A version of this story appears in the Sunday Life section of The Oklahoman.
Oklahoma City’s Reduxion Theatre Company hits the accelerator with ‘Scandalous Season’
The nonprofit Reduxion Theatre Company is boosting its number of productions from four to six while expanding its Classics for Kids program, making its mission of “revisiting the classics” a year-round quest. The 2014-2015 season will include such adventurous fare as “Sweeney Todd,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Reduxion Theatre Company hits the accelerator with “Scandalous Season”
The nonprofit company is boosting its number of productions from four to six while expanding its Classics for Kids program, making its mission of “revisiting the classics” a year-round quest. The 2014-2015 season, which puts the hammer down Aug. 8, will include such adventurous fare as “Sweeney Todd,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
After shifting into a larger new space in Automobile Alley earlier this year, Reduxion Theatre Company is punching the accelerator with its upcoming seventh season.
The nonprofit company is boosting its number of productions from four to six while expanding its Classics for Kids program, making its mission of “revisiting the classics” a year-round quest.
“We’re going really fast this year. We just decided to do it. We’re like, ‘If we’re going to add another show, let’s add two. Let’s just do it.’ …. We wanted to make sure that we were letting the awesome new space inform the growth of the company,” said Managing Director Erin Woods, adding Reduxion recently became the first theater in central Oklahoma to obtain a fulltime liquor license.
“We wanted to showcase our venue to the fullest extent that we could, pushing our boundaries and challenging us to really create a fulltime season because that’s where we can to go.”
Reduxion isn’t just pushing boundaries with its number of performances: The 2014-2015 season, which puts the hammer down Aug. 8, has been dubbed “The Scandalous Season” and will include such adventurous fare as “Sweeney Todd,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
“We’re still doing wonderful programming for children all through the year … but ‘revisit the classics’ can mean so many different things. It’s just a way for people to know that the titles we’re doing this year are, like ‘Lysistrata,’ fairly controversial,” said Artistic Director Tyler Woods.
Ancient battle of the sexes
The husband-and-wife team is starting the scandalizing Aug. 8 with the oldest play Reduxion has ever staged: the ancient Greek farce “Lysistrata,” with Erin Woods returning to the stage for the first time in three years in the title role and her spouse taking the director’s chair.
“It’s about the women of Greece becoming fed up with the war – the Peloponnesian War – and going on a sex strike until the men stop fighting each other. This is a very modern thing. In fact, just this year, there were two or three different sex strikes that got in the news: Colombia, Japan, one in the Ukraine,” said Tyler Woods, adding they will be working from a Ranjit Bolt’s translation of Aristophanes’ comedy that dates to 411 B.C.
“When Crimea was invaded, the women actually said ‘no sex for Russians’ … and they called it the Russian women’s ‘Lysistrata’ moment. So, it is entirely relevant and actually happening today. Life imitates art, which is fascinating.”
Reduxion recently received a $3,000 Allied Arts power2give grant for the play’s costumes, which will begin in ancient Greek style but gradually evolve to modern garb.
“It’s just a lot of what I love about classic theater, even a new translation of this classic. There’s a bawdiness, there’s an experimentation to it, and there’s a sense of something far more universal than one time, one place,” Erin Woods said.
Series of scandals
“The Scandalous Season” continues Oct. 24 with Stephen Sondheim’s bloody Victorian musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” just in time for Halloween. Reduxion’s larger space in Auto Alley’s historic Packard Building is allowing the company to attack the Tony-winning tale of a murderous barber and his pie-baking partner in crime.
“It’s a fantastic script, and we now have a space big enough to sort of house it,” Erin Woods said.
“We are all about that show and the full extent of getting it in such an intimate space, for people to be right on top of it. We may have a splatter zone for that. We’re kind of thinking in those terms,” she teased.
In contrast, Reduxion’s first holiday show, “Jane Austen’s Christmas Cracker,” will come waltzing in Dec. 12-20. The original production will riff on the current trend of “Regency cosplay,” balls that are set in Austen’s era.
“We are blessed to be in a town that has so many opportunities for seeing ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘Christmas Carol.’ We wanted to do something that was a little bit different, but kept with a classical feeling,” said Erin Woods, who is writing the “Christmas Cracker.”
“We wanted a new style of play that was innovative, that really tapped into the interactive and audience participation … but was also Jane Austen-based and uniquely our own.”
While Reduxion has often staged romantic comedies around Valentine’s Day, the company will venture into more dangerous territory next year, adapting Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of the 1782 novel “Les liaisons dangereuses” (aka “Dangerous Liaisons”) Feb. 6-28 with all its grandiose costumes, towering wigs and sexual intrigue.
“Given so much patron feedback about how much they like it when we push the envelope, we wanted to do this script and just do it justice,” said Erin Woods, who will direct. “I think it’s going to be a very beautiful show and very sexy show. We’ve done love stories so much for Valentine’s Day, we wanted to do a different kind of date night that was a little bit more edgy.”
Shakespeare at war
While the Oscar-winning 1988 film adaptation has made “Dangerous Liaisons” a fairly well-known tale, local theatergoers are likely less familiar with Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” although Ralph Fiennes recently earned a 2012 BAFTA nomination for directing and co-starring with Gerard Butler in a movie version of The Bard’s tragedy with a twist ending. Tyler Woods will play the title role of the ancient Roman war hero who rises to power, falls and then rises again April 10-May 2.
“The raw, visceral power of that script, it’ll take you for a ride,” he said. “It’s a story about a heroic man whose pride gets in the way of him playing the political game that he’s asked to play … and it’s got everything that makes a Shakespeare tragedy great: great speeches, great moments, great climactic hero/anti-hero relationship.”
Reduxion will close its 2014-2015 season June 5-27 with an appropriately steamy American tale: Tennessee Williams’ 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning Mississippi Delta drama “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”
“We have had Tennessee Williams in our sights for so many years – probably since our first year – and it’s just never really fit into the season. … But it’s an American classic, it’s genius, and it’s something that we’ve been really passionate about,” Erin Woods said.
“‘The Scandalous Season’ speaks to the kinds of innovation that we want to move forward with and the eye that we have towards theater that’s not just for central Oklahoma, but theater that’s for the region and beyond.”
Reduxion Theatre’s 2014-2015 Season
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 28-30 and 2 p.m. Aug. 17 and 24.
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
When: Oct. 24-Nov. 15.
“Jane Austen’s Christmas Cracker”
When: Dec. 12-20.
“Les liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons)”
When: Feb. 6-28.
When: April 10-May 2.
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”
When: June 5-27.
Where: Reduxion’s Broadway Theater, 914 N Broadway Ave., Suite 120.
Information: 651-3191 or www.reduxiontheatre.com.