Bay Street Theatre is opening its 2014 summer Mainstage Season on May 27 with a nicely theatrical and serendipitous plot twist: Not only will this be the first season under the Sag Harbor theater’s new Artistic Director, Scott Schwartz, but the world premiere that is launching the season, “Conviction,” will be directed by none other than Schwartz himself.

World premieres are bookending the season this year, with “Conviction,” a new play by Carey Crim, getting things started from May 27 through June 15, and “My Life Is a Musical,” with book, music and lyrics by Adam Overett, closing it out from July 29 through August 31.  In between the two world premieres, Bay Street will stage a revival of Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning “Travesties” from June 24 through July 20

Schwartz, speaking as the theater’s new Artistic Director, was quoted in a release saying he is excited about the lineup, calling it “a season about art and revolution.”

“By presenting two world premieres and a comic masterpiece by one of the greatest living playwrights,” he said, “I hope to give our audience productions that are provocative, unusual, and most importantly entertaining. These plays and musicals start you thinking while engaging your heart and tickling your funny bone, and they tell compelling stories and raise issues that we hope will be the subject of conversation and debate all summer long.”

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Scott Schwartz directing. Photo courtesy Bay Street Theatre.

Scott Schwartz directing. Photo courtesy Bay Street Theatre.

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Kicking off the schedule on May 27, “Conviction” tells the story of a well-respected and charismatic professor whose reputation, career and home life are thrown into question in an instant after a student levels  allegations against him.

Changing hats for the first show of the season, Schwartz brings a long list of Broadway and award-winning Off-Broadway directing credits to the task of taking the helm for “Conviction.”

The play is a “very exciting modern drama about family and friendship,” he said in a phone interview, noting that “it delves deep into relationships and explores the ways in which we all must realize that we can never truly know the people we share relationships with, we can only have our convictions.” The play ultimately poses the question of how can one continue to live with conviction once the seeds of mistrust have been planted?

Opening for its first preview on Tuesday, May 27, “Conviction” boasts a cast that will be familiar to moviegoers and theater lovers alike. Featured players are Garret Dillahunt (“Raising Hope”, “12 Years a Slave”), Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story”, “12 Years a Slave”), Elizabeth Reaser (“Twilight” films, Second Stage’s revival of “How I Learned to Drive”), Brian Hutchison (“Man and Boy”, “Looped”), and Daniel Burns (“Twelfth Night,” “Shipwrecked!”).

“These are wonderful actors of stage and screen,” Schwartz said. “I’m so happy to be able to bring them all to Bay Street."

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"Conviction" cast in rehearsal. Photo by Barry Gordin. Courtesy Bay Street Theatre.

"Conviction" cast in rehearsal. Photo by Barry Gordin. Courtesy Bay Street Theatre.

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The production team working under Schwartz’s direction includes Anna Louizos (set design), Mike Billings (lighting design), Jessica Ford (costume design), Bart Fasbender (sound design), Kathy Fabian (props design), and Jessie Vacchiano (production stage manager).

Next up in the Mainstage Season and slated for a first preview on June 24 will be Tom Stoppard’s Tony Award-winning comedy “Travesties,” set in 1917 and 1974 in Zurich, Switzerland. Back on stage at Bay Street for this production in the role of British consul Henry Carr, will be Richard Kind (“Spin City”, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”, “The Producers”). Carr encounters some of the most famous figures of the 20th century, from James Joyce to Tristan Tzara to Lenin, via an amateur production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

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Richard Kind. Photo courtesy Bay Street Theatre.

Richard Kind. Photo courtesy Bay Street Theatre.

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Gregory Boyd will direct Stoppard’s theatrical extravaganza, which critics have said thrives as much on brilliant wit and wordplay as it does on song-and-dance, striptease and pie fights. Targeting the role of the artist within his society, this comedy about the spirit of art and revolution has gained renown for being as thought-provoking as it is funny.

Rounding out the summer season will be the world premiere of “My Life Is a Musical,” with the first preview on July 29. The show tells the story of Parker, a man who discovers to his dismay that the world around him has become an all-singing, all-dancing musical, despite his own outspoken distaste for this theatrical genre. Things grow more difficult, and funny, as it becomes apparent that all those people singing and dancing around him haven’t the faintest idea of what he’s talking about when he tries addressing the matter.

“My Life Is a Musical” features a new score as well as book and lyrics by Adam Overett and direction and choreography by Marlo Hunter.

For the 2014 Mainstage Season, Schwartz is bringing some new partnerships to Bay Street. “Conviction” will be produced in association with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Rubicon Theatre Company and Dead Posh Productions. “My Life Is a Musical” will be presented in association with Martin Platt, David Elliott, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Joan Raffe and Jhett Tolentino, and Patrick Blake.

The 2014 Mainstage Season is sponsored in part by New York State through the work of Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle; the New York State Council on The Arts; the Town of Southampton; The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust; The Shubert Foundation; and the Suffolk County Executive’s Office. Preview weeks for all three productions are sponsored by Peconic Landing.

BASIC FACTS: Bay Street Theatre’s 2014 Mainstage Season features “Conviction” by Carey Crim (May 27 to June 15); “Travesties” by Tom Stoppard (June 24 to July 20) and “My Life Is a Musical,” with book, music and lyrics by Adam Overett (July 29 to August 31). For tickets and information, visit www.baystreet.org. Bay Street Theatre is located at 1 Bay Street (On the Long Wharf), Sag Harbor, NY 11963.

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Copyright 2014 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.

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