Who: The Seeing Place Theater
What: Livestreamed benefit readings and panel discussions
Where: The Seeing Place Theater Zoom
When: Saturday, October 31, and Sunday, November 1, $10-$50, 7:00 (available on YouTube November 3-7)
Why: The Seeing Place Theater continues its “Ripple for Change” series with two live, virtual readings of the pseudonymous Jane Martin’s 1994 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Keely and Du, a powerful work about a pregnant rape victim and an antiabortion activist. The drama premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in March 1993 and continues to be popular, given the subject matter, especially as the Supreme Court becomes more conservative and Roe v Wade and other aspects of health care are in danger. The reading is directed by Brandon Walker and Erin Cronican and features Cronican as Keely, Audrey Heffernan Meyer as Du, Walker as Walter, and Olivia Hanna Hardin as the guard; it will be performed live October 31 and November 1 at 7:00, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with proceeds benefiting the Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of Saint Louis; it will be available for viewing on YouTube November 3-7.
“Rather than tell audiences what to think, this play poses deep questions to get to the heart of the debate over who governs women’s bodies,” Cronican said in a statement. “It asks us to reflect on an individual’s rights, a community’s responsibilities, and the difference between one person’s expectations and another’s reality.” Each performance will be followed by “Action Steps for Protecting Women’s Choices,” a panel discussion with Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN who became Planned Parenthood’s first-ever chief medical officer in July 2019. “I don’t want to get comfortable talking to you,” Keely tells Du at one point. Unfortunately, it’s part of a conversation that is not going away any time soon.
Who: Norm Lewis, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Siho Ellsmore, Chris Renfro, Dick Terhune, Stuart Williams, John Stimac
What: Virtual, immersive audio presentation of Dracula
Where: Resounding Live
When: Friday, October 20, and Saturday, October 31, $20, 8:00
Why: Because of the pandemic lockdown, theater creators have been looking at innovative ways to bring storytelling into people’s homes. One method that is making a comeback is the radio play. On October 30, Keen Company is performing Orson Welles’s iconic 1938 War of the Worlds radio script. Welles’s legacy also plays a part in Resounding’s audio production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, inspired by Welles’s 1938 radio adaptation and utilizing cutting-edge proprietary technology that promises “to create a live 360-degree soundscape of howls, bats, screams, creaky floors, slamming doors, and everything that goes bump in the night.” Tony nominee Norm Lewis dons the cape as the bloodsucking count, with Lindsay Nicole Chambers as Mina Murray, Siho Ellsmore as Lucy Westenra, Chris Renfro as Jonathan Harker, Dick Terhune as Prof. Van Helsing, Stuart Williams as Dr. Seward, and John Stimac as Renfield, all performing live from wherever they’re sheltering in place.
“I’ve been thinking for the better part of a decade about how to leverage the internet to increase audience and participation in the theater in America and the world,” Resounding creative director Steve Wargo said in a statement. “My initial ideas were to re-create the style and substance of the broadcasts that Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre performed live on the radio in the late ’30s. Time passed, other projects came and went, then the pandemic hit, and this idea became front and center. We have an amazing team and now we have some fancy patent-pending new technology on our hands, something potentially revolutionary. And what better way to launch that with the great Norm Lewis as Dracula for Halloween.” In addition, New York City bartender Jena Ellenwood has curated cocktails to accompany the fifty-five-minute show; the audience is also encouraged to dress up for the event and post images to a virtual photo booth on Pinterest to form a unique community. Next up for Resounding are an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island November 27-28 and the world premiere of The Fantastical Tale of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King December 18-19.
