Like Water for Chocolate, a musical adaption of the best-selling Laura Esquivel novel by In the Heights author Quiara Alegria Hudes, in what is being billed as the pre-Broadway run, will lead off Arena Stage’s 2011-2012 season, Artistic Director Molly Smith announced yesterday.
The world premiere, which will feature music and lyrics by Paul Cohen and Academy Award nominee Lilia Downs, will run from September 9 to November 20, 2011 and be the first production in Arena’s scheduled eleven-play 2011-2012 season.
The season also features the area premiere of Equivocation, Bill Cain’s Steinberg Award winning story which imagines English Prime Minister Robert Cecil demanding that none other than William Shakespeare write a play about the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot. The problem is that the more Shakespeare does his research, the less plausible the plot seems to be. Equivocation will run from November 18 to the end of the year.
Arena will have another play about a play when it presents Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind, in which a newly-integrated cast attempts to stage a bold drama about lynching as the civil rights movement rages about it. Trouble in Mind will run from June 8 to July 22, 2012.
Arena’s season also includes resident playwright Amy Freed’s You, Nero, another play about a playwright – this one an obscure fellow recruited (or commandeered) by the Emperor Nero to write a play about the leader’s great works. You, Nero first opened in 2009 to good reviews on the West Coast.
Another resident playwright, DC’s Karen Zacarías, will present a “re-examined” version of her comedy, The Book Club Play, October 7 to November 5. The play had originally run at Round House in 2008.
The Goodman Theater will be visiting producers at the beginning of next year with their production of Red, John Logan’s acclaimed drama about the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko. Robert Falls, notable for his direction of the Shakespeare Theatre production of King Lear in 2009, will direct this production, which will run from January 27 to March 11.
Arena Stage will stage a two-play festival of the works of the seminal American playwright Eugene O’Neill next spring. O’Neill’s only comedy, Ah, Wilderness! will run from March 9 to April 8 and his iconic Long Day’s Journey Into Night will play from April 6 to May 13.
Arena’s second musical of the season will be Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, which Smith will direct between May 11 and June 30 of 2012. The Music Man is notable for having won the Tony Award in 1958. The runner-up? West Side Story.
Arena will include all of the foregoing productions except Karen Zacarías’ play in its standard season-ticket package. The Book Club Play, along with Steve Cuiffo’s Elephant Room and Mary T. and Lizzie K. by Tazewell Thompson, will be part of what the company terms the “Kogood Cradle add-on subscription.”
Cuiffo, who so memorably played a belching medico in Pig Iron’s Hell Meets Henry Half Way at Woolly Mammoth in 2009, is currently appearing as Lenny Bruce in his own one-man play. Arena describes Elephant Room, which will run from January 20 to February 26, as “a new theatrical experience [which] reveals that the more we hide behind smoke and mirrors, the further we expose our own vulnerabilities.” Trey Lyford and Geoff Sobelle I are co-authors, and the Center Theatre Group co-produces.
Tazewell’s play, which runs from June 1 to July 22, imagines an encounter between Mary Todd Lincoln – at the point of the play, an impoverished widow – and a freed slave. The company announced that Mary T. and Lizzy K. is part of its “President’s Project” but has not provided more details about the project.
Arena’s 8-play package is available for a maximum of $468 and the Kogood Cradle add-on subscription costs $153 or less. More details are available here.