A! Magazine for the Arts

Rick Rose, Barter Theatre artistic director, main stage in Abingdon, Va.

Rick Rose, Barter Theatre artistic director, main stage in Abingdon, Va.

Barter Theatre announces season

December 30, 2015

Barter Theatre unveils the 2016 season filled with comedy, drama and many world-famous shows patrons will recognize from their silver-screen adaptations.

"Barter Theatre is like no other theatre and this programming says that," said Rose, "We are one of a select few theaters chosen to present many of these works and one of the only theaters in the Southeast United States, which really speaks the prestige of this theater."

Barter Theatre's 2016 season begins in February and features the following shows throughout the year.

The main stage opens with "Big Fish." Overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft, "Big Fish" is based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the film directed by Tim Burton, "Big Fish" centers on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest - and then some. Edward's incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, who is about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father's epic tales.

On the main stage in April is "Murder for Two." One night, shots ring out at the surprise birthday party of Great American Novelist Arthur Whitney, and he's killed. With the nearest detective an hour away, Marcus Moscowicz, a small town policeman with dreams of becoming a detective, jumps at the chance to prove his sleuthing skills - with the help of his silent partner, Lou. Did Dahlia Whitney, Arthur's scene-stealing wife, give him a big finish? Is Barrette Lewis, the prima ballerina, the prime suspect? Did Dr. Griff, the overly friendly psychiatrist, make a frenemy? Marcus has only a short amount of time to find the killer and make his name before the real detective arrives ... and the ice cream melts.

"Mamma Mia" comes to the main stage in May. Sophie has just one wish to make her wedding perfect: to have her father walk her down the aisle. Now, she just has to find out who he is. Join the music, laughter and fun of the charming, musical celebration of mothers, daughters, fathers, true loves lost and new ones found.

"Peter and the Star Catcher" comes to the main stage in June. A theatrical prequel to "Peter Pan," this play takes you on a journey. Using the power of music and storytelling, it chronicles the adventures of an orphan soon to be called Peter Pan, and Molly, a girl charged to protect a parcel of stardust from falling into the wrong hands. In this five-time Tony Award-winning play, a dozen actors play more than 100 characters.

"A Night With Janis Jopin" begins in August. Like a comet that burns far too brightly to last, Janis Joplin exploded onto the music scene in 1967 and, almost overnight, became the queen of rock "n' roll. Her unmistakable voice, filled with raw emotion and tinged with Southern Comfort, made her a must-see headliner from Monterey to Woodstock. "A Night with Janis Joplin" is a musical journey celebrating Janis and her biggest musical influences – trailblazers like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith, who inspired one of rock "n' roll's greatest legends.

"Chicago" comes to the main stage in September. It's the roaring "20s, and Roxie Hart is a small-time chorus dancer who will kill for fame. And after doing just that, she lands behind bars alongside vaudeville star Velma Kelly, who, with the help of hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn, has spun her crime into a media frenzy. When Flynn takes Roxie's case, he makes her the latest tabloid sensation, setting the stage for singing, dancing catfights between the all-too-willing rivals, and featuring one of the greatest Kander and Ebb scores ever.

Ray Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes" begins in September. One strange and wild autumn, Halloween came early. It came at exactly the same time as Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow show rolled into town. That year, James Nightshade of 97 Oak Street was 13 years, 11 months, 23 days old. Next door, William Halloway was 13 years, 11 months, 24 days old. For Jim and Will, the lure of the carnival is irresistible. They soon discover that a sinister secret lies behind the smoke and mirrors; the carnival holds a dark desire to destroy the whole town.

"A Christmas Carol"
hits the main stage in November. The joy of the holiday season returns with this production, a favorite of Barter patrons. Relive the sheer exhilaration of Scrooge's experience. Witness his release from his small and selfish life to a life of giving, brotherhood and love. A spirited gift to treasure with family and friends, you leave wrapped in the warmth of the holiday spirit.

Stage II's season begins with "Lying in State." A state senator has died in a ridiculous gun accident, and it has made him a national hero. Everyone is searching for something. The local political party leaders are strenuously looking for someone to fill his senate seat. His ex-wife is looking for a bugler to play for his funeral. Bunny, the stripper, and a host of other zany characters are looking for love, votes, the right casket and a big purple squirrel named Mel. In this madcap comedy, love, politics and well, everything, are not what they seem.

In March George Orwell's "1984" comes to the stage. Winston Smith is a cog in the giant machine of the state. Physically and mentally under the omnipresent eye of Big Brother, Winston has been caught struggling for scraps of love and freedom in a world awash with distrust and violence. With the brutal "help" of four Party Members, Winston is forced to confess his "Thought-Crimes" before an unseen inquisitor and the audience -- which acts as a silent witness to his torture.

"Agnes of God"
comes to the stage in July. A young novice nun is found with a deceased newborn infant in her convent quarters and remembers nothing of the event. Was this an act of God? The court appoints psychiatrist Dr. Martha Livingston to assess the sanity of the nun accused of murdering her newborn. But when Mother Superior Miriam Ruth believes Agnes is "blessed" and "touched by God" in a mysterious way, the battle begins. Mother Superior wishes to protect Agnes's fragile spirit, and Dr. Livingston wants to heal her shattered mind. Throughout this journey, there is a fierce examination of man's conflicting needs for rational certainty and for mystery and faith.

"The Dixie Swim Club"
takes to the boards in June. Five unforgettable Southern women, whose friendships began many years ago on their college swim team, set aside a long weekend every August to recharge those relationships. Free from husbands, kids and jobs, they meet at the same beach cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks to catch up, laugh and meddle in each other's lives. These women increasingly rely on one another, through advice and raucous repartee to get through the challenges (men, sex, marriage, parenting, divorce, aging) that life flings at them, including some hilarious and unexpected twists and turns.

"Friendly's Fire"
starts in September. In a cabin in Alaska, Guy Friendly, a Gulf War veteran and bee-herder, has just had his tooth stolen during a one-night stand. His best friend Todd, a pawnshop owner dressed as an astronaut, finds Friendly in a fevered state. Trapped by the snow, Todd has little choice but to enter Friendly's fevered dream, to unravel the events of the night before – and the events of the Gulf War that led Friendly to becoming shut-in. "Friendly's Fire" discovers what lengths a man will go to preserve his friend's sanity, and what lengths another will go to allow himself to remember his brother, who died in service.

Catherine Bush's "Winter Wheat: A New Musical" takes a piece of American history and creates a musical, exploring the personal stakes for the men and women who lived through it. Set in the small East Tennessee town of Niota in 1920, the country is abuzz over the controversial 19th Amendment. The country was deeply divided over whether women should have the right to vote, and there was no guarantee the Amendment would be ratified by a majority of states. In the end, the ratification came down to a single state: Tennessee. And the Tennessee vote was decided by a single man: Harry Burn from Niota.

"Over the River and Through the Woods"
begins in November. When 29-year-old Nick Cristano announced his plans to move to Seattle, it was tantamount to a declaration of war. His Italian-American grandparents, with whom he has had Sunday dinner every week of his life, did not understand. With his parents and older sister having already moved to distant cities, Nick's desire to leave for professional advancement makes no sense. To his immigrant grandparents, family is the center and the heart of life. Outrageous plans are hatched, hilarious games are played, a blind date is arranged, and stories of sacrifice and family are told to try to keep Nick from leaving.