This article was originally written by Neil Shurley and published by Broadway World on January 28, 2020.
Biting comedy, a joyful musical, and a world premiere from one of the writers of TV’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE are among the highlights of Warehouse Theatre’s 2020-2021 season, announced today by Artistic Director Mike Sablone.
“We’re incredibly excited about the 2020-2021 season, our 47th for The Warehouse!” Sablone said. “From the glorious theatricality of Kate Hamill’s SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, to the ‘right-now’-ness of Karen Zacarías’ NATIVE GARDENS, to a world premiere by nationally recognized playwright Dorothy Fortenberry, this season captures the beautiful complexity and comedic potential of the human condition. All six shows are local, regional, and national productions that help expand the reach of The Warehouse proving once again that we are the preeminent professional theatre in the region.”
Sablone’s descriptions of each of the six “intense, intimate, and unexpected” shows are below, followed by a personal comment.
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Chip Egan
September 18-October 4, 2020
When a conservative senator’s aide wakes up locked in a hotel room alongside a liberal blogger, they both are…confused. What exactly happened last night? Why can’t they remember anything and why do they immediately not like each other? It turns out that, unbeknownst to them, Miss Georgia has gone rogue. Feeling like her song and dance routine is too boring, she kidnaps both women to help her win the talent portion. Yes her “talent” is “ending bitter partisanship.” This proves, strangely, harder than she thought it would be as the two will not stop bickering, so she drugs them again. This leads to a tripped out retelling of a meeting between George Washington and James Madison to show how this division is as old as our country. Lauren Gunderson’s riotous political comedy skewers both sides of the aisle in increasingly madcap ways but also has a lot to say about the founding of the country and what a true representative democracy looks like. This is a big giant good time comedy that will prove a soothing antidote for the impending election, showing how we can all come together to form a more perfect union (while at the same time winning Miss America).
“Leading up to the election I wanted to have a big, fun, outrageous comedy about political extremism on both sides. Plus anytime you have a rogue Miss Georgia kidnapping people as part of your plot, I’m in. Before I moved to Greenville, I certainly had preconceived notions about the politics of South Carolina, but one thing I have been pleasantly surprised about since living in Greenville is the extremely varied political opinions all over the map. It’s rare to find a play that’s as funny as it is savvy enough to skewer both sides of the aisle.”
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
By Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Kerrie Seymour
November 20-December 13, 2020
Before there was PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, there was SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (for both Austen and The Warehouse). Based on audience response and demand for PRIDE, I knew we had to program SENSE this year. The same highly theatrical approach of actors playing multiple roles is brought to the Dashwood sisters, sensible Elinor and hypersensitive Marianne. Their father’s sudden passing leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. With a whirlwind of Gossips at every turn, the women are forced to choose between reputation and love. A beautiful, entertaining re-imagining of a classic story that will prove to be a new holiday classic here at The Warehouse.
“I adore Kate Hamill’s adaptations and I was so pleased that given the audience response to PRIDE, they seemed to feel the same. It felt like a no brainer to bring another of these gems to Greenville. Hamill’s heightened theatricality plays so well with Jane Austen’s heroines, it’s a match made in heaven.”
THE LOTUS PARADOX
By Dorothy Fortenberry
Directed by Jay Briggs
January 22, 2021-February 17, 2021
Nora Tennant is a celebrated children’s novelist whose book trilogy “The Lotus Paradox” has brought her significant fame. It has also put an incredible strain on her two kids. Her son, who bears a striking resemblance to Nora’s main character, has had a very hard go of it. Nora loosely based her main character on his troubled childhood, leaving him exposed and feeling exploited. Somehow equally as bad, Nora’s daughter doesn’t even appear in the books, leaving her slightly starved for her mother’s attention. The family has gathered on the eve of Nora’s birthday and the anniversary of “Lotus” being published. Joining them is her editor, who has showed up to pitch a new edition, but she has other ideas about a fourth book that he is delicately avoiding talking about. Things are complicated even more when a young superfan struggling with cancer shows up unannounced. This teenager is obsessed with Nora and her characters/family and ran away from a school trip to make her own pilgrimage. Over the course of a night we watch the family finally fight out old grievances while Nora fights with her publisher about the direction her books should go. Throughout it all we watch three different generations grapple with how they view legacy, art, fame, and family. It’s a haunting multi-generation story about where we’ve been and the uncertainty of where we’re headed. This world premiere comes from a writer on THE HANDMAID’S TALE.
