(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Vivid Stage, in residence at Oakes Center at 120 Morris Avenue in Summit, has announced its new season. This professional company will bring five productions to the stage in addition to improvisational comedy, cabaret, play readings, and educational programs for teens and adults. As always, the Vivid Stage Resident Acting Company and their guests will tell stories that reflect our shared experience of being human with heart and humor.
Vivid’s fall mainstage production is the Professional Premiere of Soft Animals by Erin Mallon. This is a comedy with heart that focuses on four medical misfits who sign up for a three-day workshop to tackle their issues. Can a former male nurse and self-professed “woo-woo” guide them toward healing? Or… perhaps they aren’t the ones most in need of a cure. Soft Animals was read as a part of the NJ Theatre Alliance Stage Exchange program in June, a collaboration with NJPAC that encourages professional New Jersey theatres to produce works by New Jersey playwrights. Soft Animals will open on September 29 and will run until October 9.
The second mainstage production of the season, opening in February, is an evening of short plays entitled Only Human: Stories of Connection. Written by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich, Laura Ekstrand, Steve Harper, Stephen Kaplan, Mark Harvey Levine, Matthew Weaver and David Lee White, these short plays explore the theme of people searching for and finding solace, or challenge, in connecting with other people. Funny and heartfelt, they span settings as varied as a farmers market, a frantic cab ride, a bus stop, a late-night phone call, a manager’s office, a park bench, and a café. The one thing they all have in common is the moment when these characters reveal their humanity and help each other cope with being alive in this crazy world. Only Human: Stories of Connection runs February 23 through March 5.
Next is the one-woman play 101 Humiliating Stories by Lisa Kron and featuring Laura Ekstrand. In this one-woman show, the actor shares a series of humiliations past, present, and future, including exquisitely detailed anecdotes like "Geeky Celebrity Encounters" and "How I Spent All the Petty Cash From My Office on Makeup." An invitation to perform at her high school reunion in Lansing, Michigan, triggers another series of anxiety-filled fantasies. How will she, a lesbian East Village performance artist, cope with her Midwestern classmates? 101 Humiliating Stories is evocative, moving, and overall hilarious. 101 Humiliating Stories runs April 13-16.
Vivid’s next mainstage production will be The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey by James Lecesne, featuring Scott McGowan. One actor portrays every character in a small Jersey Shore town as he unravels the story of Leonard Pelkey, a tenaciously optimistic and flamboyant fourteen-year-old boy who goes missing. A luminous force of nature whose magic is only truly felt once he is gone, Leonard becomes an unexpected inspiration as the town’s citizens question how they live, who they love, and what they leave behind. The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey runs from April 20-23.
The final mainstage production of the season will be Harry Clarke by David Cale and featuring Clark Carmichael. This is the story of a shy midwestern man who feels more himself when adopting the persona of cocky Londoner Harry Clarke. Moving to New York and presenting himself as an Englishman, he charms his way into a wealthy family’s life, romancing three family members as the seductive and sexually precocious Harry, with more on his mind than love. With his spellbinding and emotionally nuanced storytelling, Cale has created a riveting story of a man leading an outrageous double life. Harry Clarke runs April 27-30.
Vivid’s improv comedy group The Flip Side will bring its own brand of silliness and spontaneity to life for three evenings during the season. The fall TFS show will be on Saturday, October 22, 2022. On Saturday, December 3, 2022, TFS will celebrate the holidays with the audience in a unique variety show with comedy and music. The last improv performance will be Saturday, March 18, 2023. In addition, the Vivid Cabaret brings music and storytelling to the audience on November 12, 2022, featuring pianist Eddie Guttman and singers from the Vivid Company as well as their special guests.
There are two special series of play readings in the spring and summer months. In May, Vivid presents the Meet the Artist series, a forum that showcases new theatrical works. The series provides audiences an opportunity to experience new shows and participate in discussions with playwrights, directors and actors. In July, the Summer Solos series includes four one-person shows performed on the lawn at the Visual Arts Center of NJ in Summit. These casual, intimate evenings allow audiences to enjoy the summer evening and their own picnics or snacks.
Improv classes for teens and adults are available throughout the season, with four sessions enrolling now. A bilingual improv class for teens is offered in collaboration with Summit’s Empowering Kids organization.
Vivid Dreamers, the three-week summer program for students entering grades 5-12, will culminate in its annual production on Friday, July 28, an original family show that always draws on the creativity of its young actors to shape the piece. Each year, the youth company creates a one-of-a-kind piece that has ranged from fairy tale quest to Shakespeare adaptation to musical revue.
Vivid’s podcast, LOCAL with Laura Ekstrand, runs throughout the season featuring conversations with guests in the creative community of New Jersey and beyond. LOCAL can be found on itunes and through the Vivid Stage website.
Throughout the year, Vivid Stage offers internships for high school and college students and many volunteer opportunities. In addition, the theatre provides a menu of outreach programs for students and seniors that travel to other venues. All of Vivid’s activities center on the collaborative nature of theatre and creating a comfortable environment for artists and audiences of all ages to explore and grow together. The company’s work is supported by grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Summit Foundation, and several other corporate and individual donors that believe in the power of the arts to bring people together and promote understanding between them.
Season passes may be purchased that provide substantial discounts to all events, and special rates for groups are also available. The theatre at Oakes Center is wheelchair accessible, and such access services as large print scripts, assistive listening devices, and audio description will be available by prior arrangement throughout the season. Performances will be held at Oakes Center, 120 Morris Avenue, Summit, NJ 07901. For more information and tickets for any of Vivid Stage’s programs, please call 908-514-9654, and visit www.vividstage.org.
Vivid Stage was founded in 1994 as Dreamcatcher Rep, and is a non-profit professional ensemble of actors who build community with the audience by sharing contemporary, life-affirming stories that challenge, energize and entertain. Our work has at its heart a belief in the essential goodness of people and the power of live performance to connect people through our shared humanity. We expose theatregoers to ideas and lives like and unlike their own with the intention of awakening their imaginations and creating empathy for others. We deepen the experience of all our patrons with personal contact through receptions, talkbacks, and interactive programs.
The company’s activities include mainstage productions, improvisational comedy and cabarets, new play readings and a variety of educational and senior outreach programs.
Vivid Stage’s programs are funded by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and many other corporations, foundations and individuals. Vivid Stage is an Equity Producing member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.
Vivid Stage, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) corporation, incorporated under the laws of the State of New Jersey.