“Spring Awakening” is a fascinating new look at an old play that takes on the always-current topic of teenage sexuality. The book and lyrics by Steven Sater with music by the lapsed pop star Duncan Sheik created an eight-time Tony Award-winning Broadway musical based on Frank Wedekind’s once-banned 1891 play of the same name. Set in late-19th century Germany, the ensemble story darkly deals with subjects of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide. Fall 2013 UC Davis Granada Artist-in-Residence Stafford Arima directs the controversial production for the Department of Theatre and Dance. The highly sought-after Arima is no stranger to the area having just directed a sumptuous “The King And I” at the Music Circus this past summer. His credits include an Olivier Award nomination for directing the West End premiere of “Ragtime.” He also directed “A Little Night Music” and “Miss Saigon” at Sacramento Music Circus and Off-Broadway productions of “Carrie,” “Altar Boyz,” and “Bare.”
Playwright Mark Medoff (who won a Tony Award in 1980 for his “Children of A Lesser God” puts a contemporary spin on the Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson pas de deux. Hemmings was the slave owned by Jefferson who likely fathered all of her six children. Celebration Arts presents Medoff’s 2002 fantasia with Tommy J as a young black man and Sally, a white pop singer whom Tommy J holds hostage as they delve into a shared murky past. Bob Devin Jones, well known to Sacramento theater audiences of the 1990s directed the play’s world premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. Here Anthony Person and Nicole DeCroix star.
Back in the day
Big Idea Theatre lives up to its name with playwright Itamar Moses’ play about — big ideas and their expiration dates. Moses examines the nature of how time and context can be everything when it comes to accepting or understanding new concepts. Beginning in the present day where a graduate student finds himself embroiled in a university power struggle, the story time travels back to ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy and Nazi Germany. Benjamin T. Ismail directs with Ryan Snyder as Daniel Rivnine and Agathon, Eason Donner as Steven and Aristotle, Jouni Kirjola as Bertolt Brecht, Jes Gonzales as Eugene Lomax and Aristophanes, and Ruby Sketchley as Adriana Kale and The Oracle.