“My background is in developing new plays and the joy in sharing new work with a willing audience is one of my favorite parts of my job. There is nothing better than watching artists invent a new world with new characters for the first time and having our audiences being the very first to watch a piece of work come alive. I am incredibly proud that we have both extraordinarily talented local artists and open minded audiences that allow us to be a theater that has now developed a reputation for producing exciting new work. Bringing in nationally recognized writers and using local directors, actors, and designers is a lynchpin of what The Warehouse should be doing. It’s what our audience deserves! Dorothy is a writer I’ve long admired for her ability to write spectacular dialogue, and this story is tailor made for our local artists.”
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Book: Rachel Sheinkin
Music and Lyrics: William Finn
March 12-April 4, 2021
There is nothing more dramatic than a spelling bee. (There’s a reason that ESPN broadcasts it each year.) In fact the only way to make a spelling bee more dramatic would be to add singing, which at first sounds horrifying, but trust me on this. Of course I’m talking about this hugely popular musical THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. An eclectic group of six kids with outsized ambitions that match their outsized personalities vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. In between candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens (as well as some chosen audience members) spell their way through a series of insane words competing for the title. Heartwarming, hilarious, and featuring the insane unpredictability of audience participation, each performance will be a wild and unique ride rivaling the drama of any major sporting event.
“Like any normal human, I have long been obsessed with spelling bees (If you’ve never seen the documentary SPELLBOUND go do that immediately!). This musical is pure comedic joy with a strong sentimental center. During a time when there is a lot of unrest, sadness, and negativity in the world, the happiness and quirky characters celebrated in SPELLING BEE are the perfect antidote.”
By Sarah DeLappe
Directed by Jenna Tamisiea Elser
Run: April 30-May 16, 2021
Sarah DeLappe’s incredibly popular play puts the focus on a girls indoor soccer team warming up before a series of games. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. A portrait of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for nine American girls, THE WOLVES was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It’s a smart, sympathetic portrayal of female teenagers that captures the exhilarating brightness of raw adolescence. Utilizing the uniqueness of our flexible space, this show plays with the boundaries of the theatrical form and is a shining example of the kind of work only we can do at this level in the Upstate.
“The first year I was here for auditions I was impressed by the sheer number of incredibly talented 20something women we saw. At that point I started thinking of what plays we could produce that would showcase that talent, and I knew one of the plays was going to be THE WOLVES. This play is a force of nature, capturing the tumult of adolescence unlike any other while utilizing our space to the fullest.”
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by Patrick Torres
June 11-June 27, 2021
NATIVE GARDENS is a hilarious hot-button comedy of good intentions and bad manners. Pablo, a rising attorney, and Tania, his pregnant wife, have moved into a Washington, D.C. suburb next to Frank and Virginia and their prize garden. When Pablo impulsively agrees to host a party in their backyard at the end of the week, they frantically begin renovating their backyard and discover a discrepancy on the property line that will impact Frank’s english garden. What starts as a small dispute quickly erupts into a border war between the two couples. A comedy about gentrification, race, privilege, class, and, of course, what counts for “good taste.” We’ll be transforming the space into a lush backyard for this story that is probably playing out in multiple locations within our city limits right now. Much like CLYBOURNE PARK, this is a play that is tailor made for Greenville audiences and I can’t wait to introduce Karen’s funny, timely comedy of bad manners to our patrons.
“I’m pretty sure, right now, the scenario at the center of this play is playing out in multiple backyards in Greenville. The show is sure to ignite the types of conversations and uproarious laughter that our audience loved in CLYBOURNE PARK. What the play does best is break down what gentrification means on a human level, but through a comedic lens. If you’ve ever had a disagreement with a neighbor, consider this play your catharsis.”
The Warehouse Theatre is located at 37 Augusta Street in downtown Greenville, SC’s historic West End.
Season Tickets will go on sale around April 1st, and we’ll be holding our auditions for both AEA and non-union actors on March 13th and 14th, 2020.