Waiting in the Wings: Fall theater is about the take the stage by storm

In September, Academy Players are bringing a RI premiere with “Imaginary,” a new musical by Timothy Knapman, that tells about the power of imagination and explores the wonder of childhood. Academy will dance their way through November with Mama Mia, sure to be a crowd pleaser. And don’t forget to visit Academy’s second annual vendor fair on October 5. This event helps Academy with their scholarship program, and additional civic giving that they have become known for. — SM

Arctic Playhouse will kick off the fall season with an Arthur Miller classic, “All My Sons.” This well-loved drama will be directed by Tony Annicone. In October, Arctic will bring some laughs with the heartwarming comedy “Visiting Mr. Green,” directed by Sandy Cerel. And as always, there are the special events Arctic has to offer such as Lon Cerel and a building fund benefit, Ida Zecco’s “Thanks for the Mammaries.”  — SM

Attleboro Community Theatre kicks off its 63rd Season with Frederick Knott’s “Wait Until Dark,” directed by Paul Nolette. A popular choice for fall, this creepy thriller follows Susy Hendrix, a blind Greenwich Village housewife, who becomes a target of three con men searching for heroin hidden in a doll that her husband unwittingly transported from Canada as a favor to a mysterious woman he met at the airport. In the right hands, this classic noir drama is as scary as they get. ACT follows up the rest of their year with more community theater staples, including “The Man Who Came to Dinner” in December, “Over The River” in the winter and “The Nerd” in spring 2020.  — TS


Burbage Theatre Company kicks off the fall in their new home at 59 Blackstone Ave in Pawtucket (sharing a building with Motif, among others!) with the RI premiere of David Ives’ “The School for Lies.” Adapted from Moliere’s “The Misanthrope,” The New York Times describes “Lies” as an “impish comic playwright’s glittering tribute to Molière, written entirely in verse … your head will be so dizzy with syncopated rhyme that you’ll almost expect to find yourself speaking and thinking in chiming couplets.” With five plays running from September to June, Burbage also features the Rhode Island premiere of Robert Askins’s searingly funny “Hand to God” and the regional/New England premiere of Ayad Akhtar’s Kennedy Prize-winning “Junk.” They round it out with Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play” and Christopher Marlowe’s “Edward II.”  – TS

Professor Patricia Ybarra, Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies (TAPS) at Brown University, announces their new fall study series. “Our 2019-2020 season investigates topics of political importance at this arduous time in the US. We’re hopeful that the combination of classics (“The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Fefu and Her Friends”) and more recent American plays (“Race,” “kemps” and “Dry Swallow”) might help audiences explore how we think and talk about cultural identity in America.” She adds, “Honoring classic playwrights, David Mamet and the late Maria Irene Fornes, alongside new voices, MFA playwriting students Emma Horwitz and Lucas Baisch, will allow us to think together. Added programming, such as talk-backs and panel discussions, will foster dialogue and build community in PVD. Our season is complemented by guest speakers such as Taylor Mac, Julian Boal and Muriel Miguel, who are major innovators in performance and social change.” — AO

The Community College of Rhode Island has consistently put on wonderful works, proving that this is a great spot to start one’s academic and theatrical careers. Associate professor and theatre program coordinator Theodore Clement says, “This fall CCRI Theatre has an exciting lineup.  Adjunct professors Kira Hawkridge and Anthony Goes will direct the Mainstage Productions, ‘Orlando’ by Sarah Ruhl, and ‘1959 Pink Thunderbird,’ which is a set of two one-act plays entitled ‘Lone Star’ and ‘Laundry & Bourbon,’ both by James McLure. CCRI is also thrilled to be featuring touring guest company OUT LOUD Theatre, which will present ‘Creation X’ and ‘Immortal Thirst,’ their devised theater tributes to classic horror in a presentation they’re calling ‘Creature Double Feature.'” — JW

Community Players of RI publicity chair Christopher Margadonna has been busy setting in motion a new season of offerings like never before. “This season we have many shows that focus on strong females and so we wanted our directors to reflect that and have picked some of the best in the community to lead the productions,” he said. And that’s not all they’re feeling enthusiastic about! He adds, “The Community Players of Pawtucket are excited to be starting our 99th season! As a staple of Pawtucket theater for the past 99 years, we are glad to still be able to provide great local theater to the people of Pawtucket and the surrounding areas.” — AO

