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Originally published Friday, May 3, 2013 at 12:04 AM

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Seattle Rep’s 2013-14 season: ‘The Suit,’ Holmes’ hound and ‘Virginia Woolf’

Seattle Repertory Theatre announces its 2013-14 season, which includes a Sherlock Holmes mystery, “Venus in Fur” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” as well as works by regional writers.

Seattle Times theater critic

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In addition to offering the Seattle premiere of the touring production of “The Suit,” staged with a South African cast by eminent director Peter Brook, the Seattle Repertory Theatre is readying a 2013-14 season with nods to Sherlock Holmes and Edward Albee, and three premieres by Northwest playwrights.

The new mainstage season at the Rep opens in September with Carlo Goldoni’s comedy “The Servant of Two Masters,” adapted by Connie Congdon and staged by comedy specialist Christopher Bayes. The production was staged earlier at the Guthrie, Yale Repertory and other regional theaters.

Next up, in November, is the world premiere of a new rendering of A. Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” a Sherlock Holmes mystery adapted by Seattle theater artists David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright.

“This is a big piece, a very faithful Victorian adaptation of the story,” says Seattle Rep artistic director Jerry Manning. “It’s not a Christmas show, but good family fare.” Allison Narver will direct.

In February 2014 comes “Venus in Fur,” a two-hander Broadway play by David Ives about the sexy cat-and-mouse game between an auditioning actress and a director, a coproduction with Arizona Theatre Company.

Also included is the previously announced The Suit,” an imported piece copresented by Seattle Theatre Group and based on a South African short story about a couple whose marriage is impacted by a suit of clothes left behind by the wife’s lover. “This may be the valedictory show by Brook,” Manning says of the revered, 88-year-old director, “and he was very keen to come to Seattle with it.”

Edward Albee’s signature play about matrimonial discord, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” will be the spring entry in the Bagley Wright Theatre. “It’s feisty, it’s mean, it’s a wonderful game of wits and most of all a marathon for great acting,” Rep associate artistic director Braden Abraham says of the famed play that had a recent hit revival on Broadway. Abraham will stage the production.

In the smaller Leo K. Theatre, two more works by Northwest playwrights are to be unveiled over the 2013-14 season.

Planned for October, “Bo-Nita” by Seattle writer Elizabeth Heffron, is “a mother-daughter story set in St. Louis and told through the perspective of a 13-year-old,” says Manning. “It’s a great slice of American regionalism.” Paul Budraitis will stage the script.

In the wings for January 2014: “A Great Wilderness” by emerging Idaho dramatist Sam Hunter. “It’s about a man in his late 70s who is running a gay conversion camp for teenage boys,” Manning says. “The last kid he’s working with goes missing, and the play becomes a beautifully articulated American tragedy.” Abraham is set to direct.

In addition to the shows mounted at the Rep, the company will also include in its 2013-14 subscription series the Paramount Theatre run of the hit Broadway musical “Once.”

With several debut runs of new plays, Seattle Rep’s next season bears the fruit of a revived program of script workshops and new play commissions that Manning says is key to his artistic mission: “We want more good new plays, more Northwest voices, more stories by Northwest writers for Northwest audiences.”

The company’s projected 2013-14 budget is $9.1 million, compared with the 2012-13 figure of $9.5 million (larger, according to the Rep, because of hefty expenses associated with producing the Cheryl West musical “Pullman Porter Blues”).

The 2012-13 attendance is on deck to match or possibly exceed the previous season, with”Pullman Porter Blues” and “Photograph 51” winning at the box office and a revival of “American Buffalo” selling the least well. Rep subscription ranks bumped up 10 percent over 2011-12, reaching about 9,500.

Given the still-murky fundraising climate, Manning says he’s uncertain at this point whether the current Rep season will finish in the black. “We’re not sure yet, but hopeful.”

He’s proud that the theater is nurturing and debuting new shows that are going on to success elsewhere, including “Pullman Porter Blues” and the Lisa Peterson-Denis O’Hare adaptation “An Iliad.” Among future projects the Rep is developing are the second part of Robert Schenkkan’s LBJ saga, “The Great Society,” and a dramatization of the Kristin Grind book “The Lost Bank,” about the rise and crash of Washington Mutual.

Info: 206-443-2222 or www.seattlerep.org.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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