Stages across New Orleans are high-kicking into the fall season with local and world premieres of new plays and musicals from homegrown playwrights plus recent hits from New York stages. From serious drama to campy comedy and beyond, live theater in New Orleans has never been so vibrant or diverse – local actors and theater companies across neighborhoods are entertaining audiences of all ages every week of the year, but the fall season really sizzles.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
The bluesy 1920s Chicago set “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” marks the tenth production since 2001 of legendary dramatist August Wilson’s ‘American Century Cycle’ of plays at the Anthony Bean Community Theater on Carrollton Avenue in the Riverbend. See May Raney’s Black Bottom now through September 29.
Dinner and a show: ABCT is on the St. Charles Streetcar line and within walking distance of restaurants and bars on Oak Street as well as nearby casual ethnic eateries like Little Tokyo, Lebanon’s and Panchita’s.
One of the several theatres and galleries in the emerging and colorful St. Claude Arts District, the Shadowbox Theatre on St. Claude Avenue offers an array of live performances from plays and musicals to fringier offerings (including the New Orleans Fringe Festival in November), monthly slam poetry nights, burlesque and live comedy. Four Humours takes up residence at the Shadowbox for their production of William Mastrosimone’s “Shivaree,” about a sickly intelligent-but-naive boy looking who befriends a mysterious belly dancer. Four Humours has long been a fixture and pioneer of the St. Claude theatre scene, giving audiences throughout downtown venues challenging and rewarding nights of drama. See Shivaree now through September 29.
After-show snacks: Head down St. Claude Avenue to Borracho at Kajun’s for tasty bar fare featuring a globally inspired menu with an emphasis on house-made sausage. If you’re feeling saucy, stay for some Kajun’s karaoke.
The past and the present collide as a modern day musicologist struggles with the battle for her life with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gherig’s Disease) and the cold relationship with her daughter while composer Beethoven grapples with his failing health and the composition of his Diabelli Variations, in a story filled with artistic obsession and desire. Concert pianist Dr. Chia-Hsing Lin accompanies the play in its local premiere at Southern Rep in the Contemporary Art Center. See “33 Variations” by Moisés Kaufman now through September 29.
Dinner and a show: Try Donald Link’s newest addition, Peche, located on Julia and Magazine streets, just blocks from the CAC.
Possum Kingdom spins a tale of a small swamp community where livelihoods are uprooted as populations upriver and the destruction of their habitat force them to sacrifice everything. Using original music, machines and magic with heavy physical acting and performed outdoors in a sprawling Bywater backyard at the St. Claude Truck Farm (3020 St. Claude Avenue), this new play by Cripple Creek Theater Co.’s Andrew Vaught is the type of engaging original theatre that has regularly dazzled audiences to much success as one of the St. Claude Arts District’s most important resident theater companies for eight years. See “Possum Kingdom” Friday – Sunday nights at 8:00 p.m. October 18 through November 10 in New Orleans.
Two estranged half-sisters discover a book of rare stamps including the “Blue Mauritius” from their mother’s estate that may be worth a fortune if they can keep three con artists at bay in playwright Theresa Rebeck’s (TV’s Smash, Law & Order) 2007 Broadway production, now receiving its local premiere in one of NOLA’s newest and busiest neighborhood theatres located steps from Bayou St. John. See “Blue Mauritius” at Mid-City Theatre September 26 through October 11.
Nightcap: Stop by nearby neighborhood favorite Pal’s for one of their signature cocktails, a true local atmosphere and great company.
Evil Dead: The Musical
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Sam Raimi’s iconic 1981 horror film ‘The Evil Dead’ or completely unfamiliar with low budget demon slasher flicks, you’ll have a bloody good time at the local premiere of “Evil Dead: The Musical” at Shadowbox Theatre, a fast paced, funny musical adaptation that has audiences jumping to “Do the Necronomicon” and recoiling in their seats while laughing (with ponchos handy if you’re sitting in the front row) at all the blood splattering from the stage. This is one “Cabin in the Woods” you’ll want to get trapped in with a bunch of hell demons. Be warned: you might find yourself singing “What the F&@k Was That” after the show ends while wringing out your fake-blood splattered program. See “Evil Dead: The Musical” in New Orleans October 17-31.
After show snacks: Stop in to Kukhnya across the street at St. Claude Avenue venue Siberia for delicious Polish and Russian food.
The Book of Mormon
Hasa Diga Ebowai! Elders Price and Cunningham and the cast of Mormon missionaries and Ugandan natives have been sent to New Orleans to help re-open the Saenger: the crown jewel of New Orleans theaters, after a multi-million dollar restoration since its doors were forced closed in 2005. The Book of Mormon is the smash-hit Broadway musical now on tour – and the first musical in the Broadway in New Orleans touring series (which runs from fall to late spring). The hilarious musical won nine Tony Awards and is one of the hottest tickets in New York and London, and soon Canal Street! See “The Book of Mormon” at the Saenger Theatre October 15-27.
Nightcap: Stop in the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel for one of New Orleans’ classic cocktails on the way home.