With the beautiful addition of a large patio and garden, Contemporary Theatre Company has two performance spaces for the fall season. First is “The Skriker” by Caryl Churchill outdoors on the performance patio and “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare inside. “We’re excited to be leaning into the creepiness that comes with fall and Halloween,” said Maggie Cady, CTC general manager. “Between the Underworld creatures of ‘The Skriker’ and the ghost of ‘Hamlet,’ our spooky quotient is high this fall. These are two very challenging and very different plays. With ‘The Skriker,’ we’re using our outdoor space to do things we’d never be able to do inside. We have different seating sections for audience members who are excited about getting scared and being in the middle of the action, and those who want to just observe. Personally, I recommend coming in ready for anything.” — SG

In the words of Daydream Theatre’s artistic director Lenny Schwartz, “Daydream has a hell of a fall!” and we couldn’t agree more! This fall Daydream will once again be crossing state lines and will be in the big Apple for New York Comic Con with “DITKO.” But if you can’t make it to New York, there will be a special presentation of the show on September 27 and 28. Returning from New York, but in keeping with the world of comic books, in November, Daydream will present “A Seduction of the Innocent,” a play that will tie in “DITKO.” — SM

Teatro ECAS opens their season with the comedy of errors, “La Negra Tomasa Y La Niña Tomasa” and follows up with “El Cianuro…¿Solo O Con Leche?,” in which a daughter and her bedridden mother contemplate the pros and cons of knocking off \her 92-year-old cantankerous grandfather. All ECAS shows are presented in Spanish, with English supertitles, making them one of PVD’s more unique theater experiences. — TS

Epic Theatre Company’s fall season is all about the written word, from a book club selection to two original works. In September, the Epic Book Club Selection is Fires in the Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith. This will lead into Aaron Blanck’s Trick or Treat-quel in October, and Kevin Broccoli’s newest play “Paint,” which Broccoli describes as, “an ensemble piece and a star-vehicle all in one about how an artist does their work over the course of thousands of years and many lifetimes.  Plus, we love all-women casts here at Epic, and this one is star-studded and led by the great Steph Rodger.” — SM

This Fall at The Gamm showcases “A Doll’s House Part 2” by Lucas Hnath and “JQA” by Aaron Posner. Artistic director Tony Estrella said, “It’s a terrific one-two punch to open our season. As we are celebrating our 35th anniversary, it’s particularly fun to re-visit ‘A Doll’s House,’ one of the greatest plays of the modern theater. We produced it almost a decade ago and are reuniting Fred Sullivan, Jr. with Jeanine Kane and Steve Kidd. And ‘JQA’ is a special new play by Aaron Posner that looks at the life of a vastly underrated Founding Father John Quincy Adams and asks necessary questions for today. What is good government? What is our responsibility to preserve and maintain it? Ours is only the second production of a play that I expect will have a long life.” — SG

David Jepson, artistic director at Granite Theatre in Westerly, is pleased to announce some very exciting news for the upcoming season! “Our show calendar, as always, is a diverse, eclectic mix. We have comedies, mysteries and musicals! The lineup of shows will be announced to the public in a few weeks. Look for some great titles and the announcement of the new AD,” says Jepson. Why is there going to be a new AD, you ask? “My wife, Beth, and I are looking forward to our retirement from the theater after 19 seasons here and 18 seasons at City Nights Dinner Theatre. We are very excited about the return of Vinny Lupino in addition to our regular directors. I’m personally excited to work with Vinny as Ebenezer Scrooge, which will be my last role at the theater. We are also excited about our move to Venice, Fla, which has the second-largest community theater in the country, Venice Theatre, with 1,500 volunteers and is beginning its 70th season. I guess one can’t quite take theater out of the boy!” — AO

