Park Square debuts James Denton, Joe Chvala and Amy Rummenie

Park Square debuts James Denton, Joe Chvala and Amy Rummenie


Connie Shaver, 612.308.5785


Park Square’s 2013-2014 Season offers

an unprecedented collection of area premieres

New and familiar stories told with contemporary vigor for today’s audiences


Park Square debuts include James Denton, Joe Chvala and Amy Rummenie


(Saint Paul, MN) March 24, 2013—Park Square Theatre announces a 2013-2014 Season composed entirely of area, regional and world premieres – opening with David Lindsay-Abaire’s dark comedy Good People and closing with the first ever stage depiction of Nero Wolfe, the famously eccentric detective genius created by best-selling author Rex Stout.  The talent bringing these stories to life includes bold-faced names and theatre favorites, including the Minnesota stage debut of James Denton of Desperate Housewives fame, the return of Emmy-nominee Linda Kelsey playing Mary Todd Lincoln and the Park Square directing debuts of Joe Chvala and Amy Rummenie.


“This is a true 21st-century season,” says Artistic Director Richard Cook. “Each play could be the artistic focal point of the season, rich in characters and ideas—and often wildly theatrical. Contemporary vigor and energy are present in the way each of the stories is crafted for the modern audience.” A season composed entirely of area premieres is unprecedented in the theatre’s 39-year history.


Second productions of new works – often still in manuscript form – that have premiered in other parts of the country are a key to Park Square’s programming philosophy. “It is important for us to give thought-provoking, intelligent new works by contemporary playwrights a second opportunity on the stage,” Cook continues.


Regional premieres of contemporary dramas

The proscenium stage season opens Sept 13 with David Lindsay-Abaire’s dark comedy, Good People (Sept 13-Oct 6, 2013), “a tough and tender play about the insurmountable class divide.” (Variety) Set in South Boston, Good People has received rave reviews across the country, and its run was extended at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater this season. Joel Sass will direct and create the scenic design for the Park Square production. Virginia Burke, who wowed audiences as Barbara in Park Square’s August: Osage County, is cast as Margaret, the role that earned Frances McDormand a Tony Award for Best Actress. Angela Timberman will play her neighbor, Jean. James Denton, hunky plumber Mike Delfino on Desperate Housewives, makes his Park Square debut in the role of Mike.


Tazewell Thompson’s new play Mary T. & Lizzy K. (Oct 18-Nov 10, 2013), which is premiering this month at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, focuses on the unique business relationship  and complex friendship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her free mixed-race seamstress Lizzy Keckly. This intimate look inside the Lincoln White House set in a historically pivotal time, features Twin Cities theatre favorite Linda Kelsey as Mary Todd Lincoln. Park Square produced Thompson’s Constant Star about the life of Ida B. Wells in 2006. Richard Cook will direct the production.


Local playwright Carson Kreitzer’s new work, Behind the Eye (Apr 25-May 18, 2014), explores the remarkable life of Lee Miller, who was at the center of many of the 20th century’s most exciting moments. She began her career as a Vogue model in the ’20s, became the muse of Paris Surrealists in the ’30s, then went behind the camera to become a World War II photographer, covering London’s blitz and the horror of Dachau. First presented at the Cincinnati Playhouse in 2011, the Park Square production will be directed by Leah Cooper.


“Park Square provides an incredibly valuable service to playwrights and to the new play community by supporting regional premieres and second productions for new work,” says Kreitzer. “There is nothing more heartbreaking than working for three years of your life and having a play debut once and then never again see the stage,” she continues. “Richard Cook is pushing Park Square in new and exciting directions, at a time when so many theatres are aiming for safety in an uncertain economy.”


Kreitzer is one of Park Square’s team of Artistic Associates. With Brian Balcom, Aditi Kapil, and James A. Williams, she works with Cook to expand the reach of play selection as Park Square prepares to open the Andy Boss Thrust stage in 2014—another even more intimate stage in the Hamm Building in Saint Paul.


New adaptations of well-known stories

Three of the six plays are new adaptations of well-known stories, told using present-day language in modern stagings. “This opportunity to present something familiar, yet new matches the interests of a wide range of audiences,” says Executive Director C. Michael-jon Pease. “Avid theatre goers have seen countless traditional productions and are hungry for a fresh take. Younger audiences will have their first experience with these stories through productions that are crafted for their sensibilities. There is nothing musty here.”


The School for Lies (Jan 10-Feb 2, 2014), based on Molière’s The Misanthrope and adapted by Tony-Award winning playwright David Ives, will be directed by Amy Rummenie, Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Walking Shadow Theatre Company, making her Park Square directorial debut.


Cyrano (Mar 14-Apr 6, 2014), adapted by Michael Hollinger (Opus) and Aaron Posner (The Chosen), will feature J.C. Cutler as the legendary swordsman with the large nose. Joe Chvala, founding Artistic Director of Flying Foot Forum, will be making his Park Square directing debut.


The Red Box (May 30-July 13, 2014), a world premiere commissioned by Park Square, is a new take on a classic Nero Wolfe mystery. While there have been adaptations for television, this is the first stage play based on a Nero Wolfe mystery. Written by Minnesota native Joseph Goodrich, whose Panic won the Edgar Award for best mystery play, this summertime thriller will be directed by Peter Moore.  


