TheatreWorks Announces Revised 51st Season Including Regional Premieres & More, Now Launching in October
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley, Artistic Director Designate Tim Bond, and Executive Director Phil Santora announced changes to TheatreWorks's 2020-21 Season, which is now scheduled to begin in October 2020. As a part of the mitigation efforts surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the Tony Award-winning theatre's 51st season will be postponed from its original July start date. "We are all in this together and it will be our shared spirit that brings us through this challenging time," says Robert Kelley. "We want to thank our patrons for all of the calls, emails of support, and donations over the last few weeks. They have meant a lot to all of us and we are grateful for your encouragement and well wishes." Says Tim Bond when looking to the future, "Thank you for believing in the importance of theatre to provide a place to laugh, reflect, and celebrate the human spirit. We will be ready to serve our community in October and invite you to our reimagined upcoming season."
The season will include the Regional Premiere of a hit Broadway play, acclaimed performer Hershey Felder with another musical masterpiece, a Regional Premiere of a Jane Austen musical by Tony-nominated composer Paul Gordon, a high-stakes environmental drama, a timely Tony-winning musical, an onstage adaption of a beloved holiday film, and a personalized portrait of a century of American history. TheatreWorks also announced it will begin the following season in July 2021 with a World Premiere developed in its hit New Works Festival. The upcoming season will Mark Bond's first at the helm following Kelley's retirement in June 2020, ending one of the longest current tenures in American theatre. For more information the public can call 650-463-1960 or visit theatreworks.org. Subscriptions and single tickets will be available in the coming months.
TheatreWorks also announced that its annual New Works Festival will be moved to early 2021 (exact dates to be announced). Originally scheduled for August 7-16, 2020, the popular theatre festival gathers nationally acclaimed playwrights and composers from across the country, offering Bay Area audiences an advance look at the theatre hits of the future.
TheatreWorks's 51st season launches in the fall with Queen (October 7 - November 1, 2020). Written by San Jose-born emerging playwright Madhuri Shekar, whose House of Joy dazzled Bay Area audiences, this high-stakes environmental drama follows female PhD candidates Sanam from India and Ariel from the United States, who are on the brink of publishing groundbreaking research about the rapid global honeybee demise. When Sanam discovers that their numbers don't quite add up, she grapples with a moral dilemma: publish the paper and face humiliation if the truth is discovered, or stand by her scientific principles, ceding ground to an ecological disaster and jeopardizing her career and friendship. An Edgerton Foundation New Play Award Winner, Queen received its World Premiere at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, where it was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play. Chicago Sun-Times called it "A winning story about science, conscience, and the heart," while Stage and Cinema Chicago lauded it as "taut and truthful...a credit to our hive." It will be directed by Jeffrey Lo, who recently helmed TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's hits The Language Archive and The Santaland Diaries. Lo, who is also TheatreWorks's Casting Director, is an acclaimed local playwright as well as an in-demand director.
For the holidays, TheatreWorks will present It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (December 2 - 27, 2020). Adapted by Joe Landry from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling, this heart-warming holiday production offers the beloved 1946 film as a 1940s era radio play, complete with live foley-style sound effects. Presented in the style of TheatreWorks favorites The 39 Steps and The Hound of the Baskervilles, five nimble actors take on dozens of roles, immersing audiences in the iconic story of George Bailey as he considers suicide on Christmas Eve, but discovers the impact of his life. It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play has been applauded by media including The New York Times, which said the holiday play "added another layer of nostalgia. It's easy for the audience to get caught up in the fun of creating reality from obvious artifice." The Chicago Sun-Times deemed it "One of the best holiday shows around. This is a fresh and inventive way of reconnecting with a classic story of love and redemption," and The Chicago Tribune called it "A well-loved tale told with style, charm and a heart so big it could burst the ribcage of the harshest Grinch." This yuletide hit will be helmed by TheatreWorks Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli.
TheatreWorks launches the new year with Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (January 13 - February 7, 2021). New Artistic Director Tim Bond will make his TheatreWorks debut directing this Tony-nominated play. Adapted by Obie Award winner Emily Mann from the best-selling memoir by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany written with Amy Hill Hearth, this heartwarming play features two centenarian sisters sharing the lessons they've learned over their exceptional century on earth. Bearing witness to formative events from the Jim Crow Era to the 1990s, these trailblazing sisters provide a vibrant and personal perspective to American history. Its acclaimed Broadway run received three Tony Award nominations including Best Play.
