September 03, 2019 News & Features » Cover Story

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Odd Embraces 

The upcoming theater season offers a little something for everyone.

click to enlarge Broadway in Richmond presents the touring production of the New York-centric smash hit musical, “Hamilton,” running Nov. 19 through Dec. 8 at Altria Theater. Best of luck finding tickets for this one, folks.

Joan Marcus

Broadway in Richmond presents the touring production of the New York-centric smash hit musical, “Hamilton,” running Nov. 19 through Dec. 8 at Altria Theater. Best of luck finding tickets for this one, folks.

Murder, coming-of-age and feeling out of place might seem like themes pulled from the teen drama "Riverdale," but they're also the subjects of many shows from this fall's theater lineup.

Embracing the odd seems to be the name of the game, what with TheatreLab's "Urinetown: the Musical" (Nov. 23-Dec. 28), a satire of bladder-pinching hilarity, Virginia Rep's "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" (Sept. 17 - Oct. 20), a peppy musical about an Edwardian serial killer, and Richmond Triangle Players' "The Rocky Horror Show" (Oct. 18-26), which should need no introduction, as a few examples.

To get their take on these and other upcoming theater offerings, we asked Style critics Claire Boswell and Rich Griset to discuss their fall season picks:

Griset: There are a lot of intriguing shows on our plate for this fall. Claire, what are you looking forward to most?

Boswell: I'm really looking forward to all of the musicals! I can't wait to see Richmond Triangle Players' take on "The Rocky Horror Show," coming to us right around Halloween. And in September the players brings us "Falsettos" (Sept. 6-Oct. 5), a Tony-Award-winning musical about a man trying to navigate shifting family dynamics after coming out, and it's got a standout cast of local talent.

I'm also really looking forward to Firehouse's "Passing Strange" (Sept. 7-Oct. 18), a rock musical that promises to be both meta-fictive and genre-defying, examining the development of a young black artist. Here, too, I'm excited about the cast, and director Tawnya Pettiford-Wates has done amazing work with experimental material in the past, so I know we're in for something special with this show.

There are also some great shows coming up for the holiday season. Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" (Nov. 29-Jan. 5) is sure to enchant audiences at Virginia Repertory Theatre, and I love "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," (Nov. 16-Dec. 28), Swift Creek Mill's holiday offering. It's a musical based on an unfinished Charles Dickens novel — the audience gets to choose how it ends. 

Boswell: Which musicals stand out to you, Rich?

Griset: In addition to the ones that you've mentioned, I'm excited to see "Love and Murder" at Virginia Rep. Set in Edwardian England, the plucky musical concerns Monty, a young man who decides to kill his relatives in order to obtain their fortunes. The show will star local favorites Alexander Sapp as Monty and Scott Wichmann in eight roles as Monty's family members.
I'm also looking forward to TheatreLab's "Urinetown," a "Threepenny Opera"-esque musical comedy. Set in a future world where catastrophic water shortages mean that everyone has to pay to urinate, this satire sends up capitalism, politics and musicals themselves.

Griset: As far as plays, what looks interesting to you?

Boswell: Well, I do love a good mystery, and in addition to bringing us "Drood" later in the season, Swift Creek Mill offers "Holmes and Watson" (Sept. 13-Oct. 19th) in which Dr. Watson is summoned to a Scottish asylum holding three men who all claim to be Sherlock Holmes. Watson must identify who, if any, is in fact the famous detective. CatTheatre is adding to the suspense this fall with "Art of Murder," a play about a murderous painter that won the 2000 Edgar Award for best mystery play.
I'm also interested to see what 5th Wall has in store for us with "Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods" (Oct. 11-Nov. 2). The play tells the story of Gabriel, a Sudanese refugee, and his transition to life in the U.S., living with an American family.

Boswell: What about you?

Griset: I'm excited to see TheatreLab's "Admissions" (Sept. 12-28). Written by Joshua Harmon, of "Bad Jews" and "Significant Other" fame, the play offers a satiric look at the concept of diversity and how people and institutions attempt to quantify it. Like Harmon's other works, I'm expecting it to be both hilarious and unsettling.

I'm also looking forward to a double dose of Charles Busch this fall at Richmond Triangle Players. On Oct. 11 and 12, Busch — an actor and playwright who made a name for himself by starring in his own plays as a female impersonator — will return with his cabaret "Native New Yorker." The show will feature Busch telling tales of his early showbiz career while singing songs from the 70s and early 80s. The following month, it will stage Busch's "Times Square Angel" (Nov. 15-Dec. 21), a B-movie, burlesque take on "A Christmas Carol."

Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention Broadway in Richmond's touring production of "Hamilton" (Nov. 19-Dec. 8) coming to town. The hip-hop Alexander Hamilton musical has won just about every accolade in the Western Hemisphere; good luck getting tickets.

For theater aficionados, the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards take place at the November Theatre on Oct. 27. Both Griset and Boswell are members of the circle. With Bianca Bryan and Jerold Solomon as this year's hosts, this black-tie event celebrates local theater artists' contributions to the stage. This will be the 12th year of the Artsies, an event that raises money for a fund that helps local theater folks in times of need.

Boswell: like the sound of that. All in all, I think this season offers something for everyone.

Griset: Agreed. See you in the theater!

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