The Washington, D.C., company's eclectic 2007-08 season, announced March 21, will see an expansion of Arena's traditional eight-play schedule, with two additional limited-run presentations completing the line-up.
The season kicks off in the Kreeger Theater with a world premiere by Moisés Kaufman, who created Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Laramie Project, and directed the Pulitzer and Tony-winning I Am My Own Wife. The co-production with Tectonic Theater Project is known by its working title 33 Variations. It "shares one woman's artistic exploration into Beethoven's inexplicable obsession with Anton Diabelli's simple waltz."
The next production in the Kreeger is the season's second world premiere and first musical, the previously announced The Women of Brewster Place. Based on Gloria Naylor's critically acclaimed novel, Tim Acito's musical adaptation delves into the personal relationships, hopes and desires of a group of African-American women who persevere in the face of life's disappointments. Molly Smith directs the musical, developed at Arena and co-produced with Atlanta's Alliance Theater, with a cast that includes E. Faye Butler, Harriett D. Foy and Marva Hicks. (Acito penned the Off-Broadway musical, Zanna, Don't!.)
The third world premiere follows in the Fichandler: Christmas Carol 1941, a fresh take on Dickens' classic tale by James Magruder that transposes the story from Victorian London to Washington D.C. on the heels of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Tony Award nominee Tina Fabrique (seen at Arena in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Crowns) heats up the Kreeger stage next in Ella, a musical about the life, times and music of the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald. For the season's final two Fichandler productions, Arena Stage celebrates an American master with a tribute to Arthur Miller. Anchoring this salute are productions of two of his most acclaimed plays, running in true repertory and featuring the same acting company — A View from the Bridge and Death of a Salesman. Daniel Aukin directs A View from the Bridge. Timothy Bond directs Death of a Salesman. Nancy Robinette will play Linda Loman in the latter.
In addition the Festival will feature Monday evening readings, screenings and lectures exploring Miller's other work.
The Fichandler season will begin with Arena's production of Well by Lisa Kron. This 2006 Tony-nominated, form-bending "solo play with other actors" is "a hilarious attempt to tell the truth — and nothing but the truth — about a mother and a daughter."
The 2007-2008 season ends in the Kreeger with the high-camp hijinks of Charles Ludlam's outrageous gothic comedy The Mystery of Irma Vep, co-starring Tony Award nominee Brad Oscar (recently of Arena's Damn Yankees and Cabaret) and J. Fred Shiffman (She Loves Me, Cabaret) and directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman.
Arena adds two special attractions to its eight-play season.
The first production, Daniel Beaty's one-man show Emergence-SEE!, returns in summer 2007 for an encore presentation, after captivating Arena audiences with three sold-out performances in February 2007. By special arrangement, Beaty's July 9 performance kicks off the return of The Hip Hop Theater Festival in D.C.
In the spring of 2008, the outrageous musical revue Kiki & Herb: Alive on Broadway, co-created and performed by Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman, makes its D.C. debut in the Kreeger Theater.
Season subscription packages are now on sale and may be purchased by calling Arena Stage Subscriptions at (202) 488-4377, or by visiting www.arenastage.org.
Here are details about Arena Stage's three world premieres for 2007-08:
33 Variations, a world premiere co-production with Tectonic Theater Project, written and directed by Moisés Kaufman, Aug. 24-Sept. 30: "In 1819, fledgling publisher Anton Diabelli commissioned 50 composers to write a variation on a waltz he had created. Beethoven rejected the invitation, dismissing Diabelli's waltz as ordinary. He then obsessively created 33 variations on Diabelli's theme. Why? Kaufman's play weaves Beethoven's artistic journey with that of Katherine, a contemporary musicologist wrestling to pin down the source of his inexplicable fascination with a seemingly insignificant piece of music. Deciphering clues left behind in Beethoven's notebooks and letters, Katherine delves into his compositional process and daily life — and finds even greater insight into her own obsession with genius."
The Women of Brewster Place, a world premiere musical co-production with Alliance Theater, music, lyrics and book by Tim Acito, based on the novel by Gloria Naylor, directed by Molly Smith, Oct. 19-Dec. 9, 2007: "This soaring musical adaptation of The Women of Brewster Place chronicles the dreams and realities of ten diverse African-American women who live in a decaying housing project on a dead-end street. Haunted by pasts full of mistakes and tragedies, and threatened by an environment full of poverty and prejudice, will the women overcome their differences and come together as a community before it's too late?"
Christmas Carol 1941, a world premiere holiday event adapted from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, by James Magruder, directed by Molly Smith, Nov. 16-Dec. 30: "Dec. 24, 1941. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Washington, D.C. prepares for war — and for celebrating an uncertain Christmas. The Schroen family of Southeast D.C. keeps the holiday spirit alive while facing food shortages, a housing crunch and a son who wants to enlist despite his mother's fears. Meanwhile, ensconced in his G Street office, Elijah Strube doesn't care about the imminent holiday or battling tyranny. He is consumed by the money to be made in war profiteering. After three local spirits take him on an incredible journey, a reformed Strube is committed to serving his community, country and fellow man. Featuring period songs and traditional carols, this fresh take on Dickens' classic tale by James Magruder (Broadway's Triumph of Love) breathes new life into a beloved story. This holiday event is magical family entertainment."