Off Broadway Season Shapes Up With Diane Paulus, Kenny Leon and a ‘Speedo’

The 2015-16 Off Broadway season continues to shape up, with Diane Paulus, the Tony-winning director (“Pippin”) currently represented on Broadway with “Finding Neverland,” directing the Richard Rodgers Award-winning musical “Invisible Thread” (previously “Witness Uganda”) at Second Stage Theater, and Lucas Hnath swim-team doping tale “Red Speedo” joining the lineup at New York Theater Workshop.

Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews’ “Invisible Thread” centers on Matthews’ semi-autobiographical story of a young American man who goes to Uganda on a volunteer project. The show premiered last year at the American Repertory Theater, the Cambridge, Mass., company where Paulus (pictured above) is artistic director.

“Invisible Thread” is set for a fall bow at Second Stage, ahead of another addition to the lineup, “Smart People,” a new play by Lydia R. Diamond and directed by Kenny Leon, a Tony winner for “A Raisin in the Sun.” Leon previous helmed Diamond’s “Stick Fly” on Broadway; the new play, scheduled for a winter slot at Second Stage, follows four Harvard academics on the night before Obama’s 2008 election.

At NYTW — the Off Broadway company that’s already scheduled a new musical from David Bowie, Enda Walsh and Ivo van Hove — “Red Speedo” centers on a promising swimmer caught between an endorsement deal and a potential scandal. Lileana Blain-Cruz directs the play by Hnath (“A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney”), who is also behind the upcoming “The Christians” at Playwrights Horizons.

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Also on tap at NYTW is “Hadestown,” a stage version of the concept album by Anais Mitchell directed by Rachel Chavkin (“Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”). The folk-opera, a retelling of the Orpheus myth, is set to begin an engagement at NYTW in May 2016, following the “Red Speedo” run starting in February.

NYTW, which launched “Rent,” has a recent Broadway track record that includes “Once” and “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Second Stage, meanwhile, recently finalized a purchased on its own Broadway house, where it will program work in addition to its Off Broadway titles.


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