Merrimack Repertory Theatre Announces 2020-21 Season - YOUNG AMERICANS By Lauren Yee, and More
Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) today announced six of the seven plays for the 2020-21 Season, including the world premiere of Young Americans by Lauren Yee, as well as two of the plays originally scheduled for the current season, according to new Nancy L. Donahue Artistic Director Courtney Sale and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas.
MRT's 42nd season marks the first to be selected by Sale, who is the first woman to serve as the non-profit company's artistic director. She served as the artistic director at Seattle Children's theatre, the original epicenter of COVID-19, before relocating to MRT, and a similar situation, just three weeks ago.
Sale said, "Across the world, people are suffering mightily. This time offers us a way to deepen our understanding of what is most important. We are honored to share this next season with our audience; stories that illuminate generous connection, celebrate possibility, and further our shared humanity."
The season will start October 14, a month later than usual, and a holiday play will be announced at a later date. The line-up includes two plays originally scheduled for the current season before the pandemic: the world premiere of The Lowell Offering and Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End.
Butkas said, "The Coronavirus pandemic has created extraordinary challenges across all sectors and has spurred us to create a season that continues our mission to bring you remarkable new plays while managing financial risk. We know our entire community is grappling with hard choices and living with uncertainty. As the crisis recedes, we hope to lift up our entire community with our 2020-21 Season." She said the theatre has made significant adjustments to its schedule and budget to prepare for a solid return after the critical financial losses caused by the pandemic.
The world premiere next spring of Young Americans by Lauren Yee is a co-production with Portland Center Stage, OR. Yee garnered raves from critics and audiences alike this past fall with the MRT production of Cambodian Rock Band. "Young Americans is a family road trip play. I wanted to investigate an immigrant family (travelling) in a car across this very big country," Yee said. "I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity to share this work, to create art, and to gather once again as soon as we are able to do so safely."
The MRT 2020-21 Season comprises the world premiere of The Lowell Offering by Andy Bayiates and Genevra Gallo-Bayiates and directed by Jess Hutchinson, which plays from October 14 to November 8, 2020; a holiday piece to be announced later; Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel, directed by Terry Berliner, January 6-24, 2021; Ken Ludwig's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, directed by Courtney Sale, February 10-28, 2021; Wild Horses by Allison Gregory, directed by Courtney Sale, March 17-April 4, 2021; Young Americans, a world premiere by Lauren Yee (Cambodian Rock Band at MRT), April 21-May 9, 2021; and Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan MacMillan with Jonny Donahoe, May 19-June 7, 2021.
Ludwig's plays include numerous Tony Award-winning Broadway productions, including Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You, and Moon Over Buffalo. Bayiates and Gallo-Bayiates were part of the writing team behind 45 Plays for 45 Presidents at MRT in 2016, and Bayiates and Aaron Muñoz wrote the critically acclaimed world premiere of Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle for MRT's 2017-18 Season. Lost Laughs won the IRNE Award for Best Play that year.
The Lowell Offering
By Andy Bayiates and Genevra Gallo-Bayiates
Directed by Jess Hutchinson
World Premiere October 14-November 8, 2020
In 1840 in Lowell, MA, a group of factory workers began publishing the world's first magazine written solely by women; it was called The Lowell Offering. This is the story of the magazine's editor, Harriet Farley, and a labor activist, Sarah Bagley - and the rise and fall of their friendship, the magazine, and Lowell's "Mill Girl" culture.
HOLIDAY SHOW TBD
November 25-December 20, 2020
Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End
Directed by Terry Berliner
January 6-24, 2021
A celebration of humorist Erma Bombeck, At Wit's End rejoices in the life of a woman considered to be one of America's funniest moms, who championed the everyday lives of housewives with a daring truth few of her generation were willing to tell.
Ken Ludwig's Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
February 10-28, 2021
Directed by Courtney Sale
The game's afoot! As side-splitting as it is spine-tingling, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery reinvents the master detective's most famous mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes and Watson join three madcap actors, who play more than 40 characters, in a race to save the life of the Baskerville family heir. You'll howl with glee as they tackle a dizzying array of clues to arrive at the truth about the mysterious hound from hell.
By Allison Gregory
Directed by Courtney Sale
March 17-April 4, 2021
Do you remember being a teenager? A woman hilariously recounts one summer of her youth: those first feelings of all-consuming love, the emergence of her own identity, the realization that all things are not as they should be, and the sheer intoxication of sweet freedom. With a little help from her friends Skinny Lynny and Zabby, she sets out to right an injustice with exhilarating, heartbreaking, and life-changing results. Those teen years? It will all come rushing back when you join her on the ride of a lifetime.
Features a 70s soundtrack: "A Horse with No Name," "Smoke on the Water," "Shambala," "Me and Mrs. Jones," "The Cisco Kid," "Dancing in the Moonlight," and more.
By Lauren Yee
World Premiere April 21-May 9, 2021
A Co-Production with Portland Center Stage, OR
There's nothing more American than a road trip. Immigrants Joe and Jenny share a raucous ride from coast to coast, filled with roadside motels, tourist traps, the awkward getting-to-know-you revelations of a young couple, and an insanely unforgettable trip to IHOP. Twenty years later, Joe picks up their daughter at college, and the two embark on the exact same trip - this time without Jenny. Young Americans asks, how do we share our life's journey with our children?
Every Brilliant Thing
May 19-June 7, 2021
What makes life worth living? Ice cream, water fights, peeing in the sea, the word plinth, the even numbered Star Trek films, watching someone watch your favourite film, dancing in private, the way Ray Charles sings the word 'You'. . .
Mom's very sick and needs cheering up. Her young child starts a list of the little moments in life that bring bliss, delight, and uncontrollable laughter - and continues the list for years and years, a list of thousands. A jolt of joy, Every Brilliant Thing is a unique interactive theatrical experience that will take you on a journey of healing and rejuvenation - a vital reminder of all that life has to give.
Season Subscriptions for all seven plays start at $133, with student subscriptions at $70. Current prices offer a 25% discount and expire May 8. To purchase, visit www.mrt.org or contact the MRT Box Office at 978-654-4678.