The Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC), 2011 IT Award Nominee for last season's The Human Comedy, announces their 11th Season featuring Ashlin Halfnight's A Hard Wall at High Speed and the musical The Secret Garden. Reflecting on the past ten years and with an eagerness for the upcoming year, Artistic Director Tom Wojtunik says, "I am thrilled that in our 11th Season APAC will be producing primarily new work, as we begin to move away from our acclaimed revival productions into an arena of premieres and workshops."
The season commences on November 3rd with Ashlin Halfnight's (Balaton, Artificats of Consequence) A Hard Wall at High Speed, directed by May Adrales (Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, Humana Festival). The play, which runs through November 19th, is about Rudy Cole, a Floridian with the ideal existence: he's a charter pilot who loves to fly planes - he has the perfect family, owns his home, and basks in the respect of his community. But when he misjudges a situation at work, an unexpected burst of media attention turns an uneasy community against him. A play about one man's mistake, and how it changed the nation, A Hard Wall at High Speed asks how we heal, how we forgive, and how far we've come. A Hard Wall at High Speed began as a project generated during director Kareem Fahmy's Van Lier Fellowship at Second Stage. Subsequent staged readings were held at MCC PlayLabs and NYTE's One NYTE Stands, both directed by Josh Hecht.
Wojtunik explains why he chose A Hard Wall at High Speed as the opening show of the season: "A Hard Wall at High Speed is an electrifying and cathartic piece about what happens when we lose momentum in our lives, and how past mistakes can continue to haunt us. As an admirer of Halfnight's work, I'm ecstatic to be introducing his work to Astoria audiences."
On February 10th (through the 18th), APAC will present its premiere musical workshop, an original musical comedy, Matt Schatz's Love Trapezoid, directed by Wojtunik. According to Wojtunik, "this is the most original and fresh non-musical musical I've ever encountered. The sensibility of the piece is so unique that I knew I wanted APAC to be a part of its development. We will be producing a full workshop of the musical: actors will be off-book and rehearsed, and the presentation will be staged using rehearsal props and set pieces. As a work-in-progress, audiences will have the opportunity to witness the evolution of the piece, even through the final performance." Love Trapezoid is a musical comedy that examines art, technology, and everything we use to grieve the loss of someone that we love. Originally commissioned by the Ensemble Studio Theatre/ Alfred P. Sloan Science and Technology project, Love Trapezoid has been developed and presented in readings by EST/Sloan, EST/Southampton Arts, Page 73 Productions, Creative Destruction, and in concert at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. It has been a finalist for the O'Neill National Music Theater Conference and the Yale Institute for Music Theatre.
In May APAC will produce the musical The Secret Garden, with book and lyrics by Marsha Norman, music by Lucy Simon, based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The production will be directed by Wojtunik, reuniting the IT Award nominated team from The Human Comedy and Children of Eden: Jeffrey Campos as musical director, Christine O'Grady as choreographer, and Michael P. Kramer as set designer. This enchanting classic of children's literature is reimagined in brilliant musical style by composer Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of ‘night, Mother. Orphaned in India, 11 year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the "Dreamers", spirits from Mary's past who guide her through her new life, dramatizing The Secret Garden's compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal. The Secret Garden premiered on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 25, 1991, and closed on January 3, 1993, after 709 performances. Directed by Susan H. Schulman with choreography by Michael Lichtefeld, the cast featured Daisy Eagan as Mary. It won the 1991 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Daisy Eagan), and Best Scenic Design (Heidi Landesman). Eagan at age 11 was the youngest female recipient of a Tony Award.
Wojtunik ¬continues APAC's tradition of a spring musical revival with the first major New York City production of The Secret Garden, since it's Broadway premiere in 1991. "I look forward to entrancing APAC audiences of all ages, as we continue to reinvent how we use our performance space at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church to tell this classic story of how a single person's transformation (even a 10-year old girl) can have a ripple effect, far beyond what we can often imagine."