Signature Theatre Announces 2019-2020 Season

Signature's 30th season includes new stagings of 'Assassins,' 'A Chorus Line,' and 'Hair,' plus 3 world-premier productions and Caryl Churchill's 'Escaped Alone.'

Signature Theatre Announces 30th Anniversary Season, including new and inventive stagings of:

  • ASSASSINS
  • A CHORUS LINE
  • HAIR
  • NIJINSKY’S LAST DANCE

The DC Premiere of:

  • CARYL CHURCHILL’S PLAY ESCAPED ALONE

And world premier productions of:

  • ANGELICA CHÉRI AND ROS BAUM’S MUSICAL GUN & POWDER
  • DANI STOLLER’S PLAY EASY WOMEN SMOKING LOOSE CIGARETTES
  • FRANK WILDHORN AND NAN KNIGHTON’S MUSICAL CAMILLE CLAUDEL

Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland announced today the full lineup for Signature Theatre’s 2019/20 season.

“It’s hard to believe that the upcoming season celebrates 30 great years of Signature. It has been a thrilling ride bringing so many stories to our stage over the years and this new season continues that tradition starting with our 30th Sondheim production – more than any theatre in America,” stated Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. “There will be so many things to celebrate with this eclectic season of authors and artists – from the best in American musical theater to our world premiere productions to bold contemporary plays. It promises to be an exciting time at Signature that gives audiences one of the most unique environmental experiences in the theatre today.”

“In 1989, Eric Schaeffer and Donna Migliaccio founded a theatre that was determined to defy expectations. Signature Theatre has evolved from its earliest days, first in a middle school auditorium then an auto-bumper plating garage to a destination theatre that welcomes more than 120,000 patrons annually, and yet we still hold tight to that aspiration,” said Managing Director Maggie Boland. “As we continue to grow, we know that our success today is built on all the achievements that have come before. This season represents everything that is quintessentially Signature: reinventing great American musicals, premiering exciting new musicals and producing bold new plays. We look forward to honoring the past and celebrating the future during this milestone season.”

To kick off the season, Signature presents our 30th Stephen Sondheim musical – the most by any theatre in America – with a brand-new production of Assassins (August 11 – September 29, 2019), directed by Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer (Signature’s A Little Night Music, Titanic). From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, nine would-be and successful presidential assassins inspire each other to pull the trigger and change their worlds in a perverse, wry and thrillingly entertaining vaudeville. The production stars Signature favorites Tracy Lynn Olivera (Signature’s A Little Night Music), Bobby Smith (Signature’s Grand Hotel), Evan Casey (Signature’s The Flick), Rachel Zampelli (Signature’s Heisenberg), Nova Y. Payton (Signature’s Ain’t Misbehavin’) and many more.

In the fall, acclaimed DC actress Holly Twyford (Signature’s A Little Night Music, Sex with Strangers) takes the helm as director for the Washington premiere of Escaped Alone (September 24 – November 3, 2019) by legendary playwright Caryl Churchill (Cloud 9, Top Girls). In a serene British garden, three old friends are joined by a neighbor to engage in amiable chitchat—with a side of apocalyptic horror. The women’s talks of grandchildren and tv shows breezily intersperses with tales of terror in a quietly teetering world where all is not what it seems.

For the holiday season, Signature Theatre Associate Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner (Signature’s Passion, Billy Elliot) will direct A Chorus Line (October 29, 2019 – January 5, 2020) with new choreography by Denis Jones (Broadway’s Tootsie, Signature’s Crazy for You). Winner of nine Tony Awards® and the Pulitzer Prize, and overflowing with sensational ballet, tap and jazz dance numbers, A Chorus Line features the acclaimed songs “At the Ballet,” “The Music and the Mirror,” “What I Did for Love” and more. Signature’s production will feature one of the largest casts in Signature Theatre’s history.

In the winter, Signature will present the world premiere musical Gun & Powder (January 28 – February 23, 2020) with book and lyrics by Angelica Chéri, music by Ross Baum, and directed by acclaimed playwright and director Robert O’Hara (BLKS, Bootycandy). Based on a true story, Gun & Powder follows the Clarke sisters as they become notorious outlaws in the Wild West. To help their mother settle a sharecropper debt, Mary and Martha Clarke– light-skinned African American twins– pass themselves as White to seize funds by any means necessary. However, their bond of sisterhood is tested when they fall in love with two very different men, one Black, the other White. Gun & Powder was originally developed through the SigWorks: Musical Theater Lab, and went on to receive the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater.

