Park Square Artistic Director Richard Cook and his new team of Artistic Associates announce a season crackling with new scripts from Broadway and beyond. "This team – Brian Balcom, Aditi Kapil, Carson Kreitzerand James A. Williams – has done just what I asked them to do: bring me work I may not have known of or wouldn't normally consider," says Cook.
The "creative quartet" of Artistic Associates was established last September to work with Cook to expand Park Square's play selection and community reach in preparation for the opening of the Thrust Stage in 2013. "My goal with the Artistic Associates is to widen the circle of people who come to me with ideas and open up Park Square to new points of view. They say 'be careful what you wish for,' but I knew I could trust this group. I'm delighted with our first season of collaboration."
The season opens September 21 with RED, a passionate portrait of artist Mark Rothko's brilliant, angry mind that The New York Times called "intense and exciting." After its triumphant Broadway debut, the script – sought after by other area artistic directors – stayed in Cook's hands. "Just two years after its Broadway debut, this piece combines all the conventions we might expect of a show about a lion of the art world and his apprentice – the young cub nipping at his heels," says Cook who will direct Red, "but then it drops us in a new place, leaving us saying 'well, I didn't think we were going there.'"
Following Red is a new production of KING LEAR, opening October 26 and directed by Park Square favorite Peter Moore, with Raye Birk starring as Lear. "I'm building this show around Raye," says Moore. "He'll be the 'Godfather' type set against the backdrop of Prohibition. The production will be about the central tragedy, not about the setting or its stereotypes, but I want to use a convention that is immediately recognizable to this generation in order to highlight the competing family loyalties and the role of absolute power."
December brings a revival of 2 PIANOS 4 HANDS, which sold out its 2010 run. Michael Pearce Donnelly and Peter Vitalereturn as a pair of piano whiz kids with stars in their eyes, playing the heart out of two grand pianos and multiple characters. As the Star Tribune reported, "These musicians can act!" Tom Frey will return from New York to direct.
Artistic Associate Brian Balcom brings an unlikely show to the line-up in January. "Since I'm not interested in baseball and don't like traditional musicals, I was surprised to leave the Boston performance of JOHNNY BASEBALL entranced – and hoping it would find a Twin Cities production," says Balcom. The musical team of brothers Robert and William Reale, who created A Year with Frog and Toad that Children's Theatre Company produced in 2002 and eventually went to Broadway, and book writer Richard Dresser invited Richard Cook to the New York workshop of their new musical just two months ago. Set over an 80-year span that explores the famous curse of the Boston Red Sox, "this show has what I like in a musical – a deeply personal story with characters we care about. It has a big heart and toe-tapping music," says Cook.
The season continues with Artistic Associate Carson Kreitzer's pick OR, written by another young woman playwright, Liz Duffy Adams, opening March 1, 2013. "Or, is an utterly luminous play, at once hilarious and heartfelt," says Kreitzer. "It's got the madcap energy of Irma Vep, with shimmering layers of history and astute observations about the changing roles of women and men and the way we all continue to navigate these waters."