NEW REPERTORY THEATRE
"In its 12 short years," says Rick Lombardo, "New Repertory Theatre has grown exponentially, because of its strong relationship to the community. One of my goals is for this company to serve a need with a certain kind of literature --- new plays and classics which are actor-centered, where the work of the ensemble, the world of the actor, and voice of the playwright are premier."
While there is much buzz about the theater boom taking place in downtown Boston, something exciting is also happening to the west in Newton. The small professional playhouse, New Repertory Theatre, under the new leadership of Lombardo, is growing and maturing into a strong regional player. It is a story that illustrates the vitality of regional theater.
By New England standards, New Repertory Theatre is a newcomer. It began in 1984 around the kitchen table of the prime mover, Larry Lane. Leading a band of Boston-based theater artists (Richard Fairbanks, Donna Glick, Kathryn Lubar, and Nora Singer) and with only $1,000. Lane produced New Repertory Theatre's first play, DESPERATE LOVE: THREE ONE-ACT PLAYS, at the Newton Arts Center. No one was paid, and the first subscription drive netted only 50. When he left his secure teaching job at MIT to pursue theater full time, many thought Lane was making a quixotic error.
"New Rep's" first ten years were spent putting down roots and building a loyal local following. Its goals were to explore scripts in depth, offer quality productions of challenging plays, and build a permanent professional company in Newton. Under Lane's guidance, the company grew in artistic stature and earned the support of local businesses, the Boston theater community, and its 3,000-plus subscribers. Contributors, subscribers, and volunteers are the bedrock of the theater's current growth and success.
The company continued to perform at the Newton Arts Center until 1989, when it moved to a 170-seat space at the Newton Highlands Congregational Church. The establishment of a permanent home by so young a company bears witness to the New Rep's success. Community recognition has also grown. New Repertory was named Boston's "Best Little Theatre" byBOSTON MAGAZINE in 1989, won a "Creative Excellence" citation from the New England Theatre Conference in 1992, was dubbed Boston's "Best Emerging Theatre" by BOSTON MAGAZINE in 1993, and earned the #1 Choice Readers' Award for a professional theater by theWEEKLY TAB in 1995.
A greater test of the organization's health, however, is how well it handled the retirement of its founder. How many wonderful companies or movements --- or nations for that matter --- have withered on the vine after the founder left? When Lane decided to pursue his writing and teaching, he spent much time considering who would shepherd the company into its second decade. He assisted in a search that considered a field of 150 candidates and chose Rick Lombardo.
Former Artistic Director of the Players Guild in Canton, Ohio, Rick directed many acclaimed productions there, including DEATH OF A SALESMAN, HAMLET, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE GLASS MENAGERIE, and EVITA. His most recent project was the premiere of a new American opera, MOBY DICK. He was the Founding Artistic Director of the Stillwaters Theatre Company in New York, which produced the new work MIDSUMMER. Industry publication THEATRE WEEK wrote that it contained "the finest acting in New York." He is a graduate of the MFA Directing program at the Boston University School for the Arts. "New Repertory Theatre's mission has always been to present theater that is vital and essential, that makes us confront ourselves and our world by the most immediate means possible --- live performance," says Lombardo about New Rep's continuing mission.
He has already shown that he is not resting on New Repertory Theatre's past laurels, but is energetically taking the company to the next level of regional theater. He turned up the heat in his first year's schedule by making three of five programs premieres, including the much coveted Boston premiere of AR Gurney's crowd-pleasing SYLVIA. Next year, four of five presentations will be premieres. He earned personal praise for his directorial debut of Phyllis Nagy's provocative interpretation of THE SCARLET LETTER.
In addition to its performance schedule, New Repertory Theatre is also expanding its community outreach programs. It now offers classes to the general public in diverse areas: acting, improvisation, audition technique. It sets aside performances for school groups at significantly reduced rates. These events are accompanied by study materials provided to teachers in advance; group discussions with company members following performances; and, where posible, in-school visits by performers, directors, or designers. ASL interpretation accompanies many performances. Other outreach programs serve university students, the elderly, and groups with special needs.
