Since its reopening in 2000, the Stoneham Theatre has become a fixture of the Massachusetts regional theater scene. According to the organization’s Web site, they have been named one of the top eight performing arts centers in the Boston area by the Boston Business Journal, alongside established groups such as the Boston Ballet and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Under the helm of artistic director Weylin Symes, whose family refurbished the one-time vaudeville hotspot and later independent movie house that had stood vacant for thirty years, the Stoneham Theatre has mounted a variety of plays, musicals, and concerts. This tradition will continue in the fall, as their 2007-2008 season gets underway.
The season kicks off with a staging of the beloved Broadway musical Gypsy (September 13th – 30th). With music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the production will star Leigh Barrett, a veteran of regional theaters, including the New Repertory Theatre, Lyric Stage Company, and North Shore Music Theatre.
Next will be Marilyn: Forever Blonde (October 29th – November 11th). Designed to deliver the story of Marilyn Monroe through her own words and music, this biographical piece was written by Greg Thompson. A film version was created as well, premiering alongside the theatrical production at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood this past February.
The Christmas season will see a production of Miracle on 34th Street (November 29th – December 23rd). Adapted for the stage by Patricia Di Benedetto Snyder, Will Severin, and John Vreeke, it will continue Stoneham’s tradition of holiday shows, following up successful productions of A Christmas Story and A Christmas Carol.
The New Year will bring the first of several premieres that are part of the Theatre’s slate, with Antoine Feval (January 10th – 27th) receiving its U.S. regional theater debut. Written and performed by British comedian Chris Gibbs, this one-man show tells the tale of a young Englishman who becomes the sidekick of a Holmes-like detective, not realizing that everything about the situation is not what it seems. The show and Gibbs won “Best of the Fest” at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2005.
Another premiere follows with Maureen O’Brien’s The Cutting (February 28th – March 16th). Never before produced in the United States, the play tells the story of a mute girl suspected of killing her mother and the psychiatrist who attempts to get through to her. The show had its premiere in London in 1992, and has since gone on to runs in Finland, Italy, and Austria.
In April, another biographical piece will take the stage in Sisters of Swing (April 3rd – 20th). Conceived and written by Beth Gilleland and Bob Beverage, it tells the tale of the Andrews Sisters, the Minnesota trio that dominated the American pop music landscape in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.
The Porch (May 15th – June 1st), by local writer Jack Neary, also has three women at its center, though in a much different setting. The last of the season’s premieres, The Porch is based on Neary’s Beyond Belief, which had its debut at the Lyric Stage Company. The gossip and tale-spinning of three middle-aged friends on the North Shore as they prepare for Labor Day will bring a bit of local color to the Theatre.
The Stoneham Theatre’s eighth season concludes with Linda Lavin: Songs and Confessions of a One-Time Waitress (June 12th – 22nd). Starring Golden Globe and Tony Award winner Linda Lavin, star of CBS’ sitcom Alice from 1976-1985, this autobiographical piece is made up of anecdotes and music that serve to illustrate Lavin’s life and experiences.