Last week Terry Nolen, Artistic Director of the Arden Theatre Company, announced the upcoming shows for the Arden’s 2016/17 season. I always love attending season announcements because the theatre is always buzzing with excitement about the upcoming season. The event at the Arden was no exception. As Nolen announced each title for the Arden’s twenty-ninth season he enthusiastically explained why they chose each title and how they fit into the Arden’s mission of “bringing to life great stories by great storytellers.”
The Arden’s Mainstage Season includes the following titles:
Stupid F*cking Bird, which is a play written by Arden co-founder, Aaron Posner. Posner will also direct this play. According to a press release from the Arden, “In this irreverent, contemporary, and very funny remix of The Seagull, Arden co-founder Aaron Posner scoops up Chekhov’s tale of unrequited love, missed opportunities, and misplaced dreams and sets it down squarely in the bustle of 21st century life. This new play has been showered with awards and critical acclaim and is one of the most produced plays in the country – now it comes to Philadelphia.”
The Legend of Georgia McBride – This play is a show written by Mathew Lopez who also wrote The Whipping Man, which the Arden produced in 2011. This play is described as, “He's young, he's broke, he's just found out his wife is going to have a baby, and now Casey has lost his gig as an Elvis impersonator. When his club brings in a drag act led by Miss Tracy Mills, Casey is given the opportunity to trade one sequined outfit for another. With Dito van Reigersberg of Martha Graham Cracker fame as Tracy, this music-filled comedy celebrates finding your voice and singing your own song.”
John – A play by Annie Baker, and directed by Matthew Decker. John tells the story of “a young couple that arrives at a bed and breakfast in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, looking to spend a weekend visiting the historical sites of the famous battlefields. They are welcomed by a cheerful innkeeper into a home filled with tchotchkes, dolls, and other ghosts of the past. John is a beautiful and moving new play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker about spirituality, relationships, and other scary stories.” In addition, it was announced that Carla Belver and Nancy Boykin will be in this production.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – When Nolen spoke about this play he explained that this Shakespeare play opened at the Arden in 1998. He further stated that this play in 1998 had a cast that included Jen Childs, Melanye Finister, Grace Gonglewski and Tony Braithwaite. Next year this play will feature Philadelphia’s up and coming artists, and will be directed by Matt Pfeiffer. According to a press release from the Arden, this show is, “a musical celebration of the follies and foibles of human beings (and fairies) in a fresh new staging that promises to be an unforgettable midsummer adventure.”
Gypsy – This beloved musical will star Mary Martello as Mama Rose, who Nolen referred to as “a Philadelphia treasure.” This musical will be directed by Terry Nolen. Gypsy is “Set in the fading days of the vaudeville circuit, Gypsy features a legendary score that includes “Let Me Entertain You,” “Together, Wherever We Go,” and “Everything’s Coming up Roses.” One of Philadelphia’s greatest actresses takes on Mama Rose – this promises to be a not-to-be-missed event!”
Children’s Theatre Season
Peter Pan – The first show in the Children’s series is Peter Pan, which is directed by Whit MacLaughlin, who also directed the production of Beauty and the Beast at the Arden. The Arden describes this production, “Ever since J.M. Barrie's story first appeared in 1904, countless versions have been produced on stage and in film. Now, Arden Children's Theatre presents a brand-new production; one that celebrates the joy of storytelling and the power of imagination. Join eternally young Peter on his adventure to Neverland, a magical island where there are no parents, no rules, and where fairies and pirates rule!”
The Light Princess – This world premiere musical was adapted by Anthony Lawton, with music by Alex Bechtel. This new show is described as, “Based on a Scottish legend by George MacDonald, this new musical tells the story of a teenager who has no gravity of any kind – in addition to having no feelings for others she floats in the air, unable to ever touch the ground. Filled with wonderful characters and a beguiling score, this enchanting, clever and wickedly funny new musical will delight kids and parents alike.”
Arden Cabaret Series
Lastly, it was announced that there will be six cabarets next year in the 2016/17 season. In addition, it was announced that in addition to Krissy Fraelich’s cabaret that runs April 22 – April 24, Tony Braithwaite is the next performer in the series. His cabaret runs June 17 – June 19.
For more information about the Arden’s upcoming season and their Cabaret Series visit their website at www.ardentheatre.org or call the box office at 215-922-1122.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.