A world premiere from a local actor/playwright, a co-production, an old favorite, two musicals, and two stories about, or almost about, actual events make up Keegan Theatre’s 2019-2020 season.
Jeremy Skidmore’s back in town to direct Brandon McCoy’s world premiere West By God, which will open the company’s season. This play tracks two families in a small Appalachian town in West Virginia as part of the first U.S. KeeganConnects tour. “Why do we spend so much time arguing against belittling certain groups, but it remains acceptable, and sometimes encouraged, to marginalize rural America?” asks McCoy, a West Virginia native himself. “In response to this question, I wrote the play West By God.” From September 27 to October 20,2019; following its run at Keegan, the company will take it to West Virginia.
In November, Chelsea Marcantal’s Airness will be on the docket for Keegan. Young Nina goes to a Staten Island bar, where she finds her colorful competitors, as well as last year’s champion, who has graduated to doing soda commercials. “The eccentric yet heartfelt characters, the physical antics, a good dose of rock music and the feel-good story — with some romantic heartbreak — make for great fun in this play,” says Elizabeth Kramer of the Louisville Courier-Journal. In collaboration with 1st Stage; directed by Christina Coakley, November 8-30 of this year.
The company’s holiday production will be a familiar one to Keegan aficionados: Matthew Keenan’s An Irish Carol. The misery-drenched owner of an Irish pub, stuffed with bitterness over what he felt was a romantic betrayal years ago, is given cause to reconsider as Christmas approaches. Susan Galbraith, reviewing last year’s production for DCTS, noted that “It’s a ‘carol’ true enough, but one for 21st century adults.” From December 12-29,2019; Keegan Producing Artistic Director Mark Rhea directs.
Anna Ziegler’s Boy opens up the 2020 portion of Keegan’s next season. David Peter Reimer was a Canadian whose penis was hopelessly mangled during a circumcision when he was an infant. A psychologist, John Money, believed that gender identity was primarily learned, and he advised Reimer’s parents to have David’s testicles removed and raise him as a girl. He wasn’t a girl, though, and in 2004 Reimer killed himself. Ziegler has fictionalized this story, imagining that the protagonist, here named Adam, is living as a male and has fallen in love with a woman. “Given the difficulty of relating a multilayered tale that encompasses many years, Ms. Ziegler’s script…is admirably comprehensible,” says Ben Brantley of the New York Times in a mixed review. Keegan’s production, which Susan Marie Rhea will direct, will run from February 7 to March 7 of next year.
In Memphis, in the 1950s, a young White DJ falls in love with a stunning Black singer. What could go wrong, eh? Memphis is a musical about forbidden love, complicated by artistic ambition. With music by David Bryan; book by Joe DePietro; and lyrics by them both, “[A] truly delightful musical, one with mirth, melody, substance and much much more,” said DCTS’ Richard Seff in this review about the 2010 Tony winner. From April 10 to May 10, 2020; Kevin McAllister directs.
These days, if you want to make the big bucks, you had better be socially conscious and woke. So when Jojomon’s CEO makes fun of People of Size, he’s out on his ear, and Joan steps in. Joan wants to go the other way and manufacture yoga pants for people larger than size 8 (it will expand their market) but the plan runs afoul of the founder’s dream of “aspirational branding” Yoga Play playwright Dipika Guha has her sights set squarely on the intersection between profits and evolved thinking. “[T]hroughout the play, Guha mines the tension between integrity and the profit motive — tension that’s particularly juicy in an industry that espouses concern for your health and spirit at the same time that its raison d’être is to get you to buy more things,” says the San Francisco Chronicle’s Lily Janiak. From June 5-27 of next year; Brandon McCoy directs.
Keegan ends its season with another story about a surgery gone south — The Tony-winning musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hedwig is the victim of a botched male-to-female sex-change operation (thus the “angry inch”), and it’s the whole Hedwig who is angry, not just the inch. “As written by [John Cameron] Mitchell and his composer/lyricist Stephen Trask, it’s an intriguing but ugly tale that is honestly drawn and grimly fascinating,” said Seff for DCTS in this review. Hedwig will run from July 24 to August 23, 2020; Keegan has not announced a director.
Subscriptions to Keegan’s 2019-2020 season aren’t yet available on-line, but you can call the box office at 202.265.3767.