PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: MARCH 28, 2017
CONTACT: Michael Glicksman, firstname.lastname@example.org
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7555
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678
MERRIMACK REPERTORY THEATRE ANNOUNCES THE 2017-18 SEASON
Legendary stories, great characters, and plenty of laughter to fill out a year of extraordinary theatre in Lowell
Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has announced its 2017-18 Season, the third under Artistic Director Sean Daniels.
The lineup of seven plays includes four world premieres as well as one regional premiere, and continues MRT’s decades-long commitment to vibrant, contemporary work. The new season includes a new musical from the frontman of The Dan Band, as well as the return of "A Christmas Carol" to MRT for the first time in 21 years. The season also welcomes back some of the most successful playwrights of Daniels’ tenure: Lauren Gunderson (“I and You”), Lila Rose Kaplan (“Home of the Brave”), and Andy Bayiates (“45 Plays for 45 Presidents”).
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 2017-18 Season is a season of legends, with larger-than-life characters in tales that are epic, beloved, and timeless—some true-life, and some fictional. “These are stories and ideas that are about all of us” Daniels notes. “When you talk about the women who broke the glass ceiling at Harvard—when you talk about the first time a black man was allowed to fight for World Heavyweight Champion—when you talk about an American son of refugees, searching for meaning—these are all part of our country’s history, and our current narrative about who we are. The relevance of these stories spans decades and helps us to better understand who we are a region and a country. And there’s no denying that we need a good laugh more than ever – so we’re also making sure to bring the finest comedic writers to MRT.”
The announcement was made by Daniels at a public event at the company’s Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Lowell’s Liberty Hall on Tuesday, March 28.
Information on the new season is at www.mrt.org/1718Season.
By Marco Ramirez
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
September 13 – October 8, 2017
All that matters is the fight
The next time Jay Jackson enters the ring, he’ll become the first black man ever to fight for the title of World Heavyweight Champion. Tickets are going by the tens of thousands, the press conferences are harrowing and intense—and as America gears up for the fight of a lifetime, Jackson and his colleagues greet the dawn of a new era that none of them can begin to comprehend. With power and grit, The Royale brings staggering focus to a pivotal moment in sports history.
MRT Director in Residence Megan Sandberg-Zakian won Lowell’s heart with her 2015 rendition of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” and continued with MRT on “Chill,” running through April 16. Zakian will once again bring her artful eye and expert craftsmanship for this riveting story, based on the leadup to Jack Johnson’s actual 1910 fight against defender James J. Jeffries. “The Royale” received its premiere in Los Angeles in 2013, and is becoming a force on the national scene, including an award-winning 2016 Off-Broadway production at Lincoln Center, which landed a New York Times Critics’ Pick nod. MRT’s production will be “The Royale’s” regional premiere.
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Sean Daniels
October 12 – November 6, 2017
Find your light
Astronomer Henrietta Leavitt trades the comforts of her Midwestern home for a job at the Harvard Observatory in Massachusetts. Her ambition leaves both her family and her new colleagues (women known simply as “computers”) perplexed. But with a single discovery, their views of themselves, each other, and the universe itself will be upended for all time. An incredible story of bold love, boundless determination, and the vast grandeur of the cosmos—an unparalleled treat for the heart, mind, and senses.
Playwright Lauren Gunderson (MRT’s “I and You,” 2015) was the most produced living playwright in all of the American theatre in the 2016-17 season, and it’s easy to see why. Her sharp and eloquent writing brings vivid life to her characters, and she’s equally at home writing historical drama, modern comedy, and wildly imaginative fantasy. “Silent Sky” has been showered with accolades nationwide, a “luminously beautiful play” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and “sheer magic” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Adapted by Tony Brown
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
November 29 – December 24, 2017
The beloved classic returns!
The greatest Christmas story of all time returns to MRT for the first time in 21 years: Joel Colodner (It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Going to See the Kid) uses his dexterous voice and inventive acting to bring Ebenezer Scrooge and the rest of your favorite characters to life. Inspired by Charles Dickens’ own live storytelling performances—and with your favorite carols played by live onstage musicians—we’ll remind you of the true meaning of Christmas: the singular joy of fellowship and compassion.
Please note: the previously scheduled Little Women, Retold has been reporogrammed for the 2018-19 Season.
Written and Performed by Vichet Chum
Directed by KJ Sanchez
January 10 – February 4, 2018
Family: The toughest language to learn
Guy works the night shift at a New York hotel and goes to class by day, downing cups of coffee as he tries to navigate oceans of squiggly letters and words with no spaces between them: he’s learning Khmer, the language of his family’s home, Cambodia. He will stumble awkwardly towards fluency. He will embarrass himself and his parents. And he will awaken to parts of his heritage, both beautiful and excruciating, which shine through only in his wildly luminous dreams.
