For Peter Rothstein and the rest of the artistic team at Theatre Latte Da
, each new season is more than a list of musical theater pieces they want to perform. It's a way to bring together artists with thrilling ideas of how or where to stage pieces of art in the Twin Cities.
Latte Da has four shows on tap for their 2011-2012 season, including the first regional production of the musical Spring Awakening (April 12-May 6); the quirky musical that could The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (October 6-30); the play Beautiful Thing (February 24-March 18), which will be augmented with the music of The Mamas and the Papas; and the annual return of All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 (December 15-18).
Each piece plays a different role in the season and was brought on for different reasons, Rothstein says.
For Spring Awakening, it was a chance to craft a local production that teamed Latte Da with the University of Minnesota. The show, which will be presented at the Rarig Center, will feature a company and creative team made up of half students and half area professionals.
For Spelling Bee, it was an opportunity to return to a piece that Rothstein had worked on at the Children's Theatre Company and to make a return to the McKnight Center at the Ordway Center, where some of Latte Da's biggest successes--including last year's Evita--took place.
To stage Beautiful Thing, Theatre Latte Da will bring in guest director Jeremy Cohen, the production artistic director of the Playwrights' Center. "He's an exciting new voice in the community," Rothstein says. "It's the first time we have used an outside director in the company."
That has been an important step for the company. "When we program, we look at how we are going to do a show as much as what shows we are going to do," Rothstein says. "We asked him what titles he interested in doing where music could be vital to the storytelling."
Beautiful Thing, about two gay teenagers coming of age in rough working-class London, has been a success on stage and in film. In previous incarnations, the music of Mama Cass was used as incidental music or between scenes. Here, it will be fully staged, featuring vocals by Erin Schwab.
Theatre Latte Da is coming off a huge commercial and artistic year, and Rothstein certainly hopes the trend continues. "Each year, we are trying to get the right mix and balance of shows without it becoming predictable. This year, there's a real dynamic mix of stories on the plate."