moonstruck comes a delightful gritty comedy set in rural Ireland. Between fading families, a bitter land feud, and familial rivalries, two misfit neighbors will have to overcome their own fears to find happiness. Full of surprising humor and poetic prose, this tender-hearted portrait reminds us that what we’re looking for is sometimes right in front of us. The New York Times calls it, “Fresh and funny” and “Shanley’s finest work since Doubt.” Variety calls it, “Beautiful” and “Tenderly written.”
Rounding out the season is the REGIONAL PREMIERE of Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones. Produced for the first time below the Mason Dixon line, this pure drama begins in the Gompertz Theatre on April 8. The civil rights movement is flowering in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama. “It has an authentic Southern voice,” said Hopkins. “It explores real people and how their lives were affected by what is going on in the South at the time. It’s a simple and subtle look at humanity.” A children’s book with a hidden message stirs the passions of a segregationist senator and a no-nonsense state librarian. Inspired by true events, Alabama Story puts political foes, childhood friends, and one feisty author at opposite ends of clashing perceptions. Jones’ background includes work as a theatre journalist for Playbill.com and a theatre critic for The Detroit News. The Salt Lake Tribune calls it, “Dynamic, cleverly crafted, and razor-sharp.”
This Mainstage season takes audiences all around the world from Brighton, England, to Fort Union, Virginia, to Mullingar, Ireland, ending in Montgomery, Alabama. FST strives with every season to produce theatre that challenges with as much gusto as it entertains, and this season is no exception. Hopkins shares his final thoughts on the Winter Mainstage Season stating, “We have an exciting season ahead. FST began as an artist’s theatre, and it remains as such to this day. We do not hold a myopic view of the artist. The work we choose to produce and efforts we extend to begin important conversation in our community, all focus around our audience. After all, it is not uncommon for the ‘artist’ to come from the audience. These are your plays: the reflection of your life and of the world we live in.”
The season opens November 20 and plays through May 28 on FST’s Keating and Gompertz Stages (Downtown Sarasota). A subscription to all four plays can be purchased for as little as $59, online at www.floridastudiotheatre.org or by calling the Box Office at (941) 366-9000.
About Florida Studio Theatre
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.