The Arden Theatre is announcing its 2019-20 season.
The seven productions, officially being announced Wednesday, leverage the theater’s three stages. The season opener pits the Tony-winning Ahrens/Flaherty musical Ragtime against Hamilton, which will be thundering over at the Forrest Theater from late August through mid-November.
Diversity seems to be a theme, as the season unleashes an all-star team of local talents, including Mary Tuomanen, James Ijames, Lorene Cary, Rebecca Wright, and Malika Oyetimein.
Up first on the F. Otto Haas main stage is the popular musical Ragtime (Sept. 19-Oct. 20), directed by Arden artistic director Terrence J. Nolen. It won nine Tonys in 1998, including outstanding musical and best book for a musical, by Terrence McNally. Ragtime depicts the swirling intersection of classes, cultures, and ethnicities at the turn of the 20th century.
Tiny Beautiful Things runs Oct. 24-Dec. 8 on the Arcadia Stage. It’s another marriage of talents: Written by Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, it’s based on the Cheryl Strayed collection of her “Dear Sugar” columns for the Rumpus.
Next, Barrymore-winner Mary Tuomanen takes to the Bob and Selma Horan Studio Theatre to perform An Iliad (Nov. 14-Dec. 15), an intense adaptation of Homer’s epic, concentrated into a monologue. She will be directed by Rebecca Wright, who is now helming the Arden’s season closer for 2018, Indecent.
The year 2020 opens with a world premiere by beloved Philly author Lorene Cary titled My General Tubman (Jan. 16-March 1, Arcadia Stage). This bio-play of Harriet Tubman is directed by Philadelphia playwright/actor/director James Ijames.
Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire next takes the F. Otto Haas stage (March 12-April 12), directed by Nolen.
Then comes the fascinating No Child … written by and starring Nilaja Sun (April 23-May 24, Bob and Selma Studio Theatre). It follows an arts teacher in a New York public school and is an impassioned cry for expanded arts instruction for schoolchildren.
As it began, the season ends with an Ahrens/Flaherty musical, Once on This Island (May 21-June 21). This 2018 Tony winner for best revival of a musical follows a peasant girl in the French Antilles striving to bring together people of different classes and backgrounds. It’s directed by Malika Oyetimein, who last directed at the Arden the August Wilson autobio-play How I Learned What I Learned.