In Spring 2021, TheatreWorks will present the Regional Premiere of the musical Sense and Sensibility (March 10 - April 4, 2021). This sensational work features book, music, and lyrics by Paul Gordon, whose musicals include last season's World Premiere Pride and Prejudice, which broke TheatreWorks box office records and was streamed by 160,000 viewers in 14 countries worldwide on its April 2020 virtual debut. Gordon also penned TheatreWorks favorites Jane Austen's EMMA and Daddy Long Legs, and the Tony-nominated Broadway musical Jane Eyre. Based on the Jane Austen novel, Sense and Sensibility follows sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood through their change in fortune after their father's untimely death and ensuing romantic trials, events that test and affirm the bonds of sisterhood. While Elinor is prudent in matters of life and love, not revealing her heart's true desire, Marianne is wildly impulsive, falling head-over-heels for a dashing but unscrupulous suitor. TheatreWorks Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley returns to helm Sense and Sensibility.
Spring 2021 also marks the return of TheatreWorks favorite Hershey Felder in the hit musical masterpiece Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin (March 17 - April 18, 2021). Felder's prior productions at TheatreWorks (Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin; Hershey Felder, Beethoven; Our Great Tchaikovsky; Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story) have shattered box office records for the Silicon Valley theatre company. Note: TheatreWorks in partnership with Hershey Felder Presents is offering a special live streaming performance of Felder's hit show Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT on Sunday, May 10, with proceeds from this special streaming event to benefit TheatreWorks. In 2021, Felder returns to the stage as brilliant Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin, illuminating an exclusive piano lesson with this musical master. In this stunning solo show, the "Poet of the Piano" tells his romantic story while sharing virtuoso performances of his compositions. Directed by Joel Zwick, Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin has delighted audiences across the country in critically acclaimed sold-out runs.
TheatreWorks will then present the Regional Premiere of the Broadway hit The Lifespan of a Fact (dates in April - May 2021 and location to be announced), written by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell. Based on the book of the same name written by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal, this hilarious comedy based on a "true-ish" story will be directed by Artistic Director Tim Bond. War is waged between fact and fiction when an eager journalism intern is assigned to fact-check a respected author's groundbreaking essay for a top magazine, and the piece's "truths" don't all align. In the current era of "alternative facts" and "fake news," this hilarious and timely comedy calls into question the importance of ethics versus artistic liberty. The Broadway Premiere of The Lifespan of a Fact starring Daniel Radcliffe, Bobby Cannavale, and Cherry Jones was highlighted as a New York Times Critic's Pick.
The season will close with the return of the timeless hit musical Ragtime (June 2 - 27, 2021). Featuring the Tony Award-winning book by Pulitzer Prize finalist Terrence McNally (Master Class, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Rink) and the Tony Award-winning score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Once on This Island, Anastasia, Seussical The Musical), this musical is based on E. L. Doctorow's best-selling novel. This sweeping and stirring musical masterpiece paints a portrait of America at the dawn of the twentieth century, interweaving the lives of three families-white, African-American, and immigrant-finding their places and pursuing the American Dream in a rapidly changing world. Ragtime's original 1998 Broadway production received four Tony Awards. TheatreWorks's 2002 production of Ragtime, directed by Founding Artistic Director Robert Kelley, received rapturous accolades with The Mercury News calling it "A masterpiece." Kelley will return to direct this highly anticipated new production, which was originally scheduled for April 2020 and cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Premiere of Jessica Dickey's Nan and the Lower Body (July 14 - August 8, 2021), originally announced for Spring 2021, will now begin TheatreWorks's 52nd season. Directed by TheatreWorks Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli, this audience favorite was developed at TheatreWorks's 2019 New Works Festival. When Pap smear inventor Dr. George Papanicolaou takes on a brilliant new assistant, Nan Day, he senses that she is hiding a secret. As Dr. Pap discovers the truth, he learns that he may hold the key to solving her greatest mystery. This frank and funny play explores the mysteries of the heart and provides a personal perspective to the revolutionary technology which has saved the lives of millions but caused moral dilemmas along the way.
