Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble announces 2018 season, previews offerings full of questions, love, fear and religion

For its ninth season, the Ad Astra Theatre hosted a season launch party filled with board games, escape room and other brain teasers — to foreshadow a season they hope will leave audiences thinking long after the final curtain.

 

Thursday night, Craig Fisher, the artistic director at Ad Astra, and his production team announced a series of shows varying from stories of faith to their annual play writing festival to the goings-on in Barbara Streisand’s basement.

Here’s a quick breakdown of shows to come:

‘The Christians’

When: March 1 - 4

Where: Metropolitan Community Church, 4425 S.W. 19th St.

The first production of 2018 will be a play by Lucas Hnath. The play “The Christians” tells the story of what happens when the local pastor of a mega church has a change of faith and shift in his beliefs.

His entire congregation must reconcile their beliefs with his and ultimately figure out, what is right? Ad Astra will partner with Metropolitan Community Church for this production, produced by Fisher.

‘High Fidelity’

When: April 6 - 15

Where: Jayhawk Theatre, 720 S.W. Jackson St.

The musical “High Fidelity” was written by Tom Kitt and Amanda Green. Set in a local record shop, the Brooklyn record store owner Rob finds himself unexpectedly dumped. Through the heartbreak, his life takes a music-filled turn toward the introspective. Based on the popular novel by Nick Hornby, “High Fidelity” follows Rob as he struggles to discover how his relationship went awry, and how he strives to change his life in order to win back his sweetheart Laura.

With memorable characters and a rock-and-roll score, this homage to music geek culture explores love, heartbreak, and the power of the perfect soundtrack. This musical is directed by Dusty Nichols, music directed by Karen Bartlett and choreographed by Sheri Rippel.

‘No Exit’

When: June 7 - 10

Where: Jayhawk Theatre, 720 S.W. Jackson St.

A first for Ad Astra, “No Exit” will take the original source material from Jean Paul Sarte and translate it for today’s audiences. Directed by Heather Ives, this story follows three people locked up together in a hideous room. The windows are bricked up, there are no mirrors, the electric lights can never be turned off, and there is literally, no exit. Where are they? That’s for the audience to find out.

24 Hour Play

Festival

When: July 20 - 21

Where: To Be Announced

An annual tradition, Ad Astra will once again host it’s play writing boot camp where 24 actors, six writers and six directors will all come together in the span of a day to created six original 10 minute plays.

Filled with improvisation and problem-solving skills, Friday night the director and playwrights choose their cast, and spend all night finalizing their script for the performers the next morning. At 8 a.m.rehearsals begin, and actors spend all day practicing until the debut that night. This collaboration of performances is one of the largest fundraisers for Ad Astra each year.

‘Buyer and Cellar’

When: Sept. 14 - 29

Where: Topeka and Lawrence, locations to be announced

“Buyer and Cellar” is a one man production about the fantasy and wonders that happen in the basement of legend Barbara Streisand. A struggling actor in Los Angeles, Alex More takes a job working in the Malibu basement of a beloved megastar.

One day, the Streisand herself comes downstairs to play. While More feels like it’s a real bonding moment — reality may play out a little differently. “Buyer and Cellar” is a comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs.

This production is a fundraising production for The Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble and done as a partnership with Craig Fisher and his spouse, David Ruis Fisher, a PhD student and professor at the University of Kansas and Baker University.

‘Theodore’s Love’

When: Oct. 11 - 14

Where: Jayhawk Theatre, 720 S.W. Jackson St.

For it’s fifth year, the annual Homegrown Playwright Project will be back, featuring Topeka playwright Huascar Medina. Medina’s production is a family drama called “Theodore’s Love.”

The production will be directed by Rippel.

‘The Wild Party’

When: Nov. 9 - 18

Where: Jayhawk Theatre, 720 S.W. Jackson St.

The final production of the 2018 season is a big, swinging, debaucherous musical set in Manhattan decadence in the 1920’s. Written by George C. Wolfe and Michael John LaChiusa, “The Wild Party” tells of Queenie, a chorus girl, who hosts a blow-out party with her vicious lover, Burrs.

When midnight debauchery leads to tragedy at dawn, the high-flying characters land with a sobering thud, reminding audiences that no party lasts forever. This award-winning musical will be directed by Darren Canady and music directed by Nancy Epoch.

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