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Syracuse Stage To Premiere New Musical 'How To Dance In Ohio' This Fall


World premieres, musicals, cutting edge contemporary drama, a beloved American classic and a mystery/comedy make 2022/2023 a season to reconnect with great theater at Syracuse Stage. It is a season filled with enjoyment and opportunities to experience an intriguing variety of live theater.

The six show subscription season runs Sept. 21, 2022 – June 25, 2023 and includes the world premiere musical How to Dance in Ohio (Sept. 21 – Oct. 9), Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Nov. 25 – Jan. 8), the East Coast premiere of Clean/Espejos (Feb. 15 – March 5), Our Town (March 29 – April 16), the world premiere of Kyle Bass’ Tender Rain (May 3 – 21) and “Clue” (June 7 – 25). Subscription packages are on sale now at www.syracusestage.org or at the Box Office, 315-443-3275.

“This season is about connection. It’s what I’ve missed most these past two years: connecting with friends, connecting with family, connecting with one another,” said Artistic Director Robert Hupp. “At Syracuse Stage, we’ve selected a new season that celebrates our need to connect. It celebrates the fun, the mystery and yes, sometimes the heartbreak of connections made and missed. We’ve all been through a lot, often in isolation, and we believe coming to Syracuse Stage to share experiences you can only enjoy through live performance is the perfect way to connect, and reconnect, with each other.”

First up is How to Dance in Ohio, a heart-filled new musical, based on the Peabody Award-winning documentary of the same name that explores what it means to belong, the courage it takes to put yourself out in the world and the universal need to connect. Set at a Counseling Center in Columbus, “How to Dance in Ohio” follows seven autistic young adults as they come of age and find their ways in the world.

Created by Jacob Yandura (music) and Rebekah Greer Melocik (book and lyrics) and directed by Sammi Cannold, this musical adaptation adheres closely to the documentary in narrative and spirit and the cast will include autistic actors in the seven principal roles. The musical is dedicated in loving memory to Broadway legend Harold Prince, who was instrumental in its inception. Filmmaker Alexandra Shiva said in an interview that she chose this age group, late teens to early twenties, because while autistic children get attention, those on the brink of becoming adults are often overlooked. The musical, like the film, illuminates this crucial time in the lives of these young people. Stage will produce this world premiere musical in association with Ben Holtzman, Sammy Lopez and Fiona Howe Rudin. Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt serves as the ASD Creative Consultant with Becky Leifman as the Director of Community Engagement. Holtzman, Lopez and Leifman are alumni of the Syracuse University Department of Drama.

For the holidays, the grand tradition of a family musical co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama takes a deep dive under the sea with “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” 2 Ring Circus (“The Wizard of Oz,” 2017) returns to add spectacular high-flying acrobatics to this beloved tale of Ariel’s adventures up “where the people are.” Melissa Rain Anderson directs with choreography by Adam Cates and musical direction by Brian Cimmet.

In the new year, associate artistic director Melissa Crespo guides the exceptional bilingual drama “Clean/Espejos,” written by playwright Christine Quintana with Spanish translation and adaptation by Paula Zelaya Cervantes. At a destination wedding in Cancún, two women with very different life experiences meet by chance and become catalysts for change in each other. Adriana is local and works at the resort and speaks only Spanish. Sarah is Canadian, sister of the bride, and speaks only English. The audience follows their journey together in both languages aided by supertitles in English and Spanish.

Of special note in the spring is the opportunity for artistic director Robert Hupp to direct one of his favorite plays, Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” which has been long postponed due the pandemic. Wilder, who would have turned 125 this year, is enjoying a revival around the country from the Dallas Theatre Center to Lincoln Center. “Our Town” is by far his best known play, a poetic and graceful reminder to cherish every unimportant moment and to embrace the true wonder and brevity of being alive. Set in the small New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners, the play, Wilder said, places “the life of a village against the life of the stars.”

“It’s been well over 20 years since Syracuse Stage produced ‘Our Town,’ and longer since I’ve directed it,” said Hupp. “I am eager to return to Grover’s Corners. I believe Wilder’s timeless play speaks powerfully to us today; its soaring simplicity is a necessary antidote to the cacophony of our lives.”

A second world premiere follows in the season, resident playwright Kyle Bass’ “Tender Rain.” Set in a small Southern city in the 1950s, this elegiac drama uses the strained relationship of a middle-aged white couple to explore the complexities of race relations and how an oppressive society's pain, violence and suffering leaches insidiously into domestic lives and intimate relationships. Rodney Hudson is set to direct. Bass, who is represented in the current season with “salt/city/blues” (June 8 – 26), scored a hit for Syracuse Stage with “Possessing Harriet” in 2018. 

Closing out the season is the board game turned feature film turned theatrical comedy/mystery—“Clue.” Mixing the usual suspects from the popular game with the red scare politics of the 1950s, “Clue” is a farce meets murder mystery delight that hits all the right notes. On a dark and stormy night, a cast of familiar characters gathers at a remote mansion for dinner and murder. Who done it? Where? And with what? It is pure theatrical fun to conclude the exciting season.

The Cold Read Festival of New Plays returns live and moves from the spring to a new time slot in the fall of 2022. Associate artistic director Crespo takes over curatorial responsibility for this compact and intense celebration of new work. Details and schedule to be announced.

In addition, Stage will offer a strong line-up of educational and community outreach programs throughout the season. In the fall (Sept. 20 – Dec. 16), the Bank of America Children’s Tour resumes performances live in elementary schools with “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Dwayne Hartford and based on the book by Kate DiCamillo. Directed by Katherine McGerr, this fantastical play tells the tale of a vain china rabbit who gets lost at sea and embarks on a long journey, during which he learns the importance of love.