Who: James Monroe Iglehart, Rafael Casal, Adrienne Warren, James Monroe Iglehart, Danny Burstein, Nik Walker, Lesli Margherita, Rob McClure, Kathryn Allison, Jenni Barber, Erin Elizabeth Clemons, Fergie L. Philippe, Jawan M. Jackson, Brian Gonzales
What: Livestreamed benefit concert
Where: the Actors Fund Vimeo channel
When: Saturday, October 31, $4.99, 7:00
Why: “Year after year, it’s the same routine / And I grow so weary of the sound of screams / And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King / Have grown so tired of the same old thing,” Skeleton Jack sings in Tim Burton’s 1993 animated classic, The Nightmare Before Christmas. In this horrific 2020, everyone will be lamenting the holiday, with no parade in the Village, no club parties and in-person costume contests, no bobbing for apples, and no trick-or-treating; the city is destined to be a lonely place on October 31. But there’s a lot happening online, including a benefit concert featuring Broadway stars performing Danny Elfman’s music from Nightmare. The all-star cast includes Rafael Casal as Jack, Adrienne Warren as Sally, James Monroe Iglehart as Oogie Boogie, Danny Burstein as Santa, Nik Walker as Lock, Leslie Margherita as Shock, and Rob McClure as Barrel, joined by Kathryn Allison, Jenni Barber, Erin Elizabeth Clemons, Fergie L. Philippe, Jawan M. Jackson, and Brian Gonzales. Tickets are only $4.99, with proceeds going to the Actors Fund and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
Who: Tarik Davis, Micah Sherman, Paul(i) Reese, Mark Stetson, Steve Capps, Greg Kotis, Suni Reyes, Kristin Stokes, Priya Patel, Don P. Hooper, Kelly Aucoin
What: Virtual one-act horror play
Where: The Tank online
When: Saturday, October 31, $10-$125, 7:00
Why: Actor, filmmaker, comedian, and improv teacher Tarik Davis grew up on a diet of sci-fi and horror films on VCR in the 1980s and ’90s, resulting in, among other things, his making the award-winning 2017 short Page One, about danger on a movie set involving a Black actor whose character gets killed on the first page of the script and a white man playing a uniformed police officer. Davis has now returned to the horror genre with Host Invite, a work-in-progress he will be presenting on Halloween night through the Tank’s online portal. “The people who make theater with or without an actual theater are stronger than this damn virus will ever be,” Davis, who appeared on Broadway in Freestyle Love Supreme, noted on Facebook. “Artists are stronger than the forces of racism, fascism, unregulated capitalism, homophobia, transphobia, constitutional originalism. If ever there was a moment to make theater it’s THIS moment.”
The cast and crew for Host Invite includes director Micah Sherman, tech designer Paul(i) Reese, Mark Stetson, Steve Capps, Greg Kotis, Suni Reyes, Kristin Stokes, Priya Patel, Page One director Don P. Hooper, and Kelly Aucoin of Billions and The Americans. Part of the Tank Artists-in-Residence Program, the sixty-minute virtual play deals with a Zoom call and a whistleblower from the multinational conglomerate Tangle. “I had an overwhelming urge to figure out a way to get all the wonderful people who made my debut on Broadway such a dream paid,” Davis continued. “Art is work, work deserves compensation. ‘I’ll write a play for Zoom,’ I thought. And now here we are.” Tickets are pay-what-you-can-can, from $10 to $125.
Who: Ronald Guttman, Dr. Stephen Petrus
What: One-man show and Q&A
Where: FIAF Vimeo
When: Through Wednesday, October 28 at 11:59 pm, free
Why: On October 1, Belgian actor Ronald Guttman took the stage at FIAF’s Tinker Auditorium and performed the solo work The Fall for an in-person audience of twenty-five, in addition to many more watching the livestream from wherever they are sheltering in place. The sixty-minute piece is an English-language adaptation by Alexis Lloyd of Albert Camus’s 1956 novel La Chute, consisting of monologues by Parisian ex-pat former lawyer Jean-Baptiste Clamence, examining the meaning of the life he has lived as he hangs out in a seedy Amsterdam dive bar in the red light district. “Pleased to make your acquaintance,” Clamence says at the beginning, speaking directly to the audience before explaining a moment later, “There’s only one thing simple about me; I don’t own anything. I used to. I used to be wealthy back in Paris.” For the next hour, he shares stories about Holland, modern man, fornication, mysterious laughter, memory, and shame, describing himself as a “judge-repentant,” walking across the stage with an elegiac look, wondering what could have been. (The show is directed by Didier Flamand.) FIAF has made the stream available for free through October 28 at midnight, including a twenty-minute Q&A with the New York-based Guttman, moderated by Dr. Stephen Petrus. Guttman has been performing The Fall in different iterations for more than twenty years, so his familiarity with the existential material makes this well worth watching before it disappears forever.
