2021-22 Season Press Release (June 24, 2021)

MRT Announces the next
Five Shows in 2021-22 Season

Returns to Live, In-person Performances in November

LOWELL, MA – With safety as a paramount goal, Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) announced today five shows to continue the 2021-22 Season, including a return to live, in-person performances in November. The season will include the world premiere of The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge by Trista Baldwin, a new concert of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway classics, the East Coast premiere of Best Summer Ever, and two productions that were postponed due to the pandemic.

MRT’s traditional seven-show subscription season began this spring with the video-only productions of Until the Flood by Dael Orlandersmith and A Woman of the World by Rebecca Gilman.

The new roster will include the previously announced Wild Horses by Allison Gregory, which will be available at alternative locations and on video, September 15-October 3, 2021. The company will return to in-person performances at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre in Liberty Hall with an MRT commissioned play, The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge, November 26-December 12, 2021. After the holidays, the season will continue with the previously postponed Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel, January 19-February 6, 2022; the concert Back Together Again: The Music of Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, March 30-April 17, 2022; and the East Coast premiere of Best Summer Ever, written and performed by Kevin Kling, May 4-22, 2022.

In addition, MRT will present a special, non-subscription musical event: Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, February 23-March 13, 2022.

Courtney Sale, the Nancy L. Donahue Artistic Director, said, “After an immensely challenging year for theatres everywhere, we are delighted to announce our 43rd season. This selection of plays was finely curated for all audiences in the Merrimack region to invite us to come together under one roof and share the magic of live theatre. With music, comedy, provocation, love, and wickedly talented artists, I am especially proud to reopen MRT in-person programming with this slate of plays.”

To subscribe to the five-show season (on sale June  24) or to purchase individual tickets (on sale August 10) to Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie, contact the Enterprise Bank Box Office at 978-654-4678 or visit www.mrt.org.

The theatre’s most recent production in front of an audience, Nina Simone: Four Women, closed on March 9, 2020, and the company suspended most operations two weeks later. Over the last year, MRT has been successful in securing state and federal funds to keep the 42-year-old company afloat. Last summer the theatre launched a virtual version of its acclaimed MRT Young Company; this past fall, a reading series of new plays by Vichet Chum, Trista Baldwin, and Steven Dietz; and a video production of Fannie Lou Hamer: Speak On It!, a tribute to the civil rights activist. MRT reintroduced full productions, although available only on video, in April and May with Until the Flood and A Woman of the World.

Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas said, “This year has been incredibly difficult, and it has forced us to think creatively about the challenges faced by MRT and many other theatres. We’re excited to cautiously begin producing for in-person audiences again and hope that our community will continue to support live theatre in Lowell.”

In addition, the last few months have entailed lengthy union negotiations to ensure that all employees – actors, designers, playwrights, directors, technicians, and staff – return to the safest environment possible. MRT has worked diligently with state and federal officials, as well as the four major theatrical unions, to determine the most secure way to reopen for rehearsals, the filmed stage productions, and in November, the full return to in-person theatre.

Season subscriptions start at $75 for four shows or $92 for all five shows (preview series) and will go on sale June 24.  Individual tickets start at $21 and will go on sale August 10. To reserve, visit www.mrt.org or call the Enterprise Bank Box Office at 978-654-4678.


2021-22 SUBSCRIPTION SEASON – Beginning in September

WILD HORSES
By Allison Gregory
Directed by Courtney Sale
September 15-October 3, 2021 (approximate performance period)
Wild Horses will perform live at locations in and/or around the Lowell area and will be available as a fully filmed video. Locations will be announced in late summer. MRT will return to traditional live performances in Liberty Hall in November 2021.

Do you remember being a teenager? A woman hilariously recounts one summer of her youth: those first feelings of all-consuming love, the emergence of her own identity, the realization that all things are not as they should be, and the sheer intoxication of sweet freedom. With a little help from her friends Skinny Lynny and Zabby, she sets out to right an injustice with exhilarating, heartbreaking, and life-changing results. Those teen years? It will all come rushing back on this ride of a lifetime.

With live music. Features performances of 70s classics: “A Horse with No Name,” “Smoke on the Water,” “Shambala,” “Me and Mrs. Jones,” “The Cisco Kid,” “Dancing in the Moonlight,” and more.

