RED BANK, N.J.: Two River Theater has announced its 2016–17 season, featuring seven productions.
“These plays dive deep into essential elements of our contemporary lives—love, honor, racism, family conflict, climate change, war, and more,” said artistic director John Dias in a statement. “And yet they do so in a joyously human way, painting indelible, moving, hilariously funny, and most of all, deeply honest portraits of people at their best, worst, and everything in between.”
The season will kick off with August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Sept. 10–Oct. 9), about singer Ma Rainey and the music scene in 1920s Chicago. The production will feature Branden Dirden, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson will direct.
Next up will be James Goldman’s The Lion In Winter (Nov. 12–Dec. 4), about Henry II of England, and his royal family’s dysfunctional Christmas in 1183.
Following, the company will present Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric Christmas (Dec. 27–30), about a young bird trying to head South for the winter, featuring the neon lights, puppets, and the music of Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey, Tchaikovsky, and more.
The season will continue with Madeleine George’s Hurricane Diane (Jan. 14–Feb. 12, 2017), a comedy about a gardener who wreaks havoc on a group of New Jersey housewives and their landscapes. Leigh Silverman will direct.
Next will be Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (Feb. 25–March 26, 2017), a comedy about the raucous Sir John Falstaff and his attempts to seduce two wives of the wealthiest men in Windsor. Eric Tucker will direct. A group of high school students will perform a 70-minute version of the play as part of Two River’s education program (March 7–12, 2017).
Following will be The Women of Padilla (April 8–30, 2017), by Tony Meneses, about eight women who learn to carry on with life with food, faith, and laughter while their husbands are away at war.
The season will close with the musical The Ballad of Little Jo (June 3–25, 2017), with book by Sarah Schlesinger, Mike Reid, and John Dias, music by Reid, and lyrics by Schlesinger, based on the film by Maggie Greenwald. The show is based on the true story of Josephine Monaghan, a young woman from Boston who made a new life in a tough 1860s mining town disguised as a man named Jo.
Two River Theater, founded in 1994, produces both classics and new works for its annual audience of nearly 55,000 patrons.