Arden season’s all new to Philly

Theater co. sets upcoming lineup

Philadelphia’s Arden Theater Company has programmed a lineup of Philly premieres, including a world premiere by local scribe Bruce Graham, for its 2006-07 season.

In its 19th season, the company will offer five mainstage productions as well as two Arden Children’s Theater shows.

Launching the season is “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” Simon Bent’s adaptation of John Irving’s novel, running Sept. 14-Oct. 15. Arden producing artistic director Terrence J. Nolen helms a cast that includes including Ian Merrill Peakes, Scott Greer, Mary Martello, Anthony Lawton, Paul L. Nolan, Karen Peakes, Catharine K. Slusar and Maureen Torsney-Weir, with Doug Hara as the title character.

It’s followed by another literary adaptation, “Crime and Punishment,” Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus’ version of the Dostoevsky novel (Oct. 12-Dec. 3). Arden’s resident director and, with Nolen, co-founder Aaron Posner directs a cast of three portraying all the characters.

Graham’s “Dex and Julie Sittin’ in a Tree” has its world preem Jan. 11-March 4, directed by James J. Christy. It’s part of the Philadelphia New Play Festival (Feb. 8-18), a program of the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. Jennifer Childs stars as a recently widowed professor who meets up with her college sweetheart 25 years after graduation. Graham’s other plays include “Coyote on a Fence” and “Belmont Avenue Social Club.”

Tony Kushner’s “Caroline, or Change” has its Philly debut March 8-April 8, directed by Nolen. Jeanine Tesori composed the score for the “Angels in America” scribe’s first musical.

Chi’s Lookingglass Theater brings its production of “Lookingglass Alice” to the Arden May 10-June 10. The piece mixes acrobatics and wordplay in a theater piece inspired by the tales of Lewis Carroll.

On the kids menu for the holidays is Roald Dahl’s “The BFG,” about a Big Friendly Giant who travels with a young orphan from Giant Country to Buckingham Palace to save the children of England from some less friendly giants. Peter Pryor portrays the BFG in David Wood’s adaptation, directed by Whit MacLaughlin; it runs Nov. 29-Jan. 21.

In the spring, it’s time for “Ferdinand the Bull,” based on the children’s book about a bull who’d rather smell the flowers than fight. Running April 11-May 13, the musical is adapted by Karen Zacarias, with music by Deborah Wicks La Puma and lyrics by Zacarias.

For more information, call 215-922-1122 or go to http://www.ardentheatre.org.