Washington, D.C.'s Signature Theatre has revealed its upcoming 2022-2023 season, which honors the theatre's long connection with Stephen Sondheim with three new productions of the late composer-lyricist's musicals.
Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner will helm Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods at the MAX Theatre November 8–January 29, 2023. One of Sondheim's most loved and performed works, the musical combines the fairy-tale stories of Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, and more, going on to explore what happens after "ever after." A five-part behind-the-scenes seminar about the making of the production will be offered October 20–November 6; Signature Seminar: To Journey's End With Into the Woods will include talks with Gardiner and the production's creative team as they discuss everything from early designs to final dress rehearsals and opening night.
Associate Artistic Director Ethan Heard will helm Pacific Overtures, with a score by Sondheim and a book by John Weidman and additional material by Hugh Wheeler, March 7–April 9, 2023, in the MAX Theatre. The work centers on the 1853 opening of Japan to trade after 200 years of isolationism.
The theatre will also present a new take on Sondheim and Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street May 16–July 9, 2023, directed by Sarna Lapine. Based on a play by Christopher Bond, the Victorian melodrama follows a vengeful barber who returns to London with a score to settle, ultimately aided by his meat pie-making neighbor and accomplice Mrs. Lovett.
“This past November, the world lost an icon," shares Gardiner in a statement. "The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theatre community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim—he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with the entire season in our MAX Theatre dedicated to his memory. These three shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim."
The season will open with the D.C. premiere of Ethan Lipton's No Place to Go, which features music by Lipton, Eben Levy, Ian M. Riggs, and Vito Dieterie. Set to be directed by Gardiner, the production will star Bobby Smith as a part-timer who has to decide whether to move his entire family or embrace the unknown as his company decides to move its facilities to a much cheaper but also far more remote location.
Following Into the Woods, Signature will host the D.C. premiere of Ana Nogueria's Which Way to the Stage, currently having its world premiere Off-Broadway via MCC Theater. The work follows two Broadway superfans waiting at the stage door of If/Then to get autographs from Idina Menzel, only to have their decades-long friendship upended by a sexy stranger. Signature's production will be directed by Heard in his directorial debut with the company.
Next will be Sylvia Khoury's 2022 Pulitzer finalist Selling Kabul, running February 21–April 2, 2023, in the ARK Theatre. The play explores the toll of America’s war in Afghanistan and immigration policy from within a single family’s apartment as it unfolds in real-time. It was first seen at Williamstown Theatre Festival, which co-produced the New York engagement at Playwrights Horizons last winter. Shadi Ghaheri will direct Signature's production.
Following Pacific Overtures, the theatre will present Passing Strange, with a book and lyrics by Stew and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. Raymond O. Caldwell will direct the 2008 Broadway musical about a young man who travels to Europe after discovering his musical calling, trading a comfortable, suburban life for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Signature's Cabaret Series also makes a return this season, with Hotter Than July: Stevie Wonder set for July 5–17, Both Sides Now: Joni Mitchell November 1–13, First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald January 31–February 5, 2023, and Soul Divas Reprise June 27–July 9, 2023.
Among special events planned for the theatre are a concert presentation of We Shall Someday, with a book and lyrics by Harrison David Rivers and music and additional lyrics by Ted Shen, directed by Kelli Foster Warder June 30–July 2; and SigWorks: Monday Night New Play Reading Series, an initiative that highlights and supports the work of D.C.-local playwrights. Dates for the reading series will be announced in the coming weeks.