By the conclusion of its 1996-'97 season, New Repertory Theatre will have produced over 60 plays by Shaw, Moliere, Sam Shepard, August Wilson, AR Gurney, David Mamet, and Arthur Miller, as well as many up-and-coming authors. Looking ahead to the 1998-'98 season, Lombardo will fulfill his goal of bringing new work to Boston-area audiences with an exciting line-up of four Boston premieres including:GIFTS OF THE MAGI, a touching holiday musical and long hit Off-Broadway; VALLEY SONG, South African playwright Athol Fugard's poetically told story of an old farmer's love for his granddaughter and her dreams of leaving home to pursue a singing career in Johannesburg; and JACK AND JILL, Jane Martin's humorous look at modern romance. Rounding out the season will be Eugene O'Neill's powerful and personal play A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN.
As New Repertory Theatre grows, Lane and Lombardo's success is shown in the
fact that the company's strength does not reside solely in visible elements
like an edifice of stone or a single artist, but in the family of people who
constitute its organization and supporters. Its artistic achievements and
social contributions make New Repertory Theatre a fine example of the
valuable role that regional theater plays in New England communities.
Contact: Adam ZahlerFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 20, 1998 NEW REPERTORY THEATRE ANNOUNCES FIVE ENTHRALLING PLAYS FOR 1998-1999 SEASON Newton Highlands, MA - New Repertory Theatre is building on recent artistic and box office successes with a season of five exceptional plays. New Rep's 14th Season includes three Boston Premieres, one New England Premiere and the return of Shakespeare to our Newton Highland stage. The past two seasons have established New Rep as the home of some of the finest acting in the Boston area. The company's work has been recognized by critics and audiences alike and has garnered the company several awards. In a continuing effort to bring exciting, intimate theatre to Boston area audiences, Producing Artistic Director Rick Lombardo has selected a season of plays that "promise to enthrall, delight and move our audiences. Our audience has asked for Boston premieres and classics and our 14th Season will provide them with both. You couldn't ask for a more dynamic season." The season will open with the New England premiere Skylight by David Hare, a hit on Broadway and in London. David Hare, one of England's most important contemporary playwrights, brings us a play of stunning power that deals with matters of life, love and circumstance. A very wealthy businessman and widower shows up after many years at the small flat of his younger ex-mistress. She is his former assistant, now turned schoolteacher in a London working class neighborhood. Personality, ideology and desire meet in a clash of love and will that has stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Skylight will run from September 23 through October 25, 1998. Next new Rep celebrates the glorious lives of the Delany Sisters with Having Our Say, the Delany Sisters" First 100 Years by Emily Mann. In this touching, true memoir Sadie and Bessie Delany, 103 and 101 and the daughters of slaves, share their lives with us through moving and delightful storytelling. Their education, bravery and faith see them through the turmoil of Reconstruction and the evils of Jim Crow. They make their marks on the Civil Rights movement and survive to create an inspiring glimpse of American history. This Boston Premiere runs from November 18 through November 20, 1998. Beast on the Moon by Richard Kalinoski is the third offering of New Rep's 14th Season. This shattering tale of survival moved an audience at a New Rep staged reading to tears and excitement earlier this season. A refugee from the American genocide and his mail order bride try to find love and build a life in America. His struggle to build a photography business and their yearning for a family cannot succeed unless they face the horrors of their pasts. Beast on the Moon (January 13 to February 14, 1999) is headed for its New York premiere directly after the New Rep production! Twelfth Night heralds the return of Shakespeare to New Repertory Theatre. In this hilarious chamber production, music, comedy and beautiful poetry mix together in a deliciously devilish Shakespearean plot. Viola and her brother, Sebastian, are swept apart in a shipwreck. Viola disguises herself as a boy to survive in the land of Ilyria where Love, it seems, has gone awry. Twelfth Night runs March 10 to April 11, 1999. The season will end with the Boston premiere of a profound psychological drama and an intellectual puzzle, Scotland Road by Jeffrey Hatcher, a current sensation Off Broadway. A woman in 19th century clothing is rescued by a Norwegian fishing trawler from a floating chunk of ice. She whispers one word, "Titanic," to her rescuers. She is taken by John Astor's heir and a psychologists to a white room on the coast of Maine in an attempt to determine if she is just deluded or perpetrating an elaborate hoax. Scotland Road runs May 5 through June 6. Subscriptions for New Reps 14th Season are available at the Box Office located at 1164 Walnut Street, Newton Highlands or by calling (617) 332-1646 (V/TTY). New Repertory Theatre is handicapped accessible.
NEW REPERTORY THEATRE