Ford’s builds season around ‘misfits’

February 26, 2013

Ford’s Theatre Artistic Director Paul Tetreault didn’t go into season planning with, well, a plan. But when he was about midway through the process, he said, “I would step back [and] say all these kids are all sort of misfits.

“If you look at all the characters across the spectrum of the whole season . . . you’re talking about who I call ‘the others.’ They’re all misfits in their own way. They all have some way that they don’t fit in. And that’s a through-line to the whole season. . . . So many of us in the theater were the others, were the quirky kids on the outside. How do we tie that all together? I think that’s what our season is about. And how extraordinary people on the outside truly are.”

‘The Laramie Project’

By Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theatre Project. Directed by Matthew Gardiner. Sept. 27 to Oct. 27.

The third installment in the Lincoln Legacy Project, this production of “The Laramie Project” will coincide with the 15th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder. The Lincoln Legacy Project, which launched in the fall of 2011, is aimed at sparking conversation about tolerance and equality — or, as is often the case, intolerance and inequality. The first Lincoln Legacy production was ­“Parade,” followed by last year’s “Fly.” “The issue of gay, lesbian and transgender people is something we’ve always wanted to address,” said Tetreault.

A series of free events will run in conjunction with the show, presented with partner organizations, including the Matthew Shepard Foundation, the Trevor Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center.


Cloris Leachman (Matthias Clamer/FOX)

Judy Shepard, Shepard’s mom, will take part in a free public Q&A. “One of the things Judy always talks about is we still have hate crimes happening,” said Tetreault. “And until there are no more hate crimes, she’s going to be out there pushing for equality and acceptance for people of all persuasions.”

‘A Christmas Carol’

By Charles Dickens, adapted by Michael Wilson. Directed by Michael Baron. Nov. 21 to Jan. 1, 2014.

This marks the fourth year this production of “A Christmas Carol” will be staged at Ford’s. For Tetreault, it’s a return to familiar territory: “I’ve been producing ‘A Christmas Carol’ for the past 20 years.”

‘Violet’

Music by Jeanine Tesori; book and lyrics by Brian Crawley. Based on “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts. Directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun; music direction by Jay Crowder. Jan. 24 to Feb. 23, 2014.

This musical — a mix of gospel, rock, bluegrass and country — follows Violet, a woman who was badly scarred as a child, on a trip across the civil-rights-era South. “The issues of race and how race resonates within our society is something we at Ford’s are very interested in,” said Tetreault. “Obviously it’s something Lincoln was interested in.”

‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Music and lyrics by William Finn; book by Rachel Sheinkin. Conceived by Rebecca Feldman; additional material by Jay ­Reiss. Directed by Peter Flynn; choreographed by Michael Bobbitt; music direction by Christopher Youstra. March 14 to May 17, 2014.

As a closer to a season that begins with “The Laramie Project,” “Spelling Bee” is “just this wild and great release,” said Tetreault. “And everyone has some story that connects them to a spelling bee.”

‘My Fair Lady in Concert’

Did watching the Oscars make you long for an excuse to bust out your own black-tie attire? Fret not: The Kennedy Center’s 21st annual spring gala is coming up May 5. Not exactly around the corner, but this announcement gives you plenty of time to prepare for “My Fair Lady in Concert” and to practice your dance moves. Here’s your vital gala information, by the numbers:

●Number of Tony Award nominees: 4 — Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who is directing and choreographing “My Fair Lady in Concert,” Mary Beth Peil, who’ll play Mrs. Pearce, and the two winners listed below.

●Number of Tony Award winners: 2 — Gregory Jbara as Alfred P. Doolittle and two-time winner Jonathan Pryce as Henry Higgins.

●Number of Olivier Award winners: 1 — Laura Michelle Kelly as Eliza Doolittle.

●Number of Academy Award winners: 1 — Cloris Leachman as Mrs. Higgins.

●Number of pieces in the orchestra: 35.

Cost: Tickets start at $25 for the concert only (call 202-467-4600 to order). If you want to join the whole gala, which kicks off with a re­ception at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6, before the performance at 8, followed by a ­cocktails-and-dancing party, contact the Kennedy Center at springgala@kennedy-center.org or call 202-416-8338.

An Iraqi inferno

In “9 Circles” at Forum Theatre, a young soldier finds himself on trial for war crimes committed in Iraq. Director Jennifer L. Nelson, whose father served in the military, had long been interested in “what it means to serve the country and what does the country ask [and] give in return” when she signed on to helm the production.

“The idea that a soldier could be kind of put in the position of taking the collective blame for what the entire army was doing in the name of the country, I found really intriguing,” said Nelson. “For the military, in this case, to turn around and blame single acts on any single soldier, is just — it’s ironic, and it’s cruel, and it’s just so fraught with contradiction. That’s the story I wanted to be part of telling.”

Pvt. Reeves, the man on trial, had arrests for drunkenness and fighting as a teenager. “He was kind of a troubled youth and he’s only 19 in the play, and he only served for 10 months,” said Nelson. The crimes he is accused of — the murder of a family of four Iraqis — are ones in which “there’s no question that he was involved,” said Nelson.

Nelson’s interest is “not [in] blaming anybody per say, but, let’s ask these questions. Let’s be honest. What are we asking people to do? Our military is made up of such young people, for the most part, and we sent them over to do these horrible acts on behalf of our ideals when they may not even be of age to understand all of what’s going on.”

The play gives context to Reeves’s crimes, including his unstable past, though Nelson says it won’t necessarily make him likable to everyone. “But I think what the play does is it creates a certain amount of sympathy for his situation,” she said. “He should never have been sent over there. . . . It leaves us with the question of, could this have been avoided? What can we do to keep this from happening again?”

Through Saturday, 8641 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, 240-644-1390, www.forum-theatre.org.

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