MERRIMACK REPERTORY THEATRE ANNOUNCES ITS 2018-19 SEASON, MARKING ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Three World Premieres and Four Celebrated New Plays, MRT Brings Nationally Recognized Artists to Lowell
Lowell, MA—Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) is proud to announce its 2018-19 Season of seven plays, celebrating the company’s 40th Anniversary Season bringing the best new plays and musicals from national artists to Lowell and the entire Merrimack Valley region.
The 2018-19 Season also marks the first time MRT has achieved gender parity in the presented playwrights, with five of the seven plays authored by women: Karen Zacarías with Native Gardens, Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Wendy MacLeod with Slow Food, Lauren Gunderson with The Heath, and Molly Smith Metzler with Cry It Out. The season also features a new adaptation of a lost novel set in Lowell by Jack Kerouac, The Haunted Life, and a raucous whodunit starring co-writer Joe Kinosian, Murder for Two.
The 40th Anniversary Season also marks Sean Daniels’ fourth year as Artistic Director. More than half of MRT’s best-selling shows of all time have come from plays presented during Daniels’ first three seasons. Under his tenure, MRT has presented 14 world premieres, including three in the upcoming 2018-19 Season: Slow Food, The Heath, and The Haunted Life.
“As MRT turns 40, it’s exciting to see it really coming into its own as a local theatre that the world pays attention to,” said Daniels. “And we are thrilled to have women authoring the majority of this season’s plays. Plus, we get to showcase world premieres by Wendy MacLeod, an MRT favorite for Women in Jeopardy! and our own Lauren Gunderson, who is now the most produced playwright in America. That’s all on top of us premiering a new adaptation of Kerouac; there’s nothing more Lowell than hearing his gorgeous words inside MRT. We have musicals, comedies, and the best writers in our country bringing their work here; these are some of my favorite artists that I’m sure, in no time, will be some of yours as well.”
“I’m excited to see MRT continue to grow during this incredible 40th Anniversary Season, gaining local, regional, and national recognition as the place for new plays and as a community partner in arts education,” added Bonnie Butkas, who joined MRT as Executive Director in 2018. “We are incredibly grateful to our donors who make it possible for us to create award-winning professional theater in Lowell and support a broad array of outreach programs for the community, including over 5,000 free and discounted tickets for students and community members. We’re proud to be an economic engine in the area as our patrons spend nearly $1 million each season in our local restaurants and around the city. I look forward to growing our partnerships across the region during the 2018-19 Season.”
Donald Bedard, President of the Board of Trustees, said, “The MRT Board of Trustees is thrilled with the seven plays selected for MRT’s 2018-19 Season. We are proud to say that this will be the 40th Anniversary Season for the theatre, and also represents the first full season under the direction of our new executive team of Bonnie Butkas, Executive Director, and Sean Daniels, Artistic Director. We are confident that MRT will flourish under their leadership, and pave the way for another 40 years of exciting and professional, live theatre here in Lowell. As a local businessman and banker, I have the privilege to be involved in various economic and cultural boards and activities in the Greater Lowell area, and I can proudly attest to the fact that Merrimack Repertory Theatre is a key player in the Greater Merrimack Valley region—serving as a cultural cornerstone in downtown Lowell.”
The announcement was made by Daniels and Butkas at a public event at the company’s Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Lowell on Tuesday, March 6.
Information on the new season is at www.mrt.org/1819Season.
MRT 2018-19 Season
By Karen Zacarías
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
Featuring Julia Brothers, Joel Colodner
September 12–October 7, 2018
Good fences make good neighbors…right?
Playwright Karen Zacarías (The Book Club Play) brings us a new comedy about plants, power, and privilege. Frank and Virginia are used to tending to their traditional garden in peace when younger neighbors Pablo and Tania move in next door. After the newcomers discover they may own some of their neighbors' land, a raucous battle of wits—and cultures—erupts. Julia Brothers (Silent Sky) and Joel Colodner (Going to See the Kid) return to the MRT stage for this play DC Theatre Scene calls a “true breath of comic fresh air….a biting, perceptive, and ultimately hopeful send-up to our fraught relationships with those around us.”
MURDER FOR TWO
Book and Music by Joe Kinosian
Book and Lyrics by Kellen Blair
Directed by JC Clementz
Featuring Joe Kinosian
October 17–November 11, 2018
One murder. Two actors. Six suspects. And one piano!
