The Washington, DC, company will present new works and modern classics in Arlington, VA (Arena Stage in Crystal City) and the nation's capital (at the historic Lincoln Theatre).
Writers represented this coming season will include Jane Anderson (the New York-aimed The Quality of Life starring JoBeth Williams), Lydia R. Diamond (the new play, Stick Fly), Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza), Duke Ellington (Sophisticated Ladies starring Maurice Hines), Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt (The Fantasticks) and D.W. Jacobs (who penned a one-man show about R. Buckminster Fuller).
In preparation for the opening of the theatre's renovated complex in Southwest DC, Arena Stage has undertaken Arena Restaged, a two-year festival of American voices. Part One in 2008-09 offered ten productions ranging from classics such as Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance to the Broadway-bound rock musical Next to Normal. Part Two "will continue the remarkable exploration of American work and provide the theatre with necessary time to move into the new Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater," to open in fall 2010.
Here's the 2009-10 season of Arena Restaged (Part Two):
The Quality of Life
By Jane Anderson
Directed by Lisa Peterson In association with Jonathan Reinis Productions and Stephen Eich
Sept. 11-Nov. 1 in Crystal City
"From Emmy Award-winning writer Jane Anderson ('Mad Men,' 'Normal') comes a drama filled with compassion, honesty and humor. In the wake of devastating personal tragedies, two cousins meet one weekend in an attempt to forge a friendship out of distant familial bonds. Steady, gentle Dinah (Academy Award nominee JoBeth Williams) and husband Bill, reeling from the loss of their daughter, find comfort in spirituality. Meanwhile, rebellious, energetic Jeanette and her ailing husband Neil mitigate illness and the destruction of their home through alternative practices. Can these couples from widely different political and religious backgrounds join together to confront their physical and emotional challenges of loss and survival? [It] harnesses spirit and fortitude while exploring the promise of love, the pride of endurance and the quality of life." The Fantasticks
Book and lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Directed by Amanda Dehnert
Nov. 20, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 at the Lincoln Theatre
"'Try to Remember' a time when The Fantasticks wasn't captivating audiences. The memorable score by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt enlivens the heart of this passionate musical that charmed Off-Broadway for a record-breaking 42 years. In a twist on the classic story of boy meets girl, Matt and Luisa are led by El Gallo from the wistfulness of 'when life was slow and oh so mellow' to the reality that 'without a hurt the heart is hollow.' Rising star director Amanda Dehnert re-imagines this timeless fable amid the thrills and chills of an amusement park, a perfect playground for the story's emotional carnival."
By Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Kenny Leon
Jan. 1–Feb. 7, 2010 in Crystal City
"Race and privilege intersect in this thought-provoking and lively modern family comedy directed by Kenny Leon (Broadway's Radio Golf and A Raisin in the Sun). One lazy summer weekend, Kent LeVay invites his fiancée, Taylor, to meet his parents at their luxurious Martha's Vineyard summer home. Taylor, under the microscope and unaccustomed to the surrounding wealth, challenges the household dynamic. The family ties rapidly unravel when Kent's womanizing older brother surprises everyone with his white girlfriend. Conflict and dysfunction ensue as the household vigorously airs their long-secret dirty linens along with the drapes. Be a fly on the wall as this exciting new American voice, playwright Lydia Diamond (The Bluest Eye), astutely examines African-American social aristocracy."
The Light in the Piazza
Book by Craig Lucas
Music and lyrics by Adam Guettel
Based on the novel by Elizabeth Spencer
Directed by Molly Smith
March 5–April 25, 2010 in Crystal City
"One windy day in the Tuscan countryside, Clara loses her hat in a sudden gust, and as if guided by fate, it lands at the feet of the handsome Fabrizio. As their whirlwind courtship unfolds, Clara's mother, Margaret, is unable to conceal the family secret and must reconsider not only her daughter's future but her own as well. Arena's own Molly Smith directs an intimate, chamber version of this musical that won six Tony Awards (including Best Score) and hearts across the country."
Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
Concept by Donald McKayle
Based on the music of Duke Ellington
Musical and dance arrangements by Lloyd Mayers
Vocal arrangements by Malcolm Dodds and Lloyd Mayers
Original music direction by Mercer Ellington
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
Choreographed by and starring Maurice Hines
April 9-May 30, 2010, at the Lincoln Theatre
"The Duke comes home to the Lincoln with Sophisticated Ladies, the award-winning musical revue that explores the legacy of our local jazz hero starring Broadway legend Maurice Hines. This glorious re-creation of the big band sound features some of the most memorable music from the Roaring Twenties to the Swing Era, including such classic songs as 'It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing,' 'Take the 'A' Train,' 'Satin Doll' and the haunting 'In a Sentimental Mood.' With one show-stopping number after another, this stylish and brassy retrospective travels through a history of American song and dance, from Charleston to swing to virtuosic tap dancing. It’s an abundance of riches from the most sophisticated and sassy jazz king of all."
R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe
A one-man show written and directed by D.W. Jacobs
From the life, work and writings of R. Buckminster Fuller
May 28-July 4, 2010 in Crystal City
"Does humanity have a chance to survive on planet Earth? Explore this question with Renaissance man R. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. Join us for an unforgettable journey inside one of the most remarkable minds of the 20th century in a dazzling, virtuoso multimedia performance. A hero of the green movement, Bucky framed many of the great environmental ideas of his time and ours. This is your chance to get to know the man and his world-saving mission. It may not only change your life but the life of our planet as well."
Part Two programming subscription packages for Arena Restaged are now on sale and may be purchased by calling the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300 or by visiting www.arenastage.org.
Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation's original resident theatre and has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation in the field. With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, Arena Stage "will be a leading center for the production, development and study of American theatre."