White Heron Theatre Company today announced its 2023 summer season of professional theatre performances on Nantucket. The season includes Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit, the premiere of a Broadway-bound new play Call Fosse at the Minskoff and a comedic thriller The 39 Steps, as well as a slate of auxiliary performances including stand-up comedy, cabaret, staged readings of classic plays, and performances for children.
“What a joy to have this extraordinary group of plays, performers and events on the White Heron stage this summer,” said Lynne Bolton, White Heron’s founder and artistic director. “This is one of the most robust summers of programming we have had in our 11 years on the island. There is something for everyone almost every night.”
White Heron’s season kicks off on July 10 with Blithe Spirit, written by celebrated playwright Noël Coward (Present Laughter, Private Lives) and directed by Skip Greer, who returns to Nantucket after directing 2017’s Outside Mullingar for White Heron. A smash comedy hit in London and New York, this much-revived classic from the playwright of Private Lives concerns fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine, who has remarried but finds himself haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, Elvira. The star-studded cast features Kelley Curren of HBO’s The Gilded Age, Tony Award-winner Drew McVety and Broadway veterans Sandra Shipley, Paul O’Brien and Janet Zarish. Blithe Spirit runs through July 27.
The season continues with a special four-performance limited engagement of a new play bound for Broadway, Call Fosse at the Minskoff. In this entirely true, middle age coming-of-age story, dancer and actor Mimi Quillin recounts her experience working with Bob Fosse, Broadway’s most legendary choreographer, investigating the life-altering effects of proximity to true greatness, and revealing all the thrills and terrors of walking the high wire on the riskiest platform in entertainment. Call Fosse at the Minskoff, written and performed by Quillin and directed by Tony Award nominee Michael Berresse opens with a special performance at White Heron’s annual gala on July 30 and closes August 2.
Rounding out the season is fast-paced comedy mystery thriller The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow. Based on the novel by John Buchan and the masterpiece film by Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps was a runaway hit on Broadway and in London, where it received the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. A man with a boring life meets a woman with a thick accent who says she's a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called “The 39 Steps” is hot on the man's trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale! Featuring over 150 zany characters (played by a ridiculously talented cast of four), The 39 Steps is directed by White Heron Resident Director Mark Shanahan White Heron’s Dial M for Murder, See Monsters of the Deep) with spectacular set and costumes in collaboration with Virginia Stage Company. Shananhan brings his critically-acclaimed production to the island after having directed it at theaters nationwide from New Jersey to Texas, where Houston Magazine called it "Some of the most entertaining choreography and stagecraft I’ve seen… wind sequences, bicycle rides, running across terrain—and the priceless scenes in which the actors must mimic being on a bouncing train!... this is a fast-paced, standing-ovation-deserving summer fare." The 39 Steps runs from August 10 to August 24.
Beyond the three mainstage productions, White Heron is planning a summer schedule of additional performances. White Heron Comedy Club, the theater’s perennial collaboration with the Nantucket Comedy Festival, will bring stand-up comedians to the island for performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. New York sensation Ari Axelrod, seen at White Heron’s 2022 gala, returns to Nantucket by popular demand for two evenings of cabaret performances on August 18 and 19. The theater is also planning a book-in-hand reading series of classic plays, morning musical performances for children, and other educational and community events to be announced soon.
Performances will be held in White Heron Theatre Company’s venue at 5 North Water Street in downtown Nantucket. Tickets are currently available only via a presale to Heron Society members. Memberships are available at WhiteHeronTheatre.org or by calling 508-228-2156. Tickets will go on sale to the public on May 8.