Four productions will be mounted at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, two will be staged at Palo Alto's Lucie Stern Theatre, and one will be performed at a theatre to be announced.
In chronological order, the TheatreWorks Silicon Valley 2020/21 season is as follows:
For the Sake of the Hive
By Madhuri Shekar
Directed by Jeffrey Lo
October 7 - November 1, 2020 (opening night: October 10)
MOUNTAIN VIEW CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
What if all the bees abandoned their Queen? In this high-stakes environmental drama, best friends Sanam and Ariel, PhD candidates from India and the U.S., research the collapse of bee colonies worldwide, dreaming they might collapse the glass ceiling of academia. When a flaw emerges in their research, their friendship, careers, and even an arranged marriage are at risk. With ecological disaster on the horizon, should they withdraw their findings or compromise them to protect the planet?
Madhuri Shekar's plays include House of Joy; Bucket of Blessings; Antigone, presented by the girls of St. Catherine's; Queen; In Love and Warcraft; A Nice Indian Boy; and Dhaba on Devon Avenue. She has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center, South Coast Repertory, and Victory Gardens Theater, and her work has also been produced at The Old Globe, Center Theatre Group, Alliance Theater, the Hedgebrook Playwrights Festival (in conjunction with Seattle Repertory Theatre), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, California Shakespeare Theater, and EnActe Arts. Her honors include the Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Original Work - Theatre for Young Audiences for Bucket of Blessings and she won the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting contest held by the Alliance Theatre for In Love and Warcraft. She is a 2018 alumna of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard. Shekar is a member of New Dramatists, an alumna of the Ma-Yi writers lab, the Ars Nova Play Group, and the Center Theatre Group Writers Workshop. Her audio play Evil Eye debuted on the Audible best-seller list in May 2019 and was named one of the "Best Audiobooks of 2019" by Audible. Shekar is also a co-creator of the Shakespearean web series, "Titus and Dronicus," and a staff writer for the upcoming HBO show "The Nevers," created by Joss Whedon.
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
Adapted by Joe Landry
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
December 2 - 27, 2020 (opening night: December 5)
LUCIE STERN THEATRE, PALO ALTO
America's favorite holiday classic is on tonight at a snowbound 1940s radio station, with every memorable character, wacky sound effect, and the heartwarming conclusion of the iconic film recreated live before the audience's ears-and eyes! With humor and humanity, George Bailey's tale of love, loss, and redemption mixes an exuberant cast and a wealth of seasonal songs into a radio days hit come to life! A heaven-sent gift for the entire family.
Joe Landry's plays include It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play, The 39 Steps: A Live Radio Play, War of the Worlds: A Panic Broadcast, Meet Me in St. Louis: A Live Radio Play, Reefer Madness, Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play, The Wicked Stage, Fake News!, Eve & Co., Beautiful, Hollywood Babylon, and Numb. Landry attended Playwright's Horizons/NYU, founded Second Guess Theatre Company in Connecticut, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild.
Having Our Say
The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
January 13 - February 7, 2021 (opening night: January 16)
MOUNTAIN VIEW CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Meet sisters Sadie and Bessie, vibrant, strong, full of joy and wisdom - and each 100 years young! From the world of Jim Crow to the Harlem Renaissance and beyond, these delightful, inspiring trailblazers triumph over a sea of obstacles, navigating world wars, civil rights, and women's liberation to achieve exceptional lives. A welcoming feast of love and laughter, their 'say' is an irresistible celebration of our potential. As Sadie says, "Life is short, it's up to you to make it sweet!"
Emily Mann is an award-winning director, playwright, and screenwriter. Completing her final season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre Center in 2020, she led the Tony-winning New Jersey-based theater company for 30 years, overseeing more than 160 productions including more than 40 World Premieres. Mann's Broadway credits include writing and directing Having Our Say, writing Execution of Justice, directing A Streetcar Named Desire and Anna in the Tropics, and directing Christopher Durang's Miss Witherspoon Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. Her plays include Having Our Say; Execution of Justice; Still Life; All Over; Greensboro (A Requiem); Mrs. Packard; Annulla, An Autobiography; A Seagull in the Hamptons; Gloria: A Life; and The Pianist. Mann won Obie Awards for Still Life and All Over, received Tony Award nominations for directing and writing Having Our Say, and was nominated for Drama Desk Awards for directing Having Our Say and writing Execution of Justice. The screenplay for the television adaptation of Having Our Say received Peabody and Christopher Awards. Other awards and honors include HBO New Plays USA Award, Helen Hayes Award, Bay Area Critics Circle Award, Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, and an honorary doctorate from Princeton University.
