Resident Weekly

A Exclusive Current Affairs Platform


The arrival of ‘The People Downstairs’ will launch the American Stage season

Following 18 dark months, the mainstage at St. Petersburg’s longest-lived professional theater organization, American Stage, will illuminate again in September.

The first production in the just-reported 2021-22 season is The People Downstairs, the comic drama by local playwright Natalie Symons. Two preview performances were mounted, March 11 and 12, 2020, and theaters the nation over had to close down on the 13th – which would have been opening night for The People Downstairs, the story of an adult woman (Mabel Lisowski) who’s disabled and agoraphobic, and living with her eccentric, alcoholic dad.

Fashioner Scott Cooper’s set has been set up from that point forward – the creatives at American Stage realized that the show would, truth be told, go on. They simply didn’t have the foggiest idea when.

Chris Crawford, the former associate director at freeFall Theater, has gotten back to coordinate the show Sept. 15 through Oct. 3.

Likewise returning are each of the four original cast members: Matthew McGee (in an uncommon dramatic-ish turn), Sara Oliva, Allen Fitzpatrick and Terri Lazarra.

“The fact that the play is thematically about human connection, and about isolation, and about how we need to have connection and love and humor – all of those things we missed during this pandemic – I feel like the play was almost foreshadowing what was about to happen,” Symons said Friday morning.

“I feel like it will ring so much more true now than it did then, because we’re all so hyper-aware of how precious human connection is. And how vital it is.”

The playwright, who will publish a spellbinding first novel, Lies in Bone, in September, said she generally held out trust that The People Downstairs would track down its American Stage audience.

“Scott’s beautiful set is a hoarder’s nest, and has been sitting there collecting dust, just like the Lisowskis’ house was for many years. We basically left it there for what, 16 months? While it collected more and more dust. It’s been standing there waiting for us to come back and call ‘places.’”

American Stage’s “weee’re back!” moment proceeds with an adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days (Oct. 27-Nov. 21), Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol (Dec. 8-Jan. 2), 21st Century Voices: New Play Festival (Jan. 7-9, 14-16), School Girls Or the African Mean Girls Play (Feb. 2-27), the musical Footloose in Demens Landing Park (April 6-May 8) and Shakespeare’s The Tempest (June 29-July 31).

In the interim, Romeo and Juliet in America (The One With the Happy Ending) is onstage at Williams Park for nine performances July 21-Aug. 1.

Still to be reported is a replacement for Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte, who has proclaimed her goal to leave the organization this season for health reasons.

error: Content is protected !!