Syracuse Stage Season Starts with Comedy ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’
The 14/15 Season at Syracuse Stage starts Sept. 24 with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play. In this “ripped and roaring” comedy by Christopher Durang, Sonia and Vanya have frittered their lives away in the family farmhouse. Enter their sister, self-absorbed movie star Masha, with her 20-something boy toy Spike, and a dysfunctional family’s reunion turns into a weekend of hilarity.
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” performs Sept. 24-Oct. 12 in the Archbold Theatre at the Syracuse Stage/Drama Complex, 820 E. Genesee St. Discounted preview performances are Sept. 24 and 25. The opening night performance is Friday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m.
Tickets and info are available at http://www.syracusestage.org, by phone at 315-443-3275 and in person at the Syracuse Stage Box Office (Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at 315-443-9844. Discounts are also available for seniors, students and U.S. military personnel and veterans. Sign interpretation, open captioning and audio description services are available for select performances.
Directing “Vanya” is Marcela Lorca, who returns to Syracuse after directing two of the most memorable Syracuse Stage productions in recent years, “Scorched” (2013) and “Caroline, or Change” (2012). “I’m very happy to be back at Syracuse Stage, which I now consider one of my artistic homes,” says Lorca. She describes “Vanya” as “a bit of a wild ride. It’s a sweet play that has a real heart as well as a biting sense of humor.”
Throughout the play there are a number of references (including the title characters) to the works of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, known for “Uncle Vanya,” “Three Sisters,” “The Seagull” and “The Cherry Orchard.”
“I take Chekhov scenes and characters and put them into a blender,” says Durang (Playbill.com). “It’s my hope you don’t have to know Chekhov super-well to enjoy it.”
“Vanya” smashes together Chekhov’s classic themes of loss and longing with really impressive abs, Disney’s Snow White and a prophetic housekeeper. The result is raucous comedy that plays like “Arrested Development.”
“Vanya” was praised by The New York Times as “deliriously funny,” and USA Today called it “hugely entertaining.” In addition to winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, “Vanya” earned the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Drama League and Drama Desk awards, all for best play of the season.
Christopher Durang (born 1949) is an American playwright known for works of outrageous and often absurd comedy. His plays include “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You” (Obie Award), “Beyond Therapy,” “Baby with the Bathwater,” “A History of the American Film” (Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize Finalist), “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” (Obie Award), “Betty’s Summer Vacation” (Obie Award), and “Miss Witherspoon,” among others.
Durang’s numerous fellowships and high profile grants include a Guggenheim, a Rockefeller, the CBS Playwriting Fellowship, the Kenyon Festival Theatre Playwriting Prize and induction into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. “Vanya” is the first Durang play produced by Syracuse Stage.
The Syracuse Stage cast includes several returning actors: Larry Paulsen as Vanya (Sagot in “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” at Syracuse Stage, Shakespeare Theatre in D.C.); Lisa Renee Pitts as Cassandra (Syracuse Stage productions of “From the Mississippi Delta,” “Tintypes” and “Our Town”); and Nancy Williamson as Masha (“Bad Dates” at Syracuse Stage, “Romeo and Juliet” with Orlando Bloom, “Cyrano” and “Henry IV,” both with Kevin Kline).
They are joined by Ben Chase as Spike (Trinity Repertory Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Midori Iwama as Nina (Shakespeare’s Globe in London); and Dori Legg as Sonia (NY’s Toy Box Theatre, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville).
Scenic design is by Tony Award winner John Arnone (Syracuse Stage credits spanning from 1978 to 2013 include “Scorched,” “Old World,” “Loved,” “Naked” and “The World of Sholem Aleichem”). Designing costumes is Caitlin Ward, lighting design is by Karin Olson and the sound designer is Montana Johnson. The production stage manager is Stuart Plymesser.
The Presenting Sponsor is Pomco Group. The Sponsor is NBT Bank. Media Sponsors are Clear Channel Media, Business Journal News Network, and the Syracuse New Times. The 14/15 Season Sponsor is Syracuse Media Group.