Joshua Dean in Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of "Godspell" in 2017. (Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.)

Arkansas Rep, Back From the Brink, Announces 2019 Season

The company, which suspended operations last spring, is back with classics and new plays for its “Rebuild the Rep” season.

LITTLE ROCK, ARK.: Arkansas Repertory Theatre has announced its 2019 season. The theatre, which suspended productions last April due to funding shortages, will return in February with the “Rebuild the Rep” season.

“The community responded,” said board chair Ruth Shepherd in a statement. “Since April we have received more than $875,000 in donations, which the John & Robyn Horn Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation have matched. We have a plan to rebuild the Rep as a stronger organization that will serve our community and state long into the future.”

The season will kick off with Chicago (Feb. 20-March 24, 2019), with book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander, and lyrics by Ebb. The Jazz Age musical follows Roxie Hart whose drive for fame lands her on trial for a murder case. Ron Hutchins will direct and choreograph.

Next up is Native Gardens (April 17-May 5, 2019), by Karen Zacarías, a comedy about the clash of cultures when a young Latinx couple moves next door to an established family and their prize-winning garden in Washington, D.C.

The season will continue with the musical Million Dollar Quartet (Sept. 4-Oct. 6, 2019), with book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux. The musical is about a once-in-a-lifetime recording session that took place in 1956 with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, and features hit songs by the musical legends. Hunter Foster will direct.

Just in time for the holidays will be It’s a Wonderful Life: A LIVE Radio Play (Dec. 4-22, 2019), adapted by Joe Landry from the film by Frank Capra. Set in a 1940s radio station on Christmas Eve, this adaptation of the holiday classic tells the story as a live radio play with actors onstage who will transform into dozens of characters.

The season will finish with Willy Wonka Jr. (June 21-30, 2019), adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy A. McDonald from the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The musical, which features lyrics and music by Bricusse and Anthony Newley, will be presented by a company of young actors.

Founded in 1976, Arkansas Repertory Theatre produces classic plays, contemporary works, including in its time 40 world-premiere productions.