Theatre Cedar Rapids to do “Superior Donuts,” New Play Festival, As Part of 2011-12 Season

Back in March, Theatre Cedar Rapids announced their 2011-12 season, but listed one of the plays as “TBA.” Judging from the press release, they have announced the play that was previously listed as “TBA” and it will be Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts, which will be performed in the Grandon Studio this September.

The other 11 productions—yes, 11—are 13, which will kick off the season on August 4; Damn Yankees, which will run from October 7-29; The TCR Underground Theatre Festival, which will feature new original works by Iowa playwrights this November; A Christmas Carol, which opens on November 25 and runs until December 17. In 2011, Theatre Cedar Rapids will produce The Importance of Being Earnest, which will run from January 27-February 18; Gross Indecency, which will run from February 10-March 3; The Wedding Singer, which will open on March 9 and run until the 31st of that month; Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, which will run from April 13-May 5; Alice in Wonderland, which opens on April 27 and runs until May 19; On Golden Pond, which will run from June 22-July 1; and Hairspray, which will open on July 6. 13, Damn Yankees, A Christmas Carol, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Wedding Singer, Alice in Wonderland, and Hairspray will be performed in the auditorium, while Superior Donuts, the festival, Gross Indecency, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and On Golden Pond will occur in the Grandon Studio.

Theatre Cedar Rapids has two productions remaining in their 2010-11 season: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which opens next Friday, and Guys and Dolls, which opens on July 8. Earlier this season, their production of White Christmas had a sold-out run and their production of Sweeney Todd was met with universal acclaim.

(A disclosure before I continue: I stage managed Still Life With Iris for Theatre Cedar Rapids last year.)

The incredible thing about this season announcement is that Theatre Cedar Rapids will be doing 12 productions next year. No other non-professional theater company in Eastern Iowa is producing 11 plays and a festival of new works as part of an upcoming season. Additionally, they’re doing a festival of new plays by playwrights that are Iowans. Judging from what I’ve read, theater companies are currently trying to figure out how to promote the development of new plays and produce those plays while reducing the amount of time spent in development. Theatre Cedar Rapids is doing something remarkable by not only doing a festival focusing on all kinds of new works, but new works by playwrights that are specifically in Iowa. While it seems as though some theaters are still sitting around trying to figure out how to produce more new works, Theatre Cedar Rapids is actually doing something.

Another interesting aspect is the decision to have the runs of The Importance of Being Earnest and Gross Indecency overlap, although briefly. Gross Indecency is a play about the trials of Oscar Wilde, which is who wrote The Importance of Being Earnest. The decision to schedule those plays to overlap is really clever because it’s as if they’re giving the audience an enticement to find out more about the playwright.

As for the final play that was announced, which prompted me to write this post, Theatre Cedar Rapids isn’t doing what is Tracy Letts’ most famous play, August: Osage County, which is what he won the Pulitzer and Tony Award for. They’re doing his most recent play, Superior Donuts, which wasn’t even nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. Superior Donuts was dismissed by critics in Chicago and didn’t receive any awards in Chicago—although I find it to be a very lovely portrait of life in Uptown. It’s probably Letts’ least terrifying play, but it still feels like a bold programming choice because it’s a very Chicago-centric play that didn’t receive any awards.

According to the press release, season memberships will be available to the general public this summer, and individual tickets will go on sale at the beginning of the 2011-12 season.

For more information, please visit Theatre Cedar Rapids website.