PRESS RELEASE: 2016-17 Season Announced

DATE: MARCH 28, 2016
CONTACT: Kate Brandt,
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678


Sean Daniels’ second season brings more world premieres to Lowell, with a focus on New England stories

Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has announced its 2016-17 Season, the second under Artistic Director Sean Daniels.

The lineup of seven plays includes four world premieres and three plays centered on New England themes. Daniels notes that the season “will feature the same quality, empathy and theatricality that highlighted this year, 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?”

Daniels propelled MRT to new heights in the 2015-16 Season, bringing dynamic stories of humor and hope to the stage, breaking box office records, and establishing MRT and Lowell as a national center of new play production, all while upholding the company’s long-held standards of exceptional quality. The new season promises similar success.

The 2016-17 Season will resonate not only with our regional identity as New Englanders, but also with our national identity as Americans. From national leaders to Brookline twenty-somethings, a Red Sox icon to an infamous anti-heroine, the season shows what it means to live in our country, in our communities, and to find vitality in old friendships and new beginnings.

The announcement was made by Daniels at a public event at the company’s Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Lowell’s Liberty Hall on Monday, March 28.

By Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloë Johnston and Karen Weinberg
Directed by Sean Daniels
September 7 – October 2, 2016

Hail to the Chief!
A hilarious-yet-thoughtful celebration of our nation's great story—one we continue to write with every election season. 45 Plays for 45 Presidents sets us on the roller coaster ride of American history, with each Commander in Chief getting two minutes in the spotlight. And fittingly, it ends with You the Audience choosing the 45th play! Spanning 227 years of triumph and adversity, it’s a joyous American civics lesson in just two hours.

This will mark Daniels’ fourth time with the work, having previously directed productions (back when it was titled 43 Plays for 43 Presidents) at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Rochester’s Geva Theatre Center, and Dad’s Garage Theater in Atlanta, where Jimmy Carter himself attended a performance. With 2016 being an election year, each audience will have the chance to vote on which 45th play they’d like to see. Daniels calls it “a sneakily smart take on all of American history, one that shows that the story of America is the story of who we have elected as President. We can, in two hours, see all the choices that we’ve made as an American people… Every time I’ve done it before, audiences are amazed, then maybe a little angry, and then proud of the choices we’ve made over our course of time together.”

By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Tlaloc Rivas
October 12 – November 6, 2016

Old demons and new beginnings.
Ten years after the Salem witch trials, a notorious young accuser seeks salvation in Boston, only to find her new life haunted by terrors of the past. She’ll face pirates, the devil, and worse in this eerie and quintessentially New England tale from one of America's master horror writers. For Abigail, forgiveness is everything—but it may come at an unthinkable price.

Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics. One of the most innovative and versatile horror writers on the scene, Aguirre-Sacasa has penned scores of action and horror comics, as well as the 2013 screen adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie and the Broadway take on American Psycho. Abigail/1702 reimagines the aftermath of the Salem witch trials in a setting infused by the supernatural, and has been enthusiastically received at New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater, as well as in other productions across the country. Cincinnati’s CityBeat called the script “A piece of fine storytelling that will deeply affect audiences,” and the Los Angeles Times called it a “play [that] frequently enthralls, with the kind of supernatural elements reminiscent of Romulus Linney and Stephen Vincent Benét at their most folkloric.”

Daniels recall: “[Roberto] reached out and said, ‘I have this play that takes place ten years after the Salem Witch Trials that I think could be a fantastic Halloween show for you guys to put on. I read it, and I completely agree…I’m thrilled to have our first Halloween show here at the theatre, and really celebrate what it means to do Halloween so close to Salem.”

World Premiere
By Steven Drukman
Directed by Alexander Greenfield
November 30 – December 24, 2016

Holiday spirit, from Fenway to Florida.
On the assignment of a lifetime, two reporters head for Florida at Christmastime, trying to land a final interview with aging Red Sox legend Ted Williams. One's a rookie; the other, a seasoned pro. And both will learn the inestimable value of teammates— on and off the field. A loving testament to the light that shines on long after the last pitch is thrown, and the holiday spirit that overcomes any distance.

Drukman, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, is a longtime Sox fan. Daniels explains, “Everyone always says to him, ‘When are you gonna write your Red Sox Play?’ And I was looking for a fantastic Christmas show… when I reached out to him, he said, ‘Actually, I’m finally writing my Red Sox show… about two reporters trying to track down Ted Williams, around the holidays.” A first-of-its kind world premiere, Going to See the Kid will grace Red Sox Nation with a touch of holiday warmth in the off-season.

Going to See the Kid also marks the first MRT production to be directed by Alexander Greenfield, who, after working extensively on Broadway as associate to Tony Award-winning director Doug Hughes, will be joining the MRT artistic staff as the Director of New Play Development.

Greenfield says, “It is an honor to be directing the world premiere of Steven’s play, and an even greater honor to be joining the team in Lowell as the Director of New Play Development. I look forward to developing this and many more new works at Merrimack Repertory Theatre.”

Tony-winner Hughes added, “Sean Daniels has made a brilliant hire.  For the past six seasons, I have worked very closely with the remarkably gifted, passionately dedicated Alexander Greenfield.  My loss will be MRT’s great gain. Alex has a fantastic eye for plays that are bold, accomplished, and unique.  He is a superb director, brilliantly able to translate fascinating ideas into the three dimensions of powerfully entertaining and memorable theater.”

