NEVADA CITY, Calif. January 16, 2020 – In 2020, Sierra Stages presents its 12th season of quality local theater in Grass Valley and Nevada City with three diverse offerings: “Blithe Spirit” by Noël Coward, “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, and “Escaped Alone” by Caryl Churchill.
Sierra Stages again is pleased to offer the Sierra Stages 3-Show Season Pass: For $85, see all three shows in the 2020 Season: “Blithe Spirit”, “Sweeney Todd”, and “Escaped Alone”. Sierra Stages also invites everyone to become a Sierra Stages Member with a tax-deductible donation that supports quality local theater. For more information about the 3-Show Season Pass and Memberships, visit SierraStages.org or call 530-346-3210.
The 2020 season opens with “Blithe Spirit” by Noël Coward. After a ‘spirited’ séance goes wrong, the cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine suddenly finds himself face to face with the ghost of his deceased wife, Elvira—much to the chagrin of his current spouse, Ruth. Caught between one live wife and one dead wife, Charles thinks matters couldn’t be worse. Love and marriage quickly devolve into laughter and mayhem in this sparkling comedy classic. Written in 1941 and frequently produced over the past 78 years, “Blithe Spirit” is a fun evening at the theater, with its seances, ghosts, special effects, and amazing wordplay. Scott Gilbert directs “Blithe Spirit”, which plays from February 28 through March 21, 2020 at the historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City.
Coward wrote a large number of superbly crafted comedies in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, many of which continue to be performed to this day by professionals and amateurs alike. These include such well-known titles as ‘Private Lives’, ‘Present Laughter’, ‘Hay Fever’ and ‘Blithe Spirit’. “When director Scott Gilbert suggested ‘Blithe Spirit’ and we read the script, it was immediately clear that this classic comedy – with its many laughs, amazing wordplay, and low-tech theatrical special effects – would be an entertaining evening and a great way to kick off our season,” says Sierra Stages managing director Peter Mason.
From July 17 through August 8, 2020 at the Nevada Theatre, Sierra Stages presents “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, a musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. Winner of eight Tony® Awards including Best Musical, “Sweeney Todd” is an indisputable masterpiece. Set in 19th-century London and laced with brilliant wit, diabolical humor and extraordinary music, this heart-pounding musical thriller tells the tale of an unjustly exiled barber and his quest to avenge the wrongs done to him and his family by a lecherous judge. Aided by the resourceful pie shop proprietress Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney exacts his sweet, razor-sharp revenge. “Sweeney Todd” is directed by Sharon Winegar, with music direction by Ken Getz, and dance and movement direction by Brian Arsenault.
“I have been wanting to do ‘Sweeney Todd’ ever since I saw the original production several times on Broadway in 1979 and several times in Boston (the first stop on the national tour) in 1981,” says music director Ken Getz. “Over the past 40 years, I have seen many other productions of the show and have been steadily working up the nerve to take on the challenge to music direct the show. Last summer’s experience with our production of ‘Cabaret’—an entertaining musical with dark themes—tipped the scales: I was convinced we had the talent in our community do justice to the show and that our audience would embrace a musical that not only thrills but also ends on a tragic note.” Getz adds, “In addition to all of that, we wanted to honor the composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim on the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2020 (March 22) and putting together a production of ‘Sweeney Todd’ seemed like a fitting way to celebrate this milestone and continue our journey through the Sondheim canon.” “Sweeney Todd” is the seventh Sondheim musical presented by Sierra Stages over the past 11 years, following “Side by Side by Sondheim”, “Into the Woods”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “Marry Me A Little”, “Company” and “Assassins”.
To close out the season, Sierra Stages presents “Escaped Alone” by Caryl Churchill. Set in a serene garden, three old friends are joined by a neighbor to engage in amiable chitchat—with a side of apocalyptic horror. The women’s talk of grandchildren and TV shows breezily intersperses with tales of terror in a quietly teetering world where all is not what it seems. “Escaped Alone” is an inventive and thought-provoking work. It is directed by Sands Hall and plays from October 1 through 24, 2020 at the Off Center Stage (behind The Center for the Arts) in Grass Valley.
“We are excited to have Sands Hall as our director of ‘Escaped Alone’,” says managing director Peter Mason. “An author, singer/songwriter, emeritus professor, teacher, playwright, actor and director, Sands has contributed so much to local theater and to all of the arts in Nevada County. In between her many projects over the past several years, she found time to direct three play readings for our Theater by the Book series: ‘Dear Elizabeth’ by Sara Ruhl, ‘Evermore’ by Gary Wright, and ‘Times Like These’ by James O’Keefe. Now, with her inspired choice of Caryl Churchill’s “Escaped Alone” for the final show of our season, she is pushing the boundaries of Sierra Stages and expanding the diversity of theater in our community.”
The Sierra Stages 2020 Season Pass may be purchased now through March 15, 2020 online at SierraStages.org or by calling Sierra Stages at 530-346-3210.
Know and Go
What: Sierra Stages presents its 2020 Season:
“Blithe Spirit”, “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, and “Escaped Alone”
When: “Blithe Spirit” plays February 28 – March 21, 2020
Fridays & Saturdays (& Thursday March 19) at 7:30 PM
Sundays at 2:00 PM
Where: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, Nevada City, CA