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Kansas City Repertory Theatre announces 50th anniversary season for 2014-15

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Kansas City Repertory Theatre has announced his 2014-15 season, its milestone 50th anniversary, according to Eric Rosen, artistic director with a line up that includes classics, new ventures, and the customary Kansas City Christmas classic, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

"There has never been a more exciting time for theatre in Kansas City, or for the Rep," Rosen said. "When I think what we have accomplished since our founding by the inestimable Patricia McIlrath in 1964, I am astounded. Fifty years of serving our community as an artistic forum for exploring life's issues in ways that inspire us, challenge us, and even make us laugh. And now, as we are preparing to launch our 50th anniversary, the Rep's 2014-15 lineup resonates with transformative works, both familiar stage classics and innovative new plays.”

Titles and dates are subject to change, Rosen said, and one slot remains open with the selection soon to be announced.

“Our Town,” by Thornton Wilder and directed by David Cromer opens the season, Sept. 5-28, at Spencer Theatre on the University of Missouri at Kansas City campus.

Three-time Pulitzer prize-winning playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder's enduring American story “Our Town” examines the everyday lives of an average town's citizens in the early twentieth century. Cromer, director and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, brings his highly-acclaimed, award-winning new version of this classic work to the Rep. Cromer's 2009 Off-Broadway revival of “Our Town” ran for more than 600 performances, making it the longest-running production of the play in its history, a spokesman for the KC Rep said.

Kansas City audiences are already familiar with Cromer from his 2009 production of “The Glass Menagerie.” In his glowing review of the Rep's production The Wall Street Journal's theatre critic Terry Teachout wrote: "Mr. Cromer has the uncanny ability to take a too-familiar script and make it seem entirely new … Such is the essence of re-creative genius."

Second for the KC Rep and staged at their downtown location in the H&R Block building on the Capaken Stage, Ayad Akhtar’s play, “The Who and the What” falls into the directorial hands of Rosen. The play runs Oct. 17-Nov. 16.

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of “Disgraced,” comes a thrillingly fierce and funny new play about identity, religion and the contradictions that make us who we are. Pakistani-American writer Zarina is focused on finishing her novel about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gulf between her modern life and her traditional heritage, according to the Rep. But, when her conservative father and sister discover her controversial manuscript, they are all forced to confront the beliefs that define them. A passionate and searing look at a family divided by faith, bonded by love and searching for truth in contemporary America.

At the Rep, Rosen has also directed “Clay”; “Winesburg, Ohio”; the world premieres of “A Christmas Story, The Musical!” and “Venice”; “Cabaret”; “August: Osage County”; “The Whipping Man”; “Pippin; Death of a Salesman” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Homer’s Greek tragedy, The Iliad, takes a different turn after an adaption by Denis O'Hara and Lisa Peterson and taken from the Roger Fagles translation of The Iliad by Homer. “An Iliad,” directed by Jerry Genochio, stars Kyle Hatley and round from Jan. 23-Feb. 8 2015 at UMKC’s Spencer Theatre.

Homer's epic poem roars back to life in a lean and muscular new telling that reunites on stage two members of the Rep's artistic team, producing director Jerry Genochio and associate artistic director Kyle Hatley. The two worked together in 2013 as director and actor, respectively, on “The Foreigner,” and they reunite for this tour-de-force production of “An Iliad,” an enthralling new play that illuminates the human cost of war, a spokesman said.

Playwrights Obie Award-winning Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare (HBO's True Blood) have created a spellbinding work of theatre spanning three millennia. "Pure theater: shocking, glorious, primal, and deeply satisfying." - Timeout NY

Genochio (“American Buffalo,” “The Foreigner” and “SantaLand Diaries”) made his highly regarded Rep directing debut staging David Mamet's “American Buffalo.” Hatley is a multitalented writer, director and actor (“The Glass Menagerie,” “Death of a Salesman,” “The Whipping Man” and “The Foreigner”).

