Brown is staging PIPPIN (November 11-21), with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and book by Roger O. Hirson. The musical history play (nudge, wink) recounts the toe-tapping life of the hunchback son of Charlemagne. Rodgers and Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC is coming to the Providence Performing Arts Center (December 7-12), telling two couples’ tales of love on a tropical island during World War II.
The last in the run of musicals is the University of Rhode Island Theatre's take on the old-but-ever-new THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (December 2-12). With book, music, and lyrics by Richard O'Brien, the participatory cult classic will once again bend genders and slam us with glam rock as theatergoers do the Time Warp in the aisles. URI Theatre audi-ences might find that a relief from the October 14-24 earnestness of Rebecca Gilman's SPINNING INTO BUTTER, which examines racism and political correctness on a Vermont campus when hateful letters are found.
There are more feel-good shows coming up, though without musical accompaniment. At Trinity Rep, besides the yearly A CHRISTMAS CAROL (November 19-December 31), we can see the optimistic IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, by Joe Landry, (December 3-January 2). Based on the familiar Frank Capra movie, the theater is hoping the production will become a second annual cash cow.
Witticisms will abound November 17-21 when Rhode Island College Theatre stages Noel Coward's HAY FEVER. Bob Colonna will direct the droll wordplay as a bickering couple entertain their uncomfortable weekend guests; think Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Prozac.
It’s not as though local theaters think their audiences are incapable of serious-minded plays. At the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre, a riveting and rollicking take on David Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS is being presented through October 3, and Theresa Rebeck's MAURITIUS is on deck (October 21-November 21). A con game develops as three sis-ters argue over the inheritance of valuable stamp collection. At Brown University Theatre, Sam Shepard's A LIE OF THE MIND (September 23-October 3) unfolds the consequences of a severe instance of spousal abuse. And at Mixed Magic Theatre, Asa Merritt's ART OF ATTACK continues through October 10. The potential reunion of two long-estranged sons of a chess master becomes less and less likely as their competition over the game grows more rancorous.
FirstWorks is presenting the premiere of THIS JOURNEY OUT, by Frank V. Toti Jr., at the URI Providence campus (October 22-24), based on oral histories from Rhode Island’s older gay community. Also in the festival, Irish actor Conor Lovett will perform a solo adaptation of the Samuel Beckett novella FIRST LOVE, at RISD’s Chace Center on October 29.
Providence College's bid for seriousness is entered, with a bonus for feminist concern, as they schedule Henrik Ibsen's HEDDA GABLER (October 29-31). Once again, newlywed Ms. Gabler's unconcealed fury at being confined by marriage shows us the twisted personality that can result, in contrast to the sympathetic example of Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House.