Of special note is the commission of an original play by Ojibwe and Oneida performance artist, activist and writer Ty Defoe for Stage’s Backstory program. Working with students and community members of the Onondaga Nation, Defoe will create an original work based on the story of the Sky Woman. Defoe is a Grammy award-winning composer and a 2021 Helen Merrill award-winning playwright.

Returning, too, is Theatre for the Very Young, a program for children five and under. In the 2022/2023 season, this program will be performed in partnership with and at the Everson Museum.

SHOW DETAILS

World Premiere Musical
“How to Dance in Ohio”
Book and Lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik
Music by Jacob Yandura
Based on Alexandra Shiva’s documentary film “How to Dance in Ohio”
Directed by Sammi Cannold
Produced in association with Ben Holtzman, Sammy Lopez and Fiona Howe Rudin
Sept. 21 – Oct. 9, 2021

“How to Dance in Ohio” is a heart-filled new musical based on the Peabody Award-winning documentary of the same name that explores what it means to belong, the courage it takes to put yourself out in the world and the universal need to connect. Set at a counseling center on Columbus, “How to Dance in Ohio” follows seven autistic young adults as they come of age and find their ways in the world

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid”
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater
Book by Doug Wright
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story and the Disney film that was produced by Howard Ashman & John Musker and written & directed by John Musker & Ron Clements
Originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions
Directed by Melissa Rain Anderson
Musical Direction by Brian Cimmet
Choreography by Adam Cates
Co-produced with the Syracuse University Department of Drama
Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023

Dive into musical family fun with Ariel, Sebastian, and all the watery gang from this beloved tale. With spectacular aerial (what?) acrobatics provided by 2 Ring Circus (“The Wizard of Oz,” 2017), this production promises enough thrills and delights for landlubbers of all ages. Nothing fishy about this holiday treat.

East Coast Premiere
“Clean/Espejos”
By Christine Quintana
Spanish translation and adaptation by Paula Zelaya Cervantes
Directed by Melissa Crespo
Feb. 15 – March 5, 2023

The lives of two women with vastly different life experiences intersect at a destination wedding in Cancún. Adriana is from a small town not far from the resort where she has worked her way up from maid to floor manager. Sarah, from Vancouver, is the sister of the bride and maid of honor and the self-acknowledged family screw up. A chance encounter during a torrential downpour leads each woman to confront her personal storm and to consider the possibility that, though isolated, she may not be as alone as she believes. Change is hard but possible and hope may be closer than it sometimes seems. An engaging and poignant bi-lingual theatrical experience, “Clean/Espejos” is performed in English and Spanish with supertitles in both languages.

“Our Town”
By Thornton Wilder
Directed by Robert Hupp
March 29 – April 16, 2022=3

“The life of a village against the life of the stars” is how Thornton Wilder described his heralded masterpiece “Our Town.” “It is an attempt,” he wrote, “to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life.” He succeeded with this graceful and poetic play—a heartfelt call to cherish every unimportant moment we’re together and to embrace the true wonder and brevity of being alive. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Whether in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, at the turn of the 20th century, or Syracuse, New York, in 2023, Wilder’s enduring classic asks us to stop and ponder what truly matters, and to consider that for a great many of us the answers will be the same.

World Premiere
“Tender Rain”
By Kyle Bass
Directed by Rodney Hudson
May 3 – 21, 2023

“Rain is like sorrow. It exposes our roots.” In this elegiac drama, playwright Kyle Bass introduces Milton Millard, a white banker who lives in a small Southern city with Delores, his wife whom he can hardly see anymore and who endures a vague but nagging trepidation. They are a late-middle-aged childless couple lost in a fog of what cannot be undone. Is there a way forward for either of them? Can Ruthie Mimms, the Black woman who raised and protected Milton in childhood and beyond, rescue him once more? The momentary escape Milton finds in the arms of a younger woman will not spare him the reckoning he must face. Set in the 1950s, “Tender Rain” explores the complexities of race relations and how oppressive society’s pain, violence and suffering leaches insidiously into domestic lives and intimate relationships. A journey through a richly layered emotional landscape from the author of “Possessing Harriet.

“Clue”
Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn
Written by Sandy Rustin
Additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price
Based on the Paramount Pictures motion picture
Based on the Hasbro board game CLUE
Original music by Michael Holland
Directed by Ben Hanna
June 7 – 25, 2023

Farce meets murder mystery in this hilarious theatrical adaptation of the famed board game and 1985 motion picture. In a remote mansion not far from Washington, D.C., a mysterious and familiar cast of characters—Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum and Miss Scarlet—gather for a dinner party and an evening of murder. Does the sudden demise of their host, Mr. Boddy, have any connection to the ongoing hearings conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House of Un-American Activities Committee? It’s all fun and games until someone gets clobbered by a candlestick in the library. After that, it’s even more fun.

Cold Read Festival of New Plays
Curated by Associate Artistic Director Melissa Crespo
Oct. 18 – 22, 2022

Events to be announced.

ABOUT SYRACUSE STAGE

Founded in 1974, Syracuse Stage is the non-profit, professional theatre company in residence at Syracuse University. It is nationally recognized for creating stimulating theatrical work that engages Central New York and significantly contributes to the artistic life of Syracuse University, where it is a vital partner in achieving the educational mission of the University’s Department of Drama. Syracuse Stage’s mission is to tell stories that engage, entertain and inspire people to see life beyond their own experience. Each season 70,000 patrons enjoy an adventurous mix of new plays, and bold interpretations of classics and musicals, featuring the finest theatre artists. In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves more than 21,000 students from 16 counties. Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Arts and Cultural Leadership Alliance (ACLA), the University Hill Corporation and the East Genesee Regent Association. Syracuse Stage is a member of The League of Resident Theatres (LORT), the largest professional theatre association in the country.