American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
Why are we including this picture of Alicia Storin and Jim DeVita from APT's 2015 production of An Iliad? Read this week's very special installment of "The Road Back" for the answer! Photo: Zane Williams.
We all know that the moment we’ve all been (and are still) waiting for is the one where we get to first set foot on the APT grounds, electronic ticket in hand, reveling in the anticipation of our first play back. But there will be many thrilling moments before that one, and today’s announcement is a whopper. While our “Subject to Change” motto still stands, here is what we expect our 2021 Summer Season to look like. And for the most enthusiastic coverage, make sure you watch Artistic Director Brenda DeVita’s announcement video. And, bonus, we’ll be announcing the Fall Season plays sometime in the months to come.
May 14 – June 19, Touchstone Theatre
By Katori Hall
Directed by Ron OJ Parson
The night before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to the Lorraine Motel after delivering his last impassioned speech. A mysterious maid delivers his room service, though she seems to have more on her agenda than a simple meal. As their conversation progresses, true intentions come to light in a story Ms. Hall wrote to humanize Dr. King, to help us understand that you don’t have to be superhuman to be a hero. Featuring Gavin Lawrence and Sola Thompson.
APT recorded a reading of The Mountaintop in the fall, but we weren’t able to share it online due to streaming rights. So the fact that it’s coming in for a full staging is very exciting to us and, we hope, to you. Gavin Lawrence, who will play Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in this season's production, recently said “I find this play to be more relevant than ever as we approach the 53rd anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Despite the chaos that we are living in, I think the realization of his vision; yes, of his dream, for a better, more humane America is still within our grasp as long as we continue moving forward - I really believe that. And sharing The Mountaintop with our audiences can take us yet another step towards achieving this. It has to.”
May 27 – June 26, Hill Theatre
An Improbable Fiction
By James DeVita
Directed by Tim Ocel
You may have seen this one on the PBS Wisconsin website this summer, but this year will see the world-premiere staging of James DeVita's new play, told largely in Shakespeare's own words. It's plague time, and Shakespeare's characters are out of sorts, and out of work. Several of our favorites reunite at The Boar's Head Inn to celebrate life, and ruminate on the state of the Canonical world. Featuring Tracy Michelle Arnold, Brian Mani, Sarah Day, Chiké Johnson, Melisa Pereyra and Ronald Román-Meléndez.
In the days shortly after An Improbable Fiction first posted on PBS Wisconsin’s website, Jim DeVita talked about developing the play itself, making changes right up to 20 minutes before the recording of the play reading (and it has undergone even more changes since that time). Jim said of the script, “I think it's probably a good 80% Shakespeare. And then actually like another 10% is his language, but adapted. And I can't even think of all the meta moments that happen. Brian looking at Melisa, who plays Juliet, and calling her Cordelia, which she also played in King Lear. It's just fun. And hopefully, if I’ve done it well, it's just kind of a brushstroke of something. And if you recognize, oh my gosh, that's from that play, that’s great. But it’s not necessarily the point.” (Read the full article here.)
July 8 – August 15, Touchstone Theatre
By Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare
Translated from Homer’s Iliad by Robert Fagles
Directed by John Langs
In a reprise of the 2015 production, Homer’s epic tale is distilled to one war-torn poet and his muse, as actor Jim DeVita takes us on a thrilling, wrenching tour of the Trojan War. The intimate Touchstone Theatre is an ideal space for this exploration of the contradictory conditions of glory and violence, and the human race’s seemingly endless addiction to war. Featuring Jim DeVita and Alicia Storin.
John Langs directed An Iliad for APT in 2015, saying in a video, “The electricity of this production comes a lot out of, just the subtle invention of the 54 characters who are mentioned in the story of The Iliad, and one performer – one great storyteller – sort of shifting, like shape shifting, basically.” You’re sitting there in the audience and you’re thinking, my god, that was one person that we saw go through that entire event. And Jimmy’s just the perfect guy for the job.” (Watch the full video here).
July 1 – August 7, Hill Theatre
By Tom Stoppard
From an original play by Ferenc Molnár
Directed by William Brown
Here’s one from the 2020 lineup! Two established playwrights hoping to refresh their careers take their show on the road. Or, rather, on the high seas, along with their two established stars. The plan is to ride the wake of a brilliant young musician, who happens to be engaged to one of the aforementioned stars, and who will compose their new musical. But when the writers and composer stumble across a tryst between the actors, they’ll need to pull out all the stops to keep their young phenom from going overboard. A clever and hilarious comedy, rife with Tom Stoppard’s legendary wit. Featuring Kelsey Brennan, David Daniel, Jamal James, Josh Krause, James Ridge and Marcus Truschinski.
When we chatted with director William Brown in 2020, before the world went kittywampus, he said Rough Crossing is “Linguistically demanding and precise, and also laugh out loud funny from top to bottom…a really smart screwball comedy reminiscent of Noël Coward.”
August 12 – September 11, Hill Theatre
By William Shakespeare
Adapted by Henry Woronicz
Directed by Marti Lyons
When his daughter Imogen secretly marries Posthumus, a good man without financial means, King Cymbeline banishes Posthumus in a fury. In Rome, missing his wife and his home, Posthumus meets Iachimo, who plants a seed in his mind that Imogen will be unfaithful to him in his absence. In despair, Posthumus contacts his servant Pisanio with orders to murder Imogen. But the servant instead disguises her as a page and smuggles her out of court and into a great Shakespearean fairy tale. Featuring: Tracy Michelle Arnold, Gina Daniels, Sarah Day, Alys Dickerson, Elizabeth Ledo, Colleen Madden, Melisa Pereyra and Lisa Tejero.
In a recent conversation with director Marti Lyons, she said, “I think the adaptation [by Henry Woronicz] is very smartly done. And I think it opened the story up to the fact that there’s so much humor, sort of colliding with so much darkness. And we have this company of just extraordinary female actors who are so adept at walking that line….I’m really interested in the way this ensemble tells this kind of heightened fairy tale version of very complex events.”
August 26 – October 3, Touchstone Theatre
A Phoenix Too Frequent
By Christopher Fry
Directed by Keira Fromm
Also originally scheduled to play in 2020, A Phoenix Too Frequent throws back to ancient Greece, where Dynamene is prepared to die from grief over the death of her husband. She has barricaded herself, fasting, in his tomb, and brought her faithful servant along to die with her (a plan that said servant may not be 100% on board with). But it’s not long before Dynamene is distracted from her death wish by the arrival of a handsome soldier, Tegeus, providing a foil for her grief in this comedy about youth, love and expectations. Featuring Phoebe González, Tyler Meredith and Christopher Sheard.
When we talked to Director Keira Fromm about this play in 2020, she said, “It’s a successful, clever love story about young people who are trying to live up to unrealistic expectations they have, to some extent, set for themselves…It may feel light on its surface, but the treat is that you become invested in these very real, very likable characters, which lets you lean into what is a deceptively deep story.”
Digital or In Person
As we’ve mentioned before, we understand that not everyone is willing or able to come see a show in person this summer. To help alleviate APT-withdrawal, we’ll offer filmed, digital version of all of these plays, which will be available approximately 7 days after the in-person version opens. More information on that soon to come.
The Story on Tickets
Tickets for each pair of plays – or Reps 1-3, as it’s described above – will go on sale approximately 4 weeks before the plays open (or more, if the pandemic world allows). Tickets for Rep 1 go on sale to the general public on April 26, with priority ordering beginning April 16. We will be in touch via email next week with information for people in priority ordering groups.
Next week on The Road Back: Honestly, we're not sure. Let’s see how this week unfolds.