Few know more about resilience and human ingenuity than the performing arts world. You can close down their theaters, put masks on their audience members or force wildfire smoke down their hardworking lungs, and they’ll still get right back up and do what they do best: entertain us.
And our need to be entertained is particularly acute right now.
As the weather warms up, local theater and dance companies will roll out rosters full of escapist fun, taking innovative approaches to identifying new talent, supporting each other and engaging audiences. Many are playing catch-up, finally unveiling shows they’ve waited two years to present (and you’ve waited two years to see).
Here’s your guide to the Reno area’s summer performing arts scene. It’s by no means all-inclusive—some companies had no information available as of press time, and others could not be reached. My apologies to anyone I’ve overlooked.
Be sure to check companies’ websites for schedule and ticketing details.
Reno’s only readers’ theater troupe takes pride in its ability to tell stories using only a script, actors and imagination. With only the barest of sets and costumes, actors perform dramatic readings of a rotating monthly slate of theater classics. All performances are free (donations are welcome) and take place at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.
On June 7 and 10, look for Bernard Slade’s Same Time, Next Year, about a man and a woman, both of whom are married to other people, who sleep together and then agree to meet at the same inn on every anniversary of their one-night stand.
Next comes Brandon Thomas’ classic farce, Charley’s Aunt, about a young man who has been persuaded to impersonate the elderly, wealthy aunt of one of his friends. It runs July 19 and 22, with an added special performance on Wednesday, July 20.
Also, ART is looking to add to its stable of actors. Visit the website to learn more.
One of summer’s most highly anticipated shows returns this July to Bartley Ranch Regional Park July 15-16. A.V.A.’s Vortex, the Ballet That Rocks, blends ballet with contemporary rock and pop hits, complex sets, interesting props and innovative lighting design. The result is fun, not fussy, and—bonus—it’s free.
Next is one of two local productions of Swan Lake coming to Reno this summer. A.V.A.’s version, coming Sept. 17-18 to the Pioneer Center, will feature the grand scale and classic story that have traditionally been part of this beloved classic about Odette, who has been turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer and must find her true love to break the spell. The Reno Philharmonic provides the score, and the large cast includes dancers from four Reno-area ballet studios.
The game’s afoot … the game of Clue, that is. The beloved game of whodunit (and one of my favorite comedy films) takes the Brüka stage June 10. Director Mary Bennett plans to bring the game experience to the stage, complete with a board painted on the floor, and game pieces that help make the audience part of the proceedings.
Also running through June are the final installations of Brüka’s Invigoration Series, a collection of workshops funded by a grant from the Nevada Arts Council. Topics will include Monday night Actor Workouts led by Bennett, and a Women in Comedy workshop led by local improv and comic actor Stacy Johnson.
In the second week of July, Brüka also will bring back its summer camp for youths ages 12 to 18. This two-week intensive theater program returns students to the Brukalton Academy of Magic and Ridiculousness, a Hogwarts-type land where they will work together, under the guidance of professional artists, to produce a play from scratch.
The company wraps its season this summer and will prepare to celebrate its 30th season, which will, fingers crossed, feature the return of the season ticket program.
GLM’s summer schedule may provoke a sense of déjà vu; it features a couple plays that were originally slated for 2020. Good things come to those who wait.
First, there’s The Revolutionists by Lauren Gunderson, which wraps May 28. It’s a comedic retelling of history featuring four kick-ass female legends—playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, former queen Marie Antoinette and Haitian rebel Marianne Angell—during the French Revolution.
On June 17 and 18, catch the Ten 10-Minute Play Festival. You’ll see 10 original works from 10 different directors, each written specifically for this festival in response to a prompt—and running 10 minutes in length. Plays were specifically solicited from high school and college students with the intent of developing emerging talent.
Straight out of the 2020 lineup comes another highly anticipated, irreverent comedy: Matt Cox’s Puffs, July 8-30. It’s the story of seven years at a certain school of magic, where a certain famous wizard does some important things. But he doesn’t live in the frequently ignored Hufflepuff house, which is what this story is really about.
GLM’s commitment to new work has helped it to become a proving ground for up-and-coming playwrights. Last year, it was home to the world premiere of Gina Stevenson’s The Colony, and this year, its New Works Initiative will return Aug. 12-27 to present three more new works. The first of these is Donna Hoke’s Finding Neil Patrick Harris, the story of two nail techs who become an unlikely team when they hear a favorite customer’s bizarre dying wish, and set out to help make it come true. Two staged readings will be presented during this run: Justin Lopez’s The Re-education of Fernando Morales on Aug. 20, and Amy Tofte’s Cardboard Castles Hung on Walls on Aug. 27.
Then all eyes turn to October, when executive director Chris Daniels, who is stepping down from his post to pursue other interests, will do a farewell performance of the first show of his tenure with GLM, Evil Dead: The Musical.
RLT’s summer lineup seems to be a study of group dynamics. First comes Native Gardens by Karen Zacarias, running June 10-26. It’s the story of a young Latino couple—Pablo, a high-powered lawyer, and his pregnant, doctoral candidate wife, Tania—who become first-time homeowners and soon are embroiled in an all-out war over a fence line.
