Broadway vet brings new theater troupe to Lexington

Stephen Currens, the actor and writer who took his University of Kentucky-born musical all the way to Broadway, is the artistic director of a new theater company in Lexington that is planning events starting next month.

Stephen Currens in Actors Guild of Lexington's production of "The Fantasticks." Photo by Larry Neuzel.

Stephen Currens in Actors Guild of Lexington’s 2008 production of “The Fantasticks.” Photo by Larry Neuzel.

In a letter, Currens describes New Works, Inc., as, “a company dedicated to the world premiere of new plays and musicals and the occasional innovative revival of works from the existing library of literature.” Last spring, New Works presented a series of staged readings of new plays at the Downtown Arts Center. The company’s general manager is Matt Kelder.

Currens’ Gorey Stories, based on the works of macabre illustrator Edward Gorey, which he wrote when he was a theater student with music school student David Aldrich, started as a one-act play at UK in 1974 and had a brief Broadway run in 1978. Currens has since remained active in theater and recently relocated back to the Bluegrass. UK brought Gorey Stories back to its stage on October 2010.

New Works will be performing at the Downtown Arts Center, and its inaugural three events are:

Aug. 8: In Respect to Mrs. Carter; the American Bernhardt. This is a staged reading of the new one-woman play by Kevin Lane Dearinger and starring Julieanne Pogue as Leslie Carter, a turn of the 20th century actress who was born and raised in Lexington and enjoyed a stage and film career. Dearinger, whose acting career included Broadway and national tours, splits his time between Lexington and New York and has penned several books on theater history, including The Bard in the Bluegrass: Two Centuries of Shakespearean Performance in Lexington, Kentucky. 7 p.m. Admission is “pay what you can,” with $10 suggested.

Sept. 7: Forgotten Broadway; Great Songs Cut from Great Shows. A cabaret-style fundraiser including performances by local musical theater artists, food and a silent auction. 7-10 p.m. $50 individual, $85 per couple. Tables of 8 can be reserved.

Oct. 3-20: Saint Christopher is Not a Saint Anymore. The play by New Orleans-based writer Hunt Scarritt is described in a press release as taking “place in an alley behind a diner in a small, unnamed Southern town,” and asking, “Is anything still as it was?” This will be a full-scale, world premiere production. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. $20.

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