PRESS RELEASE: 2015-16 Season Announced

DATE: MARCH 24, 2015
CONTACT: Kate Brandt,
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678


Sean Daniels’ Inaugural Season marked by diversity and world premieres

Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has announced its 2015-16 Season, newly named Artistic Director Sean Daniels’ inaugural season.

The lineup of seven plays, which includes three world premieres and the launching of a national tour is sure to attract local, regional, and national attention.

Artistic Director Sean Daniels’ first season will build on MRT’s tradition of outstanding quality while introducing new stories and building new audiences. The season also reflects Daniels’ commitment to diversity, with more variety in gender, race, and age than in any recent MRT season.

Marked by humor, hope, and redemption, the season features characters discovering who they are, beating the odds, and sharing with us their powerful, and often hilarious, stories. Plans are underway for several of the productions to have subsequent life after their MRT premieres.

The announcement was made by Daniels at an event for the public at the company’s Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Lowell’s Liberty Hall on Monday, March 23.


Written & Performed by Benjamin Scheuer
Directed by Sean Daniels
August 26 – September 20, 2015
Sponsored by Enterprise Bank

Some stories have to be sung.
A good storyteller uses everything he has. So Benjamin Scheuer uses his guitar — actually, six guitars — to tell one man’s gripping coming-of-age story. The award-winning songwriter inspires and charms with his raw wit and emotional depth as he leads you on a musical journey from boyhood to manhood, through pain and healing, to discover the redemptive power of music.

As previously announced, The Lion will serve as the season’s opening production as well as the launch of a national tour. The Lion is about to conclude its second highly-acclaimed Off-Broadway run. According to Daniels, who has been with the production since its early development, “I always knew I wanted to start with the show Ben and I built together. My hope is that in launching the national tour at MRT, I can show local audiences the type of work we’ll be making here, and give them a taste of what the future holds.”

It has been very well received by audiences and critics in New York and London, where it recently won “Best New Musical” in London’s Offie Awards. The prestigious London newspaper the Stage called it “Absolutely the best original musical of the year so far, on either side of the Atlantic… I doubt I'll see another show this year so poignant, so personal, so heartfelt, so sincere and so simply staged as THE LION - a masterpiece.”

The New York production was hailed by as “The first must-see of the season” and the Huffington Post said, “See it now. See it again. The best musical I’ve seen this year.”


By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Sean Daniels
October 7 – November 1, 2015
Sponsored by UMass Lowell

They have more in common than they know.
Caroline hates poetry. She’s also something of a loner. So just about the last thing she wanted was a complete stranger named Anthony walking through her bedroom door to work on a school project about Walt Whitman. But as the two very different teenagers uncover deep bonds, Caroline finds herself opening up in ways she never imagined possible. Their journey is an explosion of thought on art, connection, and identity that will warm your heart, with an ending that will leave you breathless.

I and You won the prestigious Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for being the “best play produced outside of New York City” in 2014. Daniels has worked with playwright Lauren Gunderson in the past and remarks, “Lauren is incredibly gifted at writing dialogue for young people – but this one is her best. She is one of the hottest young writers in the country right now and MRT is about to become one of her theatrical homes.”


Adapted by Joe Landry
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
November 25 – December 20, 2015

No man is a failure who has friends.
Bring your whole family and come together with the community to celebrate the holiday season. This heartwarming classic is presented as a 1940’s radio show, with sound effects performed live on stage. Whether you’ve heard it a hundred times or never before, George Bailey’s timeless story of renewal will surely ring true.

After several years, MRT returns to producing a holiday-themed show. Daniels selected the show as a way to connect with the community. “It was important to me – as we become a real community center for the greater area – to have a holiday show that people can bring their families to. When you program a show like this you have a great responsibility, as for many people this will be the only live show they will attend this year; and for the young ones it may be their first show ever.”

The show will be directed by Boston’s own Megan Sandberg-Zakian and will feature a cast and design team exclusively made up of Merrimack Valley- and Boston-based artists.


By Sean Daniels
Directed by Sheryl Kaller
January 6 – January 31, 2016
Sponsored by Circle Health

Laughing at a drunk guy, but in a good way.
Things start out so well for our hero. After all, not every Mormon boy gets to be baptized for the dead. By the time he’s in his 30’s, his career is soaring (the Mormonism, not so much). But somehow sneaking beer in high school has turned into sneaking vodka in staff meetings - and having it all turns into losing everything. A darkly funny take on the science of addiction, recovery, and the importance of finding just the right Jews at just the right time.