World Premiere
By Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
Directed by Sean Daniels
January 4- 29, 2017

Big dreams travel best on two wheels.
Actors Mona and Terry are on an ambitious quest: tour their play Great Moments in Human Achievement across the country... by bicycle. Surely they’ll bring inspiration to millions! But as they pedal across the nation reenacting history’s high points, finding laundry facilities proves just as tough as their unruly audiences. When the day is done, can our heroes manage a great moment of their own? An exuberant comedy about all the potholes on the road to sheer brilliance.

San Francisco-based playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has made a name as one of the freshest and funniest voices in the American theatre. The Making of a Great Moment will showcase the comedic chops of nationally-renowned actors Aysan Celik and Danny Scheie, for whom the roles of Mona and Terry are written.

“There’s no way that it’s not full of hilarity when it gets up onstage” says Daniels, who has worked with the playwright and both actors on past projects. As he recalls, “Danny and Aysan are amazing character actors. They can play anything that you wanted, and they are always crowd favorites everywhere that they go…At some point, we said ‘there has to be a play that’s just for the two of them.’ Here, they finally get to play all the characters that they’ve wanted to, they get to have all the fun that they’ve wanted to onstage, and Peter is the perfect playwright to be able to harness all of their comedy and talent into one piece.”

By Wendy MacLeod
Directed by Sean Daniels
February 15 – March 12, 2017

Screw the mid-life crisis; let’s solve some crimes!
Middle-aged single mom Liz has a new man. And let’s face it… he’s just plain creepy. When a mysterious disappearance sets the community on edge, Liz's best friends leap to the rescue as the zany caper flings them from the ‘burbs to the wilds of Utah; because there’s no danger great enough to stop women from solving crimes if they want to! A riotous comedy about trading in wine glasses for spy glasses when the mid-life crisis just isn’t your speed.

MRT’s production follows resoundingly successful mountings at Geva Theatre Center and The Cape Playhouse—where the Boston Globe called it “Rollicking… modern, lively, and loads of fun.” Says Director Sean Daniels, “It’s incredibly funny, it’s incredibly smart, and it’s a great comedy for us to be able to have up onstage.”

World Premiere
By Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
March 22 – April 16, 2017

For all life throws you between 18 and 28
Brookline Massachusetts, 2001: With graduation on the horizon, four high schoolers assemble for an epic hangout, laying bare their dreams for life ahead. Ten years later, they gather to do it all again—but find that in a world swept by change, friendship is hardly as simple as it once seemed. Their story boldly captures the joy and heartache of becoming a grownup in the America that no one saw coming.

Daniels was instantly drawn to Burgess’ spot-on portrayal of young people coming of age in the early-aughts—the bittersweet trials of adulthood in the new millennium—and the impact of changed realities on old friendships. “We can see how growing up in our country—and here, in Boston and Brookline—has really changed them. And we’re able to gauge, through the four of them, how we’ve changed as a country over that ten years.”

A Brookline native herself, Burgess’ other award-winning work has been produced at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre and New Jersey’s Centennary Stage, and workshopped at numerous theatres including Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and the Huntington in Boston. Chill was workshopped by MRT this past winter in partnership with Middlesex Community College. Princess Grace Foundation fellow Megan Sandberg Zakian—who helmed 2015’s smash hit It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play—returns to direct in 2017.

World Premiere
Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels
Book and Lyrics by Christian Duhamel
Music and Lyrics by Edward Bell
Directed by Sean Daniels
April 26 – May 21, 2017

Time goes fast. Say “Yes.”
In this delightful new musical, Charissa, a quirky, twenty-something actress, meets Milton, a quick-witted, eighty-something millionaire who loves Schubert, Shakespeare, and Dallas BBQ. From a chance encounter to the unlikeliest of friendships, Charissa discovers there's much she can learn from her surprising new companion. Based on the true story of performer Charissa Bertels, My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend reveals the thrill of chasing a dream, the power of living in the now, and all that can happen when we let ourselves say "yes."

MRT has a history of producing exceptionally engaging and moving solo musicals, and is thrilled to welcome Charissa Bertels (Broadway’s A Christmas Story, national tour of If/Then) to the stage with her true-life story.

“We’ve had a great history here with The Lion this past year, in terms of musicals that are able to evoke a large amount of emotion,” says Daniels, who directed The Lion at MRT last August. “We’re excited to do it again with this.”

“When you’re young, you think that anyone older than you has nothing to offer you whatsoever,” remarks Daniels. “But over the course of this musical comedy, we’re able to watch her realize that there’s a tremendous amount to learn, and that actually if you just say “yes” and you’re open to friendship in places you wouldn’t normally find it, your life can be profoundly enriched.”

Subscriptions are now available through the MRT Box Office for the 2016-17 Season. Subscribers to a seven-play package receive a 20% discount off single ticket prices and guaranteed same seats throughout the season. Seven-play subscriptions start at just $147 for adults and $133 for seniors. Three-play sampler packages are also available, with a 15% savings off single ticket prices. FlexPass packages are available in increments of 4, 5, 6, or 7 and allow the ultimate in flexibility while still receiving a discount. All subscribers are entitled to the full slate of benefits that includes free even exchanges, and discounts on additional tickets. A full list of benefits can be found at

Subscriptions can be purchased by calling 978-654-4678 or by visiting Tickets for individual productions go on sale this summer.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. The company is known for its high production standards and for creating compelling new plays and regional premieres that reflect the lives and emotions of its audiences. MRT is one of just three theatres in Massachusetts that is a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), which has 72 members nationwide.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678