Florida Stage season set with audience participation encouraged

Two works that received a full reading at Florida Stage’s 1st Stage New Play Festival this month attracted such a strong reaction from audiences that the works are being fast-forwarded into the 2011-2012 season lineup as world premieres.

Before the festival in early February, some officials weren’t sure any of the works would lead to immediate berths on the schedule. But the acclaim for Captiva by Miamian Christopher Demos-Brown, and The Americans Across the Street by Florida Stage favorite Carter W. Lewis won everyone over.

The 25th anniversary season announced this month also marks a return to a full six-show season. Pre-existing commitments from their new landlord, the Kravis Center, deprived Florida Stage of one play slot this inaugural season in their new space.

The new slate includes the southeastern U.S. premiere of Fighting Over Beverley by renowned playwright Israel Horovitz. It received a reading at the festival but will get its first production in August at the playwright’s home theater, Gloucester Stage in Massachusetts.

The names of two works are unknown, both musicals.’But in a new twist, the identity of the summer selection, is being left up to subscribers.

They are receiving requests from Florida Stage for advice which they want to see: a new musical to be determined or, one of four successful shows previously produced at Florida Stage: Backwards in High Heels (about Ginger Rogers), Beyond the Rainbow (about Judy Garland), Cagney (about James Cagney) and Dream a Little Dream (about The Mamas and the Papas). That musical will be made available as part of subscription package as an optional add-on.

The season will be:

Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs, Oct. 19 ‘ Nov. 20, a world premiere in concert with at least two other theaters in the National New Play Network that guarantees at least three productions of a chosen work. It’s described as ‘Maude Gutman, an unemployed chain-smoking bartender living in a trailer park, bought the ugliest painting she could find at a thrift store for three bucks. Turns out it might be a Jackson Pollock worth millions. Lionel Percy, former curator of the Met, arrives to deliver the New York art world’s verdict. A comedy/drama inspired by a true story, about the meaning of art and the class divide between the Average Joe and East Coast elites.’

Captiva by Christopher Demos-Brown , Dec. 7 ‘ Jan. 8, a world premiere. The premise: ‘Valerie Cestar invites her family to their traditional island getaway to meet her fianc’ and to find the imagined comfort of her youth. But family secrets, hidden insecurities and pent-up frustrations bubble to the surface in this dark comedy.’ Demos-Brown wrote last year’s When the Sun Shone Brighter.

Fighting Over Beverley by Israel Horovitz , Jan. 18 ‘ Feb. 19, 2012. It’s described as ‘A beautiful and funny romantic tale from the legendary playwright and author of Sins of the Mother. A love triangle between 70+-year-olds: Beverley, who came to America from England as a war-bride; Zelly, her fisherman-husband and Archie, the Brit she jilted 53 years earlier.’

A New Musical to be announced, slated for Mar. 21 ‘ Apr. 22.

The Americans Across The Street by Carter W. Lewis, May 9 ‘ June 10, a world premiere. The premise: ‘Derek has a Pulitzer Prize, but he’s tired of a world that says ‘I got mine, so screw everyone else.’ His only source of pleasure is lurking alone on his porch, drinking Scotch and haranguing his neighbors. But when his sister arrives with her precocious daughter in tow, suddenly there are cupcakes, cannons, and a dead lady on the lawn.’ Lewis wrote last season’s The Storytelling Ability of a Boy and this season’s upcoming The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider.

The Pick-Your-Own Musical Slot, June 20 ‘ Sept. 2

For more information, go to floridastage.org or call the box office at (561) 585-3433, (800) 514-3837 (outside of Palm Beach County) or the subscription office at (561) 582-7503.

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