Lowell has the largest proportional Cambodian-American population of any U.S. city; and although MRT has produced several plays on the Cambodian-American experience (2014’s “Year Zero” and 1994’s “The Survivor: A Cambodian Odyssey”), this will mark MRT’s first production of such a play penned entirely by a Cambodian-American playwright.
“Vichet’s writing and performing skills are just exceptional,” says Sean. “The immigrant story, and the refugee story, are so integral to the American narrative, and you cannot find a more current topic to be talking about in Lowell than the immigrant and refugee experience. Vichet brings a surprisingly funny touch to his true family story, and we can’t wait to bring his work to Lowell.”
LOST LAUGHS: THE SLAPSTICK TRAGEDY OF FATTY ARBUCKLE
Created by Aaron Muñoz
Written by Andy Bayiates
Directed by Nathan Keepers
February 15 – March 11, 2018
Hollywood legend, historic scandal
Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton. In silent film’s golden age, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle ranked with the funniest of the funny, the greatest of the great. Then, overnight, he found his reputation savaged, his work pulled from nearly every movie house. What happened? And what could possibly come next? To MRT’s stage comes an explosive theatre event of big laughs and shocking truths, where the line between comedy and tragedy is thinner than you ever imagined.
“Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle is a forgotten Hollywood legend,” explains Sean. “He was doing physical comedy on screen before anybody – he was essentially the first “big guy” America fell in love with. Sadly, he’s also the first example of the American public really building up a celebrity, only to tear him down once they became disillusioned. Aaron Muñoz (2016’s “45 Plays for 45 Presidents”) is one of the funniest actors out there, and he’s been working on this project for years. And Andy is a local boy done good, born in Lowell and raised in Billerica, so we’re always excited to have him back.”
LITTLE ORPHAN DANNY
Originally conceived by Dan Finnerty
Created by Sean Daniels and Dan Finnerty
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Dan Finnerty
Additional Music by Dan Lipton
Directed by Sean Daniels
March 21 – April 15, 2018
“Danny was a pain in the a**.”
-Sister Mary Margaret
The uproarious musical memoir of The Dan Band’s brilliant frontman Dan Finnerty: Growing up a small town altar boy in a nice conservative family doesn’t always suit our adopted protagonist. Childhood outbursts of blasphemy in church only lead to pathetic adolescent attempts at playing sports. But of the many lessons he’ll learn, none could prepare him for the fateful day he and his mother meet the woman who gave birth to him. An irreverent-yet-tender story of a boy and the women who made him.
Dan Finnerty is a phenomenon of the comedy music world; his one-man act The Dan Band can be found serenading (and gleefully swearing) throughout Hollywood’s greatest “bro comedies” (including “The Hangover” and “Old School.”) And though “Little Orphan Danny” follows his delightfully crass trademark style, it is also shockingly moving—a poignant story of what it’s like to grow up with one family, then seek out a different one in adulthood. The production continues MRT’s new tradition of presenting innovative, true story musicals.
“This is maybe the most heartfelt piece in the season,” says Sean. “A musical in the vein of “The Lion” and “My 80 Year Old Boyfriend” that really asks the question: is family genetics, or is time served with someone? Can you pick your family? I can’t wait for local audiences to learn what national audiences already have: Dan Finnerty is an amazing performer, with a tremendous true story to tell.”
THE VILLAINS’ SUPPER CLUB
By Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Sean Daniels
April 25 – May 20, 2018
A comedy about motherhood and villainy
KAPOW! Galactic Girl fends off multiple dastardly villains. WOOSH! She’s home in time to feed her baby and maybe even feed herself. When the last superhero on earth is also a new mom, there's no time to lose. Can she save the planet and call back the pediatrician? Or will she fall victim to her arch rival’s many nefarious schemes? From Lila Rose Kaplan (“Home of the Brave”) comes an epic, irresistible comedy for anyone who’s ever had to be a superhero.
“One thing we have found is that our audience loves comedy,” remarks Daniels. “They loved ‘Women in Jeopardy!’, and they loved ‘Home of the Brave’ before that. In many ways, we need to laugh together now more than ever, and Lila Rose Kaplan is hands-down the playwright to make it happen for us.”
“The Villains’ Supper Club” is a brilliant new superhero for our times. Moms will certainly relate—but so will anyone who’s ever had to be a superhero. The play is wild, zany fun—but it is also deeply relatable for anyone who pulls off heroic feats, just to get through their day.
Subscriptions are now available through the MRT Box Office for the 2017-18 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 www.mrt.org/subscribe.
Subscriptions can be purchased by calling 978-654-4678 or by visiting www.mrt.org/subscribe. 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. MRT produces vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theaters nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).
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