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Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Two-time Pulitzer winning playwright Lynn Nottage wrote Crumbs From the Table of Joy, which will run at Freefall Theatre from Jan. 26 through Feb. 24, 2019. Photo by Bryan Derballa, New York Times, 2017.
Two-time Pulitzer winning playwright Lynn Nottage wrote Crumbs From the Table of Joy, which will run at Freefall Theatre from Jan. 26 through Feb. 24, 2019. Photo by Bryan Derballa, New York Times, 2017.
Published Apr. 18, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," colors its half-dozen shows with a thread of hope.

"The characters in each play leave the world a better place than when the play began," artistic director Eric Davis said in a prepared statement. "The selections encompass diverse genres, settings and themes, but each finds a way to remind us of our common humanity."

The season themed "A Brighter Tomorrow" opens with The Fantastiks (Sept. 22-Oct. 21), listed by Guinness World Records as the world's longest-running musical with 17,162 Off-Broadway performances from 1960 to 2002. By turns whimsical and prescient, childlike and daring, the story by Tom Jones with music by Harvey Schmidt weaves enduring songs including Soon It's Gonna Rain and Try to Remember through a poetic plot structure.

Every Christmas Story You Ever Heard (And Then Some!) (Dec. 1-30) takes an all-of-the-above approach to the holidays in a way that looks dizzying and fun. John K. Alvarez, Michael Carleton and James Fitzgerald roll every commonly heard Christmas story — plus every carol or symbol or tradition, from the beginning of recorded history to the present — into one show.

The new year turns the lens on repression in Topher Payne's comedy, Perfect Arrangement (Jan. 26-Feb. 24). In 1950, Bob and Norma work for the Department of State, which is hell-bent on exposing moral turpitude. They're also de facto gay in-laws, having married each other's partners as the Red Scare is just getting started.

Crumbs From the Table of Joy (March 23-April 14) follows recent widower Godfrey Crump and his teenage daughters through their new life at a peace mission. Two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined, 2009, and Sweat, 2017) said last year her motto is to "replace judgment with curiosity," which helped her writing.

A comedy, Buyer & Cellar (May 11-June 9, 2019), finds hope in a superstar's basement. The idea for playwright Jonathan Tolins hatched in 2010 with the release of Barbra Streisand's coffee-table book, My Passion for Design. A struggling actor gets a job sorting through hundreds of dolls and antique clothing in the enormous basement of superstar, with whom he eventually forms an uncertain relationship. One actor plays both roles.

The season ends with the world premiere of a musical, Under Fire (July 13-Aug. 4, 2019), which zeroes in on journalists whose struggles in Central America test their professional ethics. Barry Harman adapted the musical from a 1983 film about ABC News reporter Bill Stewart, who was murdered in 1979 while covering the Nicaraguan revolution. The story asks questions about objectivity and a journalist's role in highly charged conflicts. Freefall held a staged reading of the work in June, with music director Michael Raabe leading a band.

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

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