'Beaches' Shores Up D.C. Theater Season

WASHINGTON — The 2013-14 theater season in Washington, D.C. is shaping up to include a number of titles that might interest legiters in Gotham and beyond, with the recently announced pre-Broadway tryout of Idina Menzel starrer “If/Then” joined by regional slates that include a musical adaptation of “Beaches.”

Based on the novel by Iris Rainer Dart, the “Beaches” tuner will have its world preem in spring 2014 at the D.C. area’s Signature Theater. Dart co-writes the book with Thom Thomas and pens the lyrics for tunes by David Austin in a show that follows 30 years in the friendship between two women. Signature a.d. Eric Shaeffer (“Follies”) helms the title – as well as another new tuner on the season lineup, “Cloak and Dagger,” creator Ed Dixon’s musical spoof of film noir.

The third world preem musical on Signature’s ambitious upcoming slate is “Crossing,” a story about eight people waiting at a train station, penned by book writer Grace Barnes and songsmith Matt Conner. Paul Downs Colaizzo, the young scribe whose play “Really Really” has turned heads Off Broadway, will bow a new play, “Pride in the Fall of Autrey Mall,” as part of the season.

Meanwhile, the season at D.C.’s Arena Stage debuts in September with “The Velocity of Autumn,” a play by Eric Coble that stars Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella. Show had been slated for Broadway this spring, but instead it will preem at Arena this fall prior to a targeted Rialto run with dates to be determined.

Arena will stage four more world preems next season as well: “Love in Afghanistan” by resident playwright Charles Randolph-Wright (helmer of “Motown” on Broadway), “Camp David” by Lawrence Wright, a theatrical dance piece called “Healing Wars” by Liz Lerman and a play about Paul Robeson written and performed by Daniel Beaty.

Theater’s lineup will also feature Kathleen Turner in a production of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children.” Arena a.d. Molly Smith will direct the play, one of three shows she will stage next season.

Those offerings are part of a local season that already includes “If/Then,” the latest  from the “Next to Normal” creative team in a tryout before it hits Broadway, as well as the Kennedy Center’s revival of Henry Krieger and Bill Russell’s tuner “Side Show,” produced in association with La Jolla Playhouse. The center also will host an international theater festival as part of its 2013-14 season.

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