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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.

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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