When you’re thinking of what to do for a night out in Baton Rouge, I’m sure an LSU game, catching a concert at the Varsity, or even a great meal are some of the first things that come to mind. And when you think of great theatre, you probably think of New York or even New Orleans. But did you know that Baton Rouge has some truly outstanding local theatres? With several companies, all producing different shows, there is almost always great theatre on stage and something for everyone. Here are just a few of the great things coming up this fall!
Theatre Baton Rouge (TheatreBR.org) has been a staple of community theatre for 74 seasons. Located in mid-city, Theatre Baton Rouge’s mission is to provide the residents of the Greater Baton Rouge Area the opportunity to participate in quality live theatre as an audience member, actor or production worker. TBR serves as the region’s pivotal theatre arts organization providing ongoing cultural, educational and social enrichment. With thirteen shows each season, as well as a great rotation of classes and camps, there’s always something happening at TBR. Kicking off the 2019-2020 season are three great productions, each with something different to offer audiences. First up in August was Lippa’s The Wild Party (Rated R), a steamy prohibition tale, steamrolling, and roaring its way across the stage. This dark musical about two bored lovers and a wild, wild party – filled with booze, drugs and plenty of dancing. Things heat up and turn ugly as the lovers push each other to their limits.
In September, there are two classics on the TBR stages. Opening September 12 in the Studio, TBR’s Young Actors Program (ages 8-18) will present William Shakespeare’s famous story of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. And on the main stage will be Arthur Miller’s classic, The Crucible. A young farmer, John Proctor, his wife, Elizabeth, and a young servant girl, Abigail, who maliciously causes Elizabeth’s arrest for witchcraft. John brings Abigail to court to admit the lie – and it is here that the monstrous course of bigotry and deceit is terrifyingly depicted. John, instead of saving his wife, finds himself also accused of witchcraft and ultimately condemned with a host of others. Winner of the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play, this exciting drama, based on the Puritan purge of witchcraft in old Salem, is both a gripping historical play and a timely parable of our contemporary society.
New Venture Theatre (newventuretheatre.org/) celebrates the human condition through the prism of the African American experience by producing quality and transformative theatre that enlightens, educates and inspires everyone. NVT kicked off their season in July with SWEET GEORGIA BROWN, and will be back in September with Pipeline, “an emotionally harrowing, drama that raises barbed questions about class, race, parental duty, and the state of American education.” – (Variety). Pipeline is recommended for audience members over 16 years old.
With their home on LSU’s campus, Playmakers of Baton Rouge (playmakersbr.org) works to provide entertaining educational experiences for young audiences through quality professional theatre. Along with a season filled with great shows, Playmakers offers classes and summer camps, as well as educational tours. To launch their season, Playmakers will opened The Little Prince on August 23. This play/musical tells the story of a world-weary and disenchanted Aviator whose sputtering plane strands him in the Sahara Desert and a mysterious, regal “little man” who appears and asks him to “Please, sir, draw me a sheep.” During their two weeks together in the desert, the Little Prince tells the Aviator about his adventures through the galaxy, how he met the Lamplighter and the Businessman and the Geographer, and about his strained relationship with a very special flower on his own tiny planet. The Little Prince talks to everyone he meets: a garden of roses, the Snake and a Fox who wishes to be tamed. From each, he gains a unique insight which he shares with the Aviator: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.” “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” At length, both the “little man” and the Aviator must go home—each with a new understanding of how to laugh, cry, and love again.
Each of these theatres produces a full season of shows, so please visit their websites for dates, times and pricing. And get involved! Community theatre can’t exist without our community. So take a class, see a show, audition or volunteer. You won’t regret your time with any of these great organizations.