The Pasadena Playhouse took another step in its recovery from bankruptcy Tuesday, announcing a 2011-12 season of five plays and courting subscribers again after operating on a show-by-show basis since its October return.
Two and possibly three of the plays will be world premieres, artistic director Sheldon Epps said — including “Pastoral,” a drama by Frank Tangredi that will star Angela Bassett as a woman pastor who faces a crisis compounded by a dark secret. It opens in November.
“South Street,” a new musical by Craig Carlisle and Richard Addrisi (who wrote the Association’s golden oldie, “Never My Love,” with his brother Donald), opens the season in September; its setting is a Philadelphia nightclub where the music unfolds for a colorful clientele.
The season also will end with a musical, still to be chosen, opening in June 2012. Among those being considered are “Peggy Sue Got Married,” which would be the U.S. premiere of a show adapted from Francis Ford Coppola’s 1986 film and first seen in London in 2001, and the world premiere of Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes’ adaptation of the Jerry Lewis film, “The Nutty Professor.”
The other shows are revivals of Yasmina Reza’s comedy “Art” (January) and “The Heiress” (April 2012), Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s 1947 drama adapted from “Washington Square,” Henry James’ novel about mid-1800s New York.
Saddled with debt dating from the 1990s that left it unable to continue when donations withered during the recession, the nonprofit Playhouse closed in February 2010. It shed its debts in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and emerged again last October. With three shows staged so far, Hershey Felder’s one-man “George Gershwin Alone” opening April 12 and “Twist — an American Musical” scheduled to open June 25, the Playhouse will have fulfilled the main obligation left over from its bankruptcy: providing five more plays at no further cost to the 5,300 subscribers who’d paid in advance for an aborted 2010 season in which just one of the six announced productions was staged.
Stephen Eich, the playhouse’s executive director, said Tuesday that its return has built customer confidence to the point that it was able to announce a full season, priced at $155 to $225 for regular seats, and $99 for students.
Eich said the playhouse is on track to balance its $3.25-million budget for the five 2010-11 plays, and expects to spend about $4 million in 2011-12 (not counting $1 million or more in “enhancement” funding from outside producers who are readying “South Street” for a hoped-for Broadway run).
Before its financial crisis, the Playhouse had offered six-play seasons; Epps said the idea is to leave the December slot open for other performing arts groups such as the dance and opera companies that rented the 684-seat house for holiday productions in 2010.