The San Jose Repertory Theatre announced six of the seven plays in the 2014-15 season to their patrons Monday night, February 10. (The sixth play of the season is listed as To Be Announced.) It will be one of interest to Christians, but might not be quite what either fundamental believers or performing arts fans want.
A play that should be very well-received by the performing arts community but might be a problem for fundamental Christians is The Twelve. It has been described by Artistic Director Rick Lombardo as similar to a sequel to the controversial Jesus Christ, Superstar, imagining the day after the crucifixion for the apostles.
The title and concept raise concern how carefully and accurately Christianity will be represented. Is there even awareness that one of them hung himself and his replacement was not chosen immediately? (Should it have been titled The Eleven if it was the day after?)
Like the Rep's blockbuster One Night With Janis Joplin last September, this musical will kick the season off and then head to Broadway. The difference this time the play will make its world premiere in San Jose (Janis played elsewhere before coming to the Bay Area) and that should increase the visibility of the theatre and the production.
Christians should love Christmas Carol, though some would do well to remember that it was actually a commentary about the lack of wealth distribution so many of the family values crowd oppose. However, the SJ Rep recently did the Charles Dickens classic—two years in a row (2011, 2012).
It is the type of play that catches the eye of the casual patron that is looking for a family-friendly, holiday-themed production. To true performing arts fans and especially the Rep's own subscriber base, this amounts to wasting 14 percent of your season not exploring new thought or art. Why would someone coming every year want to see the same thing three of the last four seasons?
This could be a response to the financial issues detailed by the San Jose Mercury News last fall, but Lombardo said the Rep has performed strongly so far this season and increased its financial stability. Moreover, the choice of play may not be a box office success—consecutive performances can see a drop in attendance.
Most of the rest of the season should be appealing to theatre aficionados with both a taste for the classic and the new work: Herbert Seguenza's funny one-man show, The Weekend with Pablo Picasso follows The Twelve; After 'Carol, 2015 starts with a world premiere adaptation of a classic story, Wuthering Heights; Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest runs in spring and the critically-acclaimed Jacques Bell is Alive and Well and Living in Paris will conclude the season in July after the unannounced play.
Coupled with strong tickets sales so far in the 2013-14 season and early renewals are well ahead of last year at this time (per Lombardo), the Rep is on the rebound with some quality work ahead. Bay Area Christians just hope it is not kicked off with irreverence to their faith.