AthensWest Theatre Company announces first full season

Carol Hickey, Mark Mozingo, and Victoria Huston-Elem in the original Prospect Theatre Company production of "Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge," Photo by Gerry Goodstein for Prospect Theatre Company.

Carol Hickey, Mark Mozingo, and Victoria Huston-Elem in the original 2009 Prospect Theatre Company production of “Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge,” Photo by Gerry Goodstein for Prospect Theatre Company.

AthensWest Theatre Company, Lexington’s first theater in several decades to regularly engage actors under contracts with Actors Equity, announced its first full season of plays, Tuesday night.

The season, announced at a fund-raising event at Belle’s Cocktail House, includes an American classic that promises to be very popular this year and two surprisingly musical choices. They are:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Christopher Sergel, based on the novel by Harper Lee. Directed by Jeff Day. Day, co-founder of the company with Bo List, says in surveying regional theater companies around the country, it was clear that this would be a popular title this year with the 55th anniversary of the novel and Lee’s first published novel since Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman, on July 14.

Watchman was written before Mockingbird, but set after the iconic novel, and has Scout returning home to Maycomb and her father, Atticus Finch.

The show also has a sentimental draw for List, who says Mockingbird was the first play he saw. It plays for three weekends, Nov. 20 to Dec. 6.

33 Variations by Moises Kaufman. Directed by Bo List, musical direction by Tedrin Blair Lindsay. The play parallels a musicologist racing a debilitating disease to solve one last mystery about a piece of music by Beethoven. That is paralleled with Beethoven racing his failing hearing to create that same piece of music. This will be a regional premiere for the work, which had its Broadway debut in 2009. It plays two weekends, Feb. 12 to 21.

Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge, music and lyrics by Peter Mills, book by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, adapted J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World. Directed by Margo Buchanan. This bluegrass musical will be something of a homecoming for an Equity actor from the the Lexington area. Mark Mozingo, who returned to Central Kentucky recently, will reprise the role he originated in the original New York production of Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge by Prospect Theatre Company, which earned strong reviews from outlets such as The New York Times.

“The script, by Mr. Mills and Cara Reichel, delivers smart satire with a dark backwoods accent,” Anita Gates wrote in her April 2009 review, which also called the show “highly entertaining.”

Day and List said the relatively unknown show, which will run two weekends, April 22 to May 1, was the biggest risk on the schedule, but they believe it will pay off.

“It’s a musical nobody knows, but I think people here are going to love it and are going to love Mark Mozingo’s performance,” List said.

For his part, Mozingo, who performed a number from the show at Tuesday’s event, said, “Prospect Theatre gave me my first New York role, and I am so excited to get to do it again.”

Mozingo is the only actor who has been precast, List and Day said. In addition to show dates, audition dates for all productions were also announced, and will be posted on the AthensWest website.

Both 33 Variations and Golden Boy will be regional premieres, and Day said the company was attracted to them as they created events through their collaboration with other artists in the community.

“With 33 Variations, we’ll be working with folks at UK music, and Golden Boy of the Blue Ridge will involve our bluegrass music community,” Day said. “We really want to work with artists throughout the community to do excellent work.”

Like with the theater’s inaugural production of Doubt in February, Day said each production this season is budgeted for two Equity contracts, and all involved will be paid. (Actors Equity is the stage actors union.) Day said that is the model the theater wants to work under, to give Equity actors in the area a chance to work, while not excluding non-Equity performers from its productions.

Mozingo said he is excited for the opportunity to work in the Bluegrass.

“I have been jobbed into smaller communities than Lexington under Equity contracts, and I wondered, ‘Why can’t we have that in Lexington?'” said Mozingo, who also works with AthensWest as director of outreach. Citing Equity theaters in Louisville and Cincinnati, he added, “It’s the right time … we’re just as vital.”

  • All performances will be at the Downtown Arts Center, 141 East Main Street. Tickets will be $25 each, $20 ages 65 and older and active military. Season subscriptions are $60 each, $45 seniors and military. Call 1-866-811-4111.
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