Billings Outpost: NOVA in the black for year 2

NOVA in black for year 2

Created on Thursday, 03 April 2014 19:32

Time travel, lecherous church elders, spelling bee competitors, stamp collecting thugs and Shakespeare. These are but the tip of the iceberg in the upcoming season at the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts.

Ambitious? Yes. Challenging? Yes. Doable? Yes, according to Interim Managing Producer Craig Huisenga.

Fourteen productions in the 10 months between August and May is something most theater companies wouldn’t consider. But, it is precisely what Mr. Huisenga had in mind when he accepted his new position: to establish NOVA as a true performing arts center. His vision includes more dance performances and classes, independent film screenings and a new identity for the two groups that have merged to become NOVA – Venture Theater and Rimrock Opera Company.

Mr. Huisenga refers to the merger as a marriage of convenience. “Venture had a building, but no money. Rimrock Opera had money, but no building. Now, we’re making our way, paying our taxes,” he added, noting an ongoing effort to establish a better business footing for the two arts organizations.

So far, so good. The first season has been financially successful, with all productions emerging in the black. With a stacked production calendar and an added push to rent event-space in the center to local organizations, the upcoming season looks to be equally successful.  

The 2014-15 main stage seasons kicks off with “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. The comedy captured the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play. With Chekov-laced references, the play has been called the “strongest comedy Broadway has to offer.” It will run Sept. 12-27 in the Roebling Theater. The remaining productions are as follows:

• “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by William Finn. This comedic musical looks at life through a nerd’s-eye lens, featuring young adults in the roles of the six kids vying for the championship. Oct. 10-25 in the Roebling Theater.

• “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi, a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, will be sung in the original Italian. Oct. 30, Nov. 1 at the Alberta Bair Theater.

• “Mauritius” by Teresa Rebeck is the featured “Rankin File” selection of the season. Two sisters discover their dead father has left them a pair of very rare stamps. And the plot grows stickier from there. Nov. 7-22 in the Black Box Theater.

• “It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play” by Joe Landry features just a handful of actors bouncing from role to role – and sound effect to sound effect. Dec. 5-20 in the Roebling Theater.

• “Amahl and the Night Visitors” by Gian Carlo Menotti is being considered for an annual staging at NOVA. Jan. 9-11 in the Roebling Theater.

• “Twelfth Night, or What You Will” by William Shakespeare. Girl meets boy.  Girl disguises as boy to be near boy. Girl (disguised as boy) is pursued by girl loved by boy. Trust me, it’s funny. Jan. 16-31 in the Black Box Theater.

• “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd. Opera meets the hill country of Tennessee in this McCarthy-era twist of false accusations, rumors and lust. Feb. 6, 8, 13, 15. Directed by Doug Nagel in the Roebling Theater.

• “Communicating Doors,” by Alan Ayckbourn. One hotel suite, three different eras and an audience gasping for air in this hilarious tale of time travel.  March 20 to April 4 in the Roebling Theater.

• “A Little Night Music” by Stephen Sondheim. The Tony Award winner that brought us the hit song “Send in the Clowns.” May 15-30 in the Roebling Theater.

The Youth Conservatory season features:

• “Big, the Musical” by John Weidman. Based on the hit film starring Tom Hanks, a young boy unwittingly becomes an adult overnight. Aug. 14-24 in the Roebling Theater.

• “Boy at the Edge of Everything” by Finegan Kruckemeyer. Embrace a young boy’s imagination as he travels through space and time. Oct. 3-12 in the Black Box Theater.

• “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. Long considered one of the great pieces of children’s literature, the story is about four young travelers who discover Narnia and the evil witch that rules the land.  Feb. 27, March 1, 6, 8 in the Roebling Theater.

• “Dinosaurs Before Dark” by Mary Pope Osborne. Another time travel adventure as two friends find themselves living inside the pages of a book among dinosaurs and other ancient creatures. April 17-26 in the Roebling Theater.

For more information, visit or call 591-9535.