In contrast to its current subscription season, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts is sticking fairly closely to the classics in its main stage theatre offerings next year.
The 2013-2014 season, unveiled on March 21, will open in September with the Broadway musical comedy Ain’t Misbehavin’. Montreal theatre veteran Roger Peace will direct this tribute to Fats Waller and the golden age of jazz in 1930s Harlem.
Peace directed the Segal’s most recent well-regarded production, The Mahalia Jackson Musical, starring Ranee Lee.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ is being put on with Copa de Oro Productions, whose CEO, Allan Sandler, observed that he and Peace happily returned to the Segal this year after a two-decade hiatus.
Shakespeare will return to the Segal main stage after a long absence when Othello is presented in November, directed by Alison Darcy, her first play in the big theatre. Darcy has earned acclaim for her artistic direction of Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre, currently a resident company at the Segal.
She has cast her father, Maurice Podbrey, founding artistic director of the Centaur Theatre, as leading lady Desdemona’s father Brabantio.
The 78-year-old Podbrey has accepted the relatively minor role with grace and, as he bantered with his daughter, recalled that he had cast her many years ago in a less-than-stellar part in a children’s play.
The title role in this 10-member cast Scapegoat co-production will go to Montreal actor Andrew Moodie.
“Andrew will be magnificent,” Podbrey said. “I saw Paul Robeson play Othello at Stratford a hundred years ago, and he will be every bit as good.”
Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull will be at the Segal for its 2014 opener in February. This is the world premiere of a new version, set in the Eastern Townships in the 1970s, adapted and directed by Peter Hinton, former artistic director of the National Arts Centre’s English theatre division. It will star two top Canadian actors, Lucy Peacock and Diane D’Aquila.
The Segal’s artistic producer Paul Flicker – “with no small amount of terror” – will make his directorial debut with the next production, a return to modernity with David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross in March.
This dark comedy about four cut-throat Chicago real estate agents will feature such local talent as Graham Cuthbertson, Mike Paterson and Andrew Shaver.
The next play has a similar theme about the consequences of unbridled corporate ambition. Top Girls by the British Caryl Churchill (the creator of the contentious playlet Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza) opens in April 2014. Directed by Micheline Chevrier (making her Segal debut), Top Girls’ all-female cast looks at the price paid by a successful woman and is set in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain.
The season concludes with the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre’s reprise from some 15 years ago of its musical The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz in June 2014, with English and French supertitles.
“Mordecai Richler attended the original production and gave it his blessing, and we will dedicate this one to him,” said Bryna Wasserman who will co-direct with Rachelle Glait. Tribute will also be paid to the memory of Dora Wasserman on the 10th anniversary of her passing.
Wasserman, the Segal’s former artistic director, was back in town from New York where she is executive director of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater.
“It’s good to be back home,” said Wasserman, who received a standing ovation. “There is great talent here; you don’t have to go anywhere else.”
The Segal’s second performance space, the Studio, will be the venue for five productions by independent companies next season, with three for young audiences.
They are: Sedna: Goddess of the Sea, a Tableau D’Hôte Theatre production based on a northern aboriginal folktale; Bhopal, a Teesri Duniya Theatre production by its artistic director Rahul Varma, about the 1984 Union Carbide pesticide plant explosion in India that killed at least 20,000 people (this is this the social justice-oriented theatre’s first association with the Segal); Dreaming Now, a Youtheatre Production (which is also a newcomer to the Segal), starring Jeremy Segal and aimed at audience aged seven to 12 years; the Black Theatre Workshop’s The Meeting, intended for those 12 to 17 years old, which imagines an encounter between differing civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.; and Greg MacArthur’s new Horror Story, also from Youtheatre, a murder mystery for teens.
The Segal will also offer varied musical programming in 2013-2014. Its six-concert Power Jazz series opens in September with legendary pianist Oliver Jones, and later features animated movie Les Triplettes de Belleville composer Ben Charest.
The Bravo series comprises four broadly defined classical music concerts, and the Women of the World series returns for a fourth year to showcase Quebec female singers.
The dance programming will all be free of charge, and once again includes the choreographer-in-residence program with Danse Danse, which allows emerging artists to obtain audience feedback to their works-in-progress.
Other local dance companies will perform under a partnership with the City of Montreal.
The I Love Yiddish series will return for a third season (the schedule will be announced in the fall), and the Hebrew Theatre of the Jewish Public Library, founded by Nitza Parry and Yael Feingold, will mount its annual production of contemporary Israeli plays at the Segal.
Chief executive officer Manon Gauthier stated that the Segal today is “one of Quebec’s only multilingual and multidisciplinary performing arts centres… proudly rooted in this community, yet open more than ever.”