Quantum artistic director Karla Boos has needled me (more than once) for something I wrote last year, a fall-theater roundup that seemed to imply that Quantum was playing it safe by staging the musical Candide.
My point was merely that, in a down economy, theater companies tend to edge toward name works by name talents, and the legendary Candide (with music by Leonard Bernstein) seemed to apply.
Of course, musicals are anything but easy to stage, even if you don't mount them in a former auto-body shop, as Quantum did. All the moreso Candide, whose wicked satire costumed as farce is harder still to get right.
Quantum's production did. But even people who don't fall head over heels for every Quantum show acknowledge that, unlike any other long-lived troupe in town, the company essentially builds risk into its mission by staging every production as a site-specifc work ... at a different site.
"Long-lived," indeed: Quantum's just-announced upcoming season will be its 20th, a landmark for any company. And as usual, its three slated shows mark literal and figurative journeys into new terrain.
The season opens right around the corner, with the July 29-Aug. 22 production of The Howling Miller. It's based on a novel by Finnish author Arto Paasilinna, adapted for the stage by Boos and Canadian playwright and actor Peter Duschenes.
Quantum describes The Howling Miller as a fable about the tiny country of Lapland in the years after World War II. Duschenes will direct this, Quantum's traditional mid-summer outdoor show, the lupine overtones of whose title will be echoed in its staging at bosky Frick Environmental Center. It's sure to be eagerly anticipated by those who recall such atmospheric outdoor productions as The Crucible a few summers ago.
Peripatetic Quantum often doesn't nail down its venues till later, and such is the case with its other two 2010-11 shows.
Possibilities for inventive staging, however, seem rampant in Andrew Bovell's When the Rain Stops Falling (Oct. 28-Nov. 21). Andrew Bovell's epic family drama leaps about in time and place, from 1959 London to Australia in 2039, when fish are extinct and it rains all the time. Bovell also wrote Speaking in Tongues, which Quantum staged in 2002-03.
The season concludes next March with another musical: Astor Piazzolla's Maria De Buenos Aires (March 24-April 17), with a libretto by Horacio Ferrer, and music direction by Andres Cladera, who did such a good job on Candide. The play, which continues Boos' exploration of Latin culture and dance (think Yerma, The Red Shoes, The Voluptuous Tango), is described as "A tango operita from the streets of Buesnos Aires."