Bloomington's Professional Theater Company

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Cardinal Stage Company announces 2018-19 season (Herald-Times)

Cardinal Stage Company announced 2018-19 season

By Jenny Porter Tilley
May 24, 2018

Cardinal Stage Company will take audience members to an enchanted castle and Narnia, among other settings, during its 2018-19 season. Artistic director Kate Galvin announced the six upcoming productions at a reception Thursday night at Woolery Mill.

Opening the season in September, the stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” will come to the stage as part of the company’s Cardinal for Kids series. In the imaginative retelling by Le Clanche Du Rand, siblings step through a magical wardrobe into a new world. Performances take place Sept. 7-23.

When Galvin came to Bloomington last year, she hoped to put a focus on literary adaptations when selecting children’s productions. Lewis’ widely read work, she said, lends itself to a show that focuses on magic and adventure. She recently began brainstorming ideas for the show with Jenny McKnight, who will direct, to form a concept that matches young audience members’ ability to “turn anything into anything.”

“She’s got this idea that she wants it to be kind of kids in the attic playing with various things that they find around the house, and turning it into this magical land of Narnia,” she said. “It’s going to be prop and costume-heavy, and making magic out of things that are kind of low-tech, as kids do.”

Bookending the season next May is the second kids’ production, “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley,” based on a series of books by Jeff Brown. Although it’s also based in literature, its comedic theme is distant from the fantasy world of Narnia. In the story, 10-year-old Stanley Lambchop wakes up after being flattened by his bulletin board, and his flatness allows him to travel the globe through the mail.

Through his travels, Stanley experiences other cultures. The story introduces children to the postal system and gives them an opportunity to use it. At flatstanleybooks.com, families can print their own “Flat Stanley” to color and photograph with landmarks. Galvin said she hopes to incorporate similar activities around the community in conjunction with the musical adaptation. “Flat Stanley” runs May 10-26, 2019.

In the mainstage series, the first show is Lucas Hnath’s “The Christians,” a compelling contemporary drama about the complicated fallout when personal faith clashes with institutional doctrine. Cardinal’s adaptation will incorporate 80-100 local community and church choir members in an on-stage choir during the performance. Galvin said she chose “The Christians,” which is on stage Oct. 18-Nov. 4, for two reasons: It’s a fantastic play, and it provides a good opportunity for outreach and community engagement.

In each season, Galvin said, she hopes to introduce audience members to more nontraditional forms of theater, and that’s where “The Christians” fits in. When Cardinal presented a scene from the show at its February showcase of possible selections, she said, “this was the piece that got the strongest reaction from the crowd that night.” And Cardinal recently did a staged reading of the musical based on Kurt Vonnegut’s “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” another newer work that got a strong response from the audience.

“We’re finding ways to take people off the beaten path and get them used to taking risks, and being OK with taking risks,” Galvin said.

For its holiday show Dec. 13-30, Cardinal will present “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” which Galvin will direct — her first time heading up the company’s annual tradition. Cardinal’s “Beauty and the Beast” will have the same script and score as the Broadway production, she said, but she wants to make it a “signature, Cardinal version of the show, rather than an imitation.” But don’t worry; Belle’s dress will still be yellow.

Although the story was made popular by Disney’s 1991 animated feature, remade as a live-action film in 2017, its roots extend much further into classical fairy tales. Galvin said Belle’s character is a wonderful role model for all kids, with her spirt, love for literature and love for her father. In the story, the headstrong young woman sacrifices her freedom to save her father, becoming the captive of a beast under a witch’s curse. It’s not the usual idealistic love story, she said.

“What I love about this particular version of the fairy tale is that both of them have to change. It’s kind of the most true-to-life love story in that love requires compromise on both sides — it’s not just the prince comes in and sweeps her off her feet and it’s love at first sight,” she said. “It’s very important to me that my first holiday show for Cardinal be something that I genuinely love and can throw myself into and be an ambassador.”

After the holidays, Jan. 24-Feb. 10, “Rounding Third” features two little league baseball coaches with differing goals for the team. A two-man show, “Rounding Third” follows up the largest cast of the season in the holiday musical. Galvin said anyone who’s participated or had kids in sports leagues will appreciate the humor based in real-life situations.

“One of the coaches is this hot-blooded, serious sports guy. His son’s the star of the team, and he wants to win regardless of the cost,” she said. But the other coach just wants the kids to have fun, and his own son lacks talent (he almost didn’t make the team). “It has an ‘Odd Couple’ style humor to it.”

Some Cardinal Stage Company subscribers had a complaint about last season, Galvin said: the lack of an American classic production. The solution for next season is a March 21-April 7 run of “The Glass Menagerie” by celebrated American playwright Tennessee Williams. It’s a touching family drama about a woman who dreams of a better life for herself and her two grown children. “Menagerie” was written in the 1940s and set in the ’20s, but Galvin said performing the show today allows for additional insight.

Under Galvin”s leadership, Cardinal also has undergone new branding, including a redesigned logo and website. At Thursday’s event, she said the goal is to “put our company on the national map with world-class theater that is crafted here in Bloomington.”

“This season is designed with you in mind,” she told the crowd at Woolery Mill.

If you go

A season schedule and tickets to Cardinal Stage Company performances are available at www.cardinalstage.org. Tickets also can be purchased at the box office, 900 S. Walnut St., or by calling 812-336-9300.

Subscriptions are available now, and individual tickets go on sale July 16.

The holiday show, “Beauty and the Beast,” will take place at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. The following shows will take place at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center at 122 S. Walnut St.:

• “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” (Sept. 7-23)

• “The Christians” (Oct. 18-Nov. 4)

• “Rounding Third” (Jan. 24-Feb. 10)

• “The Glass Menagerie” (March 21-April 7)

• “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley” (May 10-26)