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Originally published Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 12:03 AM

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Seattle Repertory Theatre announces 50th anniversary season

Seattle Repertory Theatre's 50th anniversary season, opening Sept. 27, will feature revivals, Broadway fare and new works.

Seattle Times theater critic

SEASON PREVIEW

Seattle Rep's 50th anniversary season

2012-13 season tickets are on sale now. Subscription packages range from $141-$472. Orders and details: 206-443-2222. Single tickets will be available later in the year.
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Fifty years ago, as part of the Seattle World's Fair, an 800-seat playhouse opened on the fairgrounds (now Seattle Center). After the exposition, the building became the first home of the region's first large-scale resident drama company, the Seattle Repertory Theatre.

The Rep, which has made the Bagley Wright Theatre its home since 1983, is ready to celebrate its golden anniversary, which 2012-13 season artistic director Jerry Manning says is dedicated to the past (the modern classics "American Buffalo," "The Glass Menagerie") the present (contemporary Broadway winners "War Horse," "Good People") and the future (a new-play mini-festival).

"There's a little peek backward and at artists who are at the core of Seattle Rep's identity," says Manning, who has led the theater since 2008. "But we're looking ahead too."

The Rep previously announced two shows on the 2012-13 list: the season-opening "Pullman Porter Blues" (Bagley Wright Theatre, Sept. 27-Oct. 28), a new blues musical by Seattle's Cheryl West about African-American train porters, which the Rep commissioned, workshopped and is coproducing with Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage.

And with the Paramount Theatre, the Rep will host a tour run and Seattle debut of the Tony-winning "War Horse" (at the Paramount, Feb. 12-24, 2013).

Also, a staging of the Tennessee Williams classic "The Glass Menagerie," mounted by Rep associate artistic director Braden Abraham and postponed from the 2011-12 season, will be offered (Leo K. Theatre, Oct. 19-Dec. 1).

The rest of the Rep's next lineup:

"Inspecting Carol" (Bagley Wright, Nov. 23-Dec. 23): This antic satire about a hapless theater troupe butchering "A Christmas Carol" was devised by ex-Rep head Daniel Sullivan and company actors in 1991. It has since had two encores at the Rep, and been staged countrywide.

Terming it "a signature piece" of the Rep, Manning says that he will direct and update with "a new generation of great Seattle comic actors."

"American Buffalo" (Bagley Wright, Jan. 11-Feb. 10, 2013): David Mamet's gritty work, which uses an inept robbery to critique U.S. values, will be mounted by Wilson Milam — director of a hit run of Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross" for the Rep in 2010. ("American Buffalo" had a noteworthy Seattle run in Seattle in 1991, when a young Paul Giamatti starred in a fringe offering.)

New Play Festival (Poncho Forum, January 2013): "We've commissioned so many new plays by good writers that we want to put some of them forth," explains Rep managing director Benjamin Moore, adding that some (not yet chosen) scripts will receive low-tech "studio productions."

"Photograph 51" (Leo K., Feb. 1-March 3, 2013): Abraham directs Anna Ziegler's bio-play about scientist Rosalind Franklin and her unsung role in the discovery of the double helix mechanism of DNA.

"Good People" (Bagley Wright, March 8-April 7, 2013): Upward and downward mobility are examined in David Lindsay-Abaire's penetrating tale of a struggling Boston woman's desperate encounter with a wealthy old flame.

"Boeing-Boeing" (Bagley Wright, April 19-May 19, 2013): This French sex farce hails from the early '60s, and the English version just had major Broadway-London revivals. The local hook? A new Boeing jet's fuel efficiency threatens the complex love life of a guy juggling several stewardess girlfriends. Says Manning, "It's a crowd-pleaser, a comedy that works like a Swiss watch."

As for this current season, thanks partly to the current season's extended runs of "Red" and "I Am My Own Wife," the Rep is holding its own fiscally, reports Manning. "Our overall numbers are good," he says, "and our budgets are balanced."

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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