HT: Cardinal 2019-2020 Season Annoucement
Cardinal Stage’s next Mainstage Season Explores Theme of Identity
By Jenny Porter Tilley, HT Reporter
Prepare for a strike.
Disney’s “Newsies” is the next Cardinal Stage holiday musical. At the Bloomington theater company’s annual Red Feather Bash Saturday, attendees learned what shows are in the works for the 2019-20 season.
Artistic director Kate Galvin said there’ll be opportunities for young boys and girls to portray newsboys in the show, based on the true story of the strike of 1899. In June, a weeklong course at the Bloomington Academy of Film and Theater will help prepare potential cast members to audition the musical.
“We have a generation of kids right now who are growing up and seeing student activists actually changing the world,” Galvin said. “When you look at these amazing kids from Parkland (Florida) who are actually moving the needle in terms of gun legislation, to look 100 years ago and see that there were child activists at that time, too, I think it’s going to be really meaningful and exciting for them.”
It’s one of five mainstage shows in the upcoming season that all have a common thread of identity, Galvin said. “I think all of these shows really deal with that directly. All the principle characters are seeking to redefine themselves, or change the way that other people see them, or change themselves.”
Plus, she said, “Newsies” has the usual kinds of things audiences come to expect from the yearly holiday event — singing, dancing and an uplifting message.
Before the holidays, Cardinal will stage “The Great Gatsby” to align with Indiana University’s Themester, the topic of which is “Remembering and Forgetting.” Galvin said she’s excited about staging the glamorous world of the 1920s in the play based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, but also about the bigger picture of the story.
“It’s an evergreen title that people still tend to gravitate toward,” she said. “And there’s a dark undercurrent.” In the story, Nick, a character who’s moved to New York after fighting in World War I, has his eyes opened to some harsh realities beyond the battlefield. “He sees even in peacetime how ruthless people are and how delusional people can be, so there’s sort of a loss of innocence that goes along with that.”
After the New Year, Cardinal will kick things off with a cast of two in “The Roommate.” It’s the story of two women from very different backgrounds who end up living together in their 50s after their life circumstances change. When the script was previewed as a potential selection for the season, Galvin said, it was very well received.
“It takes a pretty dark twist, and it’s really funny,” she said. One of the characters in this show will be played by Constance Macy, a past favorite in the company’s productions. “We’re excited to get her back here next season.”
Next up is “Ada and the Engine,” based on the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, known for being the first computer programmer. Not just the first female one — the first one. Its script was written by Lauren Gunderson, known for writing about strong, historical women.
“The work that (Lovelace) did impacted all of our lives, and most people don’t know who she is,” Galvin said. She’s wanted to produce this play for years, she said, and she appreciates how it balances sharing that important history with personal intrigue to keep the story going.
When summer hits, audiences will be treated to another popular musical: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which is about a transgender rock singer. It will line up with national Pride Month, which Galvin said will offer opportunities for outreach to the LGBTQ community.
“A big part of our strategic plan is more collaboration and community engagement,” she said. “Newsies” offers more opportunities for children and families to get involved in the theater company, she said, and collaborations with the technology community “Ada and the Engine.”
Again this season, Cardinal Stage will offer a family-friendly subscription package with tickets to the holiday musical as well as two Cardinal for Kids shows. The first of those two shows, in the fall, brings back a classic that Galvin said is the most requested by teachers in the community: “Charlotte’s Web.”
In the spring, they’ll stage another show based on a favorite children’s book, “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.” The skillfully illustrated picture book takes liberties with classic fairly tales, and with even the fact that it’s a book.
“In the way that the book kind of plays with the conventions of a book, the stage adaptation plays with some of the conventions of a play,” Galvin said.
Subscription sales start today. Individual tickets to shows go on sale July 1.