By Benjamin St. Pierre
What do a superhero-single-mom, a champion boxer and an ambitious astronmer have in common? They’re all part of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s 2017-2018 lineup of original and award-winning stage productions.
MRT announced the new season lineup, beginning in September, and it includes several first-time performances.
“Little Women (a modern adapation) and the four following it (Knyum, Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle, Little Orphan Danny and The Villains’ Supper Club) will all be world premieres,” said Sean Daniels, MRT’s Artistic Director.
With themes spanning some heavy-hitting subjects including gender, race, immigration, and a lot in between, Daniels said the plays offer a reminder of today’s pressing issues, but also, an escape from them.
The Royale, written by Marco Ramirez: Sep. 13 – Oct. 8 (2017)
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.
Silent Sky, written by Lauren Gunderson: Oct. 18 – Nov. 12 (2017)
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.
Little Women, Retold, adapted by Emily Ruddock and Megan Sandberg Zakian from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women: Nov. 29 – Dec. 24 (2017)
Generations have cherished their story; now, in a captivating new holiday adaptation, our own America frames the original: Four contemporary girls don the roles of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, who in Old New England bravely seek light and joy in the most unexpected places. With great humor and just a bit of magic, Louisa May Alcott’s classic is conjured in the home of a whole new kind of American family.
Knyum, written by Vichet Chum: Jan. 10 – Feb. 4 (2018)
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.
Lost Laughs: The Slapstick Tragedy of Fatty Arbuckle, created by Aaron Muñoz and written by Andy Bayiates: Feb. 14 – March 11 (2018)
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.
Little Orphan Danny, by Dan Finnerty: March 21 – April 15 (2018)
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.
The Villains’ Supper Club, by Lila Rose Kaplan: April 25 – May 20 (2018)
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.