Sense and Sensibility
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Paul Gordon
March 10 - April 4, 2021 (opening night: March 13)
LUCIE STERN THEATRE, PALO ALTO
Echoing his triumphant hits Pride and Prejudice and Emma, Tony Award nominee Paul Gordon offers up a glorious musical version of Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's beloved romantic classic. With fortune lost to fate and passion lost to folly, two captivating sisters must sail the unpredictable seas of courtship and convention. Overflowing with intrigue and humor, this enchanting adaptation sparkles with unforgettable songs, stunning sets, and gorgeous costumes.
Paul Gordon (Book, Music & Lyrics) received a Tony Award nomination in 2000 for composing the music and lyrics for the acclaimed Broadway musical Jane Eyre, seen at TheatreWorks in 2003. Gordon penned the music, lyrics, and book for last season's World Premiere Musical Pride and Prejudice (TheatreWorks 2019) and the sensational TheatreWorks hit, Jane Austen's EMMA (TheatreWorks 2007 & 2015), and the music and lyrics to the TheatreWorks holiday favorite Daddy Long Legs (2010 & 2016). His other credits include writing music and lyrics for Greetings From Venice Beach and The Magnificent Ambersons. Gordon has written for and collaborated with numerous recording artists, including Bette Midler, Quincy Jones, Alanis Morissette, Smokey Robinson, and Dionne Warwick, has several hit songs to his credit, and is the recipient of nine ASCAP awards for songwriting.
Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin
March 17 - April 14, 2021 (opening night: March 20)
MOUNTAIN VIEW CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
a stunning, tour de force performance, virtuoso actor/pianist Hershey Felder creates Fryderyk Chopin, the "Poet of the Piano," welcoming gifted students to his Paris salon on the 4th of March, 1848. The students? The audience. Maestro Chopin hosts an intimate evening of enthralling music, sharing secrets of his little-known romances, exuberant personality, and intense vision of the art of the piano. The spirit and insight of a genius are brought to life onstage in this moving and entertaining production.
An actor, pianist, writer, director, composer, conductor, and producer, Hershey Felder has created lauded shows about Claude Debussy, George Gershwin, Fryderyk Chopin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt, Leonard Bernstein, Irving Berlin, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Felder's solo shows have been seen across America at The Geffen Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, San Diego Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe Theatre, American Repertory Theater, and Cleveland Playhouse, and have received long runs at Chicago's Royal George Theatre and engagements at New York's Town Hall, 59E59, and the Streicker Center. Felder has become an enormous Bay Area favorite and has set all-time TheatreWorks box office records with his hit productions at the company, including the 2019 World Premiere of Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story as well as Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin; Hershey Felder, Beethoven; and Our Great Tchaikovsky. Hershey Felder as Monsieur Chopin marks Felder's fifth appearance with TheatreWorks.
The Lifespan of a fact
Based on the book by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal
Directed by Tim Bond
Dates in April - May 2021 to be announced
THEATRE TO BE ANNOUNCED
This hilarious Broadway hit takes on the high-stakes world of publishing when a determined millennial fact-checker questions the integrity of one of the country's premier magazines. His assignment: check the veracity of a groundbreaking article by a legendary author. What will prevail: picayune truth, laid back "truthiness," or unabashed creative license? An ultimate showdown between false news and fact is launched-with indisputably delicious results.
Contains mature language.
Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell wrote The Lifespan of a Fact, which won the 2019 John Gassner Award for New Plays from the Outer Critics Circle. Kareken's short plays Hot Rod, Big Train, and 80 Cards have been performed around the country and internationally. His awards include the Sewanee Conference's Dakin Fellowship for Farblondjet, and Guthrie/Playwrights Center's Two-Headed Challenge for The Sweet Sweet Motherhood. In 2018, PlayPenn shortlisted Kareken's play The Red Wool. The Hamptons Film Festival Screenwriters Conference selected Kareken and Murrell's play THESE! Conquered the Earth! A lifetime member of The Actors Studio, Kareken occasionally acts and is the researcher for Bravo TV's "Inside The Actors Studio." Murrell's play Ductwork was seen Off-Broadway and his other plays include E.T.D., and [Untitled Organic Winery Project]. Murrell's screenplays include Breed Ambassador, Chomper, The Cold Spot, Girl Gets Razor, Mission: Uncomfortable, A Radio Picture, and Walking Kane. Murrell's teleplays include "Dayton Ladies," "Down River," and "Space Station Malibu." Farrell's plays include With More Than Voices, In the Red Room/Every Woman Dances for Someone, Navigators, Alice Again, Tin Star Over Tombstone, and Voice of America. Farrell has worked as a screenwriter at Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, and MGM, and has taught in NYU's Dramatic Writing Department for over 25 years, with students including Annie Baker and Lucas Hnath. Farrell's book The Power of the Playwright's Vision is now a standard playwrighting text in the U.S., England, and Canada.
Book by Terrence McNally
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow
Directed by Robert Kelley
June 2 - 27, 2021 (opening night: June 5)
MOUNTAIN VIEW CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
This timeless musical masterpiece celebrates the soaring sounds and hopeful spirit of America at the dawn of the last century. To the syncopated rhythms of a hopeful new age, this unforgettable theatrical tapestry interweaves the delights of vaudeville, baseball, and nickelodeon with the hurly-burly of labor rallies and racial unrest, tracing the lives of an enterprising Jewish immigrant, a courageous Harlem pianist, and a conflicted upper-class wife in a jubilant, melting pot tribute to the American Dream.
Called "one of the greatest contemporary playwrights the theater world has yet produced" by The New York Observer, Terrence McNally's prolific career in the theatre includes the plays Master Class (TheatreWorks 2000); Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune; Love! Valour! Compassion; It's Only A Play; Mothers and Sons; The Ritz; and Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and the books for musicals Ragtime (TheatreWorks 2002), Kiss of A Spider Woman (TheatreWorks 1997), The Visit, The Full Monty, The Rink (TheatreWorks 1987), and Anastasia. His films include adaptations of his plays Love! Valour! Compassion, The Ritz, and Frankie and Johnny, as well as his Emmy Award-winning Andre's Mother, The Last Mile, and Common Ground (written with Paula Vogel and Harvey Fierstein). McNally is a four-time Tony Award winner for his plays and recipient of the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. An acclaimed songwriting team, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have created award-winning musicals including Ragtime (TheatreWorks 2002), Once On This Island (TheatreWorks 1993 and 2014), Seussical, Anastasia, My Favorite Year, Lucky Stiff, Rocky, and A Man of No Importance. Ahrens and Flaherty won Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Ragtime, an Olivier Award for Once On This Island, and an Outer Critics Circle Award for A Man of No Importance. The pair has also received nominations for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes for their score for the Twentieth Century Fox feature film Anastasia, and Grammy nominations for Ragtime and Seussical.
TheatreWorks's 2021-22 Season will launch with:
Nan and the Lower Body
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
July 14 - August 8 2021 (opening night: July 17)
LUCIE STERN THEATRE, PALO ALTO
A pioneering doctor wants a full-time successor. A loving husband wants a full-time family. And Nan wants it all. She is the brilliant lab assistant of good-humored Dr. Papanicolaou, the life-saving inventor of the Pap smear. In this frank, funny, and engaging audience favorite from TheatreWorks's 2019 New Works Festival, Nan has mysteries to unravel and life-changing choices to make. But who can unwind the mysteries of the heart?
Jessica Dickey's (Playwright) most recent plays are The Convent (premiered Off-Broadway with Rattlestick and Rising Phoenix) and The Rembrandt (sold-out run at Steppenwolf starring John Mahoney). Other plays Off-Broadway in New York and around the country: The Amish Project, Charles Ives Take Me Home, and Row After Row.
For more information the public can call 650-463-1960 or visit theatreworks.org. Subscriptions and single tickets will be available in the coming months.
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne