Signature's 25th Season Will Include Sheryl Crow's Diner, World Premieres from John Kander, Nick Blaemire and More

By Michael Gioia
March 18, 2014

The Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre announced its 25th anniversary season, which will include the Sheryl Crow-Barry Levinson musical Diner and world-premiere musicals by John Kander, Nick Blaemire and more.



"This season is more than just celebrating our 25 years as a respected regional theatre in America," said Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer in a statement. "It's about collaborating with artists that we have such passion for, as well as producing revivals that were pivotal in the history of this theatre. John Kander, Sheryl Crow, Barry Levinson, Greg Pierce, Mel Marvin, John Dempsey, Dana Rowe, Kathleen Marshall, Liesl Tommy and Aaron Posner are all coming to Signature to create. We will truly be celebrating throughout the entire year with these wonderful artists."

Crow and Levinson's musical adaptation of the 1982 movie "Diner" will run Dec. 9-Jan. 25, 2015, at the MAX Theatre. Diner's book is penned by the movie's Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Levinson, with direction and choreography by Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall.

"I love Barry Levinson's film 'Diner,'" said Crow, "so, when Barry called and asked if I'd like to join him to create a new musical version of the story, I jumped at the chance... I still can't believe I will have the opportunity to work on a brand new musical with Barry. Working together with our director, Kathleen Marshall, we have really been working hard on expanding Diner to allow it to sing while remaining true to this story of these young men and women coming of age in Baltimore. And to think we are going to premiere it so close to Baltimore, where the story took place, at Signature Theatre, which has birthed so many new musicals, well, I couldn't be happier."

Composer Kander will collaborate with Greg Pierce (book and lyrics) for the world premiere of Kid Victory, running Feb. 17-March 22, 2015, at the MAX Theatre. A co-production with The Vineyard Theatre, Kid Victory will be directed by Liesl Tommy (Off-Broadway's Appropriate). Kander and Pierce previously collaborated on The Landing, which was seen at the Vineyard last season.

Here's how the work is billed: "Seventeen-year-old Luke returns home after vanishing a year ago. Profoundly changed, Luke and his parents struggle to adjust to life following his disappearance. Only finding solace with Emily, the quirky proprietor of an offbeat garden shop, Luke grapples with a past undone and a coming of age that came too late to a boy who just wants to fade away."

Blaemire, known for his musical Glory Days, will bring Soon to the ARK stage March 10-April 26, 2015. Matthew Gardiner will direct the musical.

According to Signature, "It is the hottest summer in human history and, in a few short months, all water on earth will evaporate. In response, twenty-something Charlie has taken to her couch with only her beloved possessions: peanut butter, Wolf Blitzer and Herschel, the fish. Her mother, roommate and sometimes-boyfriend all attempt to persuade her to leave her apartment and enjoy life. However, as Charlie's memories take over, more complicated reasons for her self-inflicted hibernation emerge as she confronts her deferred dreams and considers the possibility of life and love just outside her door."

Laura Eason's new play Sex with Strangers, which was seen at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, will get its D.C.-area premiere in Signature's ARK Theatre Oct. 7-Nov. 9.

Starring Holly Twyford (The Little Dog Laughed) and directed by Aaron Posner, Sex with Strangers is described as "a sexy, provocative and intimate exposé that playfully explores what happens when private lives become public domain."

The musical version of Sinclair Lewis' best-selling novel "Elmer Gantry" will get a new production, directed by Schaeffer (Oct. 7-Nov. 9). Schaeffer previously collaborated on Elmer Gantry in Chicago with authors John Bishop (book), Mel Marvin (music) and Bob Satuloff (lyrics), and some new material will be incorporated into the "fresh re-imagining."

The 2014-15 season will also include Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George (Aug. 5-Sept. 21), directed by Matthew Gardiner, who will also helm John Kander and Fred Ebb's Cabaret (May 12-June 28, 2015).

Signature will also present the world-premiere event Simply Sondheim (April 2-19, 2015). In honor of the 25th anniversary and long partnership with Stephen Sondheim, Sondheim has given Signature permission to create a "one-time celebration of his music and lyrics. Featuring a 16-piece orchestra and six 'signature' performers, this event will run only two and a half weeks, only at Signature Theatre, and will never be seen again."

Jonathan Tunick will create all new orchestrations for Simply Sondheim, and the work will be directed and co-conceived by Schaeffer and choreographed by Gardiner with musical supervision and vocal arrangements by the show's co-conceiver, David Loud.

Signature's 25th anniversary special events include the annual free Open House (Aug. 2); The 25 Year Journey: A Conversation with Peter Marks and Eric Schaeffer (Sept. 14); a special 25th anniversary concert (Oct. 20); a "Signature in Sondheim's World" exhibit in the lobby (spring 2015); and the 2015 Sondheim Award Gala (April 2015).

Cabaret performances in the 2014-15 season include Sizzlin' Summer Nights Series (July 9-26); a four-show Cabaret Series (Signature Sisters, Oct. 21-25; Signature Tenors, Feb. 24-28, 2015; Gone Country, April 7-11, 2015; and Donna Migliaccio, May 19-23, 2015); and Holiday Follies (Dec. 12-23).

Signature will close the celebration of its 25th year and kick off its 2015-16 season with a new production of The Fix, the inside-Washington pop musical satire, which features a book by John Dempsey and music by Dana P. Rowe. First produced by Cameron Mackintosh at the Donmar Warehouse in London in 1997, musical made its U.S. debut at the Signature Theatre in 1998.

The Signature Theatre is located at 4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, VA. For more information and tickets, visit Signature-Theatre.org.