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Natascia Diaz and the ensemble of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" at Signature in 2008. (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Signature Theatre Announces World Premieres for 2016–17 Season

The season will feature the works of four D.C. writers.

ARLINGTON, VA.: Signature Theatre has announced its 2016–17 season, featuring three world premiere musicals and two world premiere plays.

“The new season at Signature is an eclectic mix of new works as well as reinventions of some great musicals that Washington hasn’t seen,” said artistic director Eric Schaeffer in a statement. “We’re also featuring four D.C. writers in our season which makes us proud to be premiering their work in their hometown.”

The season will begin with the D.C. premiere of Jelly’s Last Jam (Aug. 2–Sept. 11), with book by George C. Wolfe, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, and adaptation and compositions by Luther Henderson. The show features music by Jelly Roll Morton, telling the story of the jazz entertainer’s life. The cast will inclue Nova Y. Payton, Craig Wallace, and Mark. G. Meadows. James Grimes will choreograph, and Matthew Gardiner will direct.

Next up will be the world premiere of The Gulf (Sept. 13–Nov. 6), by D.C.-based playwright Audrey Cefaly, about two women who become stranded in the Gulf when their fishing boat motor fails. The production will feature Maria Rizzo and Rachel Zampelli. Joe Calarco, director of new works, will direct.

Following will be the world premiere of Freaky Friday (Oct. 4–Nov. 20), with book by Bridget Carpenter, music by Tom Kitt, and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, based on the novel by Mary Rodgers and the Walt Disney Motion Pictures film, about a mother and daughter who switch places. Christopher Ashley will direct.

Just in time for the holidays will be the world premiere of Silver Belles (Nov. 22–Dec. 24), by Matt Conner, Allyson Currin, and Stephen Gregory Smith, about women who band together to save their small town’s Christmas pageant after the director’s death. The cast will feature Donna Migliaccio, Nova Y. Payton, Naomi Jacobson, Sandy Bainum, and Ilona Dulaski. Schaeffer will direct.

Next will be Maury Yeston’s Titanic (Dec. 13, 2016–Jan. 29, 2017), a musical about the unsinkable ship featuring Erin Driscoll, Florence Lacey, Kevin McAllister, Tracy Lynn Olivera, and Bobby Smith. Schaeffer will direct.

The season will continue with the world premiere of Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing (Feb. 28–March 26, 2017), written and directed by James Lapine, based on the true story of Elva Miller, a pop music phenomenon in the 1960s. Debra Monk will star.

Next will be the world premiere of Midwestern Gothic (March 14–April 30, 2017), by Josh Schmidt and Royce Vavrek, about a young woman whose imagination runs wild in a desperate attempt to escape her desolate surroundings.The project was commissioned as part of Signature’s American Musical Voices Project.

The season will conclude with Jesus Christ Superstar (May 9–July 2, 2017), by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, a rock musical about the last week of Jesus’s life. The cast will include Natascia Diaz, Bobby Smith, and Sherri Edelen. Calarco will direct.

Founded in 1989, Signature Theatre has presented more than 44 world premieres under the direction of artistic director Eric Schaeffer and managing director Maggie Boland.

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