The Washington, D.C.-based theatre will kick off its season with the world premiere of Dear Evan Hansen, which features a book by Steven Levenson, lyrics by Benj Pasek and music by Justin Paul. A Broadway timeline for the production has not been announced.
The world premieres of Karen Zacarías' comedy Destiny of Desire and Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End will follow.
Lionel Bart's musical Oliver! will begin performances in October, followed by the world premieres of Akeelah and the Bee and Lynn Nottage's Sweat. The political drama The City of Conversation will follow, as well as Benjamin Scheuer's one-man autobiographical musical The Lion.
"Throughout my 17 years at Arena Stage, I have focused on a mission to engage our audiences in the range of complexity and beauty in American theater," Smith said in a statement. "From intimate dramas to lavish musicals, we've re-imagined the works of theatrical giants. We've brought fresh productions of award-winning new plays to Washington. We've mounted world premieres — 14 since the opening of the Mead Center — to contribute to the American theater canon. "Our 66th season lineup boasts an adventurous balance of work that's bound to get us talking," she continued. "We'll debut five new projects including a world-premiere musical and participate in a citywide festival that gives a platform to our nation's female playwrights called the Women's Voices Theater Festival. The season runs the gamut from the new to the timeless classic, producing big politically-charged and socially relevant dramas and showcasing partnerships with prominent theaters and artists from around the country."
The season-at-a-glance follows.
Dear Evan Hansen
Book by Steven Levenson
Lyrics by Benj Pasek and music by Justin Paul
Directed by Michael Greif
Choreographed by Danny Mefford
Musical direction by Alex Lacamoire
In association with Stacey Mindich Productions
The Kreeger Theater
July 9-Aug. 23
"After living in virtual obscurity, Evan Hansen is about to go viral. Not on purpose, but because of a private letter becoming much too public. From Tony Award nominees Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, Dogfight), with an original book by Steven Levenson ("Masters of Sex"), comes a new musical about connections lost and found, as two families seek answers to some of the hardest questions life could ever ask them. Three-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal) directs this contemporary story of hope, heartache and the things in life we can't live without — friends, family and a sense of belonging."
Destiny of Desire
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by José Luis Valenzuela
The Kreeger Theater
Sept. 11-Oct. 18
"On a stormy night in Bellarica, Mexico, two baby girls are born — one into a life of privilege and one into a life of poverty. When the newborns are swapped by a former beauty queen with an insatiable lust for power the stage is set for two outrageous misfortunes to grow into one remarkable destiny. Helen Hayes Award-winning playwright Karen Zacarías (The Book Club Play) infuses the Mexican telenovela genre with music, high drama and burning passion to make for a fast-paced modern comedy. Part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival."
Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End
By Allison Engel and Margaret Engel
Directed by David Esbjornson
The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle
Oct. 16-Nov. 8
"From the Engel twins, who created the smash hit Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, comes a new look at one of our country's most beloved voices, who captured the frustrations of her generation by asking, 'If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?' Erma Bombeck dispensed wit and wisdom for more than 30 years as the most widely syndicated humor columnist in America. Discover the story behind the award-winning humorist who championed women's lives with charm and humor that sprang from the most unexpected place of all — the truth. Part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival."
Music and lyrics by Lionel Bart
Directed by Molly Smith
The Fichandler Stage
Oct. 30-Jan. 3, 2016
"Consider yourself invited to the theatrical event of the holiday season. Charles Dickens' unforgettable characters burst to life in this classic Tony Award-winning musical about an innocent orphan thrown into the dark world of double-dealing thieves and conmen of 19th-century London. Bursting with jubilant songs, including 'You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,' 'Consider Yourself,' 'Where is Love?' and the scrumptious 'Food, Glorious Food,' director Molly Smith (Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!) will serve up a musical feast for the eyes and ears that will have every theater-lover calling out for 'More!'"
Children's Theatre Company
Akeelah and the Bee
By Cheryl L. West
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
The Kreeger Theater
Nov. 13-Dec. 27
"Based on the beloved film, Akeelah and the Bee tells the story of an independent 11-year-old from the Chicago projects whose razor-sharp mind keeps her one step ahead of the game in the neighborhood… but is it enough to get her to the top? Akeelah must turn to family, friends and a few unlikely mentors if she's going to survive the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Playwright Cheryl L. West (Pullman Porter Blues) and director Charles Randolph-Wright (Ruined) bring this spirited adaptation to life this holiday season."
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Kate Whoriskey
The Kreeger Theater
Jan. 15-Feb. 21
"A group of close friends shares everything: drinks, secrets and laughs. But when rumors of layoffs shake up the local steel mill, the fragile bonds of their community begin to fray and a horrific crime sends shock waves across two generations. This gripping world premiere by acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined) explores America's industrial decline at the turn of the millennium by examining the inhabitants of one Pennsylvania town who still struggle to reclaim what's lost, find redemption and redefine themselves in a new century. Co-commissioned with Oregon Shakespeare Festival."
The City of Conversation
By Anthony Giardina
Directed by Doug Hughes
In the Fichandler Stage
Jan. 29-March 6
"Politics and family make for polarizing bedfellows in this juicy new play and recent Off-Broadway triumph. Georgetown hostess, Hester Ferris, runs in an elite circle, opening her home for political foes to lay down arms and raise a glass. When her son's formidable, conservative wife comes on the scene, the parlor pleasantries of D.C.'s past descend into entrenched posturing and an ultimatum that could implode the family. Follow the Ferris clan from the end of Carter's presidency through the Reagan era and into Obama's game-changing inauguration in this inside look at the theater of politics and the politics of conversation."
Written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer
Directed by Sean Daniels
In association with Eva Price
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle
February 26-April 3
"Some stories have to be sung. Writer/performer Benjamin Scheuer uses his guitar — actually, six guitars — in this wholly original musical experience that tells a coming-of-age story. The award-winning songwriter inspires and disarms with his raw wit and emotional depth as he leads you on a rock 'n' roll journey from boyhood to manhood, through pain and healing, to discover the redemptive power of music."
All the Way
By Robert Schenkkan
In the Fichandler Stage
April 1-May 8, 2016
"It's not personal, it's politics in this 2014 Tony Award-winning drama. President Lyndon Baines Johnson had a way about him. He could massage a victory with one hand and sell you down the river with the other, but brokering a deal is like playing with dynamite. With the country still reeling from President Kennedy's assassination and a rising tide of bitterness over Civil Rights, it'll take more than politicking to hold America together — it'll take red, white and blue-blooded leadership."
By Ayad Akhtar
In the Kreeger Theater
April 22-May 29, 2016
"From Ayad Akhtar comes the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the clash between modern culture and ancient faiths. The son of South-Asian immigrants, Amir has worked hard to achieve the American Dream — complete with a successful career, a beautiful wife and $600 custom-tailored shirts. But has he removed himself too far from his roots? And when a friendly dinner party conversation rockets out of control, will the internal battle between his culture and his identity raze all that he's worked so hard to achieve?"
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