The first thing you need to know about the fall theater season is that it’s already happening.
Kansas City Actors Theatre’s fine production of “The Gin Game,” for example, wraps up Sunday at Union Station. It’s your last chance to see two fine character actors — Victor Raider-Wexler and Marilyn Lynch — executing some of their best work.
Spinning Tree Theatre’s energetic “West Side Story,” meanwhile, runs for another week — through Sept. 5 — at the Arts Asylum.
And the Unicorn Theatre just this weekend kicked off its season with Sarah Ruhl’s “The Oldest Boy” with a strong cast and a 3-year-old “boy” designed by Paul Mesner Puppets. The show is the first of four scheduled productions at the Unicorn this fall and runs through Sept. 20.
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Promising season highlights:
▪ “Sunday in the Park With George” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art are teaming up for this dramatic consideration of pointillist Georges Seurat and his artistic legacy. The Spencer Theatre — KC Rep’s traditional main stage — is undergoing a major rehab, so the show will be performed Sept. 11 through Oct. 4 in the Atkins Auditorium at the Nelson. The award-winning musical is directed by Eric Rosen, the Rep’s artistic director, and features Claybourne Elder as Seurat and Sara Jean Ford as Dot, his model.
They are supported by a strong ensemble of actors based in Kansas City or with strong ties to the city: John-Michael Zuerlein, Seth Golay, Lauren Braton, Charles Fugate, Jake Walker, Shanna Jones, Stephanie Wienecke, TJ Lancaster, Colleen Grate, Daniel Beeman, Melinda McDonald and Judy Simmons. Call 816-235-2700 or go to www.kcrep.org.
The Rep’s first show at its downtown venue, Copaken Stage, will be the world premiere of “Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode To Bayard Rustin,” written by Michael Benjamin Washington. The co-production with La Jolla Playhouse runs Oct. 16-Nov. 15. Copaken is at 13th and Walnut.
The Rep, by the way, plans to have the new-and-improved Spencer Theatre and a redesigned lobby ready for the opening of the Rep’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” on Nov. 20.
▪ Kansas City Actors Theatre continues its season with an Edward Albee play in its first local production, “At Home at the Zoo,” which actually comprises two one-act plays — “The Zoo Story,” Albee’s seminal 1959 piece about two strangers who meet at a park bench in Central Park, and “Homelife,” which was first staged 50 years later and shows us what led up to the volatile events depicted in “The Zoo Story.”
Doug Weaver directs Forrest Attaway, Jessalyn Kincaid and Brian Paulette. The show runs Sept. 9-27 at Union Station. Call 816-235-6222 or go to www.kcactors.org.
▪ Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre and Central Standard Theatre are officially teaming up for a production of “Stones in His Pocket,” a two-actor, multi-character play by Marie Jones of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The tragicomedy focuses on two locals cast as extras in a Hollywood movie being filmed in rural Ireland. Bob Paisley directs the show, which features Sam Wright and Joseph Fournier. It runs Sept. 10-27 at the MET, 3614 Main St. Call 816-569-3226 or go to www.metkc.org.
The MET season proper gets underway with “Vincent at Brixton,” starring Seth Jones, which offers a portrait of the young, not-yet-famous Vincent Van Gogh as a resident in a British boarding house and the complicated relationships he becomes involved in. The show runs Oct. 15-Nov. 1.
▪ The Coterie kicks off its season with an adaptation of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker,” featuring Vanessa Severo as Annie Sullivan and Josephine Pellow as Helen Keller. The show runs Sept. 22-Oct. 25. Call 816-474-6552 or go to www.thecoterie.org.
▪ Horror and laughter often go together, especially when local theaters take a whack at classic fright flicks. Theatergoers in October will have two shows to choose from — although nothing prevents anyone from seeing both. The Living Room, 1818 McGee St., opens its season with the world premiere of “Chainsaw: The Musical,” written by Forrest Attaway with songs by Eric Redding. The central character is Joey, who, according to the official synopsis, is abused, neglected and traumatized in a state institution, after which he attempts to rebuild his life in the city of Cut and Shoot, Texas. Missy Koonce directs. The show runs Oct. 7-31. Call 816-533-5857. The Living Room’s website isn’t always up to date, but give it a shot: thelivingroomkc.com
Late Night Theatre, meanwhile, will open an original parody, “Poultrygeist,” on Oct. 9 at Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St. Starring Ron Megee and Jessica Dressler (aka Dirty Dorothy), the show depicts what happens if you build a suburban house on the ruins of a chicken-processing plant. Call the Central Ticket Office at 816-235-6222. Check out Late Night’s Facebook page and Missie B’s website at missiebs.com.
▪ Spinning Tree Theatre stages a two-actor adaptation of Henry James’ classic macabre story “The Turn of the Screw” with Charles Fugate and Nicole Marie Green as its second fall production. The show runs Oct. 15-Nov. 1 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre, 3051 Pennsylvania. Julie Shaw directs.
▪ Starlight Theatre officially wraps up its summer season with “Cirque Eloize id,” which runs Sept. 8-13. It has lined up four winter shows on its enclosed stage for January. Stay tuned for details.
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