Tuesday, February 06, 2007

TheatreWorks announces season

Lots of premieres, but only one musical? Am I reading this right?

I missed Caroline or Change both in NY and in SF, so this is a good chance to see it.

And Twelfth Night is always a crowd pleaser. In fact, it was the first TheatreWorks production I ever saw...probably abut 30 years ago. my parents knew the parents of the guy who wrote the music for a somewhat non-traditional production of Twelfth Night, so off we went to see it. At that time TheatreWorks was brand new and performing, if I remember correctly, in what seemed to be a city council building. I was probably pre-teen at the time, and my sole recollection of the staging of the show was that there was this huge, well, beach ball-type thing on stage that the actors (I remember Olivia in particular) leaned against whilst pining for one another.

All in all, like most theatres, TheatreWorks seems to have budget in mind with this season. Even the one musical is a small cast musical. The couple of plays with which I'm familiar from their list are very small ensemble pieces. As my description of their first Twelfth Night indicates, Shakespeare is always nice because you can stage as abstractly or as lavishly as you like. I'm betting they go for austere scenic designs to match the small cast feel for the season.

If I may be so bold as to theorize about why TheatreWorks might behaving to watch their budget pretty carefully, I would theorize thus: TheatreWorks likes to do a lot of premieres and unknown works. That's great, but that attracts a certain kind of more adventurous audience who is in love with theatre itself, not just theatre as one form of entertainment among many. Meanwhile, I don't know about you, but I find TheatreWorks to be fairly expensive among local theatres. It bills itself as professional and charges prices accordingly. If you want to charge that much you may be shutting out some of the very theatre freaks who would love to see all of these premieres, unknown works etc.

I don't think there's any criticism or snobbery inherent in drawing a distinction between niche entertainment and more mass market entertainment. And sometimes I wonder if TheatreWorks isn't trying to sell to one audience, while really only developing a product that appeals to a different audience.

What do you think of my theory?

Here's the entire TheatreWorks season:


The Elephant Man: June 20-July 15

Theophilus North: July 18-Aug. 12

Emma: Aug. 22-Sept. 16

Golda's Balcony: Oct. 3-28

Twelfth Night: Nov. 28-Dec. 23

Third: Jan. 16-Feb. 10

Southern Comforts: March 5-30

Caroline, or Change: April 2-27

Interesting theory, and it makes some sense. I would point out that TW has $20 student tickets for all performances (although obviously not everyone who needs discount tickets is a student). I do believe their prices have gone up in the past few years. I subscribe, and end up saving about $10-11 per ticket (there are theaters that don't give any kind of discount to subscribers). But I do think you have a good point.

Oh, and Emma is also a musical, by the same composer who wrote Jane Eyre.
Ah, thanks Mike! The article refers to Emma as a play, but I did think it made a lot more sense to make a musical (given the many non-musical adaptations of Emma we've seen in recent year on film.)
And Emma, which was part of the New Works Festival last year, is a stunning musical. See it here before they clamor for it in New York.
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