The fresh and brilliant face of spring has spread across Mobile, and the same holds for our theatrical realm.
Come late March, a flower right from Georgia O’Keeffe’s heart will blossom for a new theatrical troupe, Company 11 in the Center for Creative Living (60 N. Ann St.). It’s Eve Ensler’s Obie Award-winning 1996 work “The Vagina Monologues.”
“We wanted to do plays some of the other theaters just aren’t able to do, edgier things they can’t stage because of their landlords or their clientele,” director Tania Radoslovich said.
It’s plainly stated on the company’s website: “Our mission is to present uncensored, open-minded theatrical productions which explore and embrace the diversity of the human experience, while celebrating the power of theater to illuminate our common humanity.”
This play, notable for its long-ago furor, fits that bill. A series of characters — a 6-year-old girl, a rape survivor, a woman who witnessed the birth of her granddaughter, a septuagenarian and others — talk about anatomical areas often off limits.
The Company 11 board of directors boasts names known in Mobile theatrical circles, such as Radoslovich, Nadine Andrews, Chris Hill, Charlie Kelly, Cory Olson and Jamie Yerby. As longtime veterans, their intent is to stagger Company 11 productions with other area efforts rather than dividing potential audiences.
“We feel like there’s a niche market for people who want to see the riskier side of theater and more modern, newer pieces out there. There’s a group that appreciates where we’re coming from,” Radoslovich said.
Their initial production was this past December’s “Eight,” a confessional satire where Santa’s reindeer unveiled their background with abuse. Like the upcoming show, it will be staged at the cozy midtown facility at the intersection of Old Shell and Ann.
“We’ve done some renovations up here. We built a new stage over Mardi Gras, so slowly but surely we’re getting it to the theater readiness we like,” Radoslovich said.
She said capacity is about 70. It’s far from the largest playhouse in midtown but not from the eponymous capacity of Fairhope’s Theatre 98.
They are scrambling to do much of the work themselves, including costumes and sets — like the repurposed pallets used for December’s play.
Appropriately, the upcoming Company 11 run starts with a March 28 show that’s a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. Remaining performances are March 29-31 and April 5-7. Curtain is at 8 p.m..
The remainder of the season reflects the troupe’s commitment to new material. In late July they plan to stage “’night, Mother,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Marsha Norman. In early November, they aim to present Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood’s comedy “Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche.”
Entrance is $15, $12 for seniors and students. Season passes are available at company11.org.
Radoslovich lamented how “Vagina Monologues” will intersect with Joe Jefferson’s “Cabaret” on one weekend.
“So we overlap two shows, but every other show we’re doing during this season we don’t compete with anybody else. Our season runs January to December where everybody else’s kind of runs with the school year,” Radoslovich added.
‘Cabaret’ opens March 16
Speaking of JJP (11 S. Carlen St.) and “Cabaret,” their executive director said the production has its own fresh face for springtime. It’s to be found in the musical’s most coveted slot.
“[The emcee role] is a 17-year-old named Nick Smith. He’s amazing. I’ve snuck up and watched several bits and pieces here and there during rehearsals,” Jason McKenzie said.
Smith recently played Lee Harvey Oswald in Mobile Theatre Guild’s production of “Assassins.” Along with his current turn as the ribald and risqué ringleader of a Weimar Republic burlesque review, it suggests supportive parents for such potentially controversial roles.
“I think they recognize his talent. I don’t know that he’s going to be around here much longer. I think he’ll probably be moving off to New York,” McKenzie said.
“Cabaret” runs March 16 through April 1. Friday and Saturday curtain is 7:30 p.m. — except March 31, when there’s only a 2 p.m. matinee — and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.
For more information, call 251-471-1534, visit the Joe Jefferson Playhouse Facebook page or website at joejeffersonplayers.com. McKenzie said ticket sales are brisk. Prices run $10 to $20.
“[Smith] is kind of a triple-threat. He can sing, he can act, he can do all of it. Learn it once and he’s got it down. People should see him while they can,” McKenzie said.
Perhaps “tomorrow belongs to” Smith in the end.
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