The medical mystery and fear of the AIDS virus crippled many Americans in the 80s and the breakthrough drama “Angels in America Part I, Millennium Approaches and Part II, Perestroika” illuminates the personal tragedy that plagued many. The play, written by Tony Kushner and directed by Gary Griffin opens Feb. 20 and runs through March 29, 2015 on the Capaken Stage.

This Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play by Tony Kushner forever transformed the landscape of American theatre. A press release for the Rep said, “‘Angels in America’ is a riveting, thought-provoking masterpiece about the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Then, as now, ‘Angels in America’ explores the social, political and moral issues confronting us as individuals and as a nation. Both parts of ‘Angels in America -- Millennium Approaches and Perestroika’ -- will be presented in rotating repertory at Copaken Stage.”

"No play in my lifetime has been more important than Angels in America. I lived through this time and I knew what it was. There is so much stimuli in this play … you will never forget it," director, Gary Griffin, (“A Flea in Her Ear,” “Saved”) said on a recent visit to the KC Rep.

“I am especially pleased that David Cromer and Gary Griffin, whose respective productions of ‘The Glass Menagerie’ and ‘A Flea in Her Ear’ garnered national acclaim for the Rep, will be part of our artistic celebration this year."

The next play, to be housed at UMKC’s Spencer theater is yet to be decided. The show runs March 20-April 12, 2015. Watch for a future announcement from the Rep. Several titles are being considered by the Rep's artistic staff for this show.

The final play in the 2014-15 season comes from the pen of Kansas City, Kan. native, Nathan Louis Jackson. “Sticky Traps” will be directed by Kyle Hatley and open April 24. The show runs through May 24, 2015 on the Copaken Stage.

In a story that seems painfully too familiar, a grieving mother in a small town not far from Kansas City fights back against a hate-filled church that has come to protest her son's funeral. But her actions have unintended consequences that will test her whole family and the power of their love in the face of hate.

“Sticky Traps” is Jackson's first new work as the Rep's Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence. His previous plays at the Rep include “When I Come to Die” and “Broke-ology,” both directed by Hatley. Jackson has been hailed by American Theatre magazine as "one of the important new voices of American theatre."

As is the Kansas City Rep’s tradition, their 34th annual production of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Kyle Hatley comes to Spencer Theatre from Nov. 21-Dec. 26, 2014.

For many Kansas City families, A Christmas Carol is the official beginning of the holiday season. Experience compassion for Ebenezer Scrooge as a boy, delight with him as a merry young man, and watch his transformation into a cold-hearted miser - but don't dismay, hope and redemption await. Directed for the fourth year by Hatley and featuring a cast of Kansas City's favorite actors and up-and-coming young talent, A Christmas Carol is a magical, music-filled holiday event.

Hatley has also directed “When I Come to Die,” “The Little Shop of Horrors,” “Broke-ology,” “Circle Mirror Transformation” and “The Borderland” at the Rep as well as productions at The Living Room and Coterie theatres and the Kansas City Fringe Festival.

An added attraction to the Christmas season comes from the pen of David Sedaris in the form of “The SantaLand Diaries,” directed by Jerry Genochio. The Copaken Stage hosts the irreverent elf from Dec. 6-24, 2014.

Crumpet, America's favorite irreverent elf, returns for an encore production of David Sedaris' hysterical tale of elfin' woe in a hilarious send-up of his brief, misguided career as a Macy's elf. The show skewers our sentimental love of all things Christmas-the happy children, the gifts, the spritely elves and the good cheer. “The Santaland Diaries” shows us the other side of what it's like to work at Santaland; the result is merrily subversive, but always fun!

For subscription and ticket information for Kansas City Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary 2014-15 season, please contact the Box Office at 816-235-2700 or visit www.KCRep.org.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Kansas City Repertory Theatre is one of the nation's oldest and most respected regional theaters.

According to information provided by the Kansas City Rep, it employs more than 250 professional artists, technicians and administrators, and serves more than 100,000 patrons and 12,000 school children annually. Kansas City Repertory Theatre is led by Artistic Director Eric Rosen, Executive Director Angela Lee Gieras and Producing Director Jerry Genochio.

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