SigWorks: The Heidi Thomas Writers’ Initiative will launch the world premiere production of Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes (February 18 – March 29, 2020), a surprising new comedy by DC playwright Dani Stoller and directed by Stevie Zimmerman. Marian had happily settled into retirement life with new husband, Richard. However, when a pregnant niece, the troubled boy next door and a distressed daughter with a secret show up at her door, Marian’s empty nest ends up a little fuller than she imagined.

In the spring, Eric Schaeffer will direct the world premiere musical Camille Claudel (March 24 – April 19, 2020) with book and lyrics by Nan Knighton (The Scarlet Pimpernel) and music by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel). Turn-of-the-century French sculptor Camille Claudel was a groundbreaking artist and a revolutionary free-thinker – but her entire life was determined by the men around her, from her passionate and tumultuous love affair with Auguste Rodin to her unsupportive brother to the gender-based censorship of her work. However, by combining her artistic genius with a fierce independence, she defied society’s limitations to create captivating masterpieces that pushed the art world to new heights. The MAX Theatre transforms into famed sculptor Rodin’s studio to bring their creative and lovers duel to life in a new musical of an irrepressible visionary who broke the mold.

For the 30th Anniversary, Joe Calarco will direct an all-new production of Nijinsky’s Last Dance (April 14 – May 24, 2020) by Norman Allen, which received its world premiere at Signature Theatre in 1998. Alone in his sanitarium cell, memories furiously swirl around famed ballet performer Vaslav Nijinsky. Inhabiting the characters from his past, he journeys from his Imperial Ballet School acceptance at age ten, to his relationship with mentor and lover Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, to his innovative choreography that shocked a world in tumult from the Great War.

To close the season, Matthew Gardiner will direct and choreograph the groundbreaking rock musical Hair (May 19 – July 12, 2020). A tribe of long-haired bohemian hippies on the cusp of adulthood embrace freedom, pacifism and joy, but have their world thrown into chaos when one of their own receives a draft notice for the Vietnam War. With chart-topping hits such as “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Good Morning, Starshine” and the title song, Hair’s vibrant, groovy celebration of peace, love and life changed Broadway forever.

Signature will also present several cabaret performances in the 2019/20 Season. A four-show Cabaret Series will kick off with a salute to the UK artists such as The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones and more with The British Invasion (August 20 – 24, 2019). In the fall, we honor the transcendent ladies of soul including Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and more with Soul Divas (November 19 – 23, 2019). In the winter, Signature toasts Frank Sinatra with Ol’ Blue Eyes: Frank Sinatra (January 7 – 11, 2020) including famous tunes “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way” and more. In the summer, Signature presents Not A Day Goes By: Signature Turns 30 (June 9 – July 3, 2020). A special 30th anniversary cabaret, full of thirty years of memories, songs and behind-the-scenes stories from Signature’s earliest days at Gunston to the Garage to Shirlington.

For the holidays we will present a special limited-run cabaret A Motown Christmas (December 3 – 21, 2019) featuring restyled covers of The Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” The Supremes’ take on “Silver Bells” and more.

Patrons can get a preview of the upcoming season at Signature Theatre’s annual Open House (Sunday, August 18, 2019, noon to 7PM). This FREE event includes special ticket offers, free performances every fifteen minutes, kids’ activities, a grand finale concert and more!

Signature offers flexible subscription options for the 2019/20 season. Season Subscription packages are now on sale. Custom packages can be created for 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- or the full 8-show season.

Season Subscription package prices begin at $187. Benefits of subscribing include first choice of seats, savings over individual ticket prices, fee-waived ticket exchanges and discounts on extra tickets. Call Signature’s Box Office at 703 820 9771 or visit SigTheatre.org/subscribe.

Subscribers may add the Cabaret Series or A Motown Christmas to their subscription orders by calling Signature’s Box Office at 703 820 9771 or ordering online at SigTheatre.org/Subscribe

Single tickets for the entire season will go on sale mid-July 2019.

SIGNATURE THEATRE’S 2019/20 SEASON

ASSASSINS
August 11 – September 29, 2019
MAX Theatre

To kick off the 30th anniversary season, Signature Theatre produces our 30th Sondheim musical with the daring and darkly funny Tony Award-winning musical exposé – Assassins.

From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, nine would-be and successful presidential assassins inspire each other to pull the trigger and change their worlds in a perverse, wry and thrillingly entertaining vaudeville.

