World Premiere of Beaches, New Works by Paul Downs Colaizzo, Ed Dixon and Gypsy Among VA Signature Season

By Michael Gioia
05 Mar 2013

Paul Downs Colaizzo
Paul Downs Colaizzo
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Signature Theatre, the Tony Award-honored resident theatre in Arlington, VA, has announced titles for its 2013-14 season, which includes four world-premiere productions.

As previously announced, the company will kick off its season with an "environmental production" of the pop musical tragedy Miss Saigon, directed by artistic director and Drama Desk nominee Eric Schaeffer (Follies), Aug. 15-Sept. 22.

Schaeffer will re-imagine the piece by Alain Boublil (lyrics), Claude-Michel Schonberg (music) and Richard Maltby Jr. (lyrics and additional mateirals) with a 15-piece orchestra and 18-actor company. Orchestrations are by William D. Brohn.

In Miss Saigon, according to Signature, "Vietnamese Kim and American G.I. Chris fall in love during the tumultuous fall of Saigon. Three years after their dramatic separation, newly-married Chris discovers Kim survived the war. The star-crossed lovers attempt to reunite in a race across Bangkok in this tragic romance about the shattering devastation of war and the ultimate sacrifice."



Following Miss Saigon will be the world premiere of Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill by Paul Downs Colaizzo, writer of the college-set drama Really Really, which began at the Signature and currently plays an extended Off-Broadway engagement at MCC Theater's Lucille Lortel Theatre. Performances are Oct. 15-Dec. 8.

The Falls of Autrey Mill, according to the company, "is the most desired zipcode in town. From the outside, the flawless neighborhood glitters with elegant roman column porches and exquisitely manicured lawns. However, demons lurk behind the designer window treatments when one seemingly-perfect family disintegrates from the inside out. In this vicious and gripping play, Colaizzo rips the façade off of America's privileged suburbia with his trademark brutal honesty."

The world-premiere musical Crossing, also directed by Schaeffer, will run Oct. 29-Nov. 24. The work features music and lyrics by Matt Conner and a book by Grace Barnes.

Here's how the new work is described: "Crossing explores the interwoven stories of eight people from different decades of the past century who come together at a train station. Some are waiting for the train, others are waiting for visitors, a few are just…waiting. All of them are searching – for hopes and dreams, for new beginnings, for answers. As their stories are brought to musical life in the train station, the characters discover that, while every life is different, the journey is always the same. With music ranging from gospel to pop to rock, Crossing unites the musical eras through the souls who lived them."

The award-winning classic musical Gypsy, which features music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, will play Dec. 17-Jan. 19, 2014.

Joe Calarco will direct the piece, which will star Sherri L. Edelen, who starred in Signature's production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, as the iconic Rose in the backstage 1920s musical that portrays the rise of famed burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee.

The world premiere of Beaches, with a book by Iris Rainer Dart (The People in the Picture) and Thom Thomas, lyrics by Dart and music by David Austin, will run Feb. 18-March 23, 2014.

Based on the novel of the same name by Dart and directed by Schaeffer, here is how the world premiere is described: "Based on the beloved book, Beaches follows two extraordinary friends through 30 years of camaraderie, laughter and sorrow. Vivacious, outlandish Cee Cee and beautiful, privileged Bertie meet as children and become fast friends. From pen-pals to roommates to romantic rivals, Cee Cee and Bertie's oil-and-water friendship perseveres through even the most tragic trials. With a touching vulnerability, Beaches exemplifies the triumph of the human spirit and the bonds of sisterhood."

The Washington, D.C., premiere of Philip Ridley's Tender Napalm will be directed by Matthew Gardiner (Glory Days assistant director) for a March 18-May 11, 2014, engagement that Signature describes as "a transfixing, intimate and savage exploration of love in the face of heartbreak."

In Tender Napalm, according to the company, "a pair of young lovers creates a fantastical, often violent, world through an interweaving dialogue of increasing perplexity. At the heart of their fantasies lies an unimaginable tragedy that both bonds and breaks the two. Fused with raw energy, the couple blurs the distinction of truth and illusion in this battle-of-the-sexes wild ride."

Gardiner will also direct The Threepenny Opera, which will run April 22-June 1, 2014. The work features a book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht with music by Kurt Weill. The English translation of dialogue is by Robert David MacDonald, and the English translation of lyrics is by Jeremy Sams.

Here's how the work is billed: "Mack the Knife is back in town! The MAX Theatre transforms into London's gritty underworld in this 1928 parody of A Beggar's Opera. The haves clash with the have-nots while MacHeath, the ultimate sneering antihero, perches in the middle of the storm. A brilliant masterpiece of epic theater, Brecht's sharp critique of Capitalism originated the popular songs 'The Ballad of Mack the Knife,' 'Soloman Song' and 'Pirate Jenny.'"

Concluding the season will be the world-premiere musical comedy Cloak & Dagger, which will run June 12-July 6, 2014. The work features a book, music and lyrics by Drama Desk Award-nominated actor Ed Dixon (Shylock).

Directed by Eric Schaeffer, the works is described as "a delightfully screwball musical comedy send-up of the 1950s film noir. Third-rate detective Nick Cutter is down on his luck when a beautiful blonde bombshell tosses a very intriguing case (and herself) into his lap. For the next 90 minutes, Nick races through every New York neighborhood in this zany, mile-a-minute whodunit. With four actors playing nearly 20 roles, Cloak and Dagger uproariously spoofs erstwhile mysteries with lightning speed and rapier wit."

For more information and tickets, visit Signature-Theatre.org.