In January, 2007, I was among other members of the press in hard hats, touring the new Signature Theatre. When we got to the MAX, Eric Schaeffer predicted that the new state of the art facility, already a far cry from the ‘garage’ space they had just left, would become a space where new musicals and plays would be created, away from the pressures of New York.
With their upcoming 25th Anniversary season, the Tony Award winning Signature has revealed an ambitious season: three world premiere musicals, three revivals, a DC premiere play and a limited run, Signature-selected, Sondheim revue honoring Signature’s twenty five Sondheim productions.
“This season is more than just celebrating our 25 years as a respected regional theatre in America” stated Signature’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. “It’s about collaborating with artists that we have such passion for, as well as producing revivals that were pivotal in the history of this theatre. John Kander, Sheryl Crow, Barry Levinson, Greg Pierce, Mel Marvin, John Dempsey, Dana Rowe, Kathleen Marshall, Liesl Tommy and Aaron Posner are all coming to Signature to create. We will truly be celebrating throughout the entire year with these wonderful artists.”
The press release continues: The 2014/15 season will bring three new musicals to life in world premieres at Signature beginning with the world premiere of the Sheryl Crow and Barry Levinson penned musical adaptation of the 1982 movie Diner (December 9, 2014 – January 25, 2015). Diner’s book will be authored by the movie’s Academy Award®-winning screenwriter and director Barry Levinson, with direction and choreography by Tony Award® winner Kathleen Marshall.
“I love Barry Levinson’s film, Diner,” said nine-time Grammy Award® Winner Sheryl Crow, “so, when Barry called and asked if I’d like to join him to create a new musical version of the story, I jumped at the chance. Working together has been a total joy. In my hometown of Kennett, Missouri, we didn’t have musicals coming through our town, but we saw all the movie musicals. I didn’t know they all came from Broadway! My favorites were West Side Story, Oklahoma and My Fair Lady. I still can’t believe I will have the opportunity to work on a brand new musical with Barry. Working together with our director, Kathleen Marshall, we have really been working hard on expanding Diner to allow it to sing while remaining true to this story of these young men and women coming of age in Baltimore. And to think we are going to premiere it so close to Baltimore, where the story took place, at Signature Theatre, which has birthed so many new musicals, well, I couldn’t be happier.”
A giant of the musical theater canon and frequent Signature artist, John Kander, joins Signature for the world premiere of Kid Victory (February 17 – March 22, 2015), his second collaboration with his new writing partner Greg Pierce (book and lyrics). “Greg and I are thrilled that Kid Victory will come to life at this theatre we love so much,” said Kander. A co-production with The Vineyard Theatre, Kid Victory will be directed by Liesl Tommy (Associate Artistic Director at Berkeley Rep, director of Appropriate currently Off-Broadway).
Nick Blaemire, known to Signature’s audiences for the quirky and youthful musical Glory Days, brings his new musical Soon to the ARK stage (March 10 – April 26, 2015). “Growing up in DC, I fell in love with theater seeing shows at Signature,” says Blaemire. “They try things. Signature takes chances on material and people. It’s an honor to be associated with that kind of collaborative risk-taking again, and I can’t wait to get back down there to make something brand new with them on Soon.
A new play will get its DC area premiere in Signature’s ARK Theatre (October 7 – November 9, 2014). Laura Eason’s Sex with Strangers was called “the next red-hot Chicago play” and “the best drama I’ve seen about the seismic changes in the arts-media landscape” by the Chicago Tribune after its’ Steppenwolf premiere.
The 2014/15 season also affirms Signature’s passion to stage inventive new productions of classic musicals; the season opens on August 5 with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George (August 5 – September 21, 2014), directed by Matthew Gardiner, who will also take the reins directing Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret (May 12 – June 28, 2015).
In October, the musical version of Sinclair Lewis’s best-selling novel Elmer Gantry gets a new production directed by Signature’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer (October 7 – November 9, 2014). Schaeffer previously collaborated on Elmer Gantry in Chicago with authors John Bishop (book), Mel Marvin (music) and Bob Satuloff (lyrics), and some new material will be incorporated into this fresh reimagining.
Signature also announces a world premiere event, Simply Sondheim (April 2-19, 2015). In honor of the 25th anniversary and long partnership with Stephen Sondheim, Sondheim has given Signature permission to create a one-time celebration of his music and lyrics. Featuring a 16-piece orchestra and 6 “signature” performers, this event will run only two and a half weeks, only at Signature Theatre, and will never be seen again. Jonathan Tunick will create all new orchestrations and the work will be directed by Eric Schaeffer, choreographed by Matthew Gardiner with musical supervision and vocal arrangements by the show’s co-conceiver with Schaeffer, David Loud.
Signature will close the celebration of its 25th year, and kick off its 2015/2016 season in an all-new production of The Fix, the inside-Washington musical satire. Featuring a book by John Dempsey and music by Dana P. Rowe (the creators of Brother Russia and The Witches of Eastwick), the show quickly became a favorite among Signature’s artistic team during its U.S. premiere at the Theatre in 1998, cementing a long-standing relationship with Dempsey and Rowe.
Signature will present several cabaret performances in the 2014/15 Season. In the summer, audiences can escape the heat in the air-conditioned ARK for Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Series (July 9 – 26, 2014); A four-show Cabaret Series (Signature Sisters, October 21-25, 2014; Signature Tenors, February 24-28, 2015; Gone Country, April 7-11, 2015; and Donna Migliaccio, May 19-23, 2015). Signature’s popular Holiday Follies returns December 12-23, 2014.
Signature offers flexible subscription options for the 2014/15 season. Subscription packages are now on sale. Custom packages can be created for 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, or the full 7-show season. Patrons who subscribe will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to Simply Sondheim.
Package prices begin at $184. Benefits of subscribing include first choice of seats, savings over individual ticket prices, fee-waived ticket exchanges and discounts on extra tickets. Season tickets are now on sale by calling Signature’s Box Office at 703 820 9771 or by visiting www.signature-theatre.org. The Cabaret Series subscription package, Sizzlin’ Summer All-Access Pass, and Holiday Follies are also available for purchase.
Single tickets for the entire season will go on sale July 1, 2014.