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Bedlam's "Sense and Sensibility," by Kate Hamill, at Portland Center Stage in 2019. (Photo by Patrick Weishampel)
Bedlam's "Sense and Sensibility," by Kate Hamill, at Portland Center Stage earlier this year. (Photo by Patrick Weishampel)

Portland Center Stage Announces 1st Season Under Artistic Director Marissa Wolf

The new artistic leader has put together a slate that includes 2 world premieres, a sequel to an Austen classic, and ‘In the Heights.’

PORTLAND, ORE.: Portland Center Stage at the Armory has announced its 2019-20 season, the company’s first programmed by Marissa Wolf, who joined the company as artistic director in September 2018.

“You’ll find a lineup brimming with music and humor, that also wrestles with the urgent ideas and questions of our time,” Wolf said in a statement. “You’ll find classic titles envisioned through a bold, relevant lens. You’ll find new plays that light up fresh perspectives. You’ll find musicals that will lift you a foot off the ground with their buoyant melodies and irresistible beats.”

The season will open with In the Heights (Aug. 31-Oct. 13), directed by May Adrales. With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, the musical captures the vibrant life of the community in New York City’s Washington Heights.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth (Sept. 28-Nov. 24) will follow, with an edited script by Lee Sunday Evans. The production will be directed by Adriana Baer and will feature original music by Heather Christian.

Next up will be the world premiere of Redwood (Oct. 26-Nov. 17) by Brittany K. Allen. In the play, the results of an online ancestry search force a family to find a way to live in a present that’s overpopulated by ghosts. Chip Miller will direct.

The season will continue with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Nov. 30-Dec. 29). Written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, this sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a romantic comedy that centers on middle Bennet sister, Mary.

John Cameron Mitchell’s genre-bending musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Dec. 28-Feb. 23, 2020) will be next. With music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, the musical presents the life of Hedwig, a German emigrant who is out to set the record straight about her life, her loves, and the operation that left her with that “angry inch.”

Following will be School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play (Jan. 18-Feb. 16) by Jocelyn Bioh. The play, set in an exclusive boarding school in Ghana, explores the disruption of the school’s social hierarchy when a new student arrives.

The season will continue with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Feb. 29-April 5), directed by Marissa Wolf. Simon Stephens’s adaption of the novel by Mark Haddon follows a boy who is exceptional at mathematics, incapable of lying, detests being touched, and distrusts strangers as he attempts to find the killer of his neighbor’s dog.

Next up will be Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire (March 7-April 19). Based on Raffo’s interviews with real women during the reign and fall of Saddam Hussein, the play is an intimate and complex portrait of the extraordinary (and ordinary) lives of nine Iraqi women. Evren Odcikin will direct.

Following will be the world premiere of Howards End (April 18-May 17), adapted by Caroline Hewitt from E.M. Forster’s novel. The play, directed by Wolf, is about two sisters struggling to be heard over the stubborn dominance of England’s early 20th century social strictures.

The season will close with Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band (May 30-June 28). Featuring songs from Dengue Fever, the play follows a young woman attempting to piece together her family history 30 years after her father fled Cambodia.

Established in 1988, Portland Center Stage produces a mix of classic, contemporary, and world premiere productions, along with a variety of education and community programs to serve the city’s diverse populations.

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