By Kate Forgach
As the theatre Bible might say, “What hath the pandemic wrought?” For Bas Bleu Theatre, the uncertainty of this upcoming year has created an opportunity for the local theatre company to return to its storytelling roots.
Their 2021-22 season — for both the Mainstage and the Readers’ Theatre productions — is much slimmer and trimmer than in previous years.
Founder and Artistic Director Wendy Ishii said the theatre at 401 Pine St. will, “just focus on telling our stories with mainly small-cast shows and minimal sets. We’re keeping the focus on the actors and the story.”
“Coming out of Covid, we’re doing productions that have depth but are still very funny,” said Ishii. “People need uplifting entertainment. We do have some plays that feature dark humor, but they’re still delicious.”
Jeffrey Hatcher’s “Murderers” kicks off the Mainstage season, running Sept. 10 to Sept. 26, with direction by longtime Bas Bleu-favorite Laura Jones.
“Murderers” is playwright Hatcher’s comedy take on fan-fav detectives “Monk,” “Columbo” and “Murder She Wrote.” The play allows three uniquely individual characters, all murderers, to tell their own stories. Hatcher delights in the overlooked details and the character flaws that unravel the perfectly orchestrated plots.
Next up is sitcom writer William Missouri Down’s “How to Survive Your Family at Christmas,’ directed by Jeffrey Bigger and running Dec. 10 to Dec. 26
“This is a bit dark but it’s still very funny,” said Ishii. “You’ll easily recognize members of your own family.”
“Christmas” has all the ingredients you expect: Family fights, carolers and siblings pretending they don’t hate each other.
Continuing the MainStage season, from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20, is the humorous, naughty, Hollywood romp, “The Little Dog Laughed.”Playwright Douglas Carter Beane’s dizzy, irresistible writing exposes the life of a clever talent agent struggling to keep her budding, screen-idol client in the closet and away from the sexy young drifter who has caught his eye.
The New York Times called this Tony Award-winning play, “Devastatingly funny with irresistible writing that brings down the house.”
“Red Handed Otter,” directed by Steve Keim, will run April 15 to May 1. Playwright Ethan Lipton’s shaggy-dog guide to modern romance is wonderfully quirky and surprisingly profound.
“Otter” focuses on Paul, who has lost his girlfriend and his cat, though he still has his health. It’s a passionate and profound comedy about people and their pets, which hilariously explores the dark side of “warm and fuzzy.”
Finally, the Mainstage season ends with the divine Lee Blessing’s witty and well-paced “A Walk in the Woods,” running June 10 to June 26.
Noted, local “Broadway guy” Noah Racey will direct this shrewdly observant play about the shadow boxing that has characterized most postwar disarmament talks. The dialogue segues easily from deadly serious to lightly comic to winsomely sentimental.
As usual, Bas Bleu will present a selection of plays for their Readers’ Theatre. This format forgoes costumes and sets, thus allowing the actors to read from scripts while audiences use their imaginations to visualize a complete production.
The 2021-22 Readers’ Theatre Season includes:
- “All in the Timing,” by David Ives, running Oct. 8 to Oct. 10;
- “Stories for the Winter Holidays – A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” by Dylan Thomas, running Nov. 12 to Nov. 14;
- “Molly Sweeney,” by Brian Friel, running March 3 to March 6; and
- “Trumbo, Red White and Blacklisted,” by Christopher Trumbo, running May 13 to May 15.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit BasBleu.org or call 970.498.8949.