A fantasy about a high school teacher who becomes a Presidential double and then the de facto President when the real President suffers from a scandalous illness will open a season for Arena Stage which is otherwise mostly about some of the most dramatic — and real — events of world history.
The fantasy is a world premiere musical comedy Dave, an adaptation of the movie of the same title in which the Presidential double is not Alec Baldwin but just an ordinary guy, like you or me. Like me, anyway. In the movie, Dave is recruited when the President has a stroke while in the amorous embrace of one of his staff. While Dave is impersonating the real President, he uncovers all sorts of skulduggery in the White House and goes about setting things to rights. As this is an adaptation, your experience may vary. Book by Tom Meehan (Annie) and Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde); music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and lyrics by Benjamin, Dave will be directed by Tina Landau (SpongeBob SquarePants). From July 13 to August 19, 2018.
Arena will follow this up with Gretchen Law’s Turn Me Loose, a passionate take on the life and times of the passionate activist and comedian Dick Gregory. The New York Times’ Christopher Isherwood called this show “scorchingly funny” and observed that it “feels as raw, vital and funny as any stand-up set you’re likely to find in New York today.” Turn Me Loose will run from September 6 to October 14 of this year.
Come November, Arena will be staging two extremely different shows at the same time. In the Fichandler, it’s a new revival of Anything Goes, the Cole Porter musical about a lovelorn stowaway on an ocean liner who is resolved to stop the marriage of the object of his dreams to a multi-millionaire. To aid his plans, he enlists that master criminal, Public Enemy # 13. Timothy Crouse and John Weidman have a new book, which builds on the original his dad, Russel Crouse, wrote along with Howard Lindsay, P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. Molly Smith will direct, with Parker Esse doing the chorography. Paul Sportelli is the musical director for this show, which will run from November 2 to December 23, 2018.
At roughly the same time, Paula Vogel’s Indecent will run on the Kreeger Stage. Indecent, nominated for a Best Play Tony, tells the story of another play — Sholem Asch’s The God of Vengeance, an incendiary 1923 play which centered on a lesbian relationship and was accused of traitorous libel as well as indecency. “‘Indecent’ is, above all, decent, in the most complete sense of the word,” opined the New York Times’ Ben Brantley. “It is virtuous, sturdily assembled, informative and brimming with good faith.” Indecent, which Arena is producing in collaboration with Baltimore Center Stage and Kansas City Repertory, will run from November 23 to December 30 of this year. Eric Rosen directs.
Arena will start out the new year with a world premiere — Kleptocracy, by “House of Cards” screenwriter Kenneth Lin. This is the story of the chaotic rebirth of the Russian state after the fall of the Soviet Union, when one of Russia’s fiercest oligarchs decides to reverse field and pursue an agenda of reform — only to face an unexpected foe: young Vladimir Putin, who has his own plans. Kleptocracy will run from January 18 to February 19, 2019; no director has been announced.
Arena will follow this new play about near-contemporary events with a journey to 1880, with The Heiress, Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s adaptation of Henry James novel “Washington Square.” A father worries about his socially inept daughter, who seems clearly headed for spinsterhood until a handsome young man suddenly plays her court. Does he see her inner beauty, or only her bank account? Seema Seuko will direct this play, which will run from February 8 to March 10 of next year.
Aaron Posner’s at it again — this time with a completely original script, inspired by nothing except our history. JQA is the story of our sixth President — John Quincy Adams, a brilliant, acerbic, ramrod-principled man who, though a successful diplomat and politician managed to alienate as many people as he won over. The play will show him in contact (and conflict) with many of the seminal characters of our history (including Washington, Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and his own father, John Adams); Arena promises that it will “challenge…the way we think of our country, our government and ourselves.” From March 1 to April 14, 2019; Posner will direct.
On April 5, Arena will debut a new play from Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced, The Invisible Hand) — Junk, the story of a junk-bond monarch’s effort to acquire a family-owned steel company so that he can chop it to bits and sell its assets. This play, Variety’s Marilyn Stasio says, “capture[s] the electric energy that fueled these aggressive acquisitions, along with the intoxicating sense of power that blinded the raiders to all other principles and values.” Junk, which won this year’s Kennedy Center Prize for Drama will run from April 5 to May 5 of next year; Jackie Maxwell will direct.
Arena will close its season with another world premiere, an a capella musical from another familiar DC figure — Tazewell Thompson’s Jubilee, which is the story of the Fisk University Jubilee Singers. This ensemble traveled America and the world, breaking racial barriers. Thompson will also direct this show, which will run from April 26 to June 2, 2019.
2018/2019 season tickets are available by clicking here. Groups of 10+ call 202-488-4380.