Not to be confused with off-Broadway's Signature Theatre, which dedicates each season to the works of one playwright only, Arlington, VA's Signature Theatre encourages audiences to "Take the Ride!" with them this season-- promising, in all caps, "The Most Thrilling Season to Hit Our Stage. Ever."
"The ride" consists of five varied and exciting productions, including an updated version of Working by Stephen Schwartz and a Tug Yourgrau world premiere --a coup for the successful 136-seat black box theatre, which seems to double its subscribers annually.
"This year we're shooting for 3,600 subscribers," said Signature spokesperson Paul Gamble, who adds, "We haven't even finished our season brochure and we're already half sold out. We're having a great time."
Running Oct. 28 - Dec. 7, is the premiere of the updated version of Working from the book by Studs Terkel, adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso. The score includes songs by Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz, and James Taylor. "I've been working closely with Mr. Schwartz over the past year on this new adaptation for the 90's," said artistic director Eric D. Schaeffer. Through skit and song, the play explores the ups and downs within the working worlds of America's employees. Schwartz is scheduled to be in residence during rehearsals.
"Studs Terkel just turned 85," Schwartz told Playbill On-Line (July 28), "so I called and told him about the project and asked if it was okay if some updating was done, since some lyrics have dated a bit since 1978. He gave us permission to use other material from [the book] "Working," as well as his more recent books. All the songwriters have been contacted to see if they want to update lyrics. I know there are a couple of things I'll rewrite (with my co-adapter, Nina Faso) in terms of lyrics, though there won't be new songs, per se."
To accommodate larger audiences, the Signature, devoted to contemporary plays, musicals and the development of new works, adds Tuesday performances to its runs this season. VA's Signature has had an impressive production list over its seven seasons, including the Washington D.C. Area premiere of Sondheim's Passion.
Signature's eighth season opened with the East Coast premiere of Never the Sinner by John Logan, a co- production with Rep Stage. The play (which ran through Sept. 28), revealing the Loeb/Leopold murder trial from Chicago playwright Josh Logan's perspective, received Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Awards for Best Play and Best Production in 1985.
The world premiere of Shooting in Madrid by Tug Yourgrau follows Working, running Jan. 6 - Feb. 15. Yourgrau received a Tony nomination, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Joseph Jefferson Award for his The Song of Jacob Zulu. "We're also working closely with Tug Yourgrau on the world premiere, " says Schaeffer, "The play has been developed at Signature Theatre over the past two years."
...Madrid reveals how the behind-the-scenes political conflict, murder and betrayal of Spanish Civil War affected the lives of Hemmingway, Dos Passos, Joris Ivens and Martha Gellhorn.
The D.C. premiere of a new musical, to be announced in the fall, will run March 10-April 19. The season will conclude with Stephen Sondheim's award-winning, A Little Night Music, running May 19-June 29.
For tickets or more information, call (703) 820-9771, or refer to the Signature Theatre regional listing on Playbill On-Line.