Following a successful summer season, Head Trick moves into fall with “Mrs. Dalloway,” by Virginia Woolf, adapted by Hal Coase. “It’s the US premiere of this adaptation, which is always going to be exciting,” said artistic director Rebecca Maxfield. “We have a fantastic cast and the adaptation itself is amazing. It really captures the spirit and tone of the novel, the whirl of all these things happening, but there’s also something really theatrical and wonderful about how characters’ flashbacks and private thoughts are brought to life in between the ordinary things they do and say in their day, in the same space. Our season is called ‘In War With Time,’ a season on an epic and an intimate scale, about the span of a life and the moments and choices that shape it.” — Samantha Gaus

Jamestown Community Theatre artistic director Ricky Martin has big ideas for this fall, which is the theater’s 29th season. “This year, our shows feature the Midwestern Musicals of Meredith Willson. Our fall production will be ‘The Music Man,’ and it will be directed by Iris Bohensky with music direction by Jean Maxon-Carpenter. Our spring production will be ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ directed by Iris Bohensky with music direction by Scott Morency. This year’s productions focus on the midwest, which has been recently neglected in the cultural imagination as the rust belt or flyover country,” Martin explains. “But the midwest, and places like Iowa (“Music Man”) or Colorado (“Molly Brown”) in particular are increasingly in the national consciousness, and the themes to which these musicals speak — community, honesty, perseverance, acceptance, survival — are essential at this moment in American culture.” — AO

JDP Theatre Co. in East Providence proudly received its official non-profit status in July and is growing rapidly. “In just a year, we’ve been able to put on four shows, and have four more already scheduled for next year. Our staff has increased, we have a new rehearsal space and we are adding children’s theater to our repertoire for the first time ever. We are excited about our future and continuing to thrive in service of our community through theater,” say artistic directors Jillian Desualdo and Jessica Mayette. They are also excited about upcoming performances of The Jungle Book Kids in October and Hairspray in November 15-17. — AO

Little Theatre of Fall River brings us a one-weekend, “Shrek The Musical” at BCC’s Margaret L. Jackson Arts Center followed by the intimate musical revue, “Starting Here, Starting Now” in December. — TS

New Bedford Festival Theatre (NBFT) is incredibly excited about their upcoming season as they celebrate 30 years of bringing the best of Broadway to the south coast of Massachusetts. Says new executive producer Wendy Hall, “We have two very special shows that celebrate this anniversary season. On November 30, past performers of NBFT will converge on the Zeiterion stage for a one-night only, star-studded benefit concert entitled ‘The Best Of Times!’ Audience members will stroll down NBFT memory lane as alumni perform beloved songs from ‘Les Miserables,’ ‘La Cage Aux Folles,’ ‘Hairspray,’ ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ and many more. Woven in between musical numbers will be memories, happy, humorous and poignant, of how NBFT founder Armand Marchand and artistic director George Charbonneau have positively changed the arts landscape for New Bedford and the surrounding area. Then in July we will be presenting ‘Annie,’ America’s favorite musical!” Hall directed this show in 2001 for NBFT, and is passionate that this production will both honor the past and kick off the future of the company. “It’s a show that you’ll see again and again and again,” she says. — AO

Newport isn’t just for summer anymore!  Newport Playhouse favorite Rick Bagley is directing “End of Summer Gamble” from September into October.  This will be followed up with ‘Fall Farce’ directed by Daniel Lee White. Of course, Newport Playhouse performances also include a delicious buffet, and the after show cabaret! — SM

October opens the 111th straight season for The Players at Barker Playhouse with a fall musical, “The Producers,” by Mel Brooks and directed by Christopher Margadonna. This show is a bold undertaking with tap dancing, showgirls and endless laughs. Being in such a historic building, it was time for a little update “Thanks to RISCA, our beautiful historic theater is completely handicapped accessible,” said production manager Bonnie Sullivan. “The Players are happy to welcome even more of our community. We are also excited for our new sound system and lighting. America’s Oldest Little Theater welcomes you!” — SG

