See ’Em On Stage announces 2016-17 season along with expanded programming, restructuring (exclusive)

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See ‘Em On Stage, the nearly three-year-old New Orleans theatrical company known for its passion for offbeat musical satire, announced a 2016-17 season fueled by a management restructuring and other changes during its “Rebel Rebel” premiere party Tuesday (May 31) at the Ugly Dog Saloon.

“This new model will allow us to offer opportunities to a wider variety of artists including local writers, directors, actors, designers, dancers, musicians, and theater educators; along with visual artists (for special projects),” Artistic Director Christopher Bentivegna said in a press release. “Our team now includes 16 diverse theater professionals working together in order to provide a multitude of projects within seven different divisions.”

That team will feature Bentivegna along with Kali Russell (associate artistic director), Bob Murrell (managing director), Breanna Beitz (managing director), Jake Wynne-Wilson (community outreach coordinator), Ashton Akridge (burlesque division coordinator), Kayln Hepting (staged readings division coordinator) and Abbey P. Murrell, Caroline St. Amant, Eli Timm, Clayton Shelvin, Anna Toujas, Robert Young, Logan Faust, Rebecca Lindell, Ariel Schwab, and Sam Cespedes.

(Read more: Christopher Bentivegna’s Top 5 favorite See ’Em On Stage productions)

New divisions to accompany the company’s main-stage productions include original works, burlesque, comedy, staged readings, community outreach and youth education. The new season also will bring on new venues such as the New Orleans Art Center, The Avant-Garden District, and The Valiant, a new theater opened by Richard Mayer — formerly of the Old Marquer Theatre. (This new theater is scheduled to open in July, the release said.”

See ‘Em On Stage already has presented work that reflects this new approach, the release said, noting the production of original short plays as part of its community-outreach program for patients and clients at both Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and Crossroads Louisiana (which services adults with disabilities). The company plans to partner with The New Movement for a program for teens to perform in a full one-act production at program’s end.

The company also has brought in Four Sweater Vests, the local staged-readings company, as one of its official divisions “with a mission to provide opportunities to both experienced and novice performers and directors through participation in staged readings of popular works.”

“This new model of different divisions will allow us to not only offer more opportunities to established as well as fledgling artists, but will provide us and the theater community in general with a more diverse and wide-reaching audience base,” the release said.

The 2016-17 main stage season will offer a schedule that speaks to the “Rebel Rebel” theme that explores the notions of heroes and anti-heroes, and will include three regional premieres and one New Orleans premiere. (Synopsies provided by the company.)

Lizzie the Musical
Written by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer, Tim Maner and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Aug. 11-28, 2016 (Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m.) except Aug. 13 (9:30 p.m.)
New Orleans Arts Club
Synopsis: “Four women front a rock band and tell the scandalous story of Lizzie Borden, America’s favorite double-axe murderess and Victorian hometown girl. In 1892, on a sweltering August day in a small New England town, a well-to-do elderly man and his second wife were brutally murdered with an axe in broad daylight. Lizzie Borden, their youngest daughter, was the primary suspect. She was arrested and tried, but, with no witnesses to the hideous crime, she was acquitted. The murders remain unsolved to this day and have become not only one of America’s most notorious legends but also the inspiration for this critically acclaimed new musical. This nearly sung-through rock opera’s score owes less in inspiration to Andrew Lloyd Weber or Stephen Sondheim than it does to Heart, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Grace Slick. Starring Abbey P. Murrell, Idella Johnson, Kali Russell, and Leslie L. Claverie as Lizzie Borden. This production will be a regional premiere.”

The Toxic Avenger the Musical
Music and lyrics by David Bryan; book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro
Oct. 13-31, 2016 (Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m.), Monday Oct. 31 (8 p.m.)
The Valiant Theatre
Synopsis: “Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult-classic horror movie from 1984, and winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, ‘The Toxic Avenger’ is a surprisingly charming and hilarious love story that tells the story of an unlikely hero, his beautiful girlfriend, a corrupt New Jersey mayor, and a supporting cast of two actors who play everyone else. It’s a toxic love story with an environmentally conscious twist. The New York Times called it ‘exuberantly silly,’ while the New York Post called it “hilariously funny.” This show has not been cast. This will be a regional premiere.”

“The Lion in Winter”
Written by James Goldman
Dec. 1-18, 2016 (Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m.)
Avant-Garden District
Sibling rivalry, adultery, family dysfunction, betrayal, and danger come together in this modern-day, Tony Award-winning classic. Comedic in tone, dramatic in action, the play tells the story of the Plantagenet royal family who come together during Christmas of 1183 to compete in a free-for-all to inherit a kingdom. The queen, and wealthiest woman in the world, Eleanor of Aquitaine, has been kept in prison since raising an army against her husband, King Henry II. Let out only for holidays, the play centers around the inner conflicts of the royal family as they fight over both a kingdom and unresolved family turmoil. Starring Alec Barnes, Kevin Murphy, Kali Russell, Eli Timm, Alex Wallace, Jake Wynne-Wilson, and Leslie Castay as Eleanor of Aquitaine.”

“Triassic Parq”
Music by Marshall Pailet, lyrics and book by Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz, and Steve Wargo
Spring 2017 (venue and cast TBA)
Synopsis: “Raucous and hilarious, ‘Triassic Parq’ vividly brings together music, sex, big-action movie nostalgia, and singing dinosaurs in ways both modern and prehistoric to tell the story of the blockbuster film ‘Jurassic Park,’ from the perspective of the dinosaurs. The chaos begins when one clan of female dinosaurs spontaneously turns male. The mutation spawns a chain reaction of identity crises, forcing the dinosaurs to question the very facts of life they’ve held as truth. This critically acclaimed official-unofficial ‘Jurassic Park’ musical is an unflinching and uproariously funny meditation on faith, science, gender identity, and love. Also, you know … dinosaurs.”

Upcoming productions within our other divisions
“Four Sweater Vests” (Staged Readings Division)
“South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (LIVE!)”
Friday (June 3), 8 p.m.
Saturday (June 4), 4 p.m.
Sunday (June 5), 8 p.m.
Café Istanbul

Comedy Division
“Bar Politics: Sharing Economy”
June 14, 8 p.m.
Twelve Mile Limit
Free admission

“Bar Politics”
July 20, 8 p.m.
Rusty Nail
Free admission

Original Works Division
“Drunk Homeless Eighties Girl”
Written by Amanda Miller
June 15-16, 8 p.m.
Ugly Dog Saloon
$8

“A History of Comedy”
Written and performed by Bob Murrell
July 2016
The Valiant Theatr

Burlesque Division
“Deus Sex Machina: A Burlesque From the Gods”
Conceived by and starring Persé Fanny
July 22-23
New Orleans Arts Club
$12

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