Stephen Sondheim’s bloody masterpiece Sweeney Todd, a worldwide success since its Broadway premiere in 1979, tells the tale of an unjustly exiled barber returning to 19th century London to seek vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop, above which he opens a new barber practice. Mrs. Lovett’s luck sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for blood inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies that has the people of London lining up.
What makes a hero? The first storytellers told tales of great heroes who would leave and learn and sometimes come back to save them. Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell spent his entire career deciphering where these myths came from and why the stories we tell now are the stories we’ve always told. What he found was deceptively simple:
We are each of us the hero of our own life’s journey.
The movement out of the shelter of the womb and into the light happens again in the journey out of the village and into the world, and continuously throughout our lives in the never-ending movement out of the past and into the future.
This season we will encounter a diverse cast of parents and children – the two parties involved in this fundamental hero’s journey. We will meet fathers and daughters and mothers and sons; children bereft of parents and parents bereft of children; and all of them moving together and separately out of the past and into the future in ways that are every bit as complex and harrowing as the journeys the first heroes took in the tales the first storytellers told.
How are we to navigate this seemingly uncharted path? In his seminal book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell said:
“We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known. We have only to follow the thread of the hero path. […] Where we had thought to travel outward, we will come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we will be with all the world.”
Join us for a season of incredible theater and a journey we can’t wait to take with you.
– Mathew Wright – Artistic Director
One evening ten-year-old Rhona goes missing. Her mother, Nancy, retreats into a state of frozen hope. Agnetha, an American academic, comes to England to research a thesis: “Serial Killing—A Forgivable Act?” Then there’s Ralph, a loner who’s looking for some distraction. Drawn together by horrific circumstances, these three embark on a long, dark journey which finally curves upward into the light. Angry, humane and compassionate, FROZEN is an extraordinary play that entwines the lives of a murderer, the mother of one of his victims and his psychologist to explore our capacity for forgiveness, remorse and change after an act that would seem to rule them out entirely.
It is Annie Desmond’s sixteenth birthday and her friends have decided to help her celebrate in style, complete with a brand new tattoo. Before her special night is over, however, Annie and her friends enter into a life altering pact. When Annie tries to make good on her promise to her friends, she is forced to take a good look at the world that surrounds her. She befriends Malik, who promises a bright future, and Keera, whose evangelical leanings inspire Annie in a way her young parents have not been able to do. In the end Annie’s choices propel her onto an irreversible path in this story that combines wit, poetry, and hope.
By turns smartly funny and powerfully resonant, this latest play from acclaimed dramatist Terrence McNally (Love! Valour! Compassion!, Corpus Christi, Master Class) portrays a woman who pays an unexpected visit to the New York apartment of her late son’s partner, who is now married to another man and has a young son. Challenged to face how society has changed around her, generations collide as she revisits the past and begins to see the life her son might have led.
When starcatcher-in-training Molly meets an orphan boy longing for a home, they embark on the adventure of a lifetime to protect a precious cargo. In this Tony Award-winning, magical and hilarious play with music, a dozen brilliant actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters. Peter and the Starcatcheruses ingenious stagecraft and the limitless possibilities of imagination to finally reveal the origins of Peter Pan, Wendy, the Lost Boys, their piratical nemesis, Captain Hook – and a far-off place known as Neverland.
Join ArtsWest as the season opens with acclaimed British director Richard Eyre’s stunning adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s GHOSTS. Described as scandalous work when it was first performed in 1892, the story follows widow Helene Alving as she tries to start her life anew after the death of her philandering husband. She is determined that her son will not follow his father’s footsteps, but when Oswald returns from France, she discovers that she may be too late.
Welcome to Club Abu, the darkest party in Baghdad. An incendiary rock musical that pulls back the curtain of one of the greatest moral challenges we have faced as a nation and sets it to a wicked irreverent back beat. Bad Apples is a rock musical inspired by the real-life prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Bad Apples seeks to answer the simple question: How in God’s name did this happen?