Ensemble Theatre announces 2017 season

Ensemble Theatre The Plant Sandy GoreBringing the best of new Australian plays, international plays and cherished classics, Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre has announced its 2017 season that features 10 plays and a special cabaret event.

“I am very proud that our 2017 season continues to present the best of new and classic plays, from laugh-out-loud comedy to riveting drama,” said Kilmurry. “Ensemble Theatre has always been a place to share stories and my aim is to continue this tradition while matching those stories with the best creative talent from our vibrant theatre scene.”

“Ensemble Theatre has always had a special place in our theatre world. It is a privilege to share this 2017 season with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy bringing these plays to life.”

Odd Man Out
It starts like a fairy-tale romance: Ryan tells Alice she has a beautiful smile, and suddenly he is asking her out. Alice has never met anyone like Ryan before: he’s charming, forthright and painfully truthful. David Williamson’s reputation as one of the greatest social observers of our time is cemented in this brand new comedy about love, tolerance and acceptance. Director: Mark Kilmurry Cast includes: Justin Stewart Cotta, Rachel Gordon, Lisa Gormley, Matt Minto – World Premiere from 19 January 2017.

Masterfully constructed, Jim Cartwright’s timeless comedy TWO introduces fourteen colourful characters, all skilfully played by Brian Meegan and Kate Raison.  Set in the local pub, you’ll meet all the regulars, a misfit crowd of eccentric and hilarious individuals. By turns funny, heart-warming and poignant, TWO promises to be a lively night at the local in the company of two of our most accomplished and versatile actors. Director: Mark Kilmurry Cast: Brian Meegan, Kate Raison – From 24 March 2017.

The Rasputin Affair
St Petersburg. Winter. 1917. A group of like-minded individuals gather with a plate of pink poisoned cupcakes and a shared aim:  to rid the world of one of history’s most despised characters – the mad monk Rasputin.  This brilliant new work from the pen of Kate Mulvany is wildly imaginative, outrageous and side-splitting. Director: John Sheedy Cast includes: Tom Budge, Hamish Michael, Zindzi Okenyo, Sean O’Shea – World Premiere from 1 April 2017.

Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf
In Edward Albee’s superb masterpiece, academic couple George and Martha have invited their new colleagues over for drinks. It’s a seemingly innocent occasion, but there’s a hidden agenda at play. As the booze flows, the night gets darker and so does the conversation, until the drama spirals towards its explosive and cathartic conclusion. Director: Iain Sinclair Cast: Darren Gilshenan, Geraldine Hakewill, Genevieve Lemon, Brandon Mcclelland – From 11 May 2017.

Neville’s Island 
Four city-dwelling business men set out on a team-building weekend only to become trapped on an island in the wilds of Tasmania. As day turns to cold, cold night, the men discover hidden vulnerabilities and unexpected strengths as they battle the elements and each other.   Tim Firth’s wicked comedy is a masterful look at men trying to make the best of a bad situation while they remain, unfortunately… men. Director: Mark Kilmurry Cast includes: Andrew Hansen, David Lynch, Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor – From 29 June 2017.

The Plant
Daniel is in the midst of a baby boom – all his friends are disappearing into the haze of parenthood, a world where talk of teething, controlled crying and infant bodily functions abounds. In a headstrong act of rebellion, he takes drastic steps and adopts Claire, a begonia. Buoyed by his friends’ and family’s unreserved acceptance of his ‘baby’, Daniel’s attachment to Claire soon develops beyond a joke. Winner of the Ensemble Theatre New Writing Commission 2016, Kit Brookman’s delightfully quirky play explores the highs and lows of modern parenting, with a keen and intelligent wit. Cast includes: Sandy Gore – From 28 July 2017.

Lip Service
Helena Rubenstein’s towering makeup empire is under constant threat. Staving off cunning attacks from her rivals Elizabeth Arden and Revlon, she holds fast to the principles that got her to the top: thrift, ruthlessness and a take-no-prisoners steely resolve. But when she finds an unlikely confidante in personal assistant Patrick, it dawns on her perhaps she isn’t such a hardened business woman after all. In John Misto’s uproarious new play, Rubenstein’s astonishing career is charted from humble beginnings in country Victoria to the intoxicating international heights of success. It’s a match made in heaven as the glorious Amanda Muggleton returns to the Ensemble stage as one of the most terrifying yet oddly endearing icons of the makeup industry. Director: Nicole Buffoni Cast includes: Tim Draxl and Amanda Muggleton – World Premiere from 17 August 2017.

Buyer and Cellar
Barbra Streisand has a shopping mall in the basement of her mansion so she can shop to her heart’s content, without leaving the comfortable security of her home. That is a true story. The tale of Alex getting a job there and the unlikely friendship that blossoms between the pair may be fiction, but it’s not impossible.  It should be a dream job, working for one of Hollywood’s most revered stars. But as Alex settles into his new role, he finds himself torn between the mesmerising glamour of his eccentric employer, and the toll his brush with Babs takes on his personal relationships. A one-man tour-de-force, Jonathan Tolins’ award-winning comedy about hero worship and celebrity is poignant, classy and full of laughs – just like the Funny Girl herself. Director: Susanna Dowling Cast: Ben Gerrard – From 6 October 2017.

The Kitchen Sink
It’s been awhile since Martin’s milk round has earned money. His truck – and a lot of his customers, for that matter – have seen better days. His practical, dinner-lady wife Kath wants him to give up the business, but Martin can’t quite bring himself to move on – to what? The Kitchen Sink is a touching and irresistible comedy from one of the UK’s finest young writers, a richly woven story about finding the courage to face change, and the enduring strength of family bonds. Director: Shane Bosher Cast includes: Huw Higginson, Hannah Waterman – From 14 October 2017.

Taking Steps
Taking Steps takes place in three rooms on one chaotic night in a creaky Victorian mansion, ripe for redevelopment. The British comic master Alan Ayckbourn shakes up a delicious cocktail of mismatched lovers, dirty dancing, bad hair and real estate, in an ingenious play that entertains on so many levels. Director: Mark Kilmurry Cast Includes: Miranda Daughtry, Peter Kowitz, Drew Livingston, Simon London, Christa Nicola – From 23 November 2017.

Barbra and Me!
Since he saw her movie debut in Funny Girl when he was a young kid, Trevor Ashley has been obsessed with La Streisand. As a triple-threat actor-singer-director, her own behaviour has often been just as threatening, and she is known to many as the ultimate perfectionist diva. Through hilarious true stories from both his and her lives, find out how a boy from Bexley ended up getting drunk with Barbra’s sister in a New York bar. A special cabaret event featuring Trevor Ashley with Bev Kennedy – 4 Performances only from Sept 17.

Subscription packages are now on sale. For more information, visit: www.ensemble.com.au for details.

Image: Sandy Gore stars in The Plant (supplied)