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"44 Plays for 44 Presidents," at Geva Theatre Center in 2012. (Photo by Colin Hurth)

Merrimack Rep Sets New England–Themed 2016–17 Season

The season will include world premieres from Steven Drukman, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Eleanor Burgess, and Charissa Bertels.

LOWELL, MASS: Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has announced its 2016–17 season. The seven-play lineup will include four world premieres.

Artistic director Sean Daniels said in a statement that the season “will feature the same quality, empathy, and theatricality that highlighted this year [2015–16], but it’ll really get to focus on New England stories. What does it mean to be from here? What are the stories that we tell ourselves? What does it really mean to be a New Englander in 2016?”

The season will open with 45 Plays for 45 Presidents (Sept. 7–Oct. 2), by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloë Johnston, and Karen Weinberg. The ongoing American history play spans 227 years and gives each president two minutes. The team will add to the play with every election season; this year, they will let the audience decide the subject of the 45th play. Daniels will direct; he’s helmed it three previous times, when it was titled 43 Plays for 43 Presidents and 44 Plays for 44 Presidents, at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Rochester’s Geva Theatre Center, and Dad’s Garage Theater in Atlanta.

In time for Halloween will be Abigail/1702 (Oct. 12–Nov. 6), by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Giovanna Sardelli. The play takes place 10 years after the Salem Witch Trials and is about a young woman who was accused of being a witch seeking a new life in Boston.

The world premiere of Going to See the Kid (Nov. 30–Dec. 24) by Steven Drukman will be next. The play takes place in Florida during the holidays, when two reporters interview aging Red Sox legend Ted Williams. It will be directed by Alexander Greenfield, who will join MRT as the director of new play development.

Next up will be the world premiere of The Making of a Giant Moment (Jan. 4–29, 2017) by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The play follows two actors, who are on a quest to tour their play Great Moments in Human Achievement across the country on bicycle. Aysan Celik and Danny Scheie will star. Daniels will direct.

Next will be Wendy MacLeod’s Women in Jeopardy! (Feb. 15–March 12, 2017). The play follows a middle-aged single mom who takes up crime-solving with her friends. Daniels will direct.

The world premiere of Eleanor Burgess’s Chill (March 22–April 16, 2017) will be next. The play takes place in Brookline, Mass., and follows a group of four friends at their high school graduation and what happens in the 10 years that follow. Megan Sandberg-Zakian will direct.

The season will close with the world premiere of the musical My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend (April 16–May 21, 2017), conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels, with book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, and music and lyrics by Edward Bell. Based on Bertels’ own experience, the musical follows a 20something actress who strikes up a friendship with an 80something millionaire. Daniels will direct.

Merrimack Rep has been the professional theatre company of Merrimack Valley since 1979. It’s known for new plays and regional premieres.

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