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A Young Professional’s Guide to Arena Stage’s 2012-13 Season
November 13, 2012 | 12:23PM

All words: Alyssa Moody, May Wildman, Dan Singer

Arena Stage has announced eight productions to round out the company’s third year in its new home, the Mead Center for American Theater. Your time and money are important, so Arena Stage has gone ahead and created what they’re calling the BEST DEAL IN THE DISTRICT. It goes a little something like this:

  • Be under 30
  • Create your own 4- or 8- play package for just $20 A TICKET plus applicable fees.
  • Enjoy!

Yup, it’s that simple.  And by becoming a subscriber, you save a bunch of dinero plus get special perks, like unlimited free exchanges and discounts on additional tickets! Want more info? Head over their Under 30 page (here) or call the Sales office at (202) 488-3300 to explore this great deal on some of the district’s best theatre options!  They’ve got a jam packed season so don’t delay!

Check out a video preview of the season and read up on each play below:

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My Fair Lady

Acclaimed director Molly Smith, (“Oklahoma!”) has done it again with a brilliant, slightly avant-garde interpretation of the beloved Broadway musical, My Fair Lady. Smith first directed the dynamic, iconic musical in Canada, during which she set the all-time box office record at the Shaw Festival, and she and her creative team are ecstatic to reinvigorate the extremely successful performance here in the District. Based on the George Bernard Shaw classic “Pygmalion,” “My Fair Lady” tells the enchanting tale of Eliza Doolittle, (played by the loverly Manna Nichols). Eliza, an uncouth, Cockney flower peddler, agrees to take speech lessons from a cultured academic, Henry Higgins, in hopes of fulfilling her dream of working in a flower shop. Professor Higgins helps Eliza far exceed her social situation, and the two develop a beautiful relationship in the process.

For fans of: Pretty Woman, La Vie En Rose, and The Pursuit of Happyness — don’t miss the original rags-to-riches story that the National Post calls “touching, intelligent, and magical.” My Fair Lady is now playing in the Fichandler Theater until January 6.

Preview:
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Pullman Porter Blues

Fresh off a wildly successful opening at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pullman Porter Blues is an inspiring tale about three generations of porters who are forced to confront the darkness of their past and cope with the uncertainty of their future while working on the elite Panama Limited in 1937. Inspired by the childhood experiences of incomparable playwright Cheryl L. West, during which she was “enamored by the compulsively smiling Pullman porters” who remained cheerful despite strenuous, often humiliating work conditions — Pullman Porter Blues demonstrates the power of the human spirit and shows just how far we’ve come in terms of race and class in America. A myriad of original and iconic blues tunes (performed by a live band) provide the soundtrack to the porters captivating journey from Chicago to New Orleans.

For fans of: The Color Purple, Memphis, and The Help — Pullman Porter Blues is a moving, coming-of-age story hailed by Seattle Weekly as “one hell of an enthralling ride.” Catch Pullman Porter Blues in the Kreeger Theatre from November 23 to January 6.

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Good People

“Good People,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning David Lindsay-Abaire. Margaret Walsh is a single mother living in working-class South Boston—a seedy neighborhood with few prospects for upward movement. [Fun note: during the play’s run in New York last year, Frances McDormand played Walsh, with a fantastic Bawston accent.] When Walsh gets fired from her job working as a cashier at a dollar store, she decides to reach out to her old high-school sweetheart Mike to see if he can do anything to help her. Mike is now married and works as a successful doctor—despite having grown up in South Boston like Walsh. Their encounter engages the audience in a vital debate on whether people are responsible for their own fates. “Good People” is especially relevant today in an era where social welfare programs are coming under attack, and the economy is looking bleaker than ever. Mitt Romney would definitely side with *cough* one of the characters of the play.

For fans of: Gritty movies about single mothers, and the problem of American poverty in general. Think “Precious” minus the HIV and incest. The whole poverty struggle thing is also somewhat reminiscent of “The Wire”’s themes—with a focus on blue-collar whites instead of inner-city black drug dealers, of course. Good People runs at the Arena Stage from February 1 to March 10, 2013.

