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Morgan Hecker, Caleb Smith, Jasmine, Mikayla McKasy, Lena Skeele, and Katie Griffith perform in "Love in Hate Nation" at Penn State University's Playhouse Theatre. (Photo by Jack Bowman)

Two River Theater Season to Premiere New Joe Iconis Musical

The 2019-20 lineup will also include a world premiere by Tony Meneses and a ‘Twelfth Night’ directed by NY theatre critic Sara Holdren.

RED BANK, N.J.: Two River Theater has announced its 2019-20 season, featuring seven productions.

“All of the work we produce at Two River Theater, both classics and new works, is driven by the passions of artists,” said artistic director John Dias in a statement. “Each year I engage the best, most interesting, and most challenging people I know—writers, directors, actors, designers—and ask them questions like: What’s the next great new play? Who’s got an exciting vision for a Shakespeare play? What’s the classic you’ve always wanted to do and finally know how? What play of yours deserves another production? This year, we answer all of those questions in a lineup that include some of the most extraordinary artists in the American theatre.”

The season will kick off with Cyrano (Sept. 21-Oct. 13), adapted by Jason O’Connell and Brenda Withers from Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. The comedy is about the larger-than-life wordsmith, swordsman, and romantic, played by O’Connell, in a co-production with Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. The cast will also include Britney Simpson, Luis Quintero, George Merrick, and Nance Williamson. Meredith McDonough will direct.

Next up will be the world premiere of Love in Hate Nation (Nov. 9-Dec. 1), with book, music, and lyrics by Joe Iconis, whose current Broadway show Be More Chill had its debut at Two River in 2015. The new musical, commissioned and developed at Penn State School of Theatre, is a romance set in a reformatory for girls in the 1960s. John Simpkins, the head of Penn State’s theatre department, will direct.

Following will be William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (Jan. 11-Feb. 2, 2020), a gender-bending comedy of mistaken identities that follows a set a twins separated by a shipwreck. New York magazine theatre critic Sara Holdren will direct.

The season will continue with A Little Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Jan. 31-Feb. 9, 2020), adapted and directed by Em Weinstein. This 75-minute abridged version of Twelfth Night will be performed and supported backstage by high school students.

Next will be August Wilson’s Radio Golf (Feb. 29-March 22, 2020), about the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh trying to revitalize the city’s Hill District in 1997. This production, directed by Brandon J. Dirden, will mark the sixth play of Wilson’s Century Cycle to be performed at Two River.

The world premiere of The Hombres (April 11-May 10, 2020), by Tony Meneses, will be next. The play explores the intimacy of male relationships through the lens of machismo culture, following a gay Latino yoga teacher living in New Jersey. The Hombres was co-commissioned and developed with the NJPAC Stage Exchange and through a reading as part of Two River’s 2018 Crossing Borders program.

The season will close out with Lackawanna Blues (June 6-28, 2020), written, performed, and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The personal play is about Santiago-Hudson’s 1950s childhood growing up on the banks of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1994, Two River Theater producers classics and new works and offers new-play development opportunities to support artists and the next generation of theatregoers.

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