Arena Stage Has World Premieres of Like Water for Chocolate and Mary T. & Lizzy K. in 11-Show Season

News   Arena Stage Has World Premieres of Like Water for Chocolate and Mary T. & Lizzy K. in 11-Show Season
The world premiere of the pre-Broadway musical Like Water for Chocolate will be among productions on the 2011-12 schedule at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Artistic director Molly Smith announced the lineup on Feb. 16.

Quiara Alegria Hudes
Quiara Alegria Hudes

Based on the book by Laura Esquivel, and featuring Academy Award nominee Lila Downs, Like Water for Chocolate will be co-directed by Tony Award winner Ted Sperling and Jonathan Butterell. The libretto is by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony Award nominee Quiara Alegría Hudes (In the Heights, Elliot – A Soldier's Fugue) with music and lyrics by Lila Downs and Paul Cohen. The musical is by special arrangement with Margo Lion Ltd.

Running Sept. 9-Oct. 30 in the Kreeger Theater, the musical, according to Arena, is "steeped in rich history and the magical realism of Mexican folk tales." Expect "a simmering, spicy tale, ripe with romance and recipes for love and life and longing." In the story, Young Tita, powerless to marry the man she loves (he's betrothed to her eldest sister), infuses all of the De La Garza family's traditional meals with her unexpressed passions."

The 61st Arena season (the second in the new Mead Center for American Theater) will feature two world premieres, two musicals, four comedies, two projects by Arena Stage resident playwrights Amy Freed and Karen Zacarías, presentations from the Goodman Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a tribute to "the first American Giant in theatre," Eugene O'Neill.

Additional productions in the 2011-12 season are to be announced at a later date, but below are the other ten productions announced. The list represents eight shows on subscription in the Fichandler and the Kreeger with the add-on option of the three shows in the Kogod Cradle.

The 2011-12 Arena Stage season at a glance: The Book Club Play
By resident playwright Karen Zacarías
Directed by Molly Smith
Oct. 7–Nov. 6
In the Kogod Cradle

"Ana is a Type A personality living in a letter-perfect world: a husband who adores her, the perfect job and her greatest passion, Book Club. But when bizarre circumstances put her ideal book club under a magnifying glass, things begin to heat up and more truths are told than anyone bargained for. Resident playwright Karen Zacarías (Legacy of Light) brings Arena Stage the latest chapter of comedy about life, love, literature and the side-splitting results when friends start reading between the lines."

By Bill Cain
Directed by Bill Rauch
Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Production
Nov. 18, 2011–Jan. 1, 2012
In the Kreeger Theater

"In dark times, the most treacherous weapon is the truth. London, 1605: The worlds of King James and the Gunpowder Plot collide with William Shakespeare and his renowned theatrical troupe in a startling cat-and-mouse game of politics and art. Commissioned by the throne to create a calculated piece of propaganda, The Bard and his actors must find a way to please the king while avoiding both the gallows and eternal damnation. Bill Cain's high-stakes political thriller reveals the complexities of the truth, the perils of compromise and the terrible consequences of equivocation…"

You, Nero
By resident playwright Amy Freed
Nov. 25, 2011–Jan. 1, 2012
In the Fichandler

"As Rome collapses beneath Nero's outrageous narcissism, a forgotten playwright tries to restore order through the art of theatre in this acclaimed farce. Amidst the chaos of crime, lust and politics, convincing the world's most famous debaucher to choose virtue over vice proves to be a Herculean task. Pulitzer Prize Finalist Amy Freed's wild romp questions whether well-crafted drama and intellect are any match for decadence and good old-fashioned bloodshed."

Elephant Room
Directed by Paul Lazar
By Steve Cuiffo, Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle
A Co-Production with Center Theatre Group
Jan. 20–Feb. 26, 2012
In the Kogod Cradle

"From the uninhibited minds of the absurdist performance duo Rainpan 43 (all wear bowlers) and magician Steve Cuiffo comes a new theatrical experience. Three semi-pro magicians — a divorced shaman, a mentalist with a penchant for warlock acts and a ladies' man card master — join to piece their own lives together. An evening of magic born from the harsh lies we tell ourselves, The Elephant Room reveals that the more we hide behind our self-made smoke and mirrors, the further we expose our own vulnerabilities."

