Not that they’ve sent out a press release about it or anything, but Long Wharf Theatre has announced its 2014-15 season. It’s right there on their website. [Update: Less than an hour after I posted this, an official release went out.]
At one point the Long Wharf had planned to do another of their big public announcements/parties, with pizza in the food terminal parking lot. But there were some details to finalize, so the announcement got pushed back. Now here it is.
What’s with these casual, no fanfare season announcements? First the Shubert downplays theirs with some posters in the lobby days before they close for a summer of extensive renovations, and now this. Of course, the Long Wharf still has multiple opportunities to ballyhoo their 2014-15 slate: they’re opening the final show of the 2013-14 season this week (Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, playing May 7 through June 1), have a summer season planned (including Split Knuckle Theatre Company’s Endurance June 17-29) and host a gala fundraiser (starring John Lithgow) June 6.
The 2014-15 season leads into the Long Wharf’s 50th birthday. The theater was founded in 1965 in the same waterfront food terminal area it still calls home. The coming season clearly signals a celebration of the theater’s historic strengths: accessible restagings of American classics, new works, dramas based around topical issues, and wild comedy. These also happen to be personal strengths of Gordon Edelstein, who’s been the Long Wharf’s Artistic Director for the past 11 years (plus several years as its Associate Artistic Director back in the ‘90s) and who will be directing three of the six shows announced for 2014-15.
Here’s the list:
• Our Town by Thornton Wilder, directed by Gordon Edelstein (Oct. 8 through Nov. 2, mainstage). Yes, it’s one of the most produced American plays of all time. But it’s different here. Thornton Wilder lived in Hamden, taught at Yale, and drank at the Anchor Bar on College Street.
• Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steve Martin, directed by Gordon Edelstein (Nov. 26 through Dec. 21, mainstage). The word is that Steve Martin saw Edelstein’s production of The Underpants last season and encouraged him to do his 1991 comedy about artists and scientists knocking back a few beers while changing the world.
• Forever, written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith, directed by Neel Keller (Jan. 2 though Feb. 1 on Stage II). Dael Orlandersmith, who was a playwright-in-residence at the Long Wharf years ago, world-premiered The Blue Album (her collaboration with David Cale) at Stage II seven years ago and also performed her plays Yellowman and The Gimmick there. Forever is another world premiere.
• Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon (Feb. 18 through March 22, Stage II). This drama has already had two New York productions, at the Roundabout in 20122 and at the Laura Pels last October. It’s about a young woman who’s fervent about her Jewish heritage and is aggressively trying to get her hands on a religious relic which had been her grandfather’s. It’s a play about identity—personal, familial and social—and has been getting a lot of attention. No director has been attached to the Long Wharf production yet.
• Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray) by Kimber Lee, directed by Eric Ting (March 25 through April 19, mainstage). This play premiered in March at the Actor’s Theater of Louisville’s Humana Festival, and will receive its first New York production this October at Lincoln Center’s LCT3 series. It’s the tale of an urban family grieving the death of their teenaged son Tray. Director Eric Ting is a recent Obie winner and it’s always a pleasure to see him access his Off Broadway, new-play interests at the Long Wharf.
• The Second Mrs. Wilson by Joe DiPietro, directed by Gordon Edelstein (May 6-13, 2015, mainstage). The Long Wharf has a thing for behind-the-scenes presidential intrigue. A couple of seasons ago, Gordon Edelstein directed William Mastrisimone’s Ride the Tiger, about the links between John F. Kennedy and mobster Sam Giancana. This year’s Edelstein-directed world premiere is The Second Wilson, about Edith Wilson quietly asserting herself in national affairs while her husband Woodrow is stricken. Joe DiPietro’s previous connection to Long Wharf is I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which had a pre-New York shakedown in New Haven and went on to become a long-running Off Broadway hit. DiPietro also scripted the jukebox musical All Shook Up, which played the Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre pre-New York. At the Goodspeed Opera House in 2001 he adapted the Gershwin musical Oh, Kay! into They All Laughed, a project which later morphed into Broadway’s Nice Work If You Can Get It. He’s also known for the musical Memphis and the community theater staple Over the River and Through the Woods.
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