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"The Project(s)" by PJ Paparelli and Joshua Jaeger, at American Theater Company in Chicago in 2015. Pictured: Penelope Walker and ensemble. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

How to Honor PJ Paparelli’s Legacy at American Theater Company? With a Season of New Work

ATC’s 2015–16 season will feature plays by Dan LeFranc, Thomas Bradshaw, and Abe Koogler, plus a new spin on ‘The Wiz’ with Bailiwick Chicago.

CHICAGO: American Theater Company (ATC) has announced its 31st season, honoring late artistic director PJ Paparelli, who died recently in a car accident. “The Legacy Season” includes a world premiere, a co-world premiere, regional premiere, and a coproduction.

“All four shows in our Legacy Season are projects that PJ championed at American Theater Company,” said interim artistic director Bonnie Metzgar in a statement. “He had an uncanny ability to discover and nourish the country’s top playwrights and to provide intensive development opportunities for their new works. We celebrate PJ’s legacy by partnering with New York organizations to tell two important American stories, by introducing a new work by one of his closest collaborators, Dan LeFranc, and by cracking open a great American musical, The Wiz, with one of Chicago’s powerhouses of musical theatre, Lili-Anne Brown.”

The season kicks off with the co-world premiere of Thomas Bradshaw’s Fulfillment (Nov.–Dec.), about a man who confronts his personal demons when he is passed up for a promotion because of racial discrimination. An Off-Broadway company in New York City, yet to be announced, will coproduce.

Next is the world premiere of LeFranc’s Bruise Easy (Jan.–Feb. 2016), about two estranged siblings who meet in the driveway of their childhood home and begin the conversation of a lifetime.

Following is the regional premiere of Abe Koogler’s Kill Floor (March–May 2016), about a mother who secures a job at the local slaughterhouse after a long incarceration, and her challenging reunion with her vegetarian son.

The season ends with coproduction, with Bailiwick Chicago, of The Wiz (May–July 2016), with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown. Lili-Anne Brown will direct this reimagining of The Wizard of Oz, which takes Dorothy into an urban dreamland.

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