Off Broadway company announces 2011-12 lineup
World preems from Richard Nelson, novelist Nathan Englander and “Passing Strange” duo Stew and Heidi Rodewald are among the offerings lined up for the 2011-12 season at Off Broadway’s Public Theater, as is a Sam Waterston-toplined production of “King Lear.”Stew and Rodewald’s latest, “The Total Bent” (Feb. 14-March 4), runs as part of the Public’s Lab series of developmental stagings of new works. Joanna Settle helms the show about a black gospel singer and a white music producer. Also part of the Lab, Nelson’s “Sweet and Sad” (Sept. 6-25) follows the same contempo family that was the subject of his earlier play “That Hopey Changey Thing.” Nelson-helmed production, set on Sept. 11, 2011, will star the same thesps who appeared in the prior show, including Shuler Hensley, J. Smith-Cameron and Laila Robins. Also on tap for the Lab season are two smaller-scale Shakespeare productions, with Karin Coonrod set to direct “Love’s Labor’s Lost” (Oct. 18-Nov. 6) and Michael Sexton helming Jay O. Sanders as the title character in “Titus Andronicus” (Nov. 29.-Dec. 18). Englander (“For the Relief of Unbearable Urges”) based his play “The Twenty-Seventh Man,” about an unknown Russian writer who is mysteriously arrested by Stalin’s secret police in 1952 (Feb. 21-March 25), on his own short story. Barry Edelstein directs. Composer-lyricist Gabriel Kahane and book writer Seth Bockley’s tuner “February House,” set for a May-June slot, is another world preem. Musical about New York luminaries who gather at a Brooklyn boarding house in the 1940s, directed by Davis McCallum, will be seen in a developmental showcase this summer at New York Stage and Film and Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater. Public season kicks off with the Gotham bow of Mike Daisey’s solo show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” (Oct. 11-Nov. 13), in which Daisey expounds on the Apple leader as well as on the Chinese factories where the company’s devices are made. Jean-Michele Gregory directs. Also making its Gotham preem is David Henry Hwang’s “Chinglish,” a Leigh Silverman-directed production the Public presents in association with commercial producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Chicago’s Goodman Theater. Waterston starrer “Lear” (Oct. 18-Nov. 20), directed by James Macdonald (“Top Girls”), and “Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good)” (Jan. 19-Feb. 5) round out the company’s upcoming season.