What’s New At T2? Season 17 has comedies, classics and one (mostly) true tale

What’s New At T2? Season 17 has comedies, classics and one (mostly) true tale
April Wallace

Artistic director and TheatreSquared co-founder Bob Ford says he’s always a bit emotional at the end of a production, but perhaps even more so now that the theater has made it through the long hiatus of in-person events.

As opening night of “The Mountaintop,” TheatreSquared’s ninth show back with an audience in the theater, concluded, Ford says he felt overwhelmed in the best way.

“I’ll be honest with you, I felt emotional as the audience stood up, clapping, many shouting bravo or whistling, all of them as grateful as I was for the experience we’d just shared,” Ford said to his audience at a recent TheatreSquared event. “Right now there’s a sense, too, that it was almost taken away from us, and we didn’t let it happen.”

TheatreSquared announced its 17th season Feb. 27, and it has a little of everything: a musical, comedies, classics, family dramas, unreciprocated love and one (mostly) true tale.

Ford said the people at the season announcement were the ones who helped TheatreSquared carry on through the pandemic in meaningful ways by showing up to performances via Zoom or Vimeo and found ways to show how much they value the community aspect of theater.

Executive Director Martin Miller says T2 staff read through hundreds of scripts and spoke with their most trusted collaborators to create the slate of eight shows they love and hope you will, too.

First up is “It Came From Outer Space!,” a world premiere musical which will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 18.

“It Came From Outer Space! is from the Jeff Award-winning writers that brought you TheatreSquared’s hilarious smash hit, ‘Murder for Two,’” says Chad Dike, director of education. “It’s a brand-new musical comedy adapted from the cult favorite ‘50s sci-fi film.” 

When an astronomer encounters an alien spaceship in the desert, no one believes him until some townspeople start acting strange. Are the extraterrestrial visitors here to conquer the Earth or do they come in peace?

The production is full of raucous music and “over-the-top” comedy and is a co-world premiere with the Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Canada’s Citadel Theatre.

“Detroit ’67,” by MacArthur Genius Fellow Dominique Morisseau will run Oct. 12 to Nov. 6. The play centers on the 1967 riots. It’s winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama and set to the soundtrack of the 1960s.

“Chelle and her brother Lank are making ends meet by turning their basement into an after-hours party joint,” says Na’Tosha DeVon, subscription specialist. “But soon after a mysterious woman finds her way into their lives, their family business and the whole city, it seems, are torn apart.”

“Stones in His Pockets” by Marie Jones is winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and will be on stage Nov. 9 to Dec. 18.

“’Stones in His Pockets’ is one of the award-winningest shows to ever come out of the UK,” says Jonah Guinn, a Commons Cafe supervisor. “Small-town Irishmen Charlie and Jake are hired as extras in an epic American movie, but when a famous actress takes a shine to Charlie — and tragedy strikes — chaos ensues.”

Hollywood comes to rural Ireland in this hilarious multi-award winner which ran for four years in London’s West End.

“The Daily Mail called it ‘an unalloyed source of joy, laughter, tears and delight,’” says Sarah Snyder, another Commons Cafe supervisor. “And we can’t wait to come up with the featured cocktail for it!”

“A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Amy Herzberg and Robert Ford from the novel by Charles Dickens, is a new Northwest Arkansas tradition. Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey through past, present and future will return Dec. 1-24.

“I don’t think we need to tell you the plot, except to say this adaptation is so incredibly inventive, magical, and fun,” says Joe Binzer, interim events manager. “We love that we’re becoming a part of so many family traditions by bringing some live theater magic into their holiday celebrations each year.”

“Poor Yella Rednecks,” by Arkansas-born author and Oscar nominee Qui Nguyen, set in El Dorado, Ark., 1981, is the the second play of his autobiographical trilogy about an immigrant family’s bumpy road to the American dream. Nguyen is author of “Vietgone,” the first in the trilogy, and screenwriter of “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

“’Poor Yella Rednecks’ is the true story — mostly — of the rocky beginnings of the marriage of Qui’s parents in El Dorado,” says Emely Zepeda, production stage manager. “Filled with infectious music and unexpected humor, this brand-new play is a co-production with Chicago’s Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre.”

It will take the stage Jan. 25, 2023.

“Sanctuary City” by Martyna Majok is a play about two teenagers struggling with two kinds of unreciprocated love: the kind they feel for each other and the kind they feel for their country. From Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok, the play is meant to inspire audience members to ask themselves, “What are we willing to sacrifice for someone we love?” The New York Times selected it as Best Theatre of 2021, Critics Pick. It will be at TheatreSquared March 1 to April 9, 2023.

“Chicken & Biscuits” by Douglas Lyons is fresh from its 2021 Broadway debut. Rival sisters Baneatta and Beverly are trying to bury their father without killing each other first.

“When a family secret is revealed at the church altar, things really get out of hand,” says Cheanie Lopez-Hall, who is in marketing for TheatreSquared.

“With fast-paced jokes that will have audiences rolling in the aisles — and Grandpa turning over in his grave — this dysfunctional family comedy is even more satisfying than the meal it’s named after,” says Lara Hightower, also in marketing for TheatreSquared. As New York Stage Review said, “The church bells are chiming. Heed the call and go straight to ‘Chicken & Biscuits.’”

It will take the stage April 19 to May 14, 2023.

“Violet,” a New York Times Critics’ Pick with music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, is winner for Best Musical, as well as Lucille Lortel, Obie, and Drama Critics’ Circle Awards.

“When Violet hops onto a Greyhound bus traveling across Arkansas towards a miracle in Tulsa, it turns into the journey of a lifetime,” says Alex Carr, who is on the T2 production team. “The New York Times calls it ‘a terrific, heart-stirring musical with tangy flavors of country, gospel, blues and honky-tonk rock.’”

“Violet” will be on stage June 7 to July 2, 2023.



New Play Festival

At the 2022 Arkansas New Play Festival, TheatreSquared will develop and present five brand new plays-in-progress, both at TheatreSquared and at The Momentary in Bentonville July 15-17 and July 22-24.

“It’s a chance to get an advance peek at the next wave of American theater,” says Bob Ford, artistic director and cofounder of TheatreSquared.

For more information, visit arkansasnewplayfest.com.

Categories: Theater