I think a lot about belonging. How we belong in a place, in a time. How we belong to each other. That's helped drive the season lineup here at American Stage where we tell powerful stories, boldly. I sincerely hope you feel you belong here. And I also hope if you are unsure of where your place is, you take a leap and find out that American Stage is a space for you.
We begin Season 46 with Indecent by Paula Vogel. A love story wrapped in a conversation about art, censorship, and the power to persevere. This show does one of my very favorite things that theatre can do - it makes us laugh and ache at the same time because the hope we feel is monumental.
Then we make a stunning foray into belief. acts of faith by David Yee is a tale you won't forget - irreverent, sacred and funny. In a one person tour de force, Faith lures you into her story of how she anointed herself a prophet and how that choice made her accountable for another person's life. This play was born in a time when we could only see it online, I'm thrilled to be the first one to bring it to a live audience in Florida.
The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh launches us into 2024 with a first person account from the first Chinese woman in America, Afong Moy. She shares about the life she lived as an object on display. One might think the story would feel like a victims traumatic recall, but it is quite the opposite. WIth wit and an incredible sense of self, Afong illustrates the magic that comes from discovering who you are and refusing to let others define you.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast will grace Demens Landing next season for our Park show. What is great about this adaptation is that it concentrates so much on how smart, brave and kind Belle is. Belle is the hero of the story - she saves her father, the Beast, everyone in that castle and her community. It effectively captures the reality that beauty comes from within.
This year we have back-to-back musicals. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock concert, a confessional, and pulls me in with its huge heart. Hedwig is fearless and brazen and she weaves an unflinching portrait of what it takes to be her in all her glory. Raw, hysterical, heartbreaking and wild - it is a night that will leave you wanting to see the show over and over. Perhaps once on our mainstage and once at Jannus Live during its bonus week!
I cannot tell you how excited I am to close out the season with a World Premiere of The Figs by Doug Robinson. This play is so immediately captivating and full of highly theatrical moments woven into an edgy fairytale for adults. This is a fantastical and whimsical play that invites the audience to play and imagine like we did when we were young. Lastly, it's a love story. And I do love a love story!
Next season is wildly entertaining, inviting, bold, and rings clearly with an invitation to connect. My hope is that if anyone ever wonders where or how they belong, the art we make here will let them know that they belong at American Stage.
Your partner in art,
Producing Artistic Director
Indecent by Paula Vogel
Directed by Helen R. Murray
Dates: October 4-29, 2023
“A love story worth fighting for.”
Description: A play that recounts the fiery controversy that a lesbian kiss in the 1923 play, God of Vengeance sparked, Indecent is a love story at its core. A brothel owner’s daughter and a sex worker discover passion on stage, and our more-than-disapproving characters are what make the rest of this play, well, indecent. A deeply moving and hopeful play inspired by the true events stands as a grounding work of Jewish culture, we hope you’ll see what all the talk is about.
acts of faith by David Yee
directed by Patrick Arthur Jackson
Dates: Nov 21- Dec 17, 2023
“A story about the eternal struggle between good and evil.”
Description: From the African Copperbelt to the backwoods of Canada, ‘acts of faith follows a young woman named Faith who gets mistaken for a prophet. When a revered religious leader attempts to take advantage of her plight, she begins using her ‘gift’ to right wrongs and punish the wicked. Far from home, Faith will come up against the ultimate test of her convictions in a final confrontation between sin and sainthood, morality and godliness all held in this subversive and witty new play.
The Chinese Lady by Lloyd Suh
Directed by Gregory Keng Strasser
Dates: January 31- February 25, 2024
“A story that reminds us history isn’t always black and white.”
Description: Her feet are bound, her freedom is non-existent, the first Chinese woman to step foot in America was treated as a sideshow act in the darkest parts of the 1800s. The Chinese Lady is anything but dark, told with winking humor and forthrightness, it follows the story of 16-year-old Afong Moy, who was immediately put on display for a paying public once she arrived in New York. A beguiling look into this wild journey and the human urge to belong.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in the Park
Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Book by Linda Wolverton
Directed by Kenny Moten
Dates: April 3- May 5, 2024
“A story that asks us to define what beauty really is.”
Description: Talking teapots and clocks, an emotionally-stunted beast, a whimsical princess - you know the story. American Stage's Park show is the Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast. Per tradition, the beast is ‘really’ a young prince spellbound to appear as a monster due to his shallow ways, and if he and Belle can fall in love, like really in love, he'll be free. But as most Disney fairytales go, there's a time crunch. Singalong with us in the park.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Book by John Cameron Mitchell Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask
Directed by Kirsten Kelly
Dates: May 15- June 16, 2024
“A story of defiant self-expression.”
Description: Welcome to a euphoric night on a rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster with our transgender icon and protagonist Hedwig – a hedonistic genderqueer anti-heroine seemingly hellbent on destruction. This darkly humorous self-love story, powered by a live band, epic rock music and hard-hitting lyrics, explores gender identity, acceptance and the freedom to be whoever you want to be. This multi-Tony award winning show will leave you begging for more. And catch an additional week of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the grunge alleyway venue that is Jannus Live!
The Figs by Doug Robinson
Directed by Helen R. Murray
Dates: July 10- August 4, 2024
“A story about kindness and the reward it brings.”
The king that rules the magical, ludicrous, kingdom of The Figs is quite actually addicted to figs, mah lord. His more publicly well-received daughter is in love with an inn-keeper in a sort of star-crossed lovers situation. A set of friends - human and swan - are on a journey thrown into existence by the royal family's insanity. All the while, our wily and multiple identity-sporting storyteller keeps us on a track that feels like the “Shrek” universe on an acid trip. But really, this is a story of kindness and what we’ll sacrifice for love. Sometimes stories exist just for the sake of telling stories.