The world-premiere works, both surfacing in 2012, are Renee Calarco's The Religion Thing, about a DC couple reexamining their marriage when a friend announces she's found Jesus; and the commission The Kinsey Sicks Take (A)Back America, the group's "campaign to become the first Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet to win the Republican nomination for President."
Artistic director Ari Roth also announced the previously reported Imagining Madoff, plus a "radical new restaging" of Arthur Miller's After the Fall, the return of David Ives' New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, Matthew Lopez's The Whipping Man, a co-production of the musical Parade, David Bar Katz's The History of Invulnerability and a new plays festival called "Locally Grown: Community Supported Art/From Our Own Garden."
The festival is made up of "four mini-commissions, round-table discussions and readings throughout the summer and fall, culminating in staged readings throughout January and February." The Locally Grown festival "will feature works from area writers at every stage of development, and incorporates three main components: the world premiere of The Religion Thing, a new play by emerging playwright Renee Calarco" (directed by her older brother, Joe, a busy national director); "workshop presentations of The Prostate Dialogues, a new solo performance piece by established artist Jon Spelman; and four readings of new works by local playwrights Jacqueline Lawton, Stephen Spotswood, Gwydion Suilebhan, and performance artist Laura Zam."
Additionally, actress Jennifer Mendenhall was also announced as Theater J's third associate artist. She last appeared at Theater J in the 2011 Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival, performing in staged readings of A Railway to Damascus, I'm Speaking to you Chinese and The Admission. Mendenhall is a recipient of the Helen Hayes Award, for which she has been nominated 13 times. In her residency at Theater J, she will appear in Imagining Madoff and After the Fall.
Theater J’s 2011-2012 season at a glance: Aug. 31-Sept. 25
By Deb Margolin
Directed by Alexandra Aron
Featuring Rick Foucheux, Jennifer Mendenhall and Mike Nussbaum
"Unrepentant Ponzi-schemer Bernard Madoff sets the record straight from his prison cell, recounting an all-night study session with Holocaust survivor, poet and investment client, Solomon Galkin. With testimony from Madoff's personal secretary before the Securities and Exchange Commission, we delve into the minds of two towering men, as their mutual will to confide and confess accelerates through the night."
Sept. 22-Oct. 30
A Special Co-production with Ford's Theatre Parade
Book by Alfred Uhry
Music by Jason Robert Brown
Directed by Stephen Rayne
At Ford's Theatre
Featuring Tony Award nominee Euan Morton as Leo Frank
With Carolyn Agan, Sandy Bainum, Christopher Bloch, Erin Driscoll, Jenny Fellner, Will Gartshore, Matthew Kacergis, Kellee Knighten, James Konicek, Kevin McAllister, Stephen F. Schmidt, Christopher Sizemore Christopher Talbert, Bligh Voth and Lauren Williams
Performing at Ford's Theatre
"The Tony Award-winning musical drama Parade features the true story of Leo Frank's trial and lynching in early 20th-century Atlanta. Ostracized for his faith and Northern heritage, Jewish factory manager Leo Frank is accused of murdering a teenaged factory girl the day of the annual Confederate Memorial Day parade."
Oct. 26-Nov. 27
After the Fall
By Arthur Miller
Directed by Jose Carrasquillo
Featuring Mitchell Hébert, Jennifer Mendenhall, Gabriela Fernández-Coffey, Kimberly Schraf, Tim Getman, Stephen Patrick Martin, Joe Brack, Dana Levanovsky, and Kerry Waters
"Miller's most personal play explores one man's quest to make peace with history; his own and the tumultuous world around him. In the wake of the tragic death of his famous second wife Maggie, Quentin desperately tries to move forward in his life and pursue a relationship with Holga. Yet he is compelled to relive his childhood losses, failed marriages and the controversial policies of the 1950s Blacklist which turned allies against each other and leaves Quentin, in the end, both noble hero and complicit bystander."
Jan. 4-29, 2012
The Religion Thing
By Renee Calarco
Directed by Joe Calarco
Featuring Colleen Delany, Will Gartshore, Kimberly Gilbert, Patrick Smith and Chris Stezin
"Mo and Brian are a picture-perfect DC couple: they're smart, they're witty, and have a beautifully remodeled kitchen. But when Mo's best friend Patti announces she's found Jesus and is putting her own career on hold, Mo must take a closer look at the harder truths surrounding her own marriage. A brand new comedy about relationships, faith, ghosts in the closet and the fine line between compromise and regret."
Feb. 4-19, 2012
The Kinsey Sicks Takes (A)Back America
A World Premiere Commission
"Join the Kinsey Sicks at the official launch of their groundbreaking campaign to become the first Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet to win the Republican nomination for President! With an ear attuned to current events, watch the gals try to take America (a)back to a place it never was by out-pandering, out-conspiracy theory-ing and out-outlandishing even the most cynical of the current crop of Presidential candidates, all in glorious, tongue-in-cheek four-part harmony. The Kinsey Sicks began in 1993, when four friends went to a Bette Midler concert in drag, not realizing that they would be the only ones at the concert to do so."
Feb. 29-April 1, 2012
New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch De Spinoza
By David Ives
Directed by Jeremy Skidmore
Featuring Helen Hayes Award nominees Alexander Strain and Michael Tolaydo With Ethan Bowen, Brandon McCoy, Colleen Delany and Larry Redmond
"The return of Theater J's 2010 sold-out production. A literate, suspenseful retelling of the story of the 1656 interrogation of philosopher Baruch de Spinoza, New Jerusalem examines the clash between religion and modernity, faith and philosophy — questions that human beings continue to grapple with. Culminating with a national symposium debating the continuing writ of excommunication against Spinoza."
April 18-May 20, 2012
The Whipping Man
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Mark Ramont
Featuring Alexander Strain and David Emerson Toney
"1865; Richmond, Virginia: Two newly-freed slaves and the son of their former master — a Jewish Confederate soldier who has retreated to the burnt remains of his home — inhabit the disordered aftermath of the just-concluded War Between the States. As the three men celebrate a most unconventional Passover Seder, they uncover a snarl of secrets and examine what it really means to be free."
June 6-July 8, 2012
The Annual Arthur Tracy "The Street Singer" Endowment Production
The History of Invulnerability
By David Bar Katz
Directed by Shirley Serotsky
"Behind every great superhero is a determined creator. In 1930s America, that creator was usually a young Jewish man with an active imagination. Katz's play illuminates the story of Jerry Siegel — the brains behind Superman's brawn — and the imagined struggle between the creative father and his uber-mensch son. Siegel wrestles to retain control of his famous comic book sensation as America is drawn into WWII."
Theater J's home is at The Washington DC Jewish Community Center's Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at 1529 16th Street NW, four blocks east of Dupont Circle.
For season information, visit theaterj.org.
Theater J, a program of the Washington DCJCC, "produces thought-provoking, publicly engaged, personal, passionate and entertaining plays and musicals that celebrate the distinctive urban voice and social vision that are part of the Jewish cultural legacy."