Who killed the great American novelist Arthur Whitney at his own surprise party? In this zany, whodunit, comedy musical, every guest has a motive. Was it the prima ballerina, the widow, the niece, the psychiatrist—or even the detective? Two actors play thirteen roles—and the piano—in this entertaining homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries. The play stars co-writer Joe Kinosian, in the role he originated Off-Broadway. The New York Times called it an “ingenious miniature musical in the form of a snazzy vaudevillian double-act.”
MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY
By Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary
Featuring Veronika Duerr
November 28–December 23, 2018
A holiday treat for Austen fans and the entire family
This lush, period drama is the perfect chance to reunite with the author’s delightful characters from Pride and Prejudice. There are love letters delivered to the wrong person and unexpected engagements announced. The large, eight-person cast includes Veronika Duerr (Going to See the Kid). This is “a celebration of nerd love in all its overeducated glory” (Chicago Tribune) and “a gift for Jane Austen fans” (Washington Post). Playwrights Lauren Gunderson (Silent Sky) and Margot Melcon find the perfect warm-hearted blend of wit and manners for the holidays.
By Wendy MacLeod
Directed by Sean Daniels
January 9–February 3, 2019
There's no escape from the world’s worst waiter
Irene and Peter just want to have a nice meal out on their big anniversary in Palm Springs. But their highly neurotic waiter, Stephen will not bring them their food, and everything goes horribly, ridiculously wrong. This absurd server will have them examining everything from their menu choices to their very future together! Will their shared desperation get them their spanakopita—or end their marriage? Playwright Wendy MacLeod (Women in Jeopardy!) brings us a comedy for anyone who's ever been hangry.
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Sean Daniels
February 13–March 10, 2019
How can we make peace across generations?
The most-produced playwright in America, Lauren Gunderson (I and You) returns to MRT for the fourth time in The Heath. This time, she turns her prodigious storytelling skills on herself. Connecting personal experiences with Shakespeare's writings, she wrestles with how you can make peace with a beloved relative who seems unlike you in every way. This beautiful meditation on her grandfather’s life draws on everything from King Lear to the banjo. The Heath is a soul-stirring story of redemption, love, madness, and the science of memory.
THE HAUNTED LIFE
By Jack Kerouac; Adapted by Sean Daniels
Featuring Joel Colodner
March 20–April 14, 2019
A new play from Lowell's native son Jack Kerouac
In honor of the theatre’s 40th Anniversary Season in Lowell, MRT brings a new adaptation of a “lost” novel set in Lowell by Jack Kerouac, who was born and raised here. A deeply-felt family drama, The Haunted Life follows the coming of age story of college student Peter Martin and his relationship with his conservative father. Taking place during America's last golden summer before it entered WWII, it chronicles the cost of war on a small town, and stars Joel Colodner (A Christmas Carol). UMass Lowell professor Todd F. Tietchen edited the manuscript, which is full of Kerouac’s gorgeous and poetic prose. It will be adapted by MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels (The White Chip) and produced in collaboration with the Estate of Jack Kerouac.
The Production Sponsor for The Haunted Life is Enterprise Bank.
CRY IT OUT
By Molly Smith Metzler
Directed by Amanda Charlton
Featuring Veronika Duerr
April 24–May 19, 2019
A comedy for every new mom
This new comedy for every new mom throws two very different women into an unlikely, but fierce, friendship. On maternity leave for the first time in their lives, Jessie and Lina tiptoe to their shared backyard for a precious coffee and a chat during naptime. This play takes an honest look at the absurdities of being home with a baby, the dilemma of returning to work, and how class impacts parenthood and friendship. A whip-smart tale from Molly Smith Metzler (Orange is the New Black, Shameless), Cry It Out captures the belly laughs, raw rage, and secret confidences that come with the early days of parenthood.
MRT 2018-19 Tickets
Subscriptions for the 2018-19 Season are available now through the MRT Box Office. Subscribers to a seven-play package receive a 25% discount off single ticket prices until March 11 and are guaranteed the same seats throughout the season. After March 11, subscribers receive a 20% discount on seven-play subscriptions, with packages starting at just $147 for adults and $133 for seniors. Three-play sampler packages are also available starting on March 13, with a 15% savings off single ticket prices. FlexPass tickets allow for ultimate flexibility while still being eligible for a subscriber discount. Minimum of 4 FlexPass tickets per order. All subscribers are entitled to the full slate of benefits that includes free even exchanges, and discounts on additional tickets. A full list of benefits can be found at www.mrt.org/subscribe.
Single tickets for the 2018-19 Season go on sale July 30, 2018, and range from $27-$75.
About Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979 and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. MRT’s mission is to share theatrical stories of human understanding that reflect and engage our community. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theatres nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).
Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre at Liberty Hall
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678
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