Directed by Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer, a cast of Signature favorites including Nova Y. Payton, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Evan Casey, Bobby Smith and others explore Sondheim’s stunning music and sardonic lyrics in a fascinating examination of the twisted American Dream.

Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
Assassins is based on an idea by Charles Gilbert, Jr.
Playwrights Horizons, Inc. – New York City produced Assassins Off-Broadway in 1990
Directed by Eric Schaeffer

DC Premiere
ESCAPED ALONE
September 24 – November 3, 2019
ARK Theatre

Hailed as one of the most important playwrights of our time, Caryl Churchill’s (Cloud 9, Top Girls) electrifying Signature debut is a caustically funny and surreal afternoon of tea and calamity.

In a serene British garden three old friends are joined by a neighbor to engage in amiable chitchat—with a side of apocalyptic horror. The women’s talks of grandchildren and tv shows breezily intersperses with tales of terror in a quietly teetering world where all is not what it seems.

Acclaimed DC actress Holly Twyford takes the helm as director for the Washington premiere of this dazzling and inventive masterpiece.

By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Holly Twyford

A CHORUS LINE
October 29, 2019 – January 5, 2020
MAX Theatre

Signature continues our tradition of big musicals in intimate spaces with one of the most iconic musicals ever written. Up close in the audition room, feel every heartbeat and heartbreak, as hopeful dancers pour out their dreams, memories, loves, and why they dance in a breathtaking display of the tremendous talent it takes to be in a chorus line.

Winner of nine Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize, overflowing with sensational ballet, tap and jazz dance numbers, this non-stop showcase features the acclaimed songs “At the Ballet,” “The Music and the Mirror,” “What I Did for Love” and more. With one of the largest casts in Signature history, A Chorus Line is the one singular sensation for the holiday season.

Conceived & Originally Directed & Choreographed by Michael Bennett
Book by James Kirkwood & Nicholas Dante
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Co-Choreographed by Bob Avian
Original Broadway production produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp, Producer, in association with Plum Productions, Inc.
Choreographed by Denis Jones
Directed by Matthew Gardiner

World Premiere
GUN & POWDER
January 28 – February 23, 2020
MAX Theatre

Based on a true story, make way for the sisters Clarke in a dynamic, moving and inspiring world premiere musical of notorious outlaws who ruled the Wild West.

To help their mother settle a sharecropper debt, Mary and Martha Clarke– light-skinned African American twins– pass themselves as White to seize the funds by any means necessary. However, their bond of sisterhood is tested when they fall in love with two very different men, one Black, the other White.

Award-winning director Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy) makes his Signature debut in this soaring musical that examines race, family and identity with two electrifying women who went from farm girls to legends with gun and powder.

Gun & Powder was a recipient of the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater and developed through the SigWorks: Musical Theater Lab at Signature Theatre.

Book & Lyrics by Angelica Chéri
Music by Ross Baum
Directed by Robert O’Hara
By special arrangement with Ben Holtzman & Sammy Lopez

World Premiere
EASY WOMEN SMOKIN LOOSE CIGARETTES
February 18 – March 29, 2020
ARK Theatre

The latest Heidi Thomas Writers’ Initiative is a surprising comedy about opening your home, occasionally your wallet, and always your heart.

Marian, the matriarch of a far-flung Jewish family, had happily settled into retirement life with her new husband, Richard. However, when a pregnant niece, the troubled boy next door and a distressed daughter with a secret show up at her door, Marian’s empty nest ends up a little fuller than she imagined.

This firecracker play by DC area playwright Dani Stoller takes the dysfunction, puts it back in the family, then gives it a hilarious—and subversive—stir.

By Dani Stoller
Directed by Stevie Zimmerman

World Premiere
CAMILLE CLAUDEL
March 24 – April 19, 2020
MAX Theatre

Turn-of-the-century French sculptor Camille Claudel was a groundbreaking artist and a revolutionary free-thinker — but her entire life was determined by the men around her, from her passionate and tumultuous love affair with Auguste Rodin to her unsupportive brother to the gender-based censorship of her work. However, by combining her artistic genius with fierce independence, she defied society’s limitations to create captivating masterpieces that pushed the art world to new heights.

The Max Theatre transforms into famed sculptor Rodin’s studio to bring their creative and lovers duel to life in a stunning and gorgeous new musical of an irrepressible visionary who broke the mold.

