The Westport Country Playhouse has announced its 2021 season.
As they have for 90 seasons, audiences will enjoy a variety of productions. They’ll entertain and provoke.
But unlike the previous 9 decades, audiences won’t enjoy those shows in the historic, beloved former tannery.
The coming season will be fully virtual. Productions will be streamed. The upside: Theater lovers anywhere can be entertained and provoked.
A year ago when the pandemic first struck, the Playhouse made the difficult decision to postpone its season.
Twelve months later, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But that does not include spotlights. Actors’ Equity and other stage union guidelines do not yet allow gatherings for rehearsals or performances.
Artistic director Mark Lamos, managing director Michael Barler and their staff have come up with a season that works well virtually.
“Tiny House” is the first production, in June. It’s a thoughtful new comedy with characters whose lives are reduced to smaller human circles. “That’s something we can all relate to” notes director Lamos.
“Doubt: A Parable” closes the virtual season in late fall. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner is an intimate drama that explores the consequences of missed cues and decisions made, from differing points of view.
In between, the Playhouse brings back 2 gems from its HD video archives.
Pending approval of streaming rights, they’ll share the critically acclaimed 2018 musical, “Man of La Mancha,” as well as another fan favorite.
In addition, the Playhouse will present 4 more virtual Script in Hand play readings. The next — Evan Zes’ wild and wonderful “Rent Control” — begins April 26. The full schedule will be announced soon.
Meanwhile, the once-postponed “Next to Normal” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” have been pushed back again to 2022. LA Williams, previously set to direct “Blues for an Alabama Sky” in 2021, will return next year with another play of his choosing.
The Playhouse wants audiences to experience those 3 shows in person.
As for this year’s streams: All content will be available on demand, at each viewer’s convenience.
Plans are underway for pre- and post-performance events to take place online, furthering connections with friends and Playhouse staff.
“We’re excited to get into virtual rehearsals, and start taking the show to your living rooms,” Lamos says.
And, he is convinced the Westport Country Playhouse will be back, live and on stage, in 2022.