Photo: Sony Pictures
To follow up on a season filled with firsts, TheatreSquared has announced a new slate of shows that includes the world premiere of a theatrical version of “Designing Women,” written by the original series’ writer. The show was a surprise until it was announced in The New York Times on Tuesday (March 3).
Less than a year after opening a brand new, multimillion dollar facility in downtown Fayetteville, the theater company has unveiled its 2020-21 season. The second set of shows begins in August after the conclusion of the inaugural season and runs through June 2021. Included are regional debuts, musicals, some Shakespeare and works from Tony-nominated playwrights.
Designing Women, which runs from Aug. 12 to Sept. 13, features a script from original showrunner Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. The new telling contains the same classic characters as the Emmy-winning television series of the late 1980s and early 1990s but puts them in the modern era. That means their southern dialect will be transposed into storylines that mention President Trump and the #MeToo era, the creator promised The Times.
TheatreSquared 2020-21 Season
“Designing Women” – Aug. 12-Sept. 13
“Violet” – Sept. 30-Oct. 25
“At the Wedding” – Nov. 4-Dec. 13
“A Christmas Carol” – Dec. 2-27
“School Girls, or, the African Mean Girls Play” – Jan. 27-Feb. 21
“Twelfth Night” – March 10-April 4
“The Half-life of Marie Curie” – March 31-May 16
“American Mariachi” – May 19-June 13
Tickets: Available to season ticket subscribers now; single-session tickets go on sale for select shows on July 1
Info: 479-777-7477 or theatre2.org
The newest play from a Tony-award-winning composer follows next. Combining a story from Brian Crawley and music from “Fun Home” composer Jeanine Tesori is Violet, which runs from Sept. 30 through Oct. 25. Upon its Broadway debut, “Violet” earned a Lucille Lortel, Obie and Drama Critics’ Circle Award as best musical and was also nominated for five Tonys. It tells the story of Violet, who travels across Arkansas in search of help from a TV evangelist.
The third show in the season has an Arkansas connection, too. It was developed at TheatreSquared during one of their Arkansas New Play Festivals. At the Wedding was written by Bryna Turner and will make its full-production debut at the Lincoln Center in New York City just before coming back to Arkansas. It tells the story of Carlo, who promises herself not to get drunk and try to steal the bride.
The next show, and the first one after the start of the new year, will be Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. It runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 21. It’s been described as a loving African remake of “Mean Girls,” where Ghanaian pageant queen Pauline seeks to put distance between herself and her new-to-school rival. The New York Times review of the show’s 2017 debut says that the play borrows from “Mean Girls,” “but also [from] a whole genre of clique-bait movies including “Heathers,” “Jawbreaker” and “Legally Blonde.”
A classic from Shakespeare will be staged from March 10-April 4. Twelfth Night follows the aftermath of a shipwreck that separates Viola from her brother. She disguises herself as a boy, and the gender-bending madness that ensues makes it one of the Bard’s most endearing romantic comedies. It is a nod to the play “Shakespeare in Love,” the first show produced in the new theater space. “Shakespeare in Love” is a fictionalized account of Will Shakespeare falling in love with a woman named Viola, who later departs on a ship. Their relationship cannot last, but Shakespeare promises to immortalize her in his next play – which becomes “Twelfth Night.”
The play that follows is another throwback to a past T2 show. From Lauren Gunderson, the writer of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” from the 2018-19 season, comes her newest work, The Half-life of Marie Curie. It talks about the relationship between two female scientists – the two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and the lesser-known English physicist Hertha Ayrton. The show runs from March 31 to May 16.
Closing out the official part of the season will be the new play American Mariachi by Jose Cruz Gonzalez. It’s onstage from May 19 to June 13. The show centers on a woman, Lucha, who is caring for her ailing mother. In an attempt to bring joy to the house, she comes up with the idea for an all-female mariachi band. Fittingly, the production features a live mariachi band. It debuted in Denver in early 2018 and has since been making the rounds through regional theater.
Also announced for the season is a return of TheatreSquared’s retelling of “A Christmas Carol,” as promised when the play debuted late last year. The production, which was reimagined by T2 artistic directors Bob Ford and Amy Herzberg, very closely resembles the traditional production but gets a few updated settings and theatrical elements. It will run during the Christmas season, with shows from Dec. 2-27.
Tickets for the upcoming T2 season are first sold to season subscribers, then to the general public. Returning members can renew their passes now. New season ticket subscribers could buy passes starting Sunday (March 8). Single-session tickets for “Designing Women” and “Christmas Carol” go on sale July 1. Single-session tickets for the remaining shows will go on sale in August.