Mary Zimmerman, the MacArthur Genius Grant recipient whose adaptations of Candide and The Arabian Nights played here to critical acclaim and box-office success, will bring Metamorphoses, her interpretation of the myths of Ovid, to Arena Stage next February as part of the company’s eight-production 2012-2013 season, Arena announced yesterday.
The Zimmerman play, which also borrows from Lucius Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, features new telling of some well-known stories – King Midas, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Narcissus, for example, as well as eight less-familiar ones. This Lookingglass Theatre Company production, which will take place around an enormous pool on the Fichandler Stage, will run between February 8 and March 17 of next year.
Arena’s season will also feature three musicals. The most traditional of these will be a production of My Fair Lady, the Lerner and Loewe musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s tale of a Cockney shopgirl who learns the Queen’s English at the hands of an arrogant academic. Arena Artistic Director Molly Smith directed this production at the Shaw Festival in Ontario, and will bring her creative team from the Festival to the Arena show. My Fair Lady will run from November 2, 2012 to January 6, 2013.
A Night with Janis Joplin is, as you might have already guessed, an evening with the late blues pioneer and Southern Comfort enthusiast. Written and directed by Randy Johnson (no, not that Randy Johnson), A Night with Janis Joplin examines not only Janis but her influences and important contemporaries: Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, and the great Etta James. It will run from September 28 to November 4 of this year.
The third musical is brand new: Cheryl West’s Pullman Porter Blues. Co-Produced with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pullman Porter Blues tells the story of three generations of porters on the Panama Limited run from Chicago to New Orleans. It is June 22, 1937, and most of the folks on the train have focused their attention on the Braddock-Lewis world heavyweight fight. But for the Sykes family, more than the heavyweight title is at stake. This world premiere runs between November 23, 2012 and January 6, 2013.
Between March and May of next year, Arena will feature two productions which spring from its ongoing efforts to encourage new American playwriting. Tazewell Thompson’s Mary T. and Lizzie K., a piece commissioned as part of Arena’s American President Project, explores the friendship between Presidential widow Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Lizzie Keckly, a freed slave. Mary T., which Arena had originally scheduled for this year but cancelled when expected Federal funding did not come through, will run between March 15 and April 28 of next year.
Arena will also stage The Mountaintop, an Olivier Award winner for Best New Play, by resident playwright Katori Hall. This play, which runs from March 29 to May 12, 2013, reimagines the last day in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Robert O’Hara, the playwright who wrote Bootycandy and Antebellum, directs.
Good People, David Lindsay-Abaire’s celebrated off-Broadway hit, will run from February 1 to March 10 of next year. The play, which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play award for 2011, tells the story of a South Boston woman in desperate financial straits who tries to reconnect with an old flame who made good. Lindsay-Abaire is also the author of Rabbit Hole and Fuddy Mears, two plays which have had successful runs in the Washington area.
Arena’s 2012-2013 season will close with Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities, a story of a writer who returns to her dysfunctional Palm Springs family and reveals that she is about to have a memoir published. Baitz is a Pulitzer nominee for A Fair Country. Ben Brantley of the New York Times says Other Desert Cities is “[b]uilt with gleaming dialogue, tantalizing hints of a dangerous mystery and a structural care that brings to mind the heyday of Lillian Hellman.” Cities will run from April 26 to May 26 of next year.
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