The Theatre at Providence College is getting excited for their fall season with some great new offerings, including the regional college premiere of “Something Rotten!” “The Tony-winning musical has been riding quite a wave of popularity recently. The story centers around two brothers who are competing contemporaries of William Shakespeare, and their struggles to get the best of him. In a season with other dark and complex titles, it is nice to present something lighter that provides escapism, smart humor and exaggerated physical comedy. We are thrilled to have the rare opportunity to host this regional premiere,” says Jimmy Calitri, director and managing director of Theatre at PC. “Following in November, PC TDF will present the Blackfriars Dance Concert, directed by Dr. Wendy Oliver, where guest and resident choreographers work with the Providence College Dance Company to present pieces in contemporary, tap and Haitian-influenced genres.” — AO

Providence Performing Arts Center slowly eases us all away from summer and into the fall with “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville.” Next up, our wish comes true and “Aladdin” comes to the stage. We wish for more wishes! And then PPAC enters the holiday season with the musical “Come From Away.” — EO

RIC Theater is gearing up for the fall season by looking on the bright side of life. “Our 2019-2020 season is all about taking a look at life and how we strive to make changes to better the situation for ourselves and our friends and family,” explains managing director Nicole Brown Frechette Shaw. “From the comedic misunderstandings of ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ to the various vignettes in ‘Working, a Musical’ and the hopeful but tragic circumstances of ‘Awake and Sing,’ many of the featured characters are striving to create a better future against the odds. This is also true for the main character of our major musical of the year, Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid.’ In this era of political uncertainty and upheaval, it’s important to strive to improve life’s circumstances and maintain a positive outlook on life — not only in terms of the big picture, but also for people individually in their daily, ordinary lives.” — AO

RISE is starting the fall off in the spookiest way possible with “The Haunting of Hill House” in October. They will follow that up with a family classic, “Miracle on 34th Street,” adapted and directed by Chris O’Neill. — SM

Roger Williams University has three productions lined up this fall besides the to-be-announced annual freshman play. Their theatrical slate this year is a series of 19th century throwbacks! First with “The Moors,” a play full of fainting maidens and romantically gothic English scenery by Jen Silverman. In November, RWU is adapting that Oscar Wilde classic: “The Importance of Being Earnest,” a Victorian classic of mistaken identity with the Walt Disney version of sex. — RS

Salve Regina’s only production on the docket this season is “Peter and the Starcatcher,” running for three nights in November. The play tells the backstory behind Peter Pan, making it a really good example of fanfiction on Broadway. — RS

The SantRiana Theatre Group has been renamed Last Sicilian Productions, and they have two productions happening this fall. In September, the one-man play “The Last Sicilian” will be performed at Theatre 82. “It’s a journey of my family’s history from Sicily to the North End of Providence,” says artistic director, writer and star Nick Albanese. “It’s filled with history, drama and comedy.” In October, they bring back a revised version of “Many Sides to the Reaper,” a true story Mafia play based on a hit man in Brooklyn in the 1980s. — JW

Spectrum Theatre Ensemble is a new theater group in the greater Providence area. They are known for working with the neurodivergent, as well as neurotypical actors, designers and other roles in the theater. Having already wowed crowds with their production of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” in August, the folks at STE are setting their sights on the holiday season, producing “The Santaland Diaries,” by David Sedaris. “We’re looking forward to auditions later on this September, and our goal is to involve key members from other local theaters in the production,” says Clay Martin, artistic director at STE. “We’re again looking to spread ‘awareness through partnerships’ and are currently discussing collaborations with other organizations to mount this unique show.” — JW

Built in 1926 and restored in 2001, The Stadium Theatre “has developed into a community center where famed international artists … grace the same stage as community arts organizations such as community theatre, dance and music groups.” I spoke via email with theatrical producer and education director Rebecca Donald who said, “The Stadium Theatre is thrilled about our upcoming main stage line up.” The fall lineup consists of “Chicago,” Disney’s “Frozen Jr” and “A Christmas Carol.” — JW

Fresh from a busy summer full of children’s theater and an adult summer selection, Swamp Meadow is doing what they do best and bringing the community together for “Miracle on 34th Street,” which opens in December. — SM

Theatre Company of RI brings Gerald Moon’s “Corpse” to the stage this September. Brother murdering brother — what a way to kick off the season! — EO

