Monday night a group of 50 community theater actors, directors, producers and board members gathered in the lobby of the Bartell Theatre to unveil the 2018-2019 season for five of the venue’s resident companies. The organizations, including Madison Theatre Guild, Strollers Theatre, KRASS, Mercury Players Theatre, and Stage Q, will offer 23 productions in the coming year, that range from a holiday panto, a musical, and an evening of ten minute plays, to a serialized soap opera, a recent Broadway hit, and some chestnuts from the mid-20th century. Some highlights to put on your calendar include:
Mercury Players Theatre
No One Goes to Hell for the Food: A Gourmet’s Guide to the Afterlife, by Barry “The Mustard Museum” Levenson
October 5 – 20, 2018
Barry Levenson has gone to great lengths to promote his one-of-a-kind museum devoted to thousands of flavors of mustard, which currently operates in Middleton. He has talked condiments with NPR, Oprah and David Letterman. He has written the operetta Madame Butterfat and the book Habeas Codfish, about legal matters concerning food. Rumor has it he frequently appears in a mustard bottle costume at public events, such as National Mustard Day. And now he’s written an original mustard-themed comedy. I hope the show is good, but I really hope they have mustard-themed concessions.
Kathie Rasmussen Women’s Theater
After the Revolution, By Amy Herzog
November 30 – December 15, 2018
The New York Times calls playwright Amy Herzog, “one of the bright theatrical lights of her generation.” Her most well-known work, 4,000 Miles, was a finalist for the Pulitzer and last season’s Off-Broadway production of Mary Jane, (featuring UW Madison alum Carrie Coon) won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play. So seeing Herzog’s name on the schedule is reason to enough to be interested. The drama After the Revolution is not what made her a familiar name, but it is a compelling story about family secrets and mythology colliding with facts.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
May 10 – 25, 2019
Based on the best-selling book of the same name, Curious Incident racked up multiple awards in London before it transferred to New York in 2014 for a two year run — where it also took home armloads of Tonys and Drama Desk Awards. The play gives audiences a glimpse of what life is like for Christopher, a 15 year-old math genius on the autism spectrum, who ventures far from his comfort zone as he tries to solve a mystery and forge a relationship with his father. This show is a coup for Strollers — a Wisconsin premiere.
Cabaret, in conjunction with OUT!cast Productions
March 15 – 30, 2019
Steve Noll is directing the only musical at the Bartell this season, and he’s very excited. Working with music director Evan Lange and choreographer Lynn Pilch, Noll will welcome audiences to the Kit Kat Klub in pre-World War II Berlin with a little twist — the emcee will be played by local performer and music director Erin McConnell. Expect big musical numbers and a lot of great dancing amongst the pathos.
Attack of Stonewall, by Malissa Petterson
April 19 – 27, 2019
Commissioned by Stage Q, Attack of Stonewall is not only a world premiere based on first person accounts of the riots that began the LGBTQ movement, it’s also an immersive experience that should put this historic event in a whole new light for audiences. Walking through the theater, you’ll meet actors portraying the “queens, queers, and mobsters” who frequented the private bottle club in New York’s Greenwich Village and see what transpired on June 28, 1969, just as the police came to raid the bar.
Madison Theatre Guild
Small Mouth Sounds, Directed by Dana Pellebon
April 19 – May 4, 2019
Perhaps the oddest entry in the 2018-2019 season, Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl contains very little dialogue. Set at a new age spa/spiritual retreat, the six characters have signed up for a five-day vow of silence in hopes of finding inner peace. Director Pellebon joked last night that the script was mostly stage directions, but it should be a challenging project for the cast none-the-less.