Rep press

Charlotte Rep  (LORT)   Founder & Artistic Director

Below, some of the plays directed at the Rep (Blumenthal Performing Arts and Spirit Square)

The 50+ plays directed include many contemporary works, theatre and symphony collaborations, and premieres of new plays. The new plays were developed in staged readings, workshops and productions, with all playwrights in residence. The Rep's annual play festival introduced 60+ new scripts, many of them going on to premieres at the Rep and other companies including Long Wharf, Steppenwolf, Sundance, off-Broadway and feature film.

Photo: William Finn's Tony Award© winning Falsettos+: Neal Mayer, Sandy Binion*, Mary Setrakian, Michael Cline, Jonathan Whitton, Susan Roberts*, Brian Robinson* 

* Rep resident artists  + area premieres  ++ world premieres

THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY by Mark Dunn++ (World premiere; from the new play festival; subsequently published by Dramatists Play Service)
Scenic: Anna Sartin*; Costume: Monica Kane*; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*

"Umberger has been helping Dunn shape this script over the past two years...It had the same cast in the (new play festival) reading, which explains the smooth flow of performances...You'll get to know four women whose problems and triumphs you'll want to share. Dunn knows how the mundane and the momentous mingle in the conversation of a household coping with tragedy." 

Toppman, Observer    (Photo: Barbi Van Schaick*, Amy Campbell*)

THE GHOSTMAN by Wendy Hammond   (World premiere; from the new play festival)++
Scenic: Joe Gardner*; Costume: Rebecca Cairns*; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*
Rep new play festival and premiere (with workshops at Long Wharf and Sundance in between)

"The Ghostman superbly balances wild abandon with austere control. It's a white-knuckle flight...Best of all, you'll see the cream of our actors stretching themselves - obviously galvanized by the opportunity to do new, vital work."  
Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing

"Umberger finds ways to amplify the script's power. Using a simple set of coffin-like boxes, one elevated platform, a drop and a chair, he takes us deep into the mine-like mind of the central character." 
Brown, Observer     (Photo: Graham Smith*, Linda Pierce*)

SIGNATURE by Beth Henley   (World premiere; for Women in the Arts Festival)
Scenic/costume: Jan Chambers; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*; Properties: Tony Elwood*; Music: Fred Story* 

"Henley engagingly reinvents new meanings for words to reflect changes which will evolve through technology. You won't be cooking dinner anymore; you'll be  clicking it....In its world premiere, Signature is hugely diverting, humorous, sobering and perceptive - even if it is neither resolutely drama nor satire..."  Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing  

"The futuristic Signature is a departure for the Pulitzer Prize winner who gave us Crimes of the Heart....The ambitious production including video screens, rotating sets, descending flies and special effects all give the effect of great space, and the theatre has never seemed so vast...Yet for all the futuristic trappings, including Henley's snatches of slang, it feels firmly grounded in the present. Homeless people, chicanery in the art world, brain-damaging drugs and toxic spills are very much of our world." 
Toppman, Observer  (Photo: Wendy Hammond, Kathryn Knotts)

THE ELEPHANT MAN by Bernard Pomerance  (Best Play Tony Award©)+
Scenic: Joe Gardner*; Costume: Bob Croghan*; Lighting: Jerry Van Campen*

"If, as John Merrick, says, art is an imitation of grace, then the lyrical production of The Elephant Man is an imitation of amazing grace....It's a riskily stylized production - its golds, ochers, browns and rusts are the visual correspondents to the mellow hum of Carol Bjorlie's onstage cello... It's a performance filled with disciplined musical rhythms...The company is the age at which one expects a dramatic repertory company to take wing. Under the sure, deliberate direction of Steve Umberger, The Elephant Man proves the company ready for flight... Not a detail's been missed."  
Rhetts, Observer     (Photo: Graham Smith*)

DESIGN & PRODUCTION TEAM: Photo: Joe Gardner's sketch for The Elephant Man set, one of many Gardner designs creating an environment by integrating the theatre's architecture, in this case a renovated historic church santuary. Side columns and rails are part of the theatre, upstage ones added. A window flew in when Merrick, and the play, went into the hospital. 

The recurring design team also included Anna Sartin, Jim Gloster, Frank Ludwig (scenic), Todd Wren, Eric Winkenwerder (lighting), Bob Croghan, Rebecca Cairns, Monica Cunningham (costume), Fred Story, Gary Sivak (sound), Sandra Gray, Tim Parati (charge artists). 

Jim Gloster, also a Rep resident actor, became Production Designer for the HBO series Veep, and won the 2017 Emmy Award for his work on the series.

THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO by Alfred Uhry   (Best Play Tony Award©)+
Scenic: Jim Gloster*; Costume: Rebecca Cairns*; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*

"Professional regional theatre does not get much better than this..It is everything theatre should be: utterly entertaining, engaging, absorbing, literate and beautifully observed."
Brown, Observer

"Umberger has directed Uhry's romantic comedy with a keen eye for all the edges and underpinnings - the prejudices of assimilated Jew against immigrant Jew, Gentile against Jew, Confederate versus Yankee, and rich versus poor."
Grose, Observer    (Photo: Kasey Camp, Josh Gaffga*, Michael Edwards, Mary Lucy Bivins*)

THREE TALL WOMEN by Edward Albee  (Pulitzer Prize)+

"Three Tall Women is an elegant study of the extreme islolation of having only yourself and then, ironically, not even that...."
Miville, Break 

"We are treated to an out-of-body experience that is profound, stubbornly uncompromising, and uplifting...The set by Frank Mohler is opulent and luxurious, yet impersonal enough to take us to the brink of absurdity... In every way, Charlotte audiences have lucked out."
Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing    (Photo: Paige Johnston Thomas*, Lucille Patton, Mary Lucy Bivins*

One of many Rep co-productions, this one with Appalachian State University. (Lucille Patton, who had been a member of the  play's off-Broadway company, played the same role here for the first of many times regionally after the N.Y. run.)

