Northern Stage Welcomes Back Audiences Under The Stars This JuneMay 18, 2021 01:35PM ● By Virginia Dean
Photo from The Valley News & Courtesy of Northern Stage.
A newly constructed outdoor theater and a bifurcated main stage schedule will greet visitors this summer during Northern Stage's upcoming season that begins on June 9th with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), directed by Carol Dunne.
To meet the demands of the pandemic over the last year, Northern Stage has shown its flexibility by offering plays on Zoom, staging a radio play of It's a Wonderful Life, and socially distancing its audience during live performances. Now, from June 9-July 4, London's longest-running comedy of Shakespeare's plays will be followed by the musical Million Dollar Quartet from August 11-September 12 – all outdoor performances that only add to the Upper Valley as a summer arts destination.
Both Complete Works and Million Dollar Quartet will take place in the new open-air Courtyard Theater, which is being built just behind the Barrette Center for the Arts on Gates Street in White River Junction. The Theater was created to allow a safe, socially distant gathering space for live performances this summer.
Dunne, Northern Stage's Producing Artistic Director, noted that the new hybrid season is the result of putting audiences' safety first as they emerge from COVID-19.
"When we searched for an outdoor venue, we found the best spot is behind our buildings in the heart of White River Junction," she said. "We are creating a simple space that celebrates the industrial feel of White River while offering a beautiful and intimate place to enjoy joyous performances."
The return to live and in-person theatrical productions promises joy, with a season that will take audiences on a hilarious journey through all of Shakespeare's plays, bring rock 'n roll legends to life, celebrate the beauty and unpredictability of the human connection, and bring Monty Python to White River Junction in a musical show, according to Northern Stage officials.
Although the Theater holds up to 250 seats, this summer's limit in the outdoor Theater will be around 120. There are no indoor productions slated for the fall because of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, so the company's traditional Christmas season musical isn't happening, but a short run of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will be. The play will be put on under the direction of the company's youth theater program.
From February 16-March 6, 2022, audiences will be brought back indoors to the main stage in the Byrne Theater with the production of Heisenberg, a pas-de-deux play centered around an electric encounter between two strangers in a train station. Written by Simon Stephens and starring Northern Stage actor Jamie Horton, the play lays bare the beauty in the natural unpredictability of human connection. The season will be rounded out with the fourth production of Monty Python's Spamalot from April 13-May 15, 2022. With a book and lyrics by Eric Idle and music by John Du Prez and Eric Idle, Monty Python's Spamalot is a spin-off of the classic film comedy Mont Python and the Holy Grail. The entertaining story of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake will delight audiences as they search for the Holy Grail and "always look on the bright side of life."
To purchase an early bird subscription, click here. All Courtyard seating for the 2021/22 season will be sold as General Admission, but seating locations will be assigned in advance on the day of the performance. Early Bird Subscriptions cost $135 and are currently on sale for Northern Stage Director's Circle, Ensemble Members, and 2019/20 subscribers only.
In addition to the two main stage productions, the Courtyard Theater will host this season's Summer Shakespeare Intensive, a professional-level theater training program for students ages 12-18 and a cornerstone of Northern Stage's Education Department. Over five weeks, a group of approximately 25 students will rehearse and perform Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in July in the Courtyard Theater. Audition information can be found at northernstage.org/summer-shakespeare-intensive/