Then comes another show originally slated for 2020: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, July 15-Aug. 7. This musical comedy about middle schoolers facing off in a spelling bee will include audience interaction. (Brush up on your spelling, folks.)
Though its own season will wrap in August, RLT also plays host to Ageless Repertory Theatre and Sunday For the Love of Jazz shows, held monthly. Look for fusion jazz group NIMBUS on June 19 and The Jazzettes (Cami Thompson, Erika Paul and Julie Machado) on July 17.
RLT also will support another local performing arts company, Sierra School of Performing Arts, for its summer production of Into the Woods. (See below to.)
I couldn’t be happier to say that Artown shows are back at Wingfield Park this summer, and a capstone of the annual arts festival is Sierra Nevada Ballet’s Dancing by the River, on July 12. This free performance of eight works will showcase different styles of choreography, from classical ballet to jazz and tap. Tap superstar Sam Weber and singer Cami Thompson will also perform.
Next from SNB is the summer’s other Swan Lake, choreographed by artistic director Rosine Bena, who set out to make the classical ballet more appealing for younger, modern audiences by shortening it from four acts to two, and changing the original melancholy ending to one that Bena though was more believable (and less of a bummer). It will appear at three venues: the Eldorado Showroom on July 22, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival on July 25, and the Carson City Community Center on Aug. 6.
The Broadway Comes to Reno series will bring two perennial favorites to the Pioneer stage this summer. From June 14-19, catch Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece Cats; then Hadestown, the musical based on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, takes the stage July 26-31.
The Pioneer also will host several local productions, including the Reno Philharmonic’s Disney in Concert show on June 5; Core Connection Dancy Company’s performance on June 9; and, of course, A.V.A. Ballet’s Swan Lake.
This newly renovated theater on Keystone Avenue is Reno’s home to Kevin and Caruso’s Magique, which features dazzling illusions and slick production quality, including special effects and multimedia. The show runs every Saturday and is appropriate for all ages.
Though RogueWorx’s residency of #Millennial wraps on May 27, the company plans its return in winter.
Reno’s resident youth theater company joins the Artown fun with its production of Little Shop of Horrors, July 8-31, in its updated space on Spokane Street. The show puts some of the company’s longtime actors at center stage to demonstrate their talents in this dynamic musical.
TWNN also returns its summer theater camp in two week-long sessions, June 13-24, as well as classes for littles and teens; see the website for details.
RAT, which has been one of the most prolific local theater companies over the last two turbulent years, is working hard to prepare for an ambitious sixth season, launching this fall.
In the meantime, you have July’s Admissions by Joshua Harmon, a comedy about an admissions officer at a liberal New England prep school who is struggling to diversify the school in line with the 21st century values and her own parental desires.
SSPA’s late-summer outdoor performances at Bartley Ranch have lately fallen victim to smoke, with the forced cancellation of many performances the last two years.
Fortunately, Reno Little Theater stepped up to offer its space as a contingency location, should SSPA’s summer 2022 production of Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical Into the Woods suffer a similar fate. The show is scheduled to run August 12-27 at Bartley Ranch, as usual, but RLT will hold some dates aside for contingencies. Further September performances also will be specifically ticketed for RLT’s smaller indoor venue (dates TBD).
CARSON CITY/CARSON VALLEY
It all started with a line of greeting cards, Nunsense, featuring a nun offering comedic quips. They became so popular that their creator, Dan Goggin, expanded them in a cabaret show, The Nunsense Story, whichCVCT presented several years ago. Now its sequel, Nunsense II: The Second Coming, aboutfive performing nuns looking to make it big,from CVCT director Ann Delahay, will take the stage July 15-24 at the CVIC Hall in Minden.
Commune with spirits as Madame Curry—wife of the capitol’s founder and your guide (played by Mary Bennett)—and her fellow “spirit wranglers” take you on a walking tour of Carson City’s most historic and haunted locales. The 90-minute tours depart from Bob McFadden Plaza on Saturdays.
Broadway-style musicals with impressive production quality have become a mainstay of this company, which offers opportunities for both children and adults.
Wild Horse Stage Company, its adult division, looks to take on high-stepping classic A Chorus Line, August 19-28 at the Brewery Arts Center. The company has brought on Anthony Mendoza, a local inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) consultant, to assist in ensuring equitable, inclusive casting and staging for this production.
Wild Horse Children’s Theater will be focused on its summer camp, Camp Whoville, July 18-22, which will focus on Dr. Seuss’ Seussical JR., the company’s spring 2023 production. In August, look for auditions for the fall production of Oliver! JR.
According to Joe Atack, LTSF’s education director, tickets are selling faster for the upcoming 2022 season than in years past. Perhaps it’s this year’s lineup. From July 1-Aug. 21, in addition to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, one of the Bard’s most popular comedies, the festival also will present, in rotation, the smash hit musical Mamma Mia!, as well as a series of local entertainment from the Reno Philharmonic, the Reno Jazz Orchestra and more.