Pete Rose, Lizzie Borden, and a female version of God are among the intriguing subjects accenting the Human Race Theatre Company’s five-show 2018-2019 Eichelberger Loft Series.
The organization’s 32nd season, revolving around an examination of specific moments in history, will consist of the world premiere of Patricia O’Hara’s “Banned from Baseball” (Sept. 6-23, 2018); the regional premiere of David Javerbaum’s “An Act of God” (Nov. 1-18, 2018); Mark Brown’s family-friendly adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” (Feb. 28-March 17, 2019); the return of A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia” (April 25-May 12, 2019); and the regional premiere of Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Alan Stevens Hewitt and Tim Maner’s daring rock musical “Lizzie” (June 13-30, 2019). A holiday show yet to be determined will also be added as a season extra.
Unlike other regional theater groups, the Human Race does not have a mainstage season and a secondary, smaller season in which to experiment. As so, choices have to be delicately and deliberately planned with a strategic aim to please. In fact, the final slate was narrowed from a group of 35 titles.
“Truthfully, over the past few years, we’ve been trying to find the right mix for our audience,” said Human Race President and Artistic Director Kevin Moore. “One part of our audience consists of longstanding traditional subscribers who have certain interests and likes. Another part is a newer audience looking for fresher shows. So, how do we blend all of that? How do we keep everybody happy? We try to address a large range of our audience and sometimes it gets difficult for people to get comfortable with the breadth of the type of theater we do.
“So, in choosing our lineup, we went back to questioning who we are and what our mission is. How can we stand out? How can we be different? We don’t need to do Big Broadway because we have so much of that in this town. So, we decided to focus on the shows we can accomplish in our space that are interesting and what we think our audiences will respond to. Every single script we chose went under careful evaluation. And in the end, I hope it works.”
HUMAN RACE THEATRE: 2018-19 SEASON
Here’s a closer look at the season:
Banned from Baseball
Sept. 6-23, 2018
A study of the 1989 Major League Baseball battle between Commissioner Bart Giamatti and Pete Rose, the reigning Hit King and manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rose is accused of betting on baseball – even on his own team – an allegation he denies. Giamatti wants Rose’s confession while Rose wants Giamatti to believe his denials. “Banned from Baseball” will be notably directed by Margarett Perry, who has helped formulate the play in recent years and memorably staged the hilarious local premiere of “The House” at the Loft earlier this season.
Moore says: “This play has relevance because Dayton is still somewhat Reds Country. I think in the way ‘Lombardi’ drew an audience for us a few years ago, this play will have the same affect. It’ll be an interesting conversation for audiences because Pete Rose has his fans and detractors.”
An Act of God
Nov. 1-18, 2018
With clever assistance from angels Michael and Gabriel, The Almighty is about to set the record straight with a new set of Commandments. Moore will direct.
Moore says: “God is upset and she’s coming down to tell us what her problems are!”
Around the World in 80 Days
Feb. 28-March 17, 2019
With his faithful servant at his side, Phileas Fogg sets off an adventurous race of a lifetime.
Moore says: “I really wanted something on the season that is family-friendly, a play allowing families to bring their kids. This script is really fun. It almost has a ’39 Steps’ approach with the cast playing multiple characters.”
April 25-May 12, 2019
The street-smart dog with a mind of her own is back at the Loft for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.
Moore says: “We wanted a really good, fun comedy. It’s going to be exciting.”
June 13-30, 2019
A look at infamous Lizzie Borden in a musical retelling of the sensational, bloody double murder in the New England summer of 1892 as told through the performances of four actresses. Charged with killing her parents, Borden becomes a media sensation even as the trial takes its toll.
Moore says: “I saw this show at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival years ago, but I wasn’t entirely convinced our audience would go for it, but I think the audience has changed. It’s such a great piece for our space. It’s very different and I think there will be some appeal to a wider audience.”
NEW MONDAY NIGHT SERIES
As an added bonus for theatergoers particularly looking for strong, alternative programming, the Race will launch a new Monday Night Playreading Series with table readings of three diverse scripts. The lineup consists of Lynn Nottage’s splendid Tony-nominated and Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Sweat” (Nov. 12, 2018); Robert Askins’ hilariously bold Tony-nominated comedy “Hand to God” (March 11, 2019); and Noel Coward’s comedy “Fallen Angels” (May 6, 2019).
“The purpose of the Playreading Series is to get audiences talking about certain scripts,” Moore said. “The chances will be higher they will come back to see a full-scale production. It’s the exact same thing we did with our musical theater workshops years ago. Audiences came to the workshops, recognized the titles, and came back to see the shows fully staged. We still have to cultivate our audiences.”
Subscriptions are available in three-, four- or five-show packages as well as in Flex Pass plans. Package prices range from $108-$220, and discounted subscriptions are available for students. Current 2017-2018 subscribers can guarantee their same seats by renewing before May 14, and reservations for new subscriptions can be made now to be seated starting May 31. Single tickets to “Banned from Baseball” notably go on sale this summer, with tickets to future productions on sale later in the season. Tickets to the Playreading Series are $20 with $15 discounted tickets on sale now to Loft Series subscribers. Single tickets go on sale to the general public this summer.
For additional information, visit humanracetheatre.org or call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630.