The Grand Parade

“The Grand Parade” is a love letter to the 20th century, in the way that pseudo-country songstress Taylor Swift’s albums are “love letters” to her past boyfriends. There’s a lot of passion involved, but there’s also a fair share of scathing criticism. “The Grand Parade” takes the audience through the highs and the lows of the 20th century—from Hitler’s terrorization of Europe to Houdini’s great escapes. The play is based on Marc Chagall’s painting from the 70s of the same name. The painting itself is kaleidoscopic, and has a theatrical circus feel. The colorful, kooky world of circus troupes is replicated in the highly physical play, which incorporates trapeze and acrobatics as well as dance.

For fans of: Surrealism, Dali’s films, Michel Gondry’s “The Science of Sleep.” The Grand Parade is pretty bizarre, but is visually interesting enough to keep your brain interested while you’re completely confused. The wide range of movement on the stage will keep even the most ADHD theater newbie tuned in.  The play will run from February 6 to 10, 2013.

Metamorphoses

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Metamorphoses runs from Feb. 8-Mar. 17 on the Fichandler Stage. Author and director Mary Zimmerman is a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and she won a Tony Award for Best Direction for this play’s 2002 Broadway production. The Chicago Sun- Times called the show a “theatrical masterpiece” and a “work of pure poetry in motion.”

Based on the epic poem by Roman literary badass Ovid, Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Metamorphoses is series of stories from Greek mythology about love and the concept of change. Forget God of War and those irritatingly catchy Disney songs from Hercules – this is the real deal! Zimmerman proves that these myths from thousands of years ago still shine light on the nature of the human experience. The play’s main set piece is a large pool, which functions in different scenes as a river, a sea and…wait for it…an actual swimming pool! Metamorphoses examines universal themes like family, vengeance and sex, and it does so in a way that allows these ancient stories to feel relevant and powerful.

For Fans Of: Change (obligatory shout-out to Obama and Question 6 passing), “The Power of Love,” by Huey Lewis & the News, TOGAS, lust, death and the ability to touch stuff and turn it into gold. With action ranging from forbidden romance to self-cannibalism, there’s a little something for everyone.

Preview:
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Mary T. and Lizzy K.

Mary T. and Lizzy K. is having its world-premiere run from Mar. 15-April 28 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. The play is a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. Writer and director Tazewell Thompson is an Emmy nominee and an NAACP Theatre Award winner. Mary T. and Lizzy K. is the first commission of Arena Stage’s American President’s Project.

Steven Spielberg may have cast our most honest president back in the spotlight with the release of Lincoln, but Mary T. and Lizzy K. looks to put a new spin on the Lincoln era, pun intended. Tazewell Thompson’s play examines the friendship between First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and freed slave Elizabeth Keckly, her seamstress. Keckley had an unusually intimate relationship with the Lincoln family, and she played a pivotal role in supporting Mary as the First Lady dealt with mental illness, debt and her husband’s assassination. The play chronicles tensions and tragedies from the perspectives of Lincoln and Keckley, proving that an equally riveting story was taking place while Abe and his beard were busy emancipating and writing epic speeches.

For fans of: Feminist, bold, uncensored portrayals of Herstory.

The Mountaintop

The Mountaintop is Katori Hall’s bold reimagining of the last night of the historic life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Exhausted from delivering a significant speech, Dr. King rests in his room at the Lorraine Motel when an unexpected visit from a feisty, young maid compels him to confront his own humanity and the fate of our nation. Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Play, The Mountaintop’s soul-stirring storytelling fuses theatricality with spirituality to reach a summit that will leave audiences breathless.

For fans of: Sobering historical dramas, like Oliver Stone’s work translated to the stage. Claustrophobic psychological thrillers. The Mountaintop runs from March 29 through May 12, 2013.

Other Desert Cities

In Other Desert Cities, Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs to visit her parents after a six-year absence. A once-promising novelist, she announces to her family the imminent publication of a memoir dredging up a pivotal event in the family’s history. This new play is a poignant and sharply drawn portrait of a family simultaneously bound together and torn apart as it struggles to come to grips with a painful past. The comedy-drama about deep bonds and deeper secrets. Pulitzer Prize-finalist Jon Robin Baitz’s smart new play of high drama, serious laughter and repartee that dazzles and decimates was one of the hottest tickets on Broadway last season.

For fans of: Disastrous Thanksgiving dinners where dark secrets flow like stuffing and gravy. Other Desert Cities runs from April 26-May 26, 2013.

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