D.C. stages prep preems

Arena Stage, Theater J, Woolly Mammoth bow 8 works

A sked packed with world and U.S. premieres will be unveiled to D.C. auds next season. Arena Stage, Theater J and Woolly Mammoth will stage a combined eight preems in 2006-07, according to recently announced plans.

D.C.’s adventurous Theater J, considered a home for new works under a.d. Ari Roth, will begin its season with Robert Brustein’s play “Spring Forward/Fall Back,” a personal memoir about family conflicts over music. Also on Theater J’s slate are “Sleeping Arrangements,” by Laura Shaine Cunningham; “Either, Or,” a wartime tale by Thomas Keneally (“Schindler’s List”); and “Pangs of the Messiah,” a play about Israeli and American-born West Bank settlers. All are new plays.

At Arena Stage, a more conventional season will still make room for new projects. They include “A Civil War Christmas,” a new musical by Paula Vogel that has been eight years in the making. Tuner is a collection of intertwined tales set on Christmas Eve during the final days of the Civil War. Arena’s new season will conclude next May with “The Women of Brewster Place, the Musical,” based on Gloria Naylor’s novel about the African-American working class in the U.S. Arena a.d. Molly Smith will direct the musical, written by Tom Acito.

Also on Arena’s 2006-07 sked are a third tuner, “Cabaret,” along with revivals of “Noises Off,” Terrence McNally’s “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” and Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Heidi Chronicles.” In addition, Arena will stage August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean” and Heather Raffo’s solo piece, “Nine Parts of Desire.”

Next year’s sked at Woolly Mammoth will include a world preem of Sarah Ruhl’s latest play, “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” and the U.S. premiere of “Martha, Josie & the Chinese Elvis,” by Charlotte Jones (“Humble Boy”). Woolly’s season begins with “In the Continuum,” the Off Broadway hit written and performed by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter. It also will mount Noah Haidle’s “Vigils” and, from David Greenspan, “She Stoops to Comedy,” part of the citywide Shakespeare in Washington festival.

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