This semester Emerson Stage offers a variety of shows to please any type of theatregoer's tastes; from an eclectic dance show to a comical detective-mystery musical, with characters who are pregnant hitchhikers and icy socialites, through depression era Philadelphia to an indefinable stormy night in Los Angeles.
The spaces these shows will inhabit during their short run are just as varied. The smaller, more intimate shows such as Cloud Tectonics, and the newly written The Rubik's Cube, which feature casts of only a handful of actors, will take place in the Greene Theatre, which boasts a smaller space in which the audience will be able to experience every fleeting expression and movement they produce. City of Angels, the final production for Emerson Stage this season, will be put on in The Majestic-a massive, breathtaking space that can accommodate the grandeur of a large-scale musical and provide the proper acoustics the music deserves.
With the direction, production and talent of Emerson's finest-as well as one original work by an award-winning student-this season has the potential to be an engrossing mixture of both epic and intimate works of art. The careful selection of choices-an innovative dance show, a classical comedic favorite, an edgy love story, an original tale of a quirky scientist and an introspective Hollywood intrigue musical-make for a fascinating blend of both old-school and contemporary drama.
Experimental Dance (more commonly known by its truncated name, X Dance), Emerson's one and only main stage dance show, showcases the talented combination of choreographers and dancers whose unusual yet fascinating work will grace Emerson Stage again this year.
X Dance involves the work of both dance minors and those who are simply enthusiasts of the art form, and it takes a big step away from the traditional concepts of dance, such as ballet, jazz or tap.
For Emerson students, it is an opportunity to both participate in and view original compositions set to a varied selection of music. Though the movements sometime seem abstract, it expresses deep emotion through its combinations of traditional and inventive moves.
This year's selections vary from contemporary movement styles to the more experimental kind. The music incorporated varies anywhere from selections from Swan Lake and Beetlejuice to Sufjan Stevens and Leonard Cohen, and even some Stevie Wonder.
The stories woven into the dances, however, are about people. Sometimes about their loneliness and the loss of the individual, and at other times about how certain people come together and how they form relationships.
This year's choreographers are Chelsea Lembo, Tim Stokel, Megan Donovan, Brittany Hershkowitz, Kira Cowan and Maryann Colella. X-Dance will open on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., in the Greene Theatre.
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
Philip Barry's tumultuous romp on love and re-marriage in high society, which originally starred Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in the Hollywood classic, provides a singular impression of life behind closed doors of the elite in 1930s society over the course of 24 hours.
Tracy Lord, a proud and wealthy Philadelphia socialite, is preparing to marry nouveau-riche businessman George Kittreage when two nosy reporters from a gossip magazine interrupt her perfect plans. Unbeknowest to Tracy, her brother Sandy has made a deal. In order to stop a story about their father's affair with a dancer, the family will give the two reporters an exclusive on Tracy's upcoming nuptials.
While the reporters scrutinize the Lord family's every move, Tracy decides to put on a show, giving the pair a version of family life that will terrify them. When Tracy's former husband, C.K. Dexter Haven, is thrown into the mix, she begins to doubt whether she ought to marry George. The twists and turns that ensue determine the future of Tracy's marital happiness as well as the reputation of the Lords.
Emerson's production will be directed by Spiro Veloudos and will star Sasha Castroverde, Grant MacDermott and Dan Perrault in Hepburn, Grant and Stewart's iconic roles, respectively.
The Philadelphia Story will hit Emerson's Semel Theatre on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., and play until March 1.
Joseacute; Rivera's time-bending tale of love plays with the imagination, turning an ordinary "boy meets girl" love story into something far more extraordinary, as it stretches the limits of what is real and what is fantastic.
On a torrentially rainy evening in Los Angeles, an ordinary LAX baggage handler named Anibal de la Luna picks up a pregnant hitchhiker, Celestina de Sol, who is searching for the father of her child.
Celestina claims that she is forty-four years old and that she has been pregnant for two years-and, during the one night she spends with Anibal, another two years will have passed.Time warps in Celestina's present-clocks stop and linear time means nothing. She isn't even sure how old she really is.
What happens in that one night-or, two years-profoundly transforms the lives of Celestina and Anibal, as they discover an eternal love that will last beyond all boundaries. When Anibal's army brother, Nelson, interrupts the pair's night, Celestina escapes, only to return forty years later, still young, and her child still a newborn.
Rivera, who was nominated for an Academy Award for translating Che Guevara's diaries into a screenplay for the 2004 film The Motorcycle Diaries, drew on Gabriel Garciacute;a Maacute;rquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" for the themes of distorted time and reality in Cloud Tectonics.
Cloud Tectonics is directed by Tara Wiseman and will open on March 27 at 8 p.m. in the Greene Theatre.
NewFest 2008: THE RUBIK'S CUBE
This year's winner of the Rod Parker Playwrighting award is Kimberly Barrante, whose quirky story of friendship and isolation centers around two men-one, a brilliant linguist, and the other, his less-than-bright assistant, who have both just been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Dennis, the linguist, and his assistant Clarence have contracted this disease by eating a contaminated pomegranate while in India. Dennis has decided to exile himself and Clarence to the Antarctic in order to stop the progression of the illness, mysteriously known as "the acronym."
Before they succumb to its ravages, the two are determined to finish their personal magnum opus. Dennis plans to finish the world's greatest novel but is afflicted with writer's block, and Clarence simply wants to solve a Rubik's cube, although the two encounter unsuspected difficulties along the way.
Barrante's play is the latest in a series of original Emerson works being produced. Emerson playwrights have the chance to annually submit their work to the writing award, which is sponsored by Rod Parker, an Emerson alum ('51). Their reward includes not only the chance to see their work go from page to stage but a cash prize as well.
The Rubik's Cube is directed by Joe Antoun and stars Shawn Verrier of last seasons' BAT BOY as Dennis. It will take place in the Greene Theatre starting April 3 at 8 p.m.
CITY OF ANGELS
City of Angels is a musical-comedy-meets-film-noir detective s
tory within a story that spirals into two separate but parallel forms of music-induced mayhem. One of the two stories revolves around Stine, a writer who just can't seem to finish his script despite being under duress from big shot movie producer/director, Buddy Fidler.
Though Stine has based much of his script on his real life-the main character in it is named Stone-he is forced by Fidler to rewrite portions of the script, which soon enough become the musical's second fragmented story line.
Set in Hollywood in the 1940s, Stone's screenplay begins when a seductive socialite, Alaura Kingsley, appears in his office pleading for help to find her disobedient step-daughter, Mallory. Stone agrees to help-and soon finds more things at stake than just his detective's fee.
Once the lines between fiction and reality bleed together, Stine must come face-to-face with his fictional alter-ego not only to straighten out Stone's murder mystery, but also piece together the dysfunctional and disheveled life of his own.
City of Angels is directed by Scott LeFeber, and will be performed in the Cutler Majestic Theatre` beginning on April 24 at 8 p.m. There will be a school performance on April 25 at 10 a.m.