Majestic Theater, the resident Equity company in Western Massachusetts, will present the area premiere of Alabama Story by Kenneth Jones in early 2018. West Springfield, MA, will get to experience the play that drew earlier acclaim on Cape Cod, where a separate production was staged in summer 2016. The fact-inspired drama about a resilient librarian hounded by conservative politicians in the Jim Crown South has been seen in cities around the country since its debut in 2015; it set box office records in its first two productions.
The Majestic production will play Jan. 4-Feb. 11, 2018. Cast and creative team for the six-actor social-justice drama set in “the Deep South of the imagination” will be announced later. Majestic, an SPT5 Equity company, typically draws talent from the resident acting pool and occasionally from New York City. Auditions for the season are in June.
Alabama Story charts the real-life conflict between a “lady librarian” and a segregationist state senator who took issue with her book choices. The play was a 2016 nominee for the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award and a 2014 Finalist in the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference.
Set in Montgomery in 1959, Alabama Story focuses on the library conflict but weaves in a thematically relevant second tale of former childhood friends — one black, one white — who reunite that same year to revisit old wounds. The play is friskily narrated by children’s book author and illustrator Garth Williams, whose 1958 book “The Rabbits’ Wedding” created a firestorm in Alabama and other southern states. The picture book, intended for children under the age of seven, shows the marriage between a black rabbit and a white rabbit.
Alabama Story premiered at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City in 2015 following development by Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Pioneer and Off-Broadway’s TACT/The Actors Company Theatre. By spring 2018, it will have been produced by at least 10 theatres around the country. More productions — in the Midwest, Deep South, New England, the Southeast and beyond — will be announced for the 2017-18 season in the coming weeks as theatres officially reveal their slates.
Majestic Theater artistic director Danny Eaton announced a 2017-18 subscription season that will open with Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman’s musical The Bridges of Madison County followed by Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart, Alabama Story, John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, the Frank Loesser musical Guys and Dolls and the holiday revue Home for the Holidays. The Majestic has 4,800 subscribers. In addition to the subscription season, a summer slate includes children’s theater, concerts, plays, open mic nights, and improvisational comedy shows.
To learn more about the resident Majestic company, which operates out of renovated former movie house, visit majestictheater.com.