Scenic: Joe Gardner*; Costume: Bob Croghan*; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*

"Bonnie Franklin's performance is - much to her credit and to the play's benefit - not a starring one but as a member of a superb ensemble of six fine actors. Ayckbourn's play is far too complicated to be called a simple comedy. The happy result is a truly delightful two and a half hours in the theatre. It's loads of fun and has enough of a twist at the end to keep you mulling over the what-ifs long after the final curtain. Umberger's deft hand with physical comedy includes one routine involving three women, a bedsheet and a balcony that stops the show. But he also has sense enough not to sacrifice character for yuks."
Brown, Observer     (Photo: PR shot with Eva Kaminsky, Bonnie Franklin, Barbi Van Schaick*

Scenic: Joe Gardner; Costume: Bob Croghan; Lighting: Todd Wren

"It's an unstoppable river of words: trial transcripts, excerpts from books, newspaper articles, snatches of poetry, even an interview. To watch Moises Kaufman's play is to ride that river past sights that seem familiar at first, but turn out to be unexplored. The trip's well worth your time...Nine actors bring a host of characters vividly to life."  Toppman, Observer

"If you happened to see the original off-Broadway production, you can now learn a little secret: Charlotte Rep is doing it better...The choices are more imaginative..." 
Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing   (Photo: Danny Pintauro, Terry Loughlin*, Alan Poindexter*, Randell Haynes*, Scott Helm*, Jason Loughlin*, Paolo Andino, Jay Stratton, Jeff Schoenheit*)

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest (complete texts and scores)
Scenic: Joe Gardner*; Costume: Bob Croghan*, Lisa Tomczesyn; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*  

"This is unprecedented, the Mother of All Collaborations. The mesh of music and theatre is amazing...There's enough poetry, spoken quite naturally ...The Rep has made it a fast-paced version that would have delighted groundlings at the Globe...Nothing tops it."  
Toppman (theatre) and Smith (music), joint review, A Midsummer Night's Dream 
"The sumptuous production is a fantastic amalgam of light, dance, and live symphony music." 
Backstage, Woods, The Tempest

More about Rep/symphony 

ANGELS IN AMERICA by Tony Kushner / Millenium Approaches and Perestroika+
(Best Play Tony Awards© and Pulitzer Prize)
Scenic: Joe Gardner*; Costume: Johann Steigmeier; Lighting: Eric Winkenwerder*; Music/Sound: Fred Story*

"A gigantic undertaking for the city's cultural community...In the Rep's hands and those of the eight brave actors... the play becomes a liberating comedy of intimate emotions and gargantuan implications...Umberger gets at the secrets of the play because he understands it to be a comedy. He gets under the skins of these characters through his close work with the actors."   Brown, Observer

"What the Rep does more consistently and effectively is let the exuberant comedy and laughter peep through the pain...This, we realize, is what theatre can be - how much it can mean."  
Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing      More about Angels    

WIT by Margaret Edson+   (Pulitzer Prize)
Scenic: Joe Gardner*; Costume: Rebecca Cairns*; Lighting: Todd Wren 

"Every so often a play comes along that justifies the very existence of theatre. Wit is such a play, one that involves its audience in the drama of a single death while infusing every one of its 100 minutes with urgent life. The Rep has done some good work this season, but in Wit the company saved the best for last. You will not see a gutsier, more open performance this year than that of Rebecca Koon in the central role."
Grose, Observer    (Photo: Rebecca Koon*)

NEW PLAYS DIRECTED AT THE REP (Playwrights in residence)
BENEDICTIONS by Judy Simpson Cook
THE GHOSTMAN by Wendy Hammond
BOCA by Christopher Kyle
HOME ON THE RANGE by Brooke Hailey Egan
SIGNATURE by Beth Henley

STAGED READINGS: The Safety Net by Christopher Kyle, Signs and Wonders by Joan Vail Thorne, Julie Johnson by Wendy Hammond, Event Horizon by Christopher Kyle, Veronica's Position by Rich Orloff, Shadows to Sunlight by Jett Parsley, Bridge by Angus MacLachlan 

Photo: Boca with Christina Zorich, Brian Taylor, Angus MacLachlan*, Rebecca Koon

Literary Manager Claudia Carter Covington and Literary Associate Carol Bellamy culled scripts from 350+ national submissions. Covington, also a Rep resident actor, curated many notable playwrights at key points in their careers. The annual festival happened over the course of a week, with each play receiving 16 hours of rehearsal and two staged readings. A unit set and minimal production placed focus on the playwright's words. All playwrights were in residence. 34 festival plays were later published and/or produced at the Rep and many U.S. theatres.

Rep image credits: Mitchell Kearney, Donna Bise, Joe Deese, Rebecca Cairns
© 2019 Steve Umberger