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Alliance Theatre announces 2010-11 season, an impressive lineup with a “mystery play” in the mix

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The Alliance Theatre has announced its 2010-11 season, and it’s a pretty spectacular lineup. Beginning with the world premiere of “Bring It On: The Musical,” based on the film about extreme cheerleader competitions, the list includes five premieres (including a new play by Atlanta’s Pearl Cleage, top photo) and Tracy Letts’ big, juicy, Pulitzer Prize-winning family potboiler, “August: Osage County.”

Pearl Cleage's new play is a highlight of the Alliance's 2010-2011 season Though it had been rumored that the Stephen King-John Mellencamp musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County,” announced for the 2008-09 season but later scratched, was back in the mix, it apparently didn’t make the list.

The mystery surrounding that title is becoming as delicious as the brouhaha over the long-delayed Wynton Marsalis piece for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Is “Ghost Brothers” simply not ready? Are there problems over the money? Do any in-the-know readers care to weigh in?

The Internet has been rife with speculation that “Ghost Brothers” would be rescheduled at the Alliance. Last month, Playbill reported that a special two-disc recording, to be produced by T-Bone Burnett, would feature Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, Roseanne Cash and Mellencamp. Alliance spokesman Robert Saxon said categorically Friday afternoon that the production is not happening and that the season’s still-unannounced title would not be “Ghost Brothers.”

On the bright side: “Bring It On,” based on the popular 2000 Kirsten Dunst vehicle, is of national importance and clearly on a Broadway trajectory. The level of talent on the creative team is stunning: “In the Heights” composer Lin-Manuel Miranda and “Next to Normal” composer Tom Kitt are writing the music. Jeff Whitty, who wrote the book for “Avenue Q,” is penning the libretto. And  “In the Heights” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler is directing and choreographing. All the aforementioned gents have Tony Awards for their aforementioned projects. I predict the show will join previous Alliance world premieres “Come Fly With Me” and “The Color Purple” on the Great White Way. Anybody wanna bet?

The Alliance press release states that there are six musicals and five premieres. Here is the full list. Saxon said that exact dates would not be settled until the final title is inserted, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

MAINSTAGE

  • “Bring It On: The Musical.” Season opener on the mainstage. Miranda will share lyric-writing credit with Amanda Green (“High Fidelity”).
  • “The Nacirema Society Requests the Honor of Your Presence at a Celebration of Their First One Hundred Years.” By Pearl Cleage (“Blues for an Alabama Sky,” “Flyin’ West”) and to be directed by Alliance artistic director Susan V. Booth, this romantic comedy chronicles the antics of six African-American debutantes as their organization celebrates its centenary. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival will produce the play in collaboration with the Alliance, and the theaters will share the world-premiere billing.
  • “August: Osage County.” Booth will direct this play, which originated at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Playwright Letts portrayed George in the Alliance’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” a few years back.
  • Title to be announced.

HERTZ STAGE

  • “Sammy & Me.” In this new musical, Eric Jordan Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL”) explores his obsession with Sammy Davis Jr.
  • “Carapace.” This winner of the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition is by David Robinson of Ohio University. A man tries to find his daughter on her 23rd birthday. World premiere.
  • “Spoon Lake Blues.” A new play by Josh Tobiessen (above), a Kendeda finalist for his “Election Day Blues.” World premiere.

FAMILY SHOWS

  • “Middle School the Musical.” Billed as an “improvisational survival guide for tweenagers,” this show will be directed and developed by Rosemary Newcott, artistic director of Theatre for Youth. World premiere.
  • “Honk!” Based on “The Ugly Duckling” and winner of the Olivier Award for best new musical. Newcott will direct.

HOLIDAY PRODUCTIONS

  • “The Second City: Miracle on 1280 Peachtree Street.” The Alliance’s third collaboration with Chicago’s famed Second City comedy group. World premiere.
  • “A Christmas Carol.” Newcott will direct the Dickens classic, a Broadway-scale show on the mainstage.

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