Trinity kicks off the season with the highly anticipated theatrical adaptation of Mike Stanton’s “The Prince of Providence,” about Providence’s own Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. Tyler Dobrowsky, associate artistic director, says, “The show is already one Trinity Rep’s best selling shows of all time. Then, opening in November, we have our annual holiday extravaganza, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ directed by Kate Bergstrom and featuring local favorite Jude Sandy as Scrooge. Finally, after that we have the regional premiere of Tanya Saracho’s ‘Fade,’ a sparkling two-hander about a
young television writer grappling with race, representation, class and friendship. Also this season is ‘America, Too,’ Trinity Rep’s annual community-led interrogation of a hotbutton issue. In years past we have looked at the repeal of DACA, Providence’s affordable housing crisis and police brutality. This year, led by Joe Wilson Jr. and in partnership with the Business Innovation Factory, we are looking at healthcare, the intersection of the personal and the political, how far-reaching policies can affect individuals, and then how strong-minded individuals can change the political landscape.” — SG

University of Rhode Island‘s Theatre Department shines a spotlight on local playwright, Dave Rabinow, to begin its ambitious and fantastical fall. Directed by local pro, Rachel Walshe, “A Brief History Of The Earth and Everything In It (as performed by Ms. LoPiccolo’s Third-Grade Drama Group from the William Jennings Bryan Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri)” is as fun as the title suggests. Presented in conjunction with the URI Honors Colloquium “Religion in America”, watch as a bunch of 3rd graders take it to the man to avoid ‘Level 3 Leviticus-Indefinite suspension.’ Following this, URI harnesses its inner nerd in a production of “She Kills Monsters,” by Qui Nguyen. Directed by recent graduate, Madison Cook-Hines, with serious design contributions from URI Theatre’s BFA students, we go on an EPIC Dungeons & Dragons (yep, you read that right) journey, a heart-pounding homage to the warrior within us all. More info and tickets at — TS

West Bay Community Theatre is another new group emerging in the Rhode Island area. Artistic director Terry Shea said, “We are gearing up for our inaugural productions — a small-scale event in late fall and a larger event in January 2020.” He continues, “Timing makes it too soon to announce these shows, but we’re excited to finally get on local stages and join the RI theater community!” — JW

Wilbury Group opens its fall season with “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett, followed by the world premiere of “The Recycling Party! Or, The Fish,” a new play by resident playwright Darcie Dennigan. In November they will present plays by Clare Barron in rotating rep: “You Got Older” and Pulitizer Prize finalist “Dance Nation.” “Excited to share these four very different, challenging plays. In their own way, each of these pieces push us to question how theater can be more than a passive event, and we can’t wait to uncover them with our audiences,” said artistic director Josh Short. “This season is a return to the Wilbury Group’s poor and perfect roots, and the stories within it tell of characters taking big risks to find their true selves. Very excited to have two new directors working with us this season — Fred Sullivan Jr. directing ‘Waiting for Godot’ and Angela Brazil directing ‘Dance Nation.’” — SG

WomensWork Theatre Collaborative is presenting their first full season with a trio of plays written by women, directed by women and stage-managed by women, with all-female casts. For the fall is “Last Lists Of My Mad Mother” by Julie Jensen. “The season theme is madness; the plays examine the ways madness manifests itself in women’s lives, whether brought about by the strain of caring for a parent with a deteriorating mind, the seismic change of midlife crisis, or the dread of women duty-bound to risk their lives for a madman,” said co-founding mother Lynne Collinson. “WomensWork’s bare-bones budget means no tricks, bells or
whistles, but we think audiences will be excited to see women-centered stories of merit, well told and simply staged, with a sharp focus on material and message.” — SG

New Bedford’s Your Theatre Inc’s new fall season is all about murder, mayhem and mystery! They’re starting off with “The 39 Steps,” spoofing a classic thriller by Hitchcock that features just four actors playing 150 characters. Then they’re putting on a production of “Trifles,” a classic whodunit starring a husband and wife duo. In November they’re finishing the year with a production of “A Murder is Announced,” that Agatha Christie work where the crime is announced before it happens. — RS