Front & Center
Live theater in New Orleans never sits still, as evidenced by the continuing development of new productions and reinterpretations of works from classics to Broadway hits. Audiences can find it all – including the best in orchestral, operatic and ballet performances – on stages around New Orleans.
In the pages that follow, read highlights of upcoming events and productions, and find news on local theaters, as well as the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Orleans Opera Association and the New Orleans Ballet Association. See what’s on tap, and reserve your seats for the many live performances that lie ahead.
Kathy Finn, editor
Fine figure of a festival
It’s known as a literary festival, but this year’s tribute to one of New Orleans’ great writers will offer a heavy dose of theatricality. The annual Tennessee Williams Festival (March 20-24) takes over a chunk of the French Quarter to present plays, staged readings, panel discussions and master classes. But it will also touch a musical note with “Only a Paper Moon,” featuring Broadway’s Alison Fraser singing the hit songs Williams sprinkled into his famous scenes.
Southern Repertory Theatre’s Aimée Hayes will direct readings of three of Williams’ one-act plays, presented by Christine McMurdo-Wallis, Nell Nolan, Harry Shearer, Fraser and Bryan Batt.
Other Williams explorations include: “Auto-Da-Fe,” a special staging at Hermann-Grima House; “The Gnädiges Fräulein,” a play packed with Williams’ poetry presented by Four Humours Theatre; and a presentation of Williams’ essays and unpublished works by Jeremy Lawrence.
Also not to be missed: New Orleans playwright John Biguenet debuts the third in his post-Hurricane Katrina trilogy, entitled “Mold” and presented by Southern Rep; the University of New Orleans film department premieres “Jumpers” by Jessica Alexander, winner of the festival’s 2012 One-Act Play Contest; and a staged reading of a play by this year’s contest winner.
For all performance details and ticket information see tennesseewilliams.net or call 504-581-1144.
Great leading ladies at NOCCA
Seth Rudetsky’s popular Broadway concert series has come to New Orleans Center for Creative Arts for the spring and summer, and launches on March 2 with a performance by two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster. On the heels of the appearance by Sutton – who is also the star of ABC Family TV’s “Bunheads” – comes two-time Emmy-winning cast member of “Will and Grace,” Megan Mullally. The star of Broadway’s “Young Frankenstein,” Mullally will perform two shows on April 6.
Next up in the series: Audra McDonald, star of “Porgy and Bess” on Broadway and TV’s “Private Practice,” performs on May 18, and Betty Buckley, Tony-winning star of “Cats” and “Sunset Boulevard,” closes the series on June 1. For tickets see www.broadwaynola.com or call 800-838-3006. Series producer Mark Cortale notes that the visiting artists will also give master classes for NOCCA Institute’s high school musical theater students.
High notes of summer
For the 46th year Tulane University’s Summer Lyric Theatre is setting the stage for a season of major musicals, which will kick off June 20 with the ever-popular “La Cage aux Folles, starring Bob Edes Jr. as the delightful Albin. Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” comes to the campus in July, starring Elizabeth Argus, and “Kiss Me Kate” wraps Cole Porter’s music around a Shakespearean story in August. See firstname.lastname@example.org or call 504-865-5269 for details.
New theater on tap?
Word surfaced recently that a new theater, for live performances or film, could be in the offing at a site in Jefferson Parish. Rick Burroughs, the director of a Pensacola, Fla., theater company, is seeking a zoning change in Metairie’s Fat City area to allow a theater with up to 200 seats to locate there. Burroughs runs three-year-old Theatre West in Pensacola and may be looking to move it to the New Orleans area.
A prince of the stage departs
The theater community lost a treasure in late January when Mark McLaughlin died suddenly at the age of 59. A talented and versatile stage player who moved easily between the classics and contemporary works, he was particularly adept with the works of Irish playwrights. In 2008 he won widespread praise for his performance as a raging drunk in Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer” at Southern Rep. For a look back at McLaughlin’s career by a friend and colleague, see Michael Cahill’s remembrance at http://www.stageclick.com/topic/4898.aspx. •