Holiday special—musical revue

Ivey-award winner Joseph Vass’s new work, Words By…Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook, (Nov 29 –Dec 29, 2013) will fill the holiday time slot at Park Square. Vass’s The Soul of Gershwin set attendance records in 2011. This new musical play, which premiered at San Diego’s North Coast Repertory Theatre in fall 2012, is about the creative process. “You will walk away falling in love with the quiet character that is Ira Gershwin,” says Cook. Songs that Ira Gershwin wrote with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, as well as his brother George, are featured, including “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “I Can’t Get Started” and many more. Insights and tales about the colorful George, as well as a glimpse at the more private and understated life of Ira, frame this story of amazing and beautiful music. David Ellenstein, Artistic Director for North Coast Repertory Theatre, will be the director. Ellenstein worked with Joseph Vass to direct the October 2012 world premiere.

All performances are in the company’s proscenium stage in Saint Paul’s historic Hamm Building. The theatre entrance is 20 West Seventh Place. All programs, dates and artists are subject to change. Season tickets are on sale now and available at 651.291.7005 or online at Packages range from $102 to $258. Single tickets will go on sale in late July.

Show descriptions and schedule below; photos



Proscenium Series Play #1

September 20-October 6, 2013 (Previews begin September 13)


By David Lindsay-Abaire

Directed by Joel Sass

Area Premiere

Jobless Margie hopes her successful high school boyfriend can help in this dark comedy about the economic divide. It’s crazy and embarrassing, but it just might change her luck. But is he secure enough to face his humble beginnings? “A tough and tender play about the insurmountable class divide.” (Variety)

Contains adult language.


Proscenium Series Play #2

October 25-November 10, 2013 (Previews begin October 18)


By Tazewell Thompson

Directed by Richard Cook

Regional Premiere

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lizzy, her mixed-race friend and seamstress get ready for a night at the theater. Step through the doors of the White House dressing room and eavesdrop on their banter, score-settling, and intimate secrets. As one woman’s skilled hands create beautiful garments, the other's reality slips further from her grasp.


3M Student Series

November 26-December 20, 2013


By John Steinbeck

Directed by Richard Cook

Student matinees only; limited availability for general audience seating. Start times and availability may vary. Contact the box office at 651.291.7005.

George and Lennie struggle to make a living as migrant workers, dreaming of their own ranch. Life’s harsh realities test the limits of their friendship in this poignant classic tale of the struggle for the American dream.


Holiday Special

December 6-29, 2013 (Previews begin November 29)

WORDS BY…Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook

By Joseph Vass; All Song Lyrics by Ira Gershwin

Directed by David Ellenstein

Regional Premiere

A song-filled reminiscence that explores the creative life and unforgettable lyrics of Ira Gershwin. From “Our Love Is Here to Stay” to “Fascinating Rhythm” and “I Can’t Get Started,” songs and tales frame this glimpse into the more private and understated life of Ira, often overshadowed by his flamboyant brother George. Joseph Vass, whose Ivey-award winning Soul of Gershwin show packed houses in 2011, has created another play with music to explore the creative process and showcase Ira’s collaborations with Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Vernon Duke, Kurt Weill—and brother George!


Proscenium Series Play #3

January 17-February 2, 2014 (Previews begin January 10)


By David Ives; Adapted from The Misanthrope by Molière

Directed by Amy Rummenie

Area Premiere

This deliciously off-color tribute to Molière’s The Misanthrope  mocks lovers but reveals a true love. "When you emerge from this impish comic playwright's glittering tribute…your head will be so dizzy with syncopated rhyme that you'll almost expect to find yourself speaking and thinking in chiming couplets.” (The New York Times)

Contains adult language.


3M Student Series


February 11-May 9, 2014

By Goodrich & Hackett

Directed by Scott Rubsam

15th Anniversary Production

Student matinees only; limited availability for general audience seating. Start times and availability may vary. Contact the box office at 651.291.7005.

A young girl’s account of hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam reveals grace, resilience and hope.


Proscenium Series Play #4

March 21 –April 6, 2014 (Previews begin March 14)


By Edmond Rostand; Translated by Michael Hollinger; Adapted by Michael Hollinger and Aaron Posner

Directed by Joe Chvala

Regional Premiere

A swashbuckling hero, hidden identity, passion, poetry and a large nose. Will true love prevail? “After all, a kiss—what is it? A wordless, whispered lover’s vow; a promise made and fulfilled at once…”


Proscenium Series Play #5

May 2 -18, 2014 (Previews begin April 25)


By Carson Kreitzer

Directed by Leah Cooper

Regional Premiere

From Vogue model and artist muse to World War II photographer, Lee Miller was a 20th Century original. Her fascinating adventures, loves and struggles ask what’s left to do when you’ve done it all. For adult audiences only; contains graphic situations and adult language, sexual content, and nudity.


Proscenium Series Play #6

June 6-July 13, 2014 (Previews begin May 30)

THE RED BOX, A Nero Wolfe Mystery

Adapted by Joseph Goodrich; From the novel by Rex Stout

Directed by Peter Moore

World Premiere Commission

A young woman is dead, and only Nero Wolfe, orchid grower, gourmand and genius can uncover the killer. The fortunes of a theatrical producer hang in the balance as Wolfe and his wise-cracking sidekick, Archie, solve a crime that seems unsolvable.


All programs, dates and artists are subject to change.


All performances are in the company’s proscenium stage in Saint Paul’s historic Hamm Building. The theatre entrance is 20 West Seventh Place.

Season tickets are on sale now and available at 651.291.7005 or online at Packages range from $102 to $258. Single tickets will go on sale in late July.


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