This play, the first world premiere of the season, will allow audiences to get to know Daniels as a playwright. “For several years I’ve been working on a dark comedy about the science of addiction and the shifting perceptions of whether it’s an illness or a choice. Following the losses of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams, and with Boston being named “Best Sober Living City in the Country” by the Huffington Post and its very public election of a sober mayor, I think the time for this conversation is now. Though I want to really make that a funny conversation - so we all keep listening,” remarked Daniels.

The White Chip already has some impressive names connected to it. The Tony Award-nominee Sheryl Kaller will direct. Five-time Tony nominee Tom Kirdahy, who was recently named Global Producer of The Year and is represented on Broadway by It’s Only a Play and The Visit, will be working with MRT to help ensure a long life for the play after its world premiere here.


By Mat Smart
Directed by Sean Daniels
February 10 – March 6, 2016

The power of the love of the game.
Baseball fans know all about commitment and hope. But in life outside the ballpark, that dedication can be harder to hold on to. Lauren is thinking only about the monumentally important playoff game she and her mother are about to attend, but her mother has her own agenda. In this touching play, set against the dual backdrops of the 2003 and 1906 Chicago Cub teams, three die-hard fans and one die-hard player reveal the redeeming power of baseball.

According to Daniels, “This is the greatest baseball play I know. Mat Smart has gotten the sports metaphor right – that is: to be a sports fan you have to be the world’s greatest romantic - as every year you think ‘this could be our year.’ Yes, it’s about the Cubs – but if there ever was a town that used to know what it was like to never win, it’s Boston. It’s scheduled to play during Spring Training, when we all truly believe ‘this could be our year.’”


By Idris Goodwin
Directed by Wendy Goldberg
March 16 – April 10, 2016

There’s nothing more hip-hop than falling in love.
It is 1996, the hip-hop scene is roaring, and T.O. has arrived in the city, eager to immerse himself in a culture he’s only observed from the safety of the suburbs. He falls hard for Prima, an MC who entrances him with her music and her authenticity. When he lies and schemes to stay in her life, is it in the name of true love or just another part of his obsession with the hip-hop lifestyle?

The second world premiere of the season will be directed by the Artistic Director of the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. According to Sean Daniels, Wendy Goldberg is “one of the most sought after regional theatre directors in the country – basically if you want the most current thrilling work on your stage – you start with her.”

Daniels is also a great fan of the playwright, Idris Goodwin. “I know of no other playwright who is more relevant, who is more dangerously honest, who writes in a way that allows multiple groups of people to see themselves through his work – thereby feeling a little less alone in the world. At the same time he’s an amazing word alchemist – creating dialogue and rhymes that stay with you for days. In my mind, he’s one the brightest in our business.”


By Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Sean Daniels
April 20 – May 15, 2016

What happens in the barn stays in the barn.
Senator Bernadette Spence is ready to run for President. Now, she just has to get her family on board. She returns to her Iowa home for the holidays with her dashing British campaign manager at her side. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything, it turns out. This raucous, big-hearted comedy pits politics against family values and lovingly skewers them both.

The final world premiere of the season is written by Boston’s own Lila Rose Kaplan and will feature well-known local Boston actor Karen MacDonald in the central role. Daniels was drawn to the play because, “Like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Home of the Brave will skewer politicians on both sides of the aisle. I’m excited to have the funniest and most subversive of Boston talent in a show that will no doubt have a long life.”

Subscriptions are now available through the MRT Box Office for the 2015-16 Season. Subscribers to a seven-play package receive a 20% discount off single ticket prices and guaranteed same seats throughout the season. Seven-play subscriptions start at just $140 for adults and $126 for seniors. Three-play sampler packages are also available, with a 15% savings off single ticket prices. FlexPass packages are available in increments of 4, 5, 6, or 7 and allow the ultimate in flexibility while still receiving a discount. 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

Subscriptions can be purchased by calling 978-654-4678 or by visiting Tickets for individual productions go on sale this summer.

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. The company is known for its high production standards and for creating compelling new plays and regional premieres that reflect the lives and emotions of its audiences. Sean Daniels has been tapped as the company’s fourth Artistic Director and launches his tenure with the 2015-16 Season. MRT is one of the 74 members nationwide of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT.)

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678