The production will play Ford's Theatre beginning March 2007 following a run at Goodspeed Musicals' Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, in fall 2006. The not-for-profits are partnering on the project; Goodspeed had already announced the world premiere of Meet John Doe, to be directed by Eric Schaeffer.
Meet John Doe is based on the 1941 Frank Capra movie of the same name, honoring the common man. According to Ford's Tetreault, "the plays and the musical I've chosen for the 2006-07 season present stories that remind us how powerful the individual can be when he or she chooses self-sacrifice for the common good over selfish gain."
Meet John Doe has a book by Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman, lyrics by Eddie Sugarman and music by Gerle. It will play Ford's Theatre March 16-April 29, 2007.
In the Depression-era tale, "a newspaper columnist, laid off after a corporate takeover, concocts a fictitious person called 'John Doe' who is disgusted with the establishment, greed and widespread poverty," according to the Ford's announcement. "As the public rallies behind the character, management and the re-hired journalist (unconcerned with questions of ethics or journalism scandals of today) decides to find a real person to masquerade as John Doe. The imposter goes along with the deal, but finally musters the courage to stand up for his beliefs, an action that illustrates the potential for heroism and power in the common man." Tetreault commented, "The character John Doe represents the best in all of us — the suppressed desire we all have to be part of something greater than ourselves. It is through his voice that the characters of the musical rediscover the strength found in community, and the power of the voice of the common man."
Schaeffer is the lauded artistic director of the D.C.-area Signature Theatre.
Also on the 2006-07 Ford's slate:
Jitney by August Wilson, directed by Jennifer Nelson, Jan. 19–Feb. 18, 2007. "In tribute to the late Pulitzer Prize winning playwright August Wilson and in association with the African Continuum Theatre Company, Ford's Theatre presents Jitney, the eighth in Wilson's 10-play cycle on the African American experience. One of America's most celebrated playwrights, Wilson is quoted as stating that he found his writer’s voice while working on this play. The story is set in the 1970s in Pittsburgh's Hill District where urban renewal threatens the future of a black-owned gypsy cab company that covers neighborhoods avoided by other cab services." Jennifer Nelson, the producing artistic director of African Continuum Theatre Company, will lead a cast of Washington area actors, including Doug Brown (The Member of the Wedding at Ford's), Frederick Strother, David Emerson Toney, Kenyatta Rogers and Craig Wallace. For Ford's Theatre membership information, contact (202) 434-9531. Members who wish to renew their membership may call the Membership Hotline at (202) 434-9545.
Ford's Theatre Society is a not-for-profit corporation created to produce live entertainment on Ford’s historic stage. Paul R. Tetreault is producing director. "It is the mission of the Ford's Theatre Society to honor President Lincoln and his love for the theatre by producing plays and musicals that celebrate and explore the American experience as revealed by America’s greatest theatre artists."
For more information, visit www.fordstheatre.org.