PlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off the New Year with a sparkling comedy classic, “Private Lives” by Noel Coward, onstage Jan. 22-Feb. 9.

PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Special events associated with the show begin Jan. 13.

Sparks fly when divorced, newly remarried lovers land in adjacent honeymoon suites one glorious evening on the Riviera igniting a timeless battle of the sexes. A comic masterpiece wrapped up in the epitome of 20th century glamour and whip-smart wit of the incomparable Noel Coward, “Private Lives” is sophisticated, urbane, and as hilariously catty as they come.

The New York Times called the Tony and Olivier Award-winner “an enduring marriage of wit and lust…one of the funniest comedies of the 20th century.” The Times of London wrote, “What an entertaining play it is!”

Coward, an English playwright, composer, director and actor, known for his wit, charm, and what Time Magazine called “a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise” starred in the original 1930 production. He later wrote, “The critics described ‘Private Lives’ as ‘gossamer, iridescent, and delightfully daring’. All of which connoted in the public mind cocktails, repartee and irreverent allusions to copulation.”

PlayMakers performances will be in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Show times will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays and Saturday, Feb. 1.

Theater-goers can add to their enjoyment with special Café Society seating. For $20 in addition to the price of a Section A show ticket, a Café Society upgrade includes floor seating surrounding the stage next to the action, plus mocktails designed by The Crunkleton and appetizers and coffee from The Weathervane at Southern Season served 1930s style.

For a complete schedule, more information and to purchase tickets, call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit www.playmakersrep.org. Individual ticket prices start at $15. Tickets are also available as part of PlayMakers subscription packages.

PlayMakers company members Julie Fishell and Jeffrey Blair Cornell will play the couple with tempestuous marital history. They appeared together last season as Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz in “Cabaret” and in very different guises as Prospero and Caliban in PlayMakers’ recent production of “The Tempest.” 

“Private Lives” is directed by Sean Daniels, Director of Artistic Engagement and Artist-at-Large for Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, NY, co-founder of Atlanta’s Dad’s Garage Theatre and former Associate Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he directed a record 17 productions in four years including five Humana Festivals of New American Plays. He has been named “One of the top fifteen up and coming artists in the U.S., whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come” by American Theatre Magazine.

In conjunction with “Private Lives,” PlayMakers will host “The Vision Series-Directors in Conversation,” a behind-the-scenes preview with Daniels accompanied by designers for the play Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Paul Green Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. Participants share coffee and hors d’oeuvres provided by series sponsor Jujube Restaurant, learn about the vision for the show and get a sneak peek at the sets and costumes in progress. Reservations are appreciated. Call PlayMakers’ box office at 919.962.7529 to RSVP.

Other special events will include:

·         Jan. 13, 7 p.m.: “In the Wings,” presented by PlayMakers and the Durham County Library. Cast and creative team members (designers, actors and production personnel) discuss the plays at the Southwest Regional Library, 3605  Shannon Road, Durham;

·         Jan. 22-24, 7:30 p.m.: preview performances;

·         Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.: opening night performance with complimentary gala party afterward;

·         Jan. 28: an all-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description;

·         Jan. 29 and Feb. 2: free post-show discussions with members of the creative team;

·         Feb. 1, 2 p.m.: open captioned performance;

·         Feb. 8 and 9: free post-show “Mindplay” discussions sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society.

Carolina Meadows and Cousins Properties Incorporated are co-producing sponsors for “Private Lives.”

PlayMakers continues its Mainstage Season with the regional premiere of “Love Alone” (Feb. 26-March 16) followed by Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical “Assassins” (April 2-20). 

PlayMakers is based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. The Drama League (new York) has named PlayMakers among the “best regional theatre companies in America.”

Coverage note: Media are welcome to cover “The Vision Series” preview with director Sean Daniels at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15. Photography, videography, lights and flashes are not restricted. For assistance, call (919) 962-5359.

PlayMakers website: www.playmakersrep.org

PlayMakers contact: For press information, interviews, photos or poster art, contact Connie Mahan, (919) 962-5359, cmahan@email.unc.edu.