Fan hopes are high that 2021-22 will be a robust theater season in Rhode Island.
The pandemic put performances on hold for two years, and even now the threat has not melted. To address this fact, nine arts organizations have agreed on COVID protocols that set a standard that other theaters can follow. It is best to inquire about the individual cinemas beforehand.
In general, the theaters are proceeding cautiously but optimistically. Here’s a look at the variety of stories being told on stages across the country.
The Contemporary Theater Company, 327 Main St., Wakefield, (contemporarytheatercompany.com) uses their Riverfront Performance Patio, where a production of “Native Gardens” by Karen Zacarias is running until October 3rd. It is a comedy with a bite, proving the saying âgood fences make good neighborsâ. (For a full report on Native Gardens, see page C-4.)
There will also be a production on the terrace from October 13th to November. 15 from William Shakespeare’s “The Storm”. The story begins with a shipwreck that leaves the people on board scattered across a desert island. It turned out that the shipwreck was not a coincidence and the island is not completely deserted. But love conquers everything.
Additionally, “I don’t have a lot of information … as we are still closing a lot of it (in the coming season) given the uncertainty surrounding COVID,” said Maggie Cady, General Manager.
Granite Theater & Renaissance City Theater, Inc., 1 Granite St., Westerly, (granitetheatre.com) is on board for two Christmas shows: “The Haunting of Hill House,” a spooky tale of people who have gathered to investigate the occult To explore forces with performances on weekends 8.-31. October; and âA Christmas Carolâ on the weekends between November 26th and December 19th.
The board is working on a schedule for 2022 that will include “Almost, Maine” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” according to board member Michelle Mania are in place.
The Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset St., Providence, (ppacri.org) begins its Broadway franchise with the national tour of Pretty Woman (October 9-16), a musical based on the film of the same name .
The season continues with âHamiltonâ (November 30th-12th), a hit at PPAC in July 2019. Then the audience will have to wait until almost spring for âThe Promâ (March 8th-13th), a sparkling musical about fading Broadway stars; the classic “Oklahoma!” (March 22-27); âDon’t Be Too Proud – The Life and Times of Temptationâ (April 12-17); The conclusion is the resumption of the Lincoln Center Theater by Lerner & Loewes âMy Fair Ladyâ (May 11-15).
Three other shows include PPAC’s Encore series: “Rent – The 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour” (January 14-16); âAn Officer and a Gentlemanâ (February 18-20); and Blue Man Group (May 20-22).
There are also three Broadway specials, including the acrobatic âCirque Dreams Holidazeâ (December 17-18); “Jesus Christ Superstar” (January 25-30); and finally âDear Evan Hansenâ (April 5-10), which won six Tony Awards in 2017 and a Grammy in 2018.
The Trinity Repertory Company, 201 Washington St., Providence, (trinityrep.com) begins its season with the 44th edition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” (November 4 – January 2), available in person or online is streamed.
Curt Columbus, the artistic director, described this season’s pieces as “that resonate deeply, have great language and ideas, show the depth of human existence, and are all surprising, funny and provocative”.
January 2022 kicks off with Tiny Beautiful Things (January 13 – February 13) by Cheryl Strayed, based on her book about her experiences as a counselor columnist. Next up is August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean” (February 24, March 27); âSuenoâ (April 7th to May 8th), a modern adaptation of the classic âLife is a dreamâ, which explores the essence of fate and reality. The season ends with âFairviewâ (May 19 – June 19) by Jackie Sibblies Drury and Pulitzer Prize winner 2019.
The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theater, 1245 Jefferson Blvd., Warwick, (gammtheatre.org) opens with “A Lie Agreed Upon”, artistic director Tony Estrella’s remake of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People”. Ibsen wrote his play in 1882, but the conflict between truth and “alternative facts” is still current.
The season continues with “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” (November 26 to December 24), in which a handful of actors voice a radio broadcast of Frank Capra’s Christmas film; âAn Octoroonâ (January 27 – February 20) by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose âGloriaâ was a hit with Gamm audiences in 2018; and “Ironbound” (March 17 to April 10) by Martyna Majok, described as “a darkly funny, heartbreaking portrait” of survival. The season ends with âA Midsummer Night’s Dreamâ (May 5-29), Shakespeare’s comedy about mix-ups and true love.
Theater-goers can also find amazing talent and fresh ideas at the Burbage Theater, 59 Blackstone Ave., Pawtucket, (burbagetheatre.org), which was originally started by a group of theater graduates from Rhode Island College and is now the 10th at the WaterFire Arts Center , 475 Valley St, Providence (thewilburygroup.org).
The 2021-22 Burbage schedule includes a digital feature film by Macbeth and personal performances of Everybody by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins; “Red Velvet” by Lolita Chakrabarti; “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” by Alan Ball, creator of the HBO series “Six Feet Under”; “The Squirrels” by Robert Askins; and Ayad Akhtar’s drama Junk, which won the Kennedy Prize for Drama.
Wilbury also partnered with the arts center to present the eclectic FringePVD Festival, which featured more than 300 live and online performances over two weeks in July.
The nine organizations that are joining the COVID protocols are Festival Ballet Providence, Gamm Theater, Island Moving Company, Providence Performing Arts Center, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, Trinity Repertory Company, United Theater, Veterans Memorial Auditorium (The VETS ) and Wilbury theater company.
The protocol states: “With immediate effect and until further notice: All guests who take part in personal indoor events must either provide evidence of a complete vaccination against COVID-19 (fully vaccinated is defined as at least 14 days after receipt of either two doses or FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine) or evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 72 hours of the time taken or evidence of a negative COVID-19 antigen test ( Quick test), which was carried out within 6 hours of the execution time. All guests, regardless of vaccination status, must always wear masks for their nose and mouth inside the venue (unless they are actively eating or drinking).