Three words are guiding Jeremy Quinn as he plans the 2011-12 season at The White Plains Performing Arts Center.
“Family, family, family,” he says, adding: “We want to do well-known, family friendly, recognizable award-winning titles.”
In other words, not what was done last season.
WPPAC endured a rocky spring, canceling the final production of its 2010-11 season and losing the team that had reimagined the City Center venue as a home for new works. Gone are executive director Laurence Holzman, literary manager Felicia Needleman and artistic director Annette Jolles.
Gone, too, are brand-new works.
Still here is Quinn, the man behind the theater’s successful Conservatory youth theater, who is now producing artistic director at the theater next to the multiplex on the top floor of the City Center mall in downtown White Plains.
Quinn is sticking to the tried and true in a three-show season.
First up is the 1983 Tony-winning best musical, “Cats,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ode to T.S. Eliot, Dec. 9 to 18 and Dec. 28 to 30. Quinn will direct, with the choreography by Greg Baccarini, who choreographed the show at Nyack High School years ago. Musical director will be Kurt Kelley, who served the same role at Nyack.
Ken Ludwig’s opera-based straight comedy “Lend Me a Tenor,” which was nominated for the best-revival Tony in 2010, will play WPPAC March 9 to 18, 2012.
Come the spring of 2012, the 1991 Tony-winner for best book of a musical, “The Secret Garden” (based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett) takes to the mainstage, running May 11 to 20.
Another big shift will be Quinn’s efforts to renegotiate the venue’s contract with Actors Equity, the union for professional actors, that sets pay scales and work rules. Last season’s contract was for productions with all-Equity casts.
“We want our shows to be a mix of Equity and non-Equity,” Quinn says. “We don’t want to close the door to Equity, but we want the best person for the job to get the job and for it to be accessible to as many actors as possible, especially local talent.”
Quinn added that he could foresee a company for “Cats” that had professionals in the leading roles of Grizabella, Old Deuteronomy and others, with non-Equity actors in smaller roles.
The discussions with Equity will “need to happen soon,” the director says, as auditions and production schedules need to be set.
Details and subscription information at the White Plains Performing Arts Center website.
The White Plains Performing Arts Center is at 11 City Place, White Plains. 914-328-1600.