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The Public Theater 2015-2016 Season

PublicTheaterSeason201516New musicals by Stew and Michael John LaChiusa (about the daughters of U.S. presidents), new plays by Robert O’Hara and Tarell Alvin McCraney (inspired by the Book of Job), and a musical adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey by Lear deBessonet are among the season’s offerings at the Public Theater, which has been on a roll — not just because of the success of Hamilton and Fun Home. (Hamilton director Thomas Kail is one of the first-class directors helming work in the new season.)

Below is the schedule and descriptions provided by the theater:

THE ODYSSEY

Public Works at the Delacorte Theater
Musical Adaptation of Homer’s THE ODYSSEY
Conceived and directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet
Music, lyrics, and book by Todd Almond
September 4 – 7, 2015

BARBECUE

Written by Robert O’Hara  (playwright of Bootycandy)

Directed by Kent Gash
September 22 – November 1, 2015

The O’Mallerys have gathered in their local park to share some barbecue and straight talk with their sister Barbara, whose spiral of drugs and recklessness has forced her siblings to stage an open-air intervention. But the event becomes raucous and unpredictable as familial stereotypes collide with hard realities, and racial politics slam up against the stories we tell—and maybe even believe—about who we were and who we become. Kent Gash directs this new play that proves family can be a bigger vice than any other addiction.

MOBILE SHAKESPEARE UNIT (Fall)
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
November 2 – 22, 2015

Kwame Kwei-Armah, who directed The Public’s 2013 production of Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67 and the 2013 Mobile Shakespeare Unit’s Much Ado About Nothing, returns to direct the fall Mobile Shakespeare Unit tour of ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. This romantic fairytale will tour the five boroughs followed by a limited three-week engagement at The Public.

World Premiere
FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE
Written by Michael John LaChiusa (creator of Giant)
Directed by Kirsten Sanderson
October 6 – November 15, 2015

Tony nominee Michael John LaChiusa imagines the inner lives and dreams of America’s best-known daughters with a funny and moving follow-up to his 1993 Public musical First Lady Suite. A historical fantasia in four parts, FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE follows Patricia Nixon and daughters Tricia and Julie, Roselyn and Amy Carter, Betty and Susan Ford, Patti Davis and mom Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush and daughter-in-law Laura as they strive to live meaningful lives in the public eye, while dealing with the complex private relationships all of us face with our parents and children. Directed by Kirsten Sanderson/

Initial casting for this world premiere musical includes Rachel Bay Jones, Theresa McCarthy, Betsy Morgan, Isabel Santiago, Carly Tamer, Mary Testa and Barbara Walsh.

American Premiere
BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES
Created by Gob Squad
October 17 – November 29, 2015

Gob Squad returns with BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, created over the course of the past two years with 8-14 year olds from around New York City. From behind the safety of one-way mirrors, the audience witnesses seven lives lived in fast forward, from angst-ridden teens to hunched geriatrics. As we adults try to stop the process of aging and preserve youth as long as we can, the children peer into the future and nostalgically back at their recent past, as they prepare to leave childhood behind forever.

UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL – 12th EDITION
January 6 – 17, 2016

Curated by Co-Directors Mark Russell and Meiyin Wang, this 12-day festival in January showcases cutting-edge theater from around the U.S. and the world.

GERMINAL (First Show Announced of the Festival)
Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort
Produced by L’Amicale de production (Belgium/France)

On an empty stage, four intrepid performers begin to construct the world from scratch. With ingenious theater magic, they gleefully invent laws of physics, philosophy, music, language and codes for social interaction.

World Premiere
DRY POWDER
Written by Sarah Burgess
Directed by Thomas Kail
March 1 – April 10, 2016

DRY POWDER is a new drama about the people molding and messing with the American economy. The same week his private equity firm forced massive layoffs at a national grocery chain, Rick threw himself an extravagant engagement party, setting off a publicity nightmare. Fortunately, Seth, one of Rick’s managing directors, has a win-win deal to invest in an American-made luggage company for a song and rescue his boss from the company’s PR disaster. But Jenny, Seth’s counterpart, has an entirely different plan: to squeeze every last penny out of the company, no matter the human toll. The game is on in Sarah Burgess’ gripping, razor-sharp new play about the price of success and the real cost of getting the deal done. Thomas Kail directs.

New York Premiere
HEAD OF PASSES
Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney (the Brother/Sister plays)
Directed by Tina Landau
In a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre
March 15 – April 24, 2016

Tarell Alvin McCraney, MacArthur Award-winning playwright of the acclaimed Brother/Sister Plays, returns to The Public with a new drama about family, acceptance and the power of faith. At the mouth of the Mississippi River, Shelah’s family and friends have come to celebrate her birthday and save her from a leaking roof. But in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job, unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s greatest challenges.

World Premiere
THE TOTAL BENT
Text by Stew
Music by Heidi Rodewald and Stew (authors of Passing Strange)
Directed by Joanna Settle
May 10 – June 19, 2016

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, creators of the Tony Award-winning show Passing Strange, team with director Joanna Settle to bring you their thrilling new musical, THE TOTAL BENT. A riotous new show at the crossroads of the sacred and profane, survival and liberation, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll. When a British record producer arrives in Montgomery, Alabama to hook Marty Roy, a young black musical prodigy, he launches us back into Marty’s tumultuous upbringing. The son of a gospel star and self-proclaimed healer, Marty spent his childhood writing the songs that have made his charismatic father famous. But in an America on the verge of social upheaval, with an unrelenting appetite for celebrity, Marty finds himself at odds with his spiritually forceful father as he strives to make a name for himself—no matter the cost. A funny, fiery, one-of-a-kind show, THE TOTAL BENT is about the passions that divide a father and son as they make their music and make their choice between salvation and selling out.

MOBILE SHAKESPEARE UNIT (Spring)
ROMEO & JULIET
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Public Works Director Lear deBessonet
May 10 – May 29, 2016

This spring, The Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which strengthens community engagement with the arts by bringing free, world-class productions of Shakespeare to communities all across New York City, will present Shakespeare’s timeless tale of ROMEO & JULIET. This production will tour the five boroughs followed by a three week sit-down engagement at The Public.

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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