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A New Stage | Theater | Fashion Weekly

Like so much else, the Richmond Theater has been in a limbo for more than a year.

At the start of the pandemic, every show in town closed its doors and canceled its current run. Then, in June 2020, our own Firehouse Theater was perhaps the first professional theater in the country to perform in front of a live indoor audience with its one-man adaptation of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Staged with a mask requirement, a drastically reduced audience and other security measures, “Dorian Gray” was just the beginning for Firehouse, which continued to put on shows in the months that followed. Other theaters followed suit, including live, outdoor, and digital performances.

Although the Delta variant is still on the rise, it seems so far that we are heading towards a more normal theater season than the previous one. This fall, we’ll see a slightly expanded list of theaters opening their doors to bring us some resumption of pre-pandemic shows that had to close, as well as some exciting new offers.

Here’s a mock conversation between Claire Boswell and Rich Griset, Style’s two theater critics, about the upcoming season:

Claire Boswell: I’m interested in the revivals and re-mountings, the shows that we would have seen in 2020 and that had to be canceled or cut. I was so disappointed that I never saw the Swift Creek Mill Theater production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (September 11th – October 23rd). The musical comedy by Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts ponders on love and relationships in a series of vignettes. That show had a long off-Broadway run through the ’90s and early 1980s, and the Swift Creek Mill production features some outstanding Richmond talent, including Rachel Marrs and Ian Page. I am so glad they decided to bring this one back!

Another show returning this fall is the Cadence Theater Company’s Bess Wohls production of “Small Mouth Sounds” (September 23 – October 3), in which a group of six people seek spiritual healing in a silent retreat . I actually saw this show just before it closed in March 2020.

Rich Griset: What I look forward to most is a trio of local shows that explore race and our society today. The first of these will be staged by the Conciliation Lab, a new theater group that emerged from the merger of TheatreLab and the Conciliation Project. In Eleanor Burgess’ “The Niceties” (September 16 – October 2), two progressive women – a black millennial and a white baby boomer – argue about race, reputation and history. The Washington Post called it a “barn burner of a play”. The Conciliation Lab follows with Young Jean Lee’s “Straight White Men” (December 2-18), a play about three white brothers who return to their parents’ home in the Midwest to spend the holidays with their widowed father. Although the title may suggest satire, the piece ultimately involves a more universal exploration of identity, despair, and privilege.

The Virginia Repertory Theater is also involved with “Pipeline” (15.10.-7.11.), A play about a teacher at a public high school in the city center, whose son fights against a system that has been manipulated against him while attending a private school. Variety called it “an emotionally harrowing, ethically ambiguous drama that raises prickly questions about class, race, parental responsibility, and the level of American education.”

Boswell: They all sound incredible. And I remember the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton will be hosting the world premiere of Anchuli Felicia King’s play “Keene” (October 7th – November 28th) at the Blackfriars Playhouse. This is a thought-provoking comedy about two color scientists at an academic conference on Shakespeare. King is the youngest recipient of the Center’s Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries program, which honors a new playwright whose work is inspired by or in conversation with Shakespeare, and this show sounds like it fits the themes and questions exactly that we’ll see on stage this season.

Griset: Also at Richmond Triangle Players we will have Philip Ridley’s “Vincent River” (September 22nd – October 10th), a play in which a woman only learns that her son was gay after he was killed in a homophobic attack. The one-act act is reminiscent of “The Laramie Project” in its choice of themes. That same week, Firehouse opens its War in Pieces Festival (September 23 to October 30), a series of new one-act plays written by military veterans about turning points in their lives where they might have been killed or died. Works by David Aldridge, Rachel Landsee, Robert Waldruff and Chuck Williamson will be shown at the festival.

Boswell: I also want to mention that we’re going to have a lot of shows to celebrate the holidays starting with “Nevermore! Edgar Allan Poe: the Final Mystery “(October 8-16) shortly before Halloween. It’s a play that imagines the events that were lost in history that preceded Poe’s mysterious death. With Poe’s stories and poetry, this show sounds like a fun way to celebrate our favorite author of the macabre at the start of the spooky season.

Then, in December, it’s going to be a nostalgic Christmas season with some fun, entertaining shows for friends and family and a few Christmas classics. Virginia Rep’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” (December 3rd – January 2nd) brings the classic Christmas story of George Bailey’s fantastic encounter with his guardian angel Clarence to the stage. If you’re more into light, festive holiday fare, head to Winter Wonderettes (November 20th – January 1st) at Swift Creek Mill. In this fun musical revue, the Wonderettes, a female vocal group of four, prepare to perform at the annual Harper’s Hardware Party when Santa Claus goes missing. This show features 1960s style Christmas carols and sounds like a great show for the whole family.

While I can’t know much about the upcoming Christmas Musical Revue (November 17 – December 18) coming to Richmond Triangle Players this holiday season, I imagine they would be better for groups of. will be suitable friends than the whole family. Richmond Triangle Players is known for offering fun cabaret shows with cheeky humor that really make local actors shine, so I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us this holiday season.

Griset: See you next time in the theater!

Boswell: Yes we see us! Until then, stay healthy.

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