When Cascades Theatrical Company launched its first season, Jimmy Carter was still in office. Now, on the brink of its 37th season, CTC recently hosted its 12th Annual Sneak Peek Gala, presenting scenes from each of the theater's upcoming productions. And, full disclosure: I acted in one of the scenes and directed another, so it is possible that I am biased about CTC's strong and varied 2015-2016 season.
Starting off the season is An Ideal Husband written by Oscar Wilde and directed by Brian Johnson, who brought a strong vision to last year's School for Scandal. This biting play is one of Wilde's most popular and well-received accolades for using a quiver full of theatrical genres to tell an entertaining story of class clashes, fraudulent Argentinian canals, and troublesome diamond brooches. An Ideal Husband runs from September 18 through October 3.
Next is You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown written by Clark Gersner and John Cordon and directed by Deborah DeGrosse. This high-energy musical puts Charles Schulz's iconic "Peanuts" characters through their comic strip paces. Lucy chases Schroeder's love, Snoopy daydreams, and poor old Chuck searches for what it means to be a good man in this touching celebration of beloved characters. You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown runs from November 20 through December 19.
Continuing the season's motif of soul-searching comedy told through familiar tropes, The 39 Steps, by Patrick Barlow and John Buchan and directed by Diane Turnbull, is a mash-up of the 1915 novel by Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The entire show is done with a cast of four, with actors doubling up to portray multiple characters. The actual spy story is mostly played for laughs and packed with Hitchcock Easter eggs alluding to his other famous works. The 39 Steps runs from January 22 through February 6.
One of this season's newest shows is Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, written by Christopher Durang and directed by Juliah Rae. Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, Durang's newest gem follows siblings Vanya and Sonia as their peaceful existence in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is sublimely disrupted. To tell more would ruin the surprises packed into this absurdly hilarious show. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike opens March 11 and runs through March 26.
Taking a more serious tack, next is 12 Angry Jurors by Sherman L. Sergel and directed by Brad Thompson. Most people are familiar with the film from 1957, starring Henry Fonda and Lee Cobb, and this stage adaptation matches the intensity of the film almost identically while allowing for more gender diversity in the casting process. In a seemingly open and shut case, a young man is on trial for a fatal stabbing, but one juror's vote throws the case wide open, pushing audiences to the edge of their seats. 12 Angry Jurors opens April 29 and runs through May 14.
CTC's final main stage production of the year is Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer and directed by Ron McCracken. The conceit of the show is that the action supposedly in the dark is illuminated, and when the scene is supposed to be lit, it is performed in darkness. Described by the New York Daily News as "a dazzling comic ballet," Black Comedy opens June 10 and runs through June 25.
CTC also returns this season with its successful Black Box selections, and for the second year in a row, featuring darker, edgier shows that are set simply with minimal costumes, sets, and props. The weekend of October 15-18 hosts A Night of One Acts (plays to be announced soon) and March 31 through April 3 is Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead directed by yours truly. Dog Sees God follows beloved "Peanuts" characters to high school, where things get very ugly.
Also, broadening the opportunities for youth theater in Central Oregon, watch for All Aspects Teen Theatre run by Brad Thompson. This program provides opportunities for local teens to learn stage acting, directing, designing, writing, and technical applications. October 29-31 they will perform William Shakespeare's Land of the Dead: A True and Accurate Account of the 1599 Zombie Plague, and February 18-20 will be Autopsy of Love, a look at the history of break-up songs. Finally, April 16 will be the Third Annual Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Festival.