By John Logan
Directed by Robert Falls
Goodman Theatre's Production
Jan. 20–March 11, 2012
In the Kreeger Theater

"Winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Play, Red depicts one of the 20th century's finest artists at his greatest moment of struggle with his painting and his mortality. The brilliant and passionate Mark Rothko has hired a new assistant to help him with his most perplexing challenge yet: to create a definitive group of murals for an exclusive restaurant. As they mix the paint, stretch the canvas, and prime the surface, Rothko must reconcile not only the mix of art and commerce he's creating but also his relationship with the new generation of artists who threaten his very legacy."

Ah, Wilderness!
By Eugene O'Neill
March 9–April 8, 2012
Part of the Eugene O'Neill Festival
In the Fichandler

"Return to an idyllic age of Americana in Eugene O'Neill's unabashedly romantic and sweetly funny Ah, Wilderness! As the Connecticut-based Miller clan plans their traditional Fourth of July festivities, their dreamy-eyed middle child Richard is wrestling with cultural conventions, political uncertainty, the power of literature and the exquisite pain of love. The memories of family life were never so delicately portrayed as in O'Neill's only comedy, his coming-of-age love letter to a simpler time…."

Long Day's Journey into Night
By Eugene O'Neill
Directed by Robin Phillips
March 30–May 13, 2012
Part of the Eugene O'Neill Festival
In the Kreeger Theater

"Delusion and disenchantment have pitted the Tyrone family members against one another for decades. One fateful day, as their increasingly drunken hours slip by, they must either confront their defeated dreams or else be forever doomed to a cycle of guilt and resentment. Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical, Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork exposes the lies we tell, the deceptions we craft and the undercurrent of compassion that, if uncovered, can redeem us in the end."

The Music Man
Book and music by Meredith Willson
Lyrics by Meredith Willson
Story by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey
Directed by Molly Smith
May 11–July 22, 2012
In the Fichandler

"Having exhausted all 102 counties in Illinois, 'Professor' Harold Hill gives Iowa a try and soon enough convinces River City of its trouble with the 'sin and corruption' of the pool hall, trouble that can only be stopped by forming a boys' band. Marian the librarian suspects he's a con-man, but she begins to trust him after seeing how he's given confidence to her shy younger brother. Soon, this 'Music Man' has transformed the entire town, not only turning the bickering school board into a barbershop quartet, but himself into an honest man."

Mary T. & Lizzy K.
Arena Stage Commission and World Premiere
Written and directed by Tazewell Thompson
June 1–July 22, 2012
In the Kogod Cradle

"Throw open the doors of the White House dressing room and see what really happens when a penniless First Lady and a successful freed slave, engage in a heart-to-heart conversation about life, loss and a journey into madness. Member of the Arena Stage Writer's Council Tazewell Thompson (director of M. Butterfly and Yellowman) stitches together an insider's look at the intricate relationship between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress Elizabeth Keckly. Rich with area-location mentions and presidential history, this world-premiere drama is perfect for Washington, DC, audiences."

Trouble in Mind
By Alice Childress
June 8–July 22, 2012
In the Kreeger Theater

"Written on the cusp of the Civil Rights movement, Trouble in Mind explores the strained relationships of a newly integrated cast rehearsing a bold anti-lynching drama. As the actors' prejudices collide, lead actress Wiletta Mayer must decide how much she will compromise her beliefs, her integrity and her sense of identity for a Broadway role."

Subscription packages are now on sale and may be purchased by calling the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300 or by visiting


Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is a national center dedicated to the production, presentation, development and study of American theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic director Molly Smith and managing director Edgar Dobie, Arena Stage is the largest company in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Arena Stage produces, in its own words, "huge plays of all that is passionate, exuberant, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays through the American Voices New Play Institute. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000."


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