Michael John LaChiusa's new musical, The Highest Yellow, will have its world premiere and Side Show gets a revival in the upcoming 10th season of the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, it was announced this week.
Angels in America Part II: Perestroika, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd and a revision of Heather McDonald's play, Available Light, are also part of the 1999-2000 season at the tiny 136-seat theatre where John Kander and Fred Ebb's Over & Over is currently enjoying its world premiere, through Feb. 21.
No exact dates were announced yet, but The Highest Yellow, a Signature commission about Dr. Felix Rey, the internist who treated post impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh after he cut his ear, will open in January 2000.
Signature's artistic director Eric D. Schaeffer stumbled across Rey's story in a children's book about Van Gogh. He referred the material to Signature's playwright-in-residence John Strand. Strand then hooked up with LaChiusa (Hello Again) to create a musical on the subject. LaChiusa's other aborning projects are the operatic Marie Christine, expected at Lincoln Center Theater in fall 1999, and The Wild Party, a collaboration with George C. Wolfe, in development at the Public Theater for a possible staging in spring 1999.
Schaeffer directed a workshop of The Highest Yellow at Smith College in the summer of 1997. The show's development so far has been supported by Gil and Jaylee Mead, David and Joan Maxwell and The John D. Evans Foundation. The highest Yellow is the second new work in the 10-year history of the Signature, after Over & Over.
Director Joe Calarco (R & J, Nijinsky's Last Dance), meanwhile, will helm the revival of Side Show, the 1997 Broadway flop about conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton (which nevertheless has a huge cult following).
Side Show's fall-winter 1997 run on Broadway failed to find an audience and closed Jan. 3, 1998 (after 31 previews and 91 regular performances). The first regional staging the musical after Broadway was by TheatreWorks of Palto Alto, Ca., in October 1998.
The 1999-2000 Signature season begins with part two of Kushner's AIDS era epic, Perestroika, with the same cast as Signature's part one, Millennium Approaches. Lee Mikeska Gardner will direct Melissa Flaim, Marcia Gardner, Rick Hanmerly, John Lescault, Paul Morella, Kim Schraf, Paul Takacs and Craig Wallace.
Schaeffer will direct Sweeney Todd, as he did in 1991 at the Signature. Helen Hayes Award-winner Donna Migliaccio returns to the role of Mrs. Lovett.
Playwright McDonald will make her Signature debut with Available Light, which she will also direct. The drama is based on a true story set in provincial France, about a boy struggling with his family and inner demons, leading to "the crime of the century," according to the season announcement.
McDonald won a Helen Hayes Award in the D.C. Area for her production, Dream of a Common Language, at Theatre of the First Amendment.
New to Signature in 1999-2000 are Monday night "Backstage at Signature" conversations with designers and staff of productions, and a Monday cabaret series dubbed Paul's Pub, after managing director Paul Gamble.
Season subscriptions are available from $95-$135. Single tickets range from $20-$30. To subscribe or request a brochure, call (703) 820 9771.
-- By Kenneth Jones
and Robert Simonson