Arts & Theater

Sacramento Theatre Company announces 2015-2016 lineup

Michael Laun, the executive producing director of the Sacramento Theatre Company, has announced the theater’s 2015-16 season, which he calls “Friends, Foes and Family.”

The seven-show season features a season-opening West Coast premiere of a new Jane Austen adaptation and a world premiere commission by Nevada City playwright Gary Wright. STC will bring back local favorite Janis Stevens and also bring back Gregg Coffin and Kate Hawley’s British pantomime version of “Cinderella” as its holiday production.

The four main stage shows are “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J.R. Sullivan (Sept. 30-Oct. 25); “Cinderella” – a British panto by Hawley and Coffin (Dec. 2-27); “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare (Feb. 24-March 20); and “The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Arthur Conan Doyle adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright (April 20-May 15).

The three Pollock Stage productions are a world premiere play about Benjamin Franklin by Wright (Nov. 4-Dec. 13); “Driving Miss Daisy” by Alfred Uhry (Jan. 6-Feb. 14); and “The Fantasticks” by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (March 23-May 1) .

Laun said he anticipates continued modest growth for the company in what has become a successful production schedule template. STC subscriptions have been holding steady at 1,700 patrons three years, but single-ticket sales have grown by about 15 percent over the past two seasons. This season, STC hopes to increase ticket sales 5 to 10 percent by the time “Pirates of Penzance” closes the 2014-15 season on May 17.

Laun likes to front-load the season with a larger show and wanted to follow up “Pride and Prejudice” (October 2013) with another Austen piece. Shannon Mahoney, who recently directed “Rapture, Blister Burn” at Capital Stage, will direct the romantic comedy of manners.

“I had the pleasure of going to the Utah Shakespeare Festival and seeing this new adaptation done by the same people who did ‘Pride and Prejudice,’” Laun said. “We asked if we could do the West Coast premiere of the production and worked that out.”

Laun had discussed a new play with Wright, a writer and actor who wrote a fine play several years ago about Edgar Alan Poe called “Evermore,” which was staged by the Foothill Theatre Company. Laun and Wright settled on Founding Father Franklin as a subject, and STC commissioned Wright for the project. “This is focusing more on his personal life and includes his son and grandson,” Laun said.

For STC’s holiday play, Laun brings back the outrageous version of “Cinderella” by the locally based composer Coffin and playwright Hawley. First done at the Santa Cruz Shakespeare Festival, the play had become quite popular at STC under former artistic director Peggy Shannon.

“It had always been my hope for STC that we would have a group of holiday offerings that we could rotate through out the years,” Laun said. The past few seasons have seen “A Christmas Carol” followed by “It’s A Wonderful Life: The Musical.”

For “Cinderella,” Laun said, “we wanted to do new sets, new costumes, keep all the wonderful spirit that people love about the show.”

The British pantomime, which has nothing to do with white-face mime, is steeped in traditions of Commedia dell’arte with an assortment of stock characters, plenty of cross-dressing and lots of audience participation.

“Driving Miss Daisy,” Uhry’s 1988 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, was made part of the season, Laun said, because he wanted have Stevens working regularly at STC. The play concerns the relationship between an elderly white Southern Jewish woman and her African American chauffeur, which spans 1948 to 1973.

The season is rounded out with “Twelfth Night,” which brings back co-directors Kirk Blackinton and Brian Harrower, the team responsible for this year’s “Julius Caesar”; “The Fantasticks,” the longest-running musical ever; and Sherlock Holmes’ “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

“We think it will be a very popular season, maybe one of our most popular in the last 10 years,” Laun said.

Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.

STC 2015-2016 SEASON OF FRIENDS, FOES & FAMILY:

Six-show subscription packages (excluding “Cinderella”) will go on sale July 1. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 1. Subscribers can buy “Cinderella” tickets before general sales.

Information: www.sactheatre.org, (916) 443-6722

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