Who: Judith Ivey, T. R. Knight, Kate MacCluggage, Joe Morton, Frances Evans
What: Virtual readings of 2018 play
Where: Barrington Stage Company (BSC)
When: Friday, October 30, $25, 7:30, and Saturday, October 31, $25, 7:30
Why: In the spring of 2018, Pittsfield-based Barrington Stage Company (BSC) premiered Mark St. Germain’s Typhoid Mary, a play about Mary Mallon, the Irish cook who spread typhoid fever in New York. The company will now be hosting a prerecorded virtual reading of the work, on October 30 and 31 at 7:30, featuring two-time Tony winner Judith Ivey as the title character, T. R. Knight as Father Michael McKuen, Kate MacCluggage as Dr. Ann Saltzer, Emmy winner Joe Morton as Dr. William Mills, and Frances Evans reprising her role as Sarah; original director Matthew Penn is back as well. “As the pandemic continues into its eighth month in the US and an administration rails against the fact-based findings of doctors and medical advisors, it felt like an appropriate time to revisit Mark St. Germain’s play, where arguments between God and science take center stage,” BSC founder and artistic director Julianne Boyd said in a statement. During the Covid-19 crisis, BSC has previously presented virtual readings of Rob Ulin’s Judgment Day and Jeffrey Hatcher’s Three Viewings as well as St. Germain’s new work, Eleanor, with Harriet Harris as the first lady.
Who: Jason Tam, Arnie Burton, Morgan Siobhan Green, Khiry Walker, Dan Domingues, Courtney Thomas, Jonathan Silverstein
What: Livestreamed version of classic Orson Welles radio broadcast and talkback
Where: Keen Company Hear/Now
When: Friday, October 30, $25, 8:00
Why: On October 30, 1938, Raymond Rocello and His Orchestra were performing over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network from the Meridian Room at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Manhattan when a news bulletin broke in, announcing that there had been explosions on Mars, with objects now heading toward Earth. Believing that a Martian invasion was under way, Americans were in a panic and took to the streets and highways. They would eventually find out that it was merely an audio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, with a script written by Howard Koch and directed by Orson Welles for his Mercury Theatre company. Eighty-two years later, with a pandemic and presidential election threatening the safety of the United States, New York’s Keen Company is presenting an all-star benefit livestream reading of the radio drama, featuring Jason Tam, Arnie Burton, Morgan Siobhan Green, Khiry Walker, Dan Domingues, and Courtney Thomas, with original music by Paul Brill. “Since the early days of the pandemic, I became increasingly obsessed with old time radio and the ways these early pioneers provoked their audience to use their imagination in new ways,” Keen artistic director Jonathan Silverstein said in a statement. “One of the greatest of these programs is Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds, which skillfully used ‘fake news’ to create real-life panic on October 30, 1938. I look forward to sharing this one-of-a-kind revival, which will not only entertain but also bring to light some eerily similar themes between its original broadcast and today.” Tickets for the one-night-only show, which will be followed by an interactive talkback, are $25, supporting such Keen initiatives as its Hear/Now audio programming, which will continue in February with Lucille Fletcher’s Sorry, Wrong Number, starring Marsha Mason, in addition to works by Pearl Cleage, Kate Cortesi, finkle, James Anthony Tyler, and Melissa Li and Kit Yan. What better way to prepare for a virtual Halloween?