It's nearly time for a new season at Firehouse Brewing Theatre, and artistic director Jeffrey Smith said there's a little something for everyone.
Known mostly for bawdy/farcical comedies, Firehouse's season will be somewhat different this year. Smith said he wanted five shows that touch a wider range of styles.
"All of them carry a similar theme of finding our purposes in life, and really putting a value on friendship, family," Smith said. They're a bit more serious in tone, as well — though not without humor.
As in years past, Firehouse will continue to explore edgier, less-mainstream plays. That means each of the plays has adult themes and language. Smith said he loves having the chance to explore a range of subject matter and push audiences to learn and grow.
"I’m just really ecstatic to take some really big risks and really blow people away," he said.
The season starts with "The Wolves," by Sarah DeLappe, a dramatic comedy about a girls indoor high school soccer team. It opens this weekend, with shows at 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through Oct. 5. Tickets are $15 per person, and are available at the door or in advance at www.firehousewinecellars.com/Theater.
A finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for drama, "The Wolves" is a character-driven story about the nine girls on the team and their "soccer mom."
The theater will be transformed into a soccer field, and the play takes place while the girls practice. Characters are constantly in motion as they move throughout the "field," which Smith said gives the show a different energy than most stage productions.
"It’s one of the most unique plays you’ll ever see," he said.
He described the play as a "hyper-realistic" look at the girls and their relationships with each other. Plot is secondary to those relationships and characters.
"It’s about listening to the conversations that are going on," Smith said.
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Sometimes, there are two conversations happening simultaneously. Smith said audience members usually zero in on the conversation to which they most relate, adding another unique element to the show.
Humor, heartwarming and heartbreaking moments are all part of the play, he said. With an all-female cast and a female director, Smith said it's "all about female empowerment."
"It’s just a really fascinating play," Smith said. "It’s a 90-minute play, and those 90 minutes fly by because you’re just engrossed with the relationships on stage."
It's the only play in this year's lineup that Smith will not direct, as he settles in to his first full year as artistic director.
Smith took over last fall after former artistic director Thomas Golden stepped down, but the plays had already been chosen. It was mostly up to Smith to make sure the season stayed on track. This is his first year at the helm from the start of the season; his role includes selecting which plays to perform.
After "The Wolves," the season will continue in October with "American Idiot," a musical based on the Green Day song of the same name; "Stupid F#%king Bird," an adaptation of "The Seagull" by Anton Chekhov, in January; "Next to Normal," a rock musical, in February and March; and "Indecent," about a controversial Yiddish play in the 1920s, in April.
Music is a big part of this season, Smith said. Typically, Firehouse puts on two traditional musicals, which will be the case again this year ("American Idiot" and "Next to Normal"). But the other two shows directed by Smith are also built around music, and will feature live music in various ways.
"We’re essentially doing four musicals this year, which is very exciting," he said.
Smith is especially excited about one of the full-fledged musicals, "Next to Normal," which he said is billed as a "feel-everything" musical that takes a raw, honest look at someone living with bipolar disorder.
"What touches me the most is, it’s this honest take on mental illness, including how it affects everyone who knows someone with mental illness," he said. "It’s a very personal musical to me. I’ve been wanting to direct it for years."