WASHINGTON A new Michael John LaChiusa musical about Vincent van Gogh and a lost play by Sophie Treadwell are among a host of premieres to be mounted by D.C.-area resident theaters next season. The adventurous bookings come amid capital building campaigns by virtually all of the area’s top-tier houses.
The centerpiece of Arena Stage’s upcoming season is a forgotten work written by Treadwell in the 1930s. “Intimations for Saxophone” is about sexual awakening at the dawn of the Jazz Age. Adapted by Arena’s Michael Kinghorn from several scripts he found in libraries, it will be directed by Anne Bogart, artistic director of New York’s Siti Co.
Arena’s eight-production sked will include a revival of the short-lived Broadway tuner “Hallelujah Baby!” in a co-production with New Brunswick, N.J.’s, George Street Playhouse, to be staged by Arthur Laurents in his Arena debut. Everett Quinton, vet of Gotham’s legendary Ridiculous Theatrical Co., will direct Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and Tazewell Thompson will stage David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly.” The season wraps with Eugene O’Neill’s “Anna Christie,” directed by Arena a.d. Molly Smith.
At the Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., a.d. Eric Schaeffer will present two new musicals and a new comedy as part of a five-production season. They include Signature’s first commissioned musical, “The Highest Yellow,” with music and lyrics by LaChiusa (“The Wild Party”) and book by John Strand. It focuses on the physician who treated Van Gogh. Signature also will mount “One Red Flower,” a musical about Vietnam, by Paris Barclay. Schaeffer will direct both.
The Signature season will include a new play by Norman Allen called “Fallen From Proust,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures” and “Ten Unknowns” by Jon Robin Baitz.
At the Studio
D.C.’s Studio Theater will celebrate the opening of its $12 million expansion project next season with a festival of Russian plays by Oleg Bogaev, Vassily Sigarev and Anton Chekhov. It also will mount Richard Greenberg’s 2003 Tony winner “Take Me Out.” Floyd King is featured in Bogaev’s “The Russian National Postal Service,” a U.S. preem. It will be followed by Chekhov’s “Ivanov,” Sigarev’s “Black Milk” and the U.S. premiere of Brian Friel’s “Afterplay,” to be directed by a.d. Joy Zinoman.
The 25th-anniversary season of Woolly Mammoth Theater Co. will include three premieres — Craig Wright’s “Grace,” Ian Cohen’s “Lennie and Lou” and Mickey Birnbaum’s “Big Death and Little Death.” Woolly also will stage “Our Lady of 121st Street” by Stephen Adly Guirgis and “The Clean House” by Sarah Ruhl, winner of this year’s Susan Smith Blackburn prize. The season will include Woolly’s long-awaited move into its own space, a new 265-seat theater being constructed in a booming area of downtown D.C.
The Shakespeare Theater’s season debuts with “Macbeth,” to be staged by artistic director Michael Kahn and featuring Kelly McGillis as Lady Macbeth. Director Mary Zimmerman will helm the theater’s first production of Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” followed by “Lorenzaccio” by Alfred de Musset, newly translated and adapted by Washington playwright John Strand. The theater also will present Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” latter featuring Dixie Carter.
Tenth Century season
Arlington’s American Century Theater, which focuses on neglected plays of the 20th century, celebrates its 10th anniversary next season with a return of “Moby Dick Rehearsed” by Orson Welles, a play that embodies its mission. The sked also includes Eugene O’Neill’s “Emperor Jones,” Robert Anderson’s “Tea and Sympathy” and William Saroyan’s “The Time of Your Life.”
The 2004-05 season for Silver Spring, Md.’s, Roundhouse Theater will include a new play about the shootings in a Littleton, Colo. high school called “Columbinus.”