Book & Lyrics by Nan Knighton
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Directed by Eric Schaeffer

NIJINSKY’S LAST DANCE
April 14 – May 24, 2020
ARK Theatre

Elegantly dancing between sanity and madness, this masterful tour-de-force delves into the fascinating and troubled genius of the greatest dancer who ever lived.

Alone in his sanitarium cell, memories furiously swirl around famed ballet performer Vaslav Nijinsky. Inhabiting the characters from his past, he journeys from his Imperial Ballet School acceptance at age ten, to his relationship with mentor and lover Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, to his innovative choreography that shocked a world in tumult from the Great War.

Infused with visceral movement, this transfixing fever-dream evokes the creative brilliance that, although darkened by illness, revolutionized ballet with a celestial dexterity that seduced the air itself.

Nijinsky’s Last Dance received its world premiere at Signature Theatre in 1998.
By Norman Allen
Directed by Joe Calarco

HAIR
The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical
May 19 – July 12, 2020
MAX Theatre

The sensational, groundbreaking rock musical bursts with the jubilant spirit, raging rebellion and psychedelic color of the 1960s.

A tribe of long-haired bohemian hippies on the cusp of adulthood embrace freedom, pacifism and joy, but have their world thrown into chaos when one of their own receives a draft notice for the Vietnam War.

With chart-topping hits such as “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Good Morning, Starshine” and the title song, Hair’s vibrant, groovy celebration of peace, love and life changed Broadway forever.

Book & Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rando
Music by Galt MacDermot
Produced for the Broadway stage by Michael Butler
Originally produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre
Directed & Choreographed by Matthew Gardiner

Signature Cabarets
The British Invasion
August 20 – 24, 2019
Hop the pond for a rocking salute to the UK artists who thrilled and inspired us. From the Beatlemania that launched the international phenomenon to The Who, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, The Animals and more, Signature mobilizes the pure energy of English rock ’n’ roll for one dynamic blowout.

Soul Divas
November 19 – 23, 2019
“At Last,” a cabaret devoted to the transcendent ladies of soul! From the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, to other luminaries such as Etta James, Gladys Knight, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner and Beyoncé, Signature singers honor the celebrated chanteuses whose unbelievable voices lifted our spirits.

Ol’ Blue Eyes: Frank Sinatra
January 7 – 11, 2020
Signature’s toasts the iconic crooner in a stylish, suave and sophisticated evening flush with all of Sinatra’s famous tunes, including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Strangers in the Night,” “The Way You Look Tonight” and more. Called the Voice of the Century, there was no one else like Ol’ Blue Eyes—a legendary entertainer who always did it “My Way.”

Not A Day Goes By: Signature Turns 30
June 9 – July 3, 2020
Thirty never looked so good! Party like it’s 1989 as we celebrate with a special anniversary cabaret, full of thirty years of memories, songs and behind-the-scenes stories from Signature’s earliest days at Gunston to the Garage to Shirlington. Plus, every night a different member of the Signature family will guest star to reminisce with favorite songs about their time on-and-off the stage in an exciting tribute to three decades of the Signature sound.

Special Holiday Cabaret
A Motown Christmas
December 3 – 21, 2019
The holidays get a smooth new groove when delivered Motown style! Featuring restyled covers such as The Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to The Supremes’ take on “Silver Bells” to original songs such as to Stevie Wonder’s “Someday at Christmas” and Marvin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes,” A Motown Christmas is an upbeat, fun and soulful yuletide treat.

ABOUT SIGNATURE
Signature is widely recognized as the premier venue in Washington to see musical theater, especially new musicals. Recently called “a dream for patrons” and “the gold standard for producing musicals” by The Washington Post, Signature is renowned for its interpretations of Stephen Sondheim’s work, inventive adaptations of overlooked or forgotten musicals, and investment in fresh new projects. The Theatre is an industry leader in developing and producing new work and is home to the largest musical theater development program in the United States.

Signature features the finest talent from the D.C. metropolitan area and New York on its stages and has been a creative home to such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Sheryl Crow, Barry Levinson, George Hearn, Emily Skinner, Kathleen Marshall, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, Deborah Monk, Boyd Gaines, Heidi Blickenstaff, James Lapine, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company’s signature composer, Stephen Sondheim. Under the leadership of Eric Schaeffer, Artistic Director, and Maggie Boland, Managing Director, Signature draws more than 120,000 patrons annually to its Arlington home and has been cited for its achievements by a wide range of local and national media.