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Syracuse Stage announces 2014/15 season with family issues ‘front and center’

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SYRACUSE — A hit musical and a Pulitzer prize-winning drama will help Syracuse Stage develop its “family ties” for its 2014-15 season.

“The season puts family front and center, with all the humor and complications inherent in human relationships,” Timothy Bond, producing artistic director of Syracuse Stage said in a news release.

“While each play is about different families with distinct circumstances, there is an underlying commonality that in so many ways defines the season.”

That something in common, he said, is “hope.”

“While each family struggles, and characters butt heads, a way forward is found through understanding, forgiveness, humor and love,” said Mr. Bond.

The six-show season includes co-productions with Market Theatre of South Africa and with Seattle Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. and Portland Center Stage in Oregon.

The lineup:

Sept. 24 to Oct. 12

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

This raucous comedy by Christopher Durang won the 2013 Tony Award for best play.

A writer for the Associated Press, in his review of the play, said it “centers on three middle-aged siblings named after Chekhov characters who are uneasily negotiating with age.

“Two of them ... have been sitting around their Pennsylvania home and bickering for years ever since their parents died. The sibling who escaped, Masha, has become an insufferable movie star and has returned to sell the house, leaving her sister and brother with the prospect of being homeless and penniless.”

Oct. 22 to Nov. 9

“The Piano Lesson”

In this Pulitzer-winning drama by August Wilson, the past threatens to pull apart a brother and his sister.

The plot centers on Bernice, who treasures a one-of-a-kind piano — an heirloom with carved figures of their enslaved ancestors. “Boy Willie” suddenly arrives from the South determined to sell the piano and buy the land his family worked on. When the ghost of the piano’s original owner appears, family conflicts escalate.

The play will be co-produced with Seattle Repertory Theatre.

Nov. 28 to Jan. 4

“Hairspray”

This show, which won the 2003 Tony Award for best musical, centers on Tracy Turnblad, whose life revolves around dancing on the “Corny Collins” television show in the 1960s in Baltimore.

Once she achieves her dream, she works to integrate the show. The musical is based on the original 1988 film by John Waters.

Jan. 28 to Feb. 15

“In the Next Room, Or the Vibrator Play”

The Samuel French company, which licenses this comedy by Sarah Ruhl that’s set in the 1880s at the dawn of the age of electricity, said it is “based on the bizarre historical fact that doctors used vibrators to treat ‘hysterical’ women (and some men).”

It centers on a doctor and his wife and how his new therapy affects their household.

A reviewer for the New York Times called the play “A true novelty: a sex comedy designed not for sniggering teenage boys — or grown men who wish they were still sniggering teenage boys — but for adults with open hearts and minds.”

Feb. 25 to March 15

“Sizwe Banzi is Dead”

In this funny and poignant drama by Athol Fugard that explores the universal struggle for human dignity, a black man in apartheid-era South Africa tries to overcome oppressive work regulations to support his family.

Co-creator John Kani performed in the original production and won the 1975 Tony Award for best actor. Now, Kani directs his son, Atandwa Kani, in this new production.

The show will be co-produced with South Africa’s Market Theatre and McCarter Theatre.

April 8 to 26

“Other Desert Cities”

This play by Jon Robin Baitz centers on Brooke Wyeth, who returns home to Palm Springs after a six-year absence to celebrate Christmas with her parents, her brother, and her aunt.

“Brooke announces that she is about to publish a memoir dredging up a pivotal and tragic event in the family’s history—a wound they don’t want reopened. In effect, she draws a line in the sand and dares them all to cross it,” according to a synopsis by Dramatists Play Service, the play’s licensing agency.

Ths show will be co-produced with Portland Center Stage.

the details
WHAT: The six-production 2014-15 Syracuse Stage season
WHEN/WHERE: The 42nd season opens in September with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and closes in April with “Other Desert Cities.” Shows are in Archbold Theatre, 820 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.
COST: Season tickets are on sale. Prices for a six-play subscription range from $174 to $294 for adults, with discounts available for senior citizens, patrons age 40 and under and age 18 and under.
Prices for individual shows are to be announced.
MORE INFO: Call the Syracuse Stage box office at 443-3275 or visit its website: www.syracusestage.org.
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