WORLD PREMIERE
THE RISE AND FALL OF HOLLY FUDGE
By Trista Baldwin
Directed by Courtney Sale

Our Return to Liberty Hall!
November 26-December 12, 2021
Play Commissioned by MRT

Christmas 2020. Carol is a hard-working single mother who makes award-winning "Holly" fudge, named after her daughter. She serves it every holiday. She gifts it to her friends and co-workers. She's determined that this year won't be any different, even if she has to wear a mask while whipping up her famous dessert. But with her daughter Holly's girlfriend crashing Christmas, her neighbor's new-found love of confectionary, and the protests erupting on her front lawn, Carol is finding it tough to make this the most wonderful time of year.

ERMA BOMBECK: AT WIT’S END
By Allison Engel and Margaret Engel
Directed by Terry Berliner
January 19-February 6, 2022
Funniest. Mom. Ever. A celebration of humorist Erma Bombeck, At Wit’s End rejoices in the life of a woman considered to be one of America’s favorite moms, who championed the everyday lives of housewives with a daring truth few of her generation were willing to tell.

BACK TOGETHER AGAIN: THE MUSIC OF ROBERTA FLACK AND DONNY HATHAWAY
A New Concert
March 30-April 17, 2022
Friends since their college days, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway soared to the top of the Billboard charts as one of the most cherished and mellifluous duos in music history. Now Broadway performers, and husband-and-wife, Christina Acosta Robinson and Ken Robinson will bring the love together again for a concert of the pair’s iconic hits. Music direction by Emmy nominee David Dabbon.

Specific songs will be announced at a later date. Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s greatest hits include “Where Is the Love?,” “The Closer I Get to You,” “You Are My Heaven,” “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” and “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

BEST SUMMER EVER
Written and Performed by Kevin Kling
Directed by Steven Dietz

May 4-22, 2022 - East Coast Premiere

Ah, summer for a kid – sleepaway camps, lazy days at the pool, and late nights gazing at the stars. That’s the life for nine-year-old Maurice until a significant loss and one little lie threaten to throw shade on his summer. Best Summer Ever will bring you back to your own days of limitless imagination, simple joys, and startling surprises.

Written and Performed by Kevin Kling – acclaimed playwright, storyteller, and contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered. He is the recipient of the Whiting Award for American Drama and the National Storytelling Network's Circle of Excellence Award. With Musician Rob Witmer.

SPECIAL EVENT
WOODY SEZ: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF WOODY GUTHRIE

Devised by David M. Lutken with Nick Corley and Darcie Deaville, Helen Jean Russel and Andy Teirstein
Music Direction by David M. Luken
Directed by Nick Corley
February 23-March 13, 2022

Joyous, toe-tapping, and inspirational, Woody Sez brings to life the stories and songs of America’s great troubadour. The four performers, playing more than 20 instruments, transport the audience through the riveting and often controversial life of Woody Guthrie.  Musical numbers include “This Land Is Your Land,” “Pastures of Plenty,” “Bound for Glory,” “Hard Travelin’,” and “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh.”

MERRIMACK REPERTORY THEATRE www.mrt.org
Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) will celebrates 42 years this season as the Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre. With a steadfast commitment to new plays, MRT annually produces seven works, including several premieres, in the 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre at Liberty Hall.

Under the leadership of the Nancy L. Donahue Artistic Director Courtney Sale and Executive Director Bonnie J. Butkas, MRT strives to fulfill its mission to “create remarkable new and contemporary plays that bring joy to our art form while engaging, entertaining and enriching our community.” The non-profit company guarantees that shows are accessible to audiences of all incomes; partners with businesses and other non-profits to fully engage the community; and contributes to the economic vitality of Lowell by attracting diverse audiences from throughout the region.

Recent acclaimed productions include The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley and Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, the two bestselling productions in MRT’s history; former Artistic Director Sean Daniels’ autobiographical play, The White Chip, which played Off-Broadway this past October; I and You (Off-Broadway transfer) and Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson, the most produced playwright in America; Women in Jeopardy! and the world premiere of Slow Food by Wendy MacLeod; KNYUM by Cambodian-American playwright and actor Vichet Chum; and The Lion, singer-songwriter Benjamin Scheuer’s award-winning musical memoir, which launched its national tour from MRT in August 2015, following critically acclaimed runs in New York and London.

# # #