Signature Theatre, the Arlington, VA, not-for-profit theatre company that has gained a national reputation for revivals of musicals and a commitment to new works, will move into a new, two-venue complex in July 2005, Variety reported July 31.
A $7 million capital campaign will begin shortly. Arlington County will reportedly kick in an additional $5.5 million toward construction of the new building, in nearby Shirlington, VA. The architectural firm, VOA, which handled Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, will design. Variety reported the new building will have two black-box spaces: a 100-seat theatre and a 300-seat theatre. The company now operates in a 126-seat space.
The troupe, headed by artistic director Eric Schaeffer, managing director Sam Sweet and producing director Ronnie Gunderson, is 12 years old and has a fat collection of DC-area Helen Hayes Awards to its credit.
Members of the theatre's upper management were out of the office July 31 and not immediately available to speak.
Fans of new plays and musicals have looked to the Signature as a test ground for such new musicals as The Rhythm Club, The Gospel According to Fishman and Kander and Ebb's Over and Over, and plays by resident playwright Norman Allen, including In the Garden, which won the 2001-02 the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play in the Helen Hayes Awards. He also adapted the upcoming Dickens-inspired The Christmas Carol Rag. Schaeffer's revivals of works by Stephen Sondheim have been embraced by critics, even prompting visits by The New York Times. He is known for staging Broadway's Puting It Together, London's Witches of Eastwick and serving as artistic director of the Kennedy Center's current Sondheim Celebration.
Signature's 2002-2003 season includes What the Butler Saw, The Christmas Carol Rag, 110 in the Shade, Follies and a new play, Donna Q, plus a summer 2003 concert revival of Mack & Mabel.
— By Kenneth Jones