In D.C., tuners are recession’s tonic

Arena, Signature opffering up musicals

When a recession makes live theater a tougher sell, give them musicals. That’s the philosophy of Arena Stage and the Signature Theater, two D.C.-area orgs whose 2009-10 skeds will feature mostly familiar tuners on their main stages.

Signature Theater’s MAX space will host “Show Boat,” “Sweeney Todd,” a world premiere tuner by Ricky Ian Gordon called “Sycamore Trees” and a musical season opener TBA, said a.d. Eric Schaeffer. Slated for the 100-seat ARK Theater is the Claudia Shear tuner “Dirty Blonde” and the D.C. preem of “[title of show].”

The only straight play on Signature’s sked is Doug Wright’s “I Am My Own Wife,” which is booked for the ARK next January.

At Arena Stage, which is performing in two borrowed spaces for another season during a major renovation, “The Fantasticks” is slated for the 2,000-seat Lincoln Theater for a six-week Christmas holiday run, followed later by Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Ladies.” At its Arlington Theater, Arena will stage Craig Lucas-Adam Guettel tuner “The Light in the Piazza” next spring.

Arena opens its season in September in Arlington with the drama “The Quality of Life,” by Jane Anderson. It will stage Lydia R. Diamond’s new play “Stick Fly” in January and end the season with “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe.”

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