BALTIMORE: Center Stage has announced its 2016–2017 season, the first since the theatre’s $28 million renovation. The mainstage season will include work by Christopher Hampton, Mary Zimmerman, Kelvin Roston, Nambi E. Kelley, and Polly Stenham.
“We’re welcoming audiences back to our theatre with a season of transformation,” artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah said in a statement. “We’re coming home with premieres of exciting new works and new programming, as well as gorgeous interpretations of classic stories to celebrate our stunning new building.”
Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Nov. 26–Dec. 23) will open the season before the renovation is officially revealed to the public. Directed by Hana S. Sharif and adapted by Christopher Hampton from Choderlos de Laclos’s novel, the play follows two French aristocrats and ex-lovers as they challenge each other to seduce unsuspecting victims.
Mary Zimmerman’s The White Snake (Feb. 24–March 26, 2017) will mark the grand public opening of the renovated building. Directed by Natsu Onoda Power, The White Snake originates from a Chinese fable about animal spirits taking a human form.
Kelvin Rolston’s Twisted Melodies (March 17–April 16, 2017) will be onstage next. Rolston’s homage to Donny Hathaway, the ’70s singer and composer of “The Closer I Get to You” and “Where Is the Love,” will be directed by Derrick Sanders. Twisted Melodies depicts Hathaway’s struggles with mental illness and will also star Rolston.
Polly Stenham’s That Face (April 2017) will be next in the season. The first play presented in Center Stage’s new 99-seat space, That Face chronicles a dysfunctional British family.
Next up will be a storytelling performance by Maria Broom (Spring 2017), which will be the inaugural production in Center Stage’s new youth and family series.
The final mainstage production will be the world premiere adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Jazz (May 19–June 25, 2017). Adapted by Kelley and directed by Kwei-Armah, the play follows a young couple as they move from the Virginia countryside to Harlem at the turn of the century.
A public event to celebrate the opening of the renovation will be announced at a later date. Highlights of the renovation include the redesigned 400-seat Head Theater, a new lobby and entrance plaza, a new 99-seat theatre configuration, and a dedicated education and community programming studio.
The season will also mark the return of Michael Ross, who served as the theatre’s managing director from 2002–2008, and will return to the position after a seven-year stint as managing director of Westport Country Playhouse.
“What a time to be returning to a theatre and city that has always meant so much to me,” Ross said in a statement. “I love the Center Stage family, and the stunning new building is going to be an exciting, comfortable space to enjoy being a part of this new stage in Center Stage’s and Baltimore’s history.”
Founded in 1963, Center Stage has produced both new work and classics for more than 50 years.