by Chris Davis
Holy cow, what a weekend. There's so much going on, I hardly know where to start. Okay, how about we start with vibrators?
•In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play). A fun and funny piece from Sarah Ruhl. You can read my review of the Circuit Playhouse production here. And trust me, if you go to see this this weekend you'll also want to make reservations for...
• Next to Normal at Playhouse on the Square: I caught a preview performance of Next to Normal last night. It felt like this musical about mental illness and raw emotions might still be growing, that some of the actors were still keeping an arm's length between them and the characters they are playing. With material this full of pain it's easy to understand why there might be some trouble giving over to it but I suspect that the stellar cast featuring David Foster and Leigh Bray Nichols as Dan and Diane Goodman, will tighten up quickly.
Kelsey Hopkins and Corbin WIlliams are especially good as the Goodman's gifted but increasingly drug-dependent daughter and Henry the sweet stoner who swears he'll stand by her.
This isn't a light entertainment. Don't expect big production numbers. Do expect to be sucked down a rabbit hole into a dark place where every pinpoint of light feels like a ray of hope.
• Prison Stories: Prison Stories is an ongoing project conducted by master storyteller Elaine Blanchard. Blanchard meets regularly with women in prison and helps them tell their stories. The results are often surprising and say a lot, not only about the penal system, but about the community in which it exists. Prison Stories runs this Friday and Saturday night only at . TheatreSOUTH in the basement of First Congregational Church. 8:00 p.m. Suggested donation $20.
A staged reading from an earlier installment of Prison Stories
•Die Fledermaus: Johann Strauss's popular comedy marks Opera Memphis's new General Director Ned Canty's directoral debut. A preview performance broadcast over WKNO radio suggests that this one could be a lot of fun.
• 'Night Mother: A one-night benefit for the New Moon Theatre Company: This scrappy little indie has been doing some exceptional work lately. This would be a perfectly good time to check out a revival of one of their recent productions a toss them a buck or two so they can keep dusting off classics, and reviving unique historical experiments.
•The Boys Next Door: I haven't seen this show about the intellectually-challenged residents of a group home in more than 20-years and am looking forward to the GCT revival. That's really all I have to say about that.
And opening next weekend...
• The Importance of Being Ernest: I always think I'm tired of this classic and frequently revived show. And then I see it again. And I laugh all over again. Theatre Memphis's revival under the direction of Jerry Chipman with Jude Knight in the role of Lady Bracknell promises to deliver the goods. In a handbag. Ordinary. With wooden handles.