Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s 2017-18 subscription season, featuring new and classic works by Tony Kushner, Julia Cho, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. A Series of Unfortunate Events scribe Lemony Snicket), Dominique Morisseau, Nilaja Sun, and Lillian Hellman, includes two world premieres and one West Coast premiere.
The forthcoming season's world premieres are Ain't Too Proud—The Temptations, penned by Morisseau and directed by Des McAnuff, and Handler's Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit, directed by artistic director Tony Taccone.
In the former, which features music and lyrics from the Motown catalog with orchestrations by Harold Wheeler, expect to hear such hits as “My Girl,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Poppa Was a Rolling Stone,” as Morisseau charts the rise of The Temptations from the streets of Detroit to “the greatest R&B group of all time.” The creative team for the previously reported project also includes Olivier Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo and musical director-supervisor-arranger Kenny Seymour. Performances will begin in August.
Handler, who is best known for the children’s novels A Series of Unfortunate Events he wrote as Lemony Snicket, will be represented at the California venue by Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit, which celebrates “ordinary people trying to make sense out of life in the midst of endless, comedic chaos that includes a bumbling rabbi, a hysterical widow, and, yes, the ghost of a dead rabbit.” Performances begin in October under the direction of Taccone, who previously directed Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead during Berkeley Rep's 2010-11 season.
The season will also include Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, directed by Taccone. This will be the first major production of this two-part epic in the Bay Area since 1994 and marks the first time Taccone directs it at Berkeley Rep. Part One: Millennium Approaches and Part Two: Perestroika, which begin in March 2018, will be performed in repertory.
Rounding out the season are Cho’s Office Hour, directed by Berkeley Rep associate director Lisa Peterson and described as a “searing and heartrending play about otherness, paranoia, and our essential human need for connection”; virtuoso artist Sun in the West Coast premiere of her latest solo show, Pike St., about a single mother who fights for her family's survival in the face of a hurricane; and Hellman’s classic Watch on the Rhine, also directed by Peterson. Performances for Watch on the Rhine begin in November 2017, Office Hour starts performances in February 2018, and Pike St. closes the season in May 2018.
“Both in terms of content and form, every play in the 2017-18 season is a radical attempt to reveal something about how we live,” said Taccone in a statement. “From Dominique Morisseau to Lemony Snicket, from Julia Cho to Tony Kushner to Lillian Hellman to Nilaja Sun…these writers have something to tell us, with a sense of political urgency, as they re-imagine the world in a way that’s entertaining, insightful, and ultimately irresistible.”
For more information, visit berkeleyrep.org.