CSC Announces Return to In-Person Performances With ASSASSINS & More; John Doyle to Step Down in 2022

Programming for 2021-2022 at CSC Includes Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s Snow in Midsummer and more.

By: Jul. 19, 2021
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CSC Announces Return to In-Person Performances With ASSASSINS & More; John Doyle to Step Down in 2022

Classic Stage Company today announced that Tony Award-winning Artistic Director John Doyle will depart the organization next summer and revealed the programming for his final year. The forthcoming productions will offer a vivid, wide-ranging representation of the multitudes classic theater can contain, and of the diversity of works, ideas, and cultures it can encompass: a dark satiric musical probing American history (Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Assassins), a timely adaptation of the world's most famous ancient Greek epic poem through the lens of Black American experience (Marcus Gardley's black odyssey), a thrilling reimagining of a classical Chinese drama (Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Snow in Midsummer), and an Oscar Wilde-infused, 1960s Dublin-set musical (A Man of No Importance, with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens). The company sees this moment of industry-wide change as an opportunity to continue to find new ways to make the classical canon-and the theater-making practices that bring it to life-inclusive, vital, and boundary-breaking.

Doyle says, "I will always treasure the privilege of having led this terrific company. I greatly look forward to my final season and am very excited for all that lies in CSC's future. The performances in my final year at CSC are quite personal for me: with Assassins, we're returning to our theater with something we've waited so long to share, fulfilling a dream that has carried and uplifted me and the cast and creative team through so much turmoil, and sharing a work that speaks with excruciating relevance to the violent charge beneath American existence. Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig and Marcus Gardley, in their respective plays, reinterpret ancient works with stunning vitality, and demonstrate how electrifying and flexible 'classic' work can be. They achieve in their scripts what I've sought to show across my leadership at CSC. Finally, with A Man of No Importance I will depart this place that's been a wonderful artistic home."

Since becoming CSC's Artistic Director in 2016, Doyle has devoted the company's flexible space to a range of theater-makers and works that speak with urgency to our moment. He has substantially advanced the company's mission of creating a "classic theater" for contemporary audiences, and filled CSC's seasons with sharp, timely adaptations; musicals that pulse with potent political and social undercurrents; productions that topple notions of genres like fantasy and horror; and propulsive, engaging Shakespeare. In the productions Doyle himself has directed at CSC-including iconic works such as Brecht's The Resistible Rise Arturo Ui and Oscar Hammerstein II's Carmen Jones-his trademark stripped-down staging has instilled an essential energy and allowed acute attention to text and performance. During the pandemic, the director adapted CSC's signature Classic Conversations series to feature stirring conversations with theater luminaries about their work-and about the state of the theater world within the context of 2020's crises, as well as its widespread demands for social change.

CSC and the company of Assassins return to in-person rehearsals in September to ready the show for a momentous opening in November after having paused two weeks into rehearsals in March 2020. The star-studded production completes the trilogy of Sondheim/Weidman musicals Doyle has directed. (He staged their other two collaborations-Pacific Overtures, at CSC in 2017, and Road Show, at The Public Theater in 2008 and London's Menier Chocolate Factory in 2011, to wide acclaim.) The production arrives with even more anticipation built by CSC's recent virtual event Tell the Story: Celebrating Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's 'Assassins,' for which Doyle gathered Sondheim and Weidman; artists from the original Off-Broadway company, the Broadway revival, and the heralded upcoming CSC production.

Two recent works further extend this season's answer to the question: what is a classic in America today? Marcus Gardley's black odyssey, a reimagining of Homer's epic poem, around the journey of a Black soldier attempting to return from Afghanistan, will kick off 2022 at CSC with its NY premiere. Stevie Walker-Webb (Ain't No Mo) directs.

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Snow in Midsummer, a ghost thriller based on the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi that Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing, will make its New York premiere at CSC in a new production directed by Zi Alikhan.

Doyle closes out his time at the company with A Man of No Importance, a musical with a book by Terrence McNally. Based on the 1994 film, A Man of No Importance is also a work in dialogue with Wilde's classic Salomé, which its lead character is staging in an amateur production. The show features lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, who also collaborated with McNally on the acclaimed musicals Ragtime and Anastasia.

Classic Stage Company's Board of Directors will be engaging an outside firm to lead the search for Doyle's successor. CSC is committed to an equitable and transparent process. The company is excited about the future of its artistic leadership and the opportunities to expand the reach of its storytelling. Further updates will be provided on the organization's website.

Confirmed dates for all productions will be announced soon and tickets and memberships will go on sale late this summer. Assassins ticket holders and members will receive advanced access to rebook tickets before they are released to the general public.

CSC's Commitments Upon Reopening

In order to ensure a safe reopening, CSC is currently reviewing guidelines that will be released prior to the resumption of performances and rehearsals. In addition to health and safety, CSC reaffirms its commitment to advanced access to the theater for all and is continuing its steps towards being an anti-racist organization. CSC has been working with consultants at Operations, Inc. on a renewed commitment to inclusivity, equity, and diversity in all areas of the company, onstage and off. Details on further steps in this ongoing work will be announced soon.



Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Book by John Weidman

(from an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr.)

Directed by John Doyle

Performances Begin November 2021

A year and a half after its planned debut, CSC is proud to present its much-anticipated production of Assassins. A journey through the dark side of the American dream, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Tony-winning musical Assassins explores the lives of nine men and women who either killed (or tried to kill) one of the Presidents of the United States. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald and beyond, the stories of our country's most successful and would-be assassins intersect in unexpected ways, creating a powerful, yet unnervingly funny look at some of the most shocking moments in US history. The star-studded cast includes: Adam Chanler-Berat, Eddie Cooper, Tavi Gevinson, Brad Giovanine, Andy Grotelueschen, Bianca Horn, Judy Kuhn, Whit K. Lee, Rob Morrison, Steven Pasquale, Ethan Slater, Will Swenson, Wesley Taylor, Brandon Uranowitz, and Katrina Yaukey.

black odyssey

By Marcus Gardley

Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb

Winter 2022

Obie-winning playwright Marcus Gardley (The House That Will Not Stand) blends classic mythology, African-American history, and modern theatricality to create the poetic black odyssey. This vibrant reimagining of the Odysseus saga is set in modern-day Harlem, telling the epic tale of Ulysses Lincoln, a soldier facing the most daunting of voyages to reunite with his family. While fate may seem in control of Ulysses' destiny, his ancestors and their buried history will help guide his journey home.

black odyssey was originally developed and produced at the Denver Center Theatre Company;

a division of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts; Kent Thompson, Artistic Director

Snow in Midsummer

By Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig

Directed by Zi Alikhan

Spring 2022

Based on the Classical Chinese Drama, The Injustice to Dou Yi that Moved Heaven and Earth, by Guan Hanqing

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's Snow in Midsummer is a thrilling murder mystery adapted from the classical Chinese drama The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth by Guan Hanqing. When a wealthy businesswoman takes ownership of a factory in a remote drought-devastated town, she learns of a curse placed on the town by a woman executed for a crime she did not commit. Weaving together parallel stories in a community torn apart by injustice and ecological disaster, Snow in Midsummer is a spellbinding ghost story that explores the weight of generational trauma and restorative justice.

Snow in Midsummer was first presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre on 23rd February 2017; U.S. premiere produced by Oregon Shakespeare Festival, August 2018

A Man of No Importance

Book by Terrence McNally

Music by Stephen Flaherty

Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens

Directed by John Doyle

Fall 2022

Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Terrence McNally's acclaimed musical, A Man of No Importance tells the story of an amateur theatre group in 1960s Dublin and their leader, bus driver Alfie Byrne. Determined to stage a production of Oscar Wilde's Salome, despite the objections of local church authorities, Alfie confronts the forces of bigotry and shame over a love "that dare not speak its name." This evocative and award-winning musical illustrates the redemptive power of theatre, love